The meeting was convened in the Commission of Fine Arts offices in the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20001, at 9:05 a.m.
Hon. Earl A. Powell, Chairman
Hon. Philip Freelon, Vice Chairman
Hon. Edward Dunson
Hon. Liza Gilbert
Hon. Alex Krieger
Hon. Mia Lehrer
Hon. Elizabeth Meyer
Thomas E. Luebke, Secretary
Frederick J. Lindstrom, Assistant Secretary
A. Approval of the minutes of the 15 October meeting. Mr. Luebke reported that the minutes of the October meeting were circulated to the Commission members in advance. Upon a motion by Mr. Powell with second by Mr. Freelon, the Commission approved the minutes. Mr. Luebke said that they would be posted on the Commission's website.
B. Dates of next meetings. Mr. Luebke presented the regularly scheduled dates for upcoming Commission meetings, as previously published: 21 January 2016, 18 February 2016, and 17 March 2016. He noted that no meeting is scheduled during December.
C. Report on the approval of two objects proposed for acquisition by the Freer Gallery of Art. Mr. Luebke reported Chairman Powell's approval in late October of two Japanese artworks that the Smithsonian Institution was considering for acquisition as part of the permanent collection of the Freer Gallery of Art: a hanging scroll with a portrait drawing from the late 16th century; and a segment of a handscroll from the 13th to 14th century, mounted as a hanging scroll. He said that the Freer subsequently completed the purchase of these works, and he provided the Commission members with photographs of them. He confirmed that no further action by the Commission is needed.
II. Submissions and Reviews
Mr. Luebke introduced the three appendices for Commission action. Drafts of the appendices had been circulated to the Commission members in advance of the meeting.
Appendix I – Government Submissions Consent Calendar: Mr. Lindstrom reported that one project has been added to the appendix with a favorable recommendation: a proposal for a temporary installation of three modular classroom structures on a parking lot at the Stoddert Elementary School, to be used as swing space during the renovation of the school. Upon a motion by Mr. Powell with second by Mr. Krieger, the Commission approved the revised Government Submissions Consent Calendar.
Appendix II – Shipstead-Luce Act Submissions: Ms. Batcheler reported that two projects have been added to the appendix (case numbers SL 16-029 and 16-030); both submissions are associated with projects that have previously been approved. The revised appendix also includes minor wording changes and updates to note the receipt of supplemental materials; she requested authorization to finalization the recommendations for two projects upon receipt of the anticipated supplemental drawings. Upon a motion by Mr. Freelon with second by Mr. Powell, the Commission approved the revised appendix. (See agenda item II.F for an additional Shipstead-Luce Act submission.)
Appendix III – Old Georgetown Act Submissions: Mr. Martinez reported that all of the recommendations on the appendix have now been finalized to note the receipt of supplemental information. One recommendation has been changed to be unfavorable because the requested information has not been provided (case number OG 16-021); he said that the project involves work that has been done improperly, and the file cannot be held open any longer. Upon a motion by Mr. Powell with second by Mr. Krieger, the Commission approved the revised appendix. (Prior to adjournment of the meeting, the Commission approved an additional case (OG 16-023) that had been inadvertently omitted from the draft appendix; this case was subsequently consolidated into the final appendix.)
Mr. Martinez noted that the Old Georgetown Board will meet in early December as regularly scheduled, and its recommendations will be circulated to the Commission members for timely action in advance of a formal adoption at the Commission's next meeting in January.
At this point, the Commission departed from the order of the agenda to consider the submission for the National Park Service's regional headquarters campus.
B. National Park Service
3. CFA 19/NOV/15-3, National Capital Region headquarters campus, 1100 Ohio Drive, SW. New police substation facility and renovation of regional headquarters. Revised concept. (Previous: CFA 21/MAY/15-3.)
Mr. Luebke said that the Commission may wish to act on this project without a presentation. Upon a motion by Mr. Krieger with second by Ms. Meyer, the Commission approved the concept submission and delegated review of the final design to the staff.
The Commission returned to the order of the agenda with item II.B.1.
B. National Park Service
1. CFA 19/NOV/15-1, National World War I Memorial. Pershing Park, Pennsylvania Avenue, between 14th and 15th Streets, NW. Informational Presentation. Mr. Luebke introduced the presentation on the status of the planned World War I Memorial, submitted on behalf of the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission. He said that the National Defense Authorization Act of 2015 designated the location of the memorial as Pershing Park, which was designed by landscape architect M. Paul Friedberg and others to commemorate the World War I leader General John J. Pershing. The planned new memorial is intended to honor the service members of the U.S. Armed Forces in World War I by enhancing the existing park with some combination of new landscaping, sculpture, and commemorative elements, using a design chosen through a competition. The five finalist designs are being presented for the Commission's comments and guidance; no action is currently requested.
To begin the presentation, Mr. Luebke introduced Peter May, Associate Regional Director for Lands, Planning, and Design of the National Capital Region of the National Park Service. Mr. May said that the National Park Service supports the proposal to make improvements to Pershing Park and its commemoration of World War I. He asked Edwin Fountain, vice chairman of the World War I Centennial Commission, to discuss the background and process for the project.
Mr. Fountain said that his organization is a federal agency established in 2013 to ensure suitable U.S. commemoration of the war's centennial. He described the background of World War I, which ranks after the Civil War and World War II in the number of U.S. fatalities. Because most Americans do not fully understand the great significance of World War I, the memorial is intended to educate the public as well as commemorate the war. The goal is the creation of a National World War I Memorial in Washington, equivalent to the memorials on the National Mall commemorating World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. Under the Commemorative Works Act, this new memorial cannot be built on the Mall; the Pershing Park site at the western end of Pennsylvania Avenue, two blocks north of the Mall, has been selected as the best alternative. He described the context: to the north of the site are the Willard Hotel and Hotel Washington; to the east is Freedom Plaza; to the south are the Department of Commerce and the District government's John A. Wilson Building; and to the west and northwest are the General William T. Sherman Memorial and the Treasury Department. He described Pershing Park as both a busy traffic island and a secluded memorial located on the nation's most symbolically significant avenue.
Mr. Fountain said that the major question facing the development of this memorial is the extent to which the existing park design should be respected. To evaluate the park's historical significance, the National Park Service has directed the World War I Memorial Commission to prepare a Determination of Eligibility on Pershing Park for the National Register of Historic Places. Another issue is the existing design's merit as a memorial, and he summarized the skepticism that the park can be simply modified to fulfill its new role as the National World War I Memorial.
Mr. Fountain described several problems with the current park. Due to the high berms on the south side and additional visual and physical barriers on the other sides, the site is uninviting and its interior is not visible from the street. The central water feature, formerly a pool in the summer and a skating rink in the winter, has not been functional since 2008 because of plumbing and mechanical problems, and it is now a barren concrete slab. Two small structures—the concession stand, and a concrete structure that housed the ice resurfacing machine and acted as a backdrop for a waterfall in the pool—are not considered appropriate elements for the new memorial. The actual Pershing Memorial in Pershing Park, comprising a portrait statue in a plaza defined by two freestanding walls, has been "marginalized" rather than treated as an integral design element of the park; the intention for the new project is to make the memorial function primary. He said that the statue itself is an uninspiring, static likeness of Pershing; the two walls—one inscribed with Pershing's name and a quotation, the other with maps of the Western Front and the Meuse-Argonne Offensive—say nothing about the sacrifice of the common soldier. He noted the irony of the Pershing Memorial being completed a year after the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, a landmark design that shifted the focus of war memorials from the Great Man to the common soldier; accordingly, a goal for this project is to change the memorial focus of the park from the general to the heroism of the American soldier in World War I. He added that he believes the authorizing legislation allows for changes to Pershing Park.
Mr. Fountain enumerated challenges for the design of the new memorial. It should convey the heroism of the almost five million Americans who served in the war, the tragedy of 116,000 American deaths, and the scale and magnitude of this event—even more challenging on a site that is not located on the Mall. There are issues of identifying the intended audience, the overall theme, and the appropriate architectural style. The memorial should combine visibility, as a means of attracting visitors to the site, with the sense of enclosure appropriate for a commemorative purpose. Additional questions include how much the new design should defer to the original Paul Friedberg landscape, and how the memorial should relate to the broader context of Pennsylvania Avenue.
Due to the short time frame and limited funding, Mr. Fountain said that the design competition is proceeding simultaneously with development of the Determination of Eligibility for the park. He introduced architect Roger Lewis, a manager for the competition, to describe the competition process and present the finalist designs.
Mr. Lewis said that the open international competition, announced in early 2015, had received approximately 350 entries. In the first stage, five finalists were selected by the independent seven-member jury, which included historians, architects, and an architecture critic; the finalists are now refining their designs in consultation with the World War I Centennial Commission and federal agency representatives. He said that the jury chose these finalists to encompass a diversity of design approaches, and he noted that few submissions had shown much of the urban context.
Mr. Lewis briefly presented the five finalist designs. The first envisions a field of lights representing the number of American casualties; a passage through the field would be lined by pylons displaying interpretive information. The second design would comprise dozens of glass-topped boxes set into the ground across the park, each containing photographic images of the war period; sculptures would also be used, and the Pershing Memorial would be relocated within the site. The third design, inspired by the neoclassical architecture of that era, includes an oval plaza with a large inscribed wall reminiscent of a triumphal arch centered along the north end of a park; the plaza would establish north-south and east-west axes. The fourth divides the site into two zones: an open greensward on the east, and a series of curving earthworks on the west with memorial walls inserted at various places on the slopes. The Pershing Memorial would be relocated and its elements repositioned; the site's southwest corner would be raised to emphasize the view to the Washington Monument. Mr. Lewis said that the fifth entry comes closest to using Friedberg's design as its inspiration; this proposal would retain some of the berms, raising the center of the site almost to grade at its west side, and lowering it on the east to better relate to Freedom Plaza.
Mr. Freelon asked about the next steps in the process. Mr. Lewis responded that the World War I Centennial Commission has met twice with its Design Oversight Committee, composed of representatives from the staffs of the Commission of Fine Arts, the National Park Service, the National Capital Planning Commission, and the D.C. Historic Preservation Office. Following the deadline for the final versions of the five designs, the jury will meet in early January 2016 to select a winner.
Ms. Gilbert asked if the jury considered whether designs could be easily maintained; Mr. Lewis responded that the issues of durability and sustainability had been discussed at length. He said that the goal is a memorial that will last for centuries, but he also acknowledged federal budget constraints.
Mr. Krieger observed that wonderful ideas—as seen in these five designs—can emerge through open competitions. However, he questioned Mr. Lewis's statement in the presentation that the design should not have the character of a park that contains a memorial. He commented that the Vietnam Veterans Memorial proved that a powerful memorial can be built as a singular element within a park, while the recent struggle over the design of the Eisenhower Memorial has shown the difficulty of filling a larger area. He emphasized the possibility of this memorial being designed within a park setting, noting the long history of such memorials throughout the world. Mr. Lewis responded that this project has posed the challenge of determining what "enhancing" Pershing Park means; he said that a design that is primarily a park with a memorial has not been ruled out, while most of the competition entries tried to make a park that is integrally linked with a World War I Memorial. Mr. Fountain added that the concern with the existing design is that the Pershing Memorial is shunted off to one side with little relation to the rest of the park; the goal is to shift the focus to the memorial, but the entire site would not necessarily need to be composed of memorial elements. Mr. Krieger said that achieving this goal may be difficult; he observed that some of the proposals seem to entirely transform the existing park without retaining its many well designed elements.
Ms. Meyer agreed with Mr. Krieger's concerns. She acknowledged the desire for prominence comparable to the national war memorials on the Mall but commented that the United States does not want to be known for celebrating only wars. She said that over the last few decades, the public landscape of Washington has been transformed into a place of retrospection about the past rather than a place of prospect that powerfully embodies ideas about the future of American democracy.
Ms. Meyer observed that none of the five finalists address the site's context. She emphasized that Pershing Park is part of the historic transformation of the city by the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation; it reflects the policy work of Daniel Patrick Moynihan and the planning efforts of architect Nathaniel Owings and landscape architect Daniel Kiley, as well as many others. She added that the significance of Pershing Park is not just Friedberg's design but also its subsequent herbaceous layer planting design by the firm Oehme van Sweden, and its relation to Pennsylvania Avenue and the revitalization of downtown Washington. She said the presented designs focus too much on this particular parcel, and she urged a broader viewpoint for the historical research currently underway. She expressed dismay that Pershing Park is being described as a failure, which she attributed to lack of maintenance, and she objected that the design competition gave the questionable impression that the Pershing Park design is no longer appropriate on this site. She said that such an approach would never be taken with a building of comparable importance.
Ms. Meyer emphasized that Pershing Park could be successfully rehabilitated as a memorial. While the presentation had criticized the berms for interfering with the site's visibility, she observed that the reason Pershing Park is a good site for a memorial is that the berms create an oasis—otherwise, it is simply a traffic island. She commented favorably on the park's spatial framework; she suggested reimagining the existing fountain and stairs as locations for text and commemoration, allowing this project to serve as an excellent example of the adaptive reuse of a public park. Ms. Meyer encouraged the project sponsors to help the five finalists in considering the least amount of intervention necessary to transform the existing park into an outstanding memorial. Mr. Lewis responded that the park's relationship to Pennsylvania Avenue had frequently been discussed with the Design Oversight Committee; he said it had been a surprise that out of several hundred submissions, almost none had maintained the park. Ms. Meyer said that a jury should sometimes not choose any design.
Ms. Gilbert observed that the descending grade in the center makes the existing park a quiet place of solitude, and she asked if any of the winning designs has maintained this lower level; Mr. Lewis responded that the fourth of the presented schemes has a major space even lower than the existing central area. Mr. Krieger agreed with Ms. Meyer's comments and supported working with the five finalists to consider rehabilitating the existing park; he expressed regret that most of the finalists envision destroying this design.
Ms. Lehrer expressed appreciation for the giving the Commission members the opportunity to share their thoughts and concerns at this point in the process. She observed that some of the presented designs rely entirely on lighting to enliven the memorial, which would be problematic. She agreed with Ms. Meyer and Mr. Krieger on the difficulty of reconciling any of the designs with the existing park framework, with the possible exception of the last that was presented.
Mr. Luebke noted that a comment letter from the Association of Oldest Inhabitants of the District of Columbia has been received and distributed, recommending that the park should be enhanced but not entirely reinvented. Chairman Powell conveyed the Commission's appreciation for the presentation. The discussion concluded without a formal action,
2. CFA 19/NOV/15-2, Gold Star Mothers National Monument. Site selection study. Final. Mr. Luebke introduced the site selection study for a commemorative work honoring Gold Star Mothers and Gold Star Families, submitted on behalf of the Gold Star Mothers National Monument Foundation. He said that eligible sites can be in Area I or Area II but not within the Mall Reserve area, as defined by the Commemorative Works Act as amended in 2003. He asked Peter May of the National Park Service to begin the presentation.
Mr. May said that this project is following a slightly different process from other recent memorials: the formal request for a site approval is being tied more closely to the design process, and therefore the current study is presented for the Commission's comments before submitting a site proposal and developing a design. He emphasized that the process for memorials has to address many different goals, such as compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act and the National Historic Preservation Act; more efficient coordination of the multiple stages of the process may avoid selection of a site that becomes problematic during the design phase.
To present the site selection study, Mr. May introduced Judith Young, chair of the Gold Star Mothers National Monument Foundation, and project architect James Cummings. Ms. Young explained that a Gold Star Mother is the mother of a servicemember who was killed or who died from illness as the result of military service. She added that such a loss permanently changes a family, but many people find strength and solace through helping others in their communities.
Mr. Cummings said the Gold Star Mothers Monument is intended as a place to acknowledge and reflect on loss; a place of healing; and a memorial to the legacy of service by Gold Star Mothers and families. He described the site selection criteria that are established through the Commemorative Works Act and by the sponsoring foundation. The site should have a meaningful context and contemplative character, removed from the distractions of other memorials, and a location that will not have an adverse impact on other commemorative works or historic resources. Since most visitors are likely to be tourists, the site should be convenient to other tourist destinations. The site should accommodate groups of forty to eighty people, similar to the setting of the Three Servicemen sculpture at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. It should have barrier-free access, provide shade in the summer, and be convenient to public transportation.
Mr. Cummings presented the four alternative sites evaluated in the study; they were selected from the sites listed in the Memorials and Museums Master Plan, a study developed by the National Capital Planning Commission with the cooperation of the Commission of Fine Arts. Site A, Pershing Park, is associated with John J. Pershing, the great American general of the First World War—and a supporter of the Gold Star Mothers—but is no longer available due to the World War I Memorial project. Site B, the belvedere at the western end of the Constitution Avenue alignment, provides a striking view across the Potomac River to Arlington House in Arlington National Cemetery, but heavy traffic along the Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway makes the site difficult to reach. Site C is one of the several empty niches in the holly hedge along either side of Memorial Avenue, a part of the broad corridor between the Lincoln Memorial and Arlington National Cemetery that symbolizes the reunification of North and South after the Civil War; however, the cemetery cannot be seen from within the niches, and the adjacent unshaded lawn areas are difficult places for groups to gather.
Mr. Cummings presented Site D, which he said best meets the selection criteria. It is located on land controlled by the National Park Service but within the landscape of Arlington National Cemetery, behind the Memorial Avenue hedge. He noted that the National Park Service generally controls the land 300 feet to each side of the centerline of Memorial Avenue as a buffer to protect the Arlington Bridge corridor, although a portion of this buffer adjacent to Site D was transferred in the late 1970s to the Department of Defense as the location for the cemetery's Welcome Center. He said that Site D once contained an informal grove, but most of these trees are gone—likely damaged by using the site as a construction staging area for the Welcome Center. He said that Site D meets most of the criteria: it is a flat area of open parkland, easily accessible while not overwhelmed by tourists; it would provide a meaningful context for Gold Star families, with views of the cemetery gravestones; and it is large enough to accommodate groups of various sizes while also allowing, at certain times of day, a sense of isolation. He said that a relatively small-scale monument would not affect historic resources, and Arlington House is not visible from the site. New trees could be planted for shade, serving to enhance the site and context. He concluded that Site D is the best of the many sites identified in the Master Plan for Museums and Memorials.
Mr. Krieger commended Mr. Cummings for what he called an excellent presentation of sensible decisions. He asked if gatherings occur at the existing small memorials in the niches along Memorial Avenue; Mr. Cummings responded that these do not appear to attract many visitors. Chairman Powell agreed that Site D is a good choice and the study has been carefully considered; he recommended supporting the study's preference for Site D. Upon a second by Mr. Krieger, the Commission adopted this action.
3. CFA 19/NOV/15-3, National Capital Region headquarters campus, 1100 Ohio Drive, SW. New police substation facility and renovation of regional headquarters. Revised concept. (Previous: CFA 21/MAY/15-3.) The Commission acted on the submission earlier in the meeting without a presentation, following agenda item II.A.
C. United States General Services Administration
1. CFA 19/NOV/15-4, St. Elizabeths West Campus, 2700 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, SE. Center Building, United States Department of Homeland Security headquarters. Building renovation and exterior restoration. Final. (Previous: CFA 17/SEP/15-2.) Ms. Batcheler introduced the final design for renovation of the Center Building at the St. Elizabeths West Campus as part of the headquarters of the Department of Homeland Security. The Center Building was constructed between 1853 and 1884; she described it as the architectural focus of the campus, which is a National Historic Landmark. Designed by noted architect Thomas U. Walter, the Center Building's form implements the innovative Kirkbride model for mental health hospitals. She noted the Commission's approval of the concept in September 2015, with a request for more detailed information for the final design submission. She said that the final design includes some features that were not previously presented: a loading dock addition and a lower-level entrance, both on the south side of the building. She asked Mina Wright of the General Services Administration to begin the presentation.
Ms. Wright acknowledged the lengthy process of reviews for the adaptive reuse of the West Campus; she said that the final design approval for renovation of the Center Building will be an important step in the campus rehabilitation. She emphasized that the landscape component of the current submission is limited to an area extending 25 to 50 feet from the building face; a more comprehensive landscape design is anticipated when funding becomes available. She said that the initial design work by Goody, Clancy & Associates is being completed by Shalom Baranes Associates as part of a design-build contract; she introduced architect Shalom Baranes to present the proposal.
Mr. Baranes noted that the limited scope of sitework may provide little opportunity for comment by the Commission's three landscape architects; Ms. Meyer emphasized that the Commission members are also well versed in architectural matters. Mr. Baranes indicated the context of the Center Building, as previously seen by the Commission, and presented several renderings of the proposed exterior appearance and the associated landscape. He described areas of significant alteration. On the north facade, the canopy, doorway, and oriel bay at the building's central tower would be reconstructed, with reuse of some decorative wood and metal components; he noted that the canopy has previously been replaced. He said that the proposed windows would have divided lights, using painted wood detailing that would require long-term maintenance. At two other existing entrances on the north facade, the proposal includes replacement of doors, stairs, and railings. The entrance at the center of the south facade would be altered more significantly: two doorways would be used for access to a new primary entrance lobby at the lower level, involving exterior grade adjustments and the creation of a small entrance plaza. Small canopies would be added to the facade above these doors, and the existing main-level doorway would remain with a new door, stair, and railings. He indicated the globe lights of varying sizes that would flank the doorways. The edges of the sunken entrance plaza would include access stairs, small planters, and stepped seating areas. Mr. Krieger asked about barrier-free access to the plaza and entrance doors; Mr. Baranes responded that sloped walks along the building facade on each side would descend to the plaza, although not clearly depicted in the rendered views.
Mr. Baranes presented the proposal for an enclosed loading dock area toward the western end of the south facade, providing a needed facility for the building. He said that future construction is anticipated in this area, and a portion of the loading dock facade is therefore intended to be temporary with horizontal cedar siding; other facades would be brick. The ceiling height above the truck bays responds to the size of trucks that would be accommodated; he indicated the lower height of other parts of the proposed enclosure, designed to intersect the historic facade immediately below the existing window sills. Mr. Krieger asked about the scope of the anticipated future construction. Mr. Baranes said that it would be an expansion of the building but it has not yet been designed; the funding and schedule are uncertain. Ms. Wright clarified that the future addition has been envisioned as three stories, but the project's program and funding continue to evolve. Mr. Freelon asked if other additions are planned for the Center Building; Mr. Baranes responded that only the addition to the southwest is anticipated. Ms. Wright added that infill construction has also been considered for the eastern end of the building, as part of an overall design for the Center Building complex, but it would be less significant than the anticipated addition adjacent to the loading dock.
Mr. Baranes presented the proposed renovations to the upper part of the building, including replacement of the roof. He said that much of the roof is hidden by the building's parapet, and the sloped roofs in these areas would be replaced by flat roofs; for the areas of sloped roof that are visible from the ground, the replacement roof would be sloped. To accommodate new waterproofing, the parapet would be removed and reconstructed throughout the building. He indicated the varying existing materials of metal, brick, and cast stone in the gupper portions of the exterior walls, noting that research is continuing on the original design and most suitable replacement; he said that the goal is to develop a consistent design approach for the parapet. Salvaged brick would be reused to the extent feasible, and the capstone above the metal flashing is currently proposed as colored cast stone. He said that these materials would have slightly different colors and would weather differently, but they would blend sufficiently; the result would be a strong series of horizontal lines across the facades, taking on a more pronounced appearance over time. He presented sections of several mounting conditions for the numerous parapet-level security cameras that are required around the building.
Mr. Baranes said that the Center Building's windows have been studied carefully, with the conclusion that approximately 85 percent of the existing frames can be restored; he said that this is an unusually high proportion. However, only 15 percent of the sashes can be restored, mostly at the building's central pavilion, and the remainder would be new. He emphasized the proposed use of separate single-glazed panes, totaling approximately 20,000 glass panels; modern environmental performance would be achieved by adding storm windows on the interior side. He concluded by describing the proposed site treatment, including restoration of a fountain and the brick paving that forms a skirt around the building. He said that 24 new trees would be planted, selected from the wide range of species that were brought to the site in the early history of St. Elizabeths Hospital.
Mr. Krieger commented that the proposal is very respectful of the historic building. He asked for more information on the combination of new and reused bricks in the parapet reconstruction. Mr. Baranes confirmed that some new brick would be necessary; he said that it would be used in the locations that are least visible to pedestrians, and its color would be selected to match the existing brick as closely as possible. Mr. Krieger asked how mortar joints would be detailed, noting that modern mortar joints are typically much thicker than in historic brickwork. Mr. Baranes responded that the mortar joints would match those of the historic wall.
Mr. Freelon observed the change in brick tone toward the top of the existing wall, suggesting that the parapet has been replaced previously. Mr. Baranes confirmed that the original parapet condition has been documented through historic photographs.
Ms. Meyer observed that the proposed planters adjoining the sunken entrance plaza along the south facade would be very small and likely not successful; she suggested further study of this area to improve or eliminate the planters. She acknowledged the challenge of resolving the grade changes in this area and suggested the inclusion of a drawing with spot elevations as part of this final design submission. She requested that this information be provided to the staff for further review.
Chairman Powell noted the lengthy review process for St. Elizabeths and joined in supporting the proposal for the Center Building as a respectful renovation. Upon a second by Mr. Krieger, the Commission approved the design with the comments provided.
2. CFA 19/NOV/15-5, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau headquarters building, 1700 G Street, NW. Building and courtyard renovation and additions. Final. (Previous: CFA 16/JAN/14-5.) Ms.Batcheler introduced the proposed final design for the headquarters renovation for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), located immediately west of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building across 17th Street. She summarized the Commission's previous review in January 2014, approving the concept with several recommendations that primarily focused on the building's courtyard and adjacent public space. She asked Mina Wright of the General Services Administration (GSA) to begin the presentation.
Ms. Wright said that the presentation would address the numerous components of the renovation project, and she especially asked the Commission to advise on how to display a group of masonry artifacts from a 1920s Beaux-Arts bank building that formerly occupied the site. She said that the GSA had initiated the demolition of the bank building several decades ago to allow construction of the current building, now occupied by the CFPB. She said that future exterior display of these objects is part of an agreement addressing historic preservation issues, but the agencies involved have not come to an agreement on the appropriate design for this display. She said that the presentation will also focus on the building's plaza, known as Liberty Plaza, which had been a vibrant public space in its early years during the 1980s. She noted that GSA is managing the design process on behalf of the CFPB; the architect for the early phase of design was SOM, and the project is now in a design-build phase with RTKL as the design firm. She acknowledged that further study of the approved concept design has resulted in some changes to the proposal, such as the species and spacing of trees. She introduced architects Aimee Woodall and Kirill Pivovarov and landscape architect Brian Cornell of RTKL to present the design.
Ms. Woodall noted that the building has been determined eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, and the renovation is being coordinated with multiple agencies through the historic preservation review process. She provided an overview of the building: it was designed to house the Federal Home Loan Bank Board in 1976 by New York architect Max Urbahn, and the plaza was a collaboration of Urbahn with landscape architect Hideo Sasaki. The building was an early example of GSA's initiative to improve the quality of federal buildings and government-owned open spaces. She indicated the L-shaped building that frames the plaza on the north and west; the plaza's south and east sides are framed by the mid-19th-century Winder Building, a government-owned office building, and the plaza has openings to 17th Street on the east and F Street on the south as well as open passages through the first floor leading to G Street on the north. She indicated the extensive retail area of the ground floor as well as the building's lobby space.
Ms. Woodall said that the revised design no longer proposes to change the building's massing or footprint. Exterior changes include cleaning of the limestone and concrete facades; replacement of windows for improved blast resistance and thermal performance; replacement of skylights; restoration of roof terraces; and addition of planting on the roof. She indicated the columns rising through the building that are expressed on the exterior; hardening of these columns is required on the first floor for blast resistance, and various techniques are still being studied to achieve this strength while replicating the existing concrete finish and avoiding an inappropriate increase to the diameter of the columns at the first floor. She requested that the Commission delegate further review of this column treatment to the staff. Other architectural changes include shifting the existing lobby wall by sixteen inches to provide adequate interior space, and slightly lowering the brick knee wall in this area to improve the appearance of the lobby.
Mr. Freelon indicated the discoloration of concrete that is apparent in the presented photographs; he asked if the renovation would include any treatment to slow such discoloration in the future. Ms. Woodall responded that the extensive staining may be the result of overflow from a clogged drain on the roof or a balcony; she said that all drains would be replaced, in addition to cleaning the concrete facades and parapet. Ms. Meyer asked if the brick knee wall would be lowered throughout the ground floor. Ms. Woodall responded that the change would occur only at the east lobby, which serves as CFPB's main entrance for employees and visitors; the top of the lowered wall would align with the interior floor. She added that one entrance to the lobby would also be relocated to improve its relationship to Liberty Plaza. Mr. Krieger asked if the first-floor columns would be replaced or simply enlarged. Ms. Woodall clarified that only the outer surface of the columns would be removed, and either additional concrete or a special casing would then be installed around the column; the goal is to design a fiber polymer casing that would be thin enough to allow the existing column diameter to be maintained. Mr. Krieger observed that the casing shown in the presented photograph appears shiny; Ms. Woodall said that the casing in this recent photograph is still curing as part of the testing of this technique, and the appearance of the finish may improve.
Mr. Pivovarov presented the changes to the Liberty Plaza design, based on comments from the Commission as well as other agencies. The intent has been to simplify the plaza design to provide the public with an experience that is both clear and diverse. He said that the plaza's modest scale and quiet character provide a welcome contrast to the busy streets and large open spaces in the vicinity, extending to the monumental scale of the Mall. He noted that the ground-floor retail space fronts the plaza as well as the street edges. The connections between the plaza and the surrounding streets would be reinforced to invite public use, while addressing the constraints of the grade change to the 17th Street sidewalk and the access ramp to the Winder Building. The historic brick walls of the Winder Building, as well as its shallow foundations, would not be disturbed, and the prevailing use of brick in the plaza would continue. He added that the renovation would also address security and construction code issues.
Mr. Pivovarov described the plaza as having two distinct zones: a quieter perimeter zone, and a more active zone toward the center that relates to the retail spaces. A cascading water feature extending to the 17th Street sidewalk would attract the interest of pedestrians. Upon entering the plaza, people would be near the retail stores and an eighteen-inch-high limestone-surfaced planter that serves as a seating wall. A line of honey locust trees would align with the main entrance axis; he emphasized the effort to provide adequate soil depth for the trees despite the complex basement conditions below. Other parts of the plaza include a bosque of ginkgo trees and a brick-paved area. He indicated additional architectural elements including a stair pavilion and an arcade or porch extending along the Winder Building facade. The existing sunken garden and lower-level water feature would remain, with plants cascading down the limestone walls. He indicated the carefully designed alignments of the plaza's features, in both plan and section, as initially developed in the concept phase. He added that the water cascade is also designed to function as a crash barrier, reducing the number of bollards needed along the plaza's 17th Street entrance. The F Street entrance to the plaza would be simplified to become a single ramp framed by planters, making use of an existing planter in this area.
Mr. Freelon asked for clarification of a ramp shown in a rendering; Mr. Pivovarov responded that this ramp provides barrier-free access to the Winder Building, and its details such as the railing are designed to meet code requirements; he said that the goal has been to minimize the clutter of elements at this ramp, but this issue remains problematic. Mr. Freelon suggested attaching the railing to the adjacent wall, which would allow for removal of the support posts. Mr. Pivovarov noted that the nearby plinth has been limited to an eighteen-inch height to avoid the need for a safety railing.
Mr. Pivovarov described the challenging extremes of sun and shade in the plaza; careful study of the conditions has resulted in revising many of the planting proposals shown in the concept submission. The occasional lime wash for the Winder Building facade is also a challenge for any plants in this area. He indicated the bronze-colored finish of plaza elements, relating to the materials of the CFPB building. Cedar planks would also be used in some areas to soften the overall appearance of the plaza.
Mr. Cornell provided further details of the proposed plantings. In response to Ms. Meyer, he said that the ginkgo bosque would use the autumn gold ginkgo, and the ginkgos and thornless honey locusts in the plaza would have the relatively tight spacing of fifteen feet. He said that consideration has been given to air stagnation, as well as to soil depth and sunlight, in the selection of plant species that will thrive in their proposed locations; a particular concern was to place flowering trees in locations with adequate daylight to induce the flowering. He described the study of the ground surface treatment within the tree bosque area; the proposal is to use crushed granite, ranging from dust-size to 3/8-inch diameter; the surface would be stabilized with a binder, allowing for water permeation while preventing the surface from being tracked through the plaza or washed away by rain. He presented additional proposed plantings, including winter jasmine cascading from the top of walls and a native mix of dogwood and cypress trees; he emphasized that the planting palette is based on the existing plantings, both within the plaza and at teh building's perimeter.
Mr. Pivovarov presented the proposed lighting, which is intended to support the design goal of a simplicity and clarity. Areas of special lighting include uplights for the water features, cove lighting at the roof to suggest a floating appearance, accent lights beneath some trees, and lighting of the historic bank elements being displayed. He described the alternatives for display of these fifteen elements, including eleven sculptures depicting animals and four larger sandstone medallions approximately thirty inches in diameter. The historic preservation agreement calls for displaying these in the plaza and providing interpretative information, which could address many aspects of the site's history in addition to the demolished bank building. Option 1 would display the eleven sculptural elements on the north facade of the stair pavilion, arranged in a grid pattern with the twelfth space being used for an interpretive plaque; he noted that this location would be visible from the street. Option 2 would place the eleven sculptural elements in a line along the back of the porch along the Winder Building, with the supports integrated with the porch's structural system. With either option, the four medallions would be displayed in one of the first-floor passages between the plaza and G Street, providing a more sheltered setting.
Ms. Woodall presented alterations to the sidewalk spaces. All of the sidewalk pavers would be replaced to match the existing. Street trees would be protected during construction. Several bronze-finished bollards would be added, and some bollards would be concealed within signs at the pedestrian entrances to the plaza. Streetlights would be introduced along G Street, allowing for removal of the building-mounted lights. A playground for the childcare center would be placed in a small open space at the west edge of the site, a revised location that better addresses safety concerns and review agency comments although relatively small. She said that the playground at this location would have little visual impact on Liberty Plaza. Mr. Freelon asked about daylight at this location; Ms. Woodall confirmed that the playground has adequate sun exposure.
Ms. Gilbert commented that the entrance to the plaza from 17th Street appears too constricted, and she suggested eliminating the water feature; she said that other water features within the plaza would be sufficiently large and prominent. This change would allow for widening the stairs across the 17th Street entrance area and treat the flanking wall more gracefully, resulting in a more open appearance. Mr. Pivovarov acknowledged this concern and said that dozens of design alternatives were considered for this complex area. He said that the water feature is intended to announce the plaza's presence and establish a sense of celebration to draw people in; the sound of moving water would be part of the effect. Ms. Gilbert said that the relatively small water feature near 17th Street would have the effect of diminishing the importance of the larger water feature toward the rear of the plaza. Mr. Luebke clarified that the original design by Urbahn and Sasaki included a water feature at the 17th Street location.
Ms. Meyer recalled that more changes to the building had been presented at the concept stage; Ms. Woodall confirmed that the scope of changes has been reduced, such as eliminating a proposal to replace existing stone panels with glass. She added that the concept proposal had envisioned placing the childcare center on the roof, screened by an eight-foot-high wall; the revised location of the childcare center results in eliminating the previously proposed rooftop alterations.
Mr. Freelon supported Option 2 for the display of the eleven historic elements, commenting that this linear display would give more meaning to the porch structure; he said that its purpose is currently unclear because no entrances to the Winder Building are located along it. Mr. Powell and Mr. Dunson agreed with this preference.
Mr. Krieger supported Ms. Gilbert's concern about the fountain near 17th Street; he suggested an additional tree or more seating in this entrance area to the plaza, observing that the proposed design would provide seating only within the plaza at some distance from the sidewalks. He said that the fountain might eventually become a maintenance problem. For the historic elements, he suggested a focus on the objects themselves as seen in the linear configuration of Option 2, rather than treating the display as an artistic grid as seen in Option 1.
Ms. Meyer expressed reluctance to support Option 2 for the display, commenting that the porch currently functions as a shaded seating space, but the placement of the historic elements might instead require people to view them while standing. She said that the result may be that the historic elements appear merely as clutter within a sitting area. She asked why Option 2 would place the elements within a framing system instead of simply embedding them within the wall behind. She said that the freestanding placement may give too much importance to objects that are not extraordinarily special, while placing them within the wall surface would provide better protection from the weather and reduce the sense of visual clutter.
Ms. Meyer criticized the lack of comparative drawings to illustrate changes from the concept submission to the current proposal; after studying an earlier drawing from the Commission's files, she has concluded that the concept site plan had a subtlety that is not evident in the simpler current design. She nonetheless acknowledged the presented reasons for many of the design revisions. She recommended lowering the seat wall from the proposed height of eighteen inches, in order to provide ergonomic comfort for a great portion of the public; she said that the wall height in the concept proposal was sixteen inches, which would be more appropriate. She agreed with the suggestions to remove or simplify extraneous features such as the railing along the water cascade, adding that the stepped wall could instead be straight. She said that the 'sentry' ginkgo trees could be spaced even more closely, perhaps at eight to ten feet instead of the proposed fifteen-foot spacing.
Ms. Lehrer suggested further study of the placement of the historic elements as shown in Option 2. She suggested shifting them to the wall along the building instead of near the seating edge, and she recommended a more careful alignment of the historic elements with the building windows. Mr. Krieger agreed, suggesting a simple placement within the wall and centered between the windows; this would allow elimination of the proposed support posts. Ms. Meyer noted that the Winder Building is itself historically significant, and placing the bank's artifacts into this wall may require additional review for historic preservation issues. Ms. Woodall added that the scope of this project does not include the Winder Building nor its areaway. Ms. Wright added that while the issue of the project scope could be resolved, the problem may be that the bank elements are not of sufficient quality for display on the Winder Building facade. Mr. Krieger commented that the Winder Building has merely a blank facade at this location along the plaza, and any of the display options being discussed would treat these elements as being perhaps overly precious. Ms. Wright acknowledged that this issue has been part of the ongoing difficulty in deciding how to meet the requirement for display of these elements.
Mr. Powell said that the excessive framing of the historic elements in Option 1 may give the display the appearance of a "charm bracelet"; he supported embedding them within the wall or perhaps creating insets in which the historic elements would be placed. Ms. Wright said that this option was considered, although only two options were presented today; she noted GSA's usual preference for determining a preferred option before presenting to the Commission. Ms. Lehrer supported insets or niches as a solution for displaying the historic elements within the wall of the stair pavilion. Mr. Luebke noted the potential incongruence of displaying masonry elements within niches in a wood plank wall. Ms. Meyer said that simple recesses could be successful, and the relationship of the materials would not be problematic; either the north or west wall of the pavilion could be considered. Mr. Krieger said that using both walls of the enclosure may be the best solution, but he acknowledged that the combination of materials seems counterintuitive; Ms. Meyer added that hanging the masonry elements on a frame would also appear counterintuitive. Mr. Krieger observed that the stair pavilion is already designed with a combination of materials, and perhaps a sufficiently large area of masonry wall could be provided to contain the historic display in the lower part of the pavilion. Ms. Meyer asked where the interpretive information would be placed; Mr. Krieger said that a location could certainly be found for this component. Mr. Pivovarov noted the requirement to provide some degree of weather protection for the historic elements, and displaying them beneath a roof overhang or within the porch was intended to satisfy this requirement. Mr. Krieger acknowledged that these issues require further study; he emphasized the more fundamental question of how much importance to place on this display.
Ms. Meyer questioned the appropriateness of approving the final design as presented, commenting that it has changed considerably from the concept design and has not resolved all of the design issues, as shown by the lack of consensus on the display of the historic elements. Mr. Krieger said that the simplifications from the concept design are acceptable; even if the current design is slightly less sophisticated, the previous design was too complicated. He reiterated his support for most components of the proposal; Ms. Lehrer added that she supports the fountain proposed along the 17th Street edge, despite the consensus of other Commission members. Chairman Powell suggested that the Commission could approve the final design while providing comments for further study of the historic display. Mr. Freelon suggested delegating further review of this component to the staff; Mr. Luebke said that the staff could return the issue to the Commission if it is not being resolved satisfactorily.
Mr. Dunson summarized the apparent consensus to explore placing the historic elements on the stair pavilion, as seen in Option 1, but with a revised design. He suggested reorganizing the pavilion facades to emphasize a central horizontal band that would contain the display; he recommended careful study of materials, color, texture, and overhangs to develop the design of this pavilion. He added that the historic elements could have the appearance of floating within vitrines, if sufficient space is available. Ms. Gilbert said that the stair pavilion could be clad in a green screen with vines; Ms. Woodall noted that a green screen had been proposed at the concept stage, but the subsequent analysis of daylight resulted in concern about whether plants would grow successfully on these facades.
Mr. Freelon offered a motion to approve the concept design, with review of the remaining design issues delegated to the staff. He acknowledged the varying opinions of the Commission members on some issues, adding that he supports the overall simplification as an improvement to the design. Mr. Krieger asked if the placement of the historic elements is intended to recall the original configuration of the bank building; he observed that the CFPB building has numerous wall surfaces beneath overhangs that could be used for the display, similar to the proposed display of the larger medallions. He seconded Mr. Freelon's motion, with the inclusion of this additional suggestion. Chairman Powell supported this conclusion, and the Commission adopted this action.
D. District of Columbia Public Library
CFA 19/NOV/15-6, Cleveland Park Neighborhood Library, 3310 Connecticut Avenue, NW. New replacement building. Concept. Ms. Batcheler introduced the proposal for a new library building to replace the existing smaller modernist Cleveland Park Neighborhood Library, located on the west side of Connecticut Avenue between Macomb and Newark Streets. She noted that a comment letter from the architectural review committee of the Cleveland Park Historical Society has been distributed to the commission members. She asked Richard Reyes-Gavilan, the executive director of the D.C. Public Library (DCPL), to begin the presentation.
Mr. Reyes-Gavilan said that the the Cleveland Park library is the most heavily used neighborhood library in the city, with 251,000 people visiting the library in 2014. He said that it is small for the needs of the modern library user, and it has few spaces for assembly, collaboration, and learning. DCPL has held public meetings about the replacement project, and the discussions included the building's materials and context. He described the proposed design as both iconic and respectful of Cleveland Park's historic context. He introduced architect Matt Bell of Perkins Eastman to present the design.
Mr. Bell described the context of Cleveland Park, a primarily residential neighborhood that was historically reached by streetcar along Connecticut Avenue. A block south of the library site is the deep ravine of Klingle Valley, along with the architecturally significant bridge spanning it, designed by Paul Cret, that carries Connecticut Avenue; these serve as a southern gateway to the neighborhood. The library site is at the southern end of the neighborhood's commercial district, with predominantly one-story commercial buildings to the north and large apartment buildings to the south. Some of these buildings along Connecticut Avenue feature the Art Deco style; common design features of the commercial facades include metal storefronts, limestone, and ornamental urns. He noted that Connecticut Avenue passes through the area at an angle to the side streets, creating irregularly shaped corner parcels, including the library site. The Cleveland Park Historic District includes the homes on the side streets, many in the Arts and Crafts style with prominent porches that mediate between public and private space; the house facades are typically brick, siding, or shingle, and often have stone bases. He indicated the upward slope of Newark Street from Connecticut Avenue along the site's northern boundary.
Mr. Bell described the existing library building, one story high along Connecticut Avenue with a two-story portion on the western side adjacent to the houses. He said that the library is well loved and well used, but he described its design character as "humdrum." He indicated the large front window, which he said is the west facade's best architectural feature, and the Metro ventilation grate along the Connecticut Avenue sidewalk that effectively limits the new building's entrance location. On the interior, he said that the location of the children's room opposite the front door is a safety concern for the community; the second-story portion of the building contains offices and meeting space.
Mr. Bell described the program for the new library program, which totals 29,711 square feet, although this might be reduced; he compared this to the existing building size of 15,162 square feet on a site of approximately 20,000 square feet. He said that the new program increases the square footage allotted to every function, notably public circulation and meeting space. He presented the proposed distribution of the program: the street level would include the entrance and circulation lobby, meeting rooms, workrooms, and areas for children and teens; the upper level would have the adult collection and a reading room, with an area for popular books that overlooks the double-height building lobby. He noted the community interest in increased acoustical separation between the areas for children and adults.
Mr. Bell presented illustrations of the building's massing and exterior appearance. The entrance would be at the corner of Macomb Street and Connecticut Avenue; he said it would have a civic and welcoming presence. Through the library's massing and the covered exterior spaces on either end of the upper reading room volume, the building would relate to the houses with porches along Newark Street and Macomb Street. The sidewalk-level facade on Connecticut Avenue would include large windows to attract visitors, similar to a retail store and recalling the existing library's front windows; the glass would be divided into bays to resemble the cadence of commercial architecture along Connecticut Avenue. He said that the library is designed to continue the street wall defined by commercial buildings in blocks to the north, helping to overcome the gap in the street wall due to a surface parking lot immediately north across Newark Street. The massing along Macomb Street is intended to reflect the rhythm of the adjacent houses.
Mr. Bell described the site's landscaping, which is proposed to include a garden in the northwest corner of the site and a green roof. He said that the building is intended for "net zero" energy consumption, and it could include solar panels or geothermal energy. He indicated the placement of low walls to screen the Metro grate along Connecticut Avenue. The southern side of the site would have bioretention features along with plantings to screen the sunlight; the northern side might also have bioretention features as well as detailing to bring sunlight into lower levels. The garden at the northwest would be accessible from the children's area and would be terraced. The site plan also includes benches outside the building, although safety concerns will be considered.
Mr. Bell said that the palette of exterior materials would relate to the neighborhood context, including brick, limestone, metal, copper, and wood. The entrance on the southeast would have a vertical expression, with a 35-foot-high corner tower; materials being considered include copper, zinc, brick or terra cotta, along with wood cladding inside the entrance portico and at the reading room's porches. He presented elevations depicting the various materials. He said that the interior has not yet been designed in detail but might include small individual study spaces and flexible meeting spaces with warm materials and featuring views out to Klingle Valley and the neighborhood. The second-floor reading room would be oriented on the same north-south axis as the houses on Newark Street and Macomb Street, and the porch at the north end would have a greater scale and more visibility than the southern porch. The reading room volume would be the tallest portion of the building and would be located along the site's western side. He compared the site plans of the existing and proposed buildings, noting that the proposed northwestern corner would be located further from the adjacent house on Newark Street. He added that the exterior glazing is designed to make the interior highly visible at night.
Mr. Freelon asked if a retractable partition would be needed to separate the program areas on the ground level; Mr. Bell confirmed that a moveable partition is intended, and its design is in progress. Ms. Meyer asked about the usability of the south-facing porch; Mr. Bell confirmed that library users would have access to it. Mr. Freelon asked about the depth of the porch; Mr. Bell said that it would have a depth of six feet, and it is also designed as a sun-shading feature. Ms. Meyer asked about the discrepancy between the perspective views and site plan in the depiction of landscaping and planters. Mr. Bell responded that the site plan will be updated to show the increased number of planters as seen in the perspective views.
Mr. Dunson commented on the prominence of the reading room's north porch along Newark Street, appearing to be out of scale with the rest of the composition. He questioned the reading room ceiling's great height and suggested that it could be lowered while still maintaining the room's prominence on the exterior. Mr. Bell responded that the north porch would be larger because the immediate context is of a larger scale, and the different porch designs serve to distinguish the Newark Street and Macomb Street sides. Mr. Freelon said that the reading room's width-to-height proportion appears to be problematic. He also commented that the research on the varied neighborhood buildings was thoughtful, but the proposed design incorporates too many materials on different planes with different configurations; he recommended simplifying the material palette; Mr. Krieger agreed. Mr. Dunson complimented the rhythm of the Connecticut Avenue facade but commented that the transition around the Macomb Street corner seems abrupt.
Mr. Krieger commented that the conventional massing of commercial buildings usually places the taller portion along the commercial street, with the lower portion to the rear alongside neighboring residential areas, but the proposed library design is counterintuitively reversed. He also questioned the design and placement of the two-story reading room volume; he noted that while the more important view was described in the presentation as being toward the south, the reading room's expression on the north facade is a larger gesture adjacent to the single-family houses. He observed that the larger apartment buildings to the south across Macomb Street seem more compatible with a larger facade gesture on the library. Mr. Bell responded that the proposed massing relates to the proportions of the low commercial storefronts across Connecticut Avenue. He added that the angled roof above the reading room would be shorter at the center of the building, and sloping upward to the north and south ends to accentuate the porches. He said that the proposed configuration would enhance the sense of procession to the reading room and allow for good northern and southern views; he nonetheless offered to study the height further. Mr. Krieger suggested consideration of moving the larger volume to the Connecticut Avenue side of the building; the view from the southern end would then encompass the Klingle Valley bridge instead of focusing on the apartment building across Macomb Street. Mr. Bell said that the proposed placement of the reading room takes into account the potential for a future building on the parking lot across Newark Street; he added that the southern porch would provide a view of Klingle Valley between buildings along Macomb Street. He added that the proposed configuration provides the second-floor room in the southeast entrance tower with views of the bridge and ravine.
Ms. Meyer commented that the proposed six-foot depth of the porches would be inadequate for shading sunlight; they would therefore be only symbolic, without actually performing the functions of energy efficiency and comfort that are usually provided by porches. She also expressed concern that the landscape design for the ground plane creates an inappropriately suburban character in this urban context; she recommended reducing in the number of planters and refining the landscape of public spaces to be more coherent rather than episodic. Mr. Bell responded that the design intent is to create a hardscaped urban corner at the southeast, and to seamlessly obscure the Metro ventilation grate further north.
Ms. Gilbert suggested that bicycle racks be incorporated into the design, noting that many children would likely bicycle to the library. Ms. Meyer agreed, and she requested a plan showing the first floor and site design together, which she said would help to understand the relationship between the site grade and the reading room porches; she noted the traditional role of porches in mediating between the sidewalk and a building's first floor.
Chairman Powell noted the Commission's strong interest in developing a good design for the library, and he suggested that the project team consider the comments and return with a revised design. He conveyed the Commission's appreciation for the presentation. The discussion concluded without a formal action.
E. D.C. Department of General Services
1. CFA 19/NOV/15-7, Marvin Gaye Recreation Center, 6201 Banks Place, NE. New recreation building. Revised concept. (Previous: CFA 17/SEP/15-6.) Mr. Lindstrom introduced the revised concept for the Marvin Gaye Recreation Center, which responds to the Commission's request in September 2015 for more details and a model of the proposal. He asked architect Rick Harlan Schneider of ISTUDIO to present the design.
Mr. Schneider recalled the Commission's overall support for the concept as previously presented, subject to further development of the building design. He summarized the background and context for the project, indicating the site near the eastern corner of the District of Columbia. The site is bisected by Watts Branch and occupies most of the triangular block bounded by 61st Street, Southern Avenue, and Banks Place; several private houses on the block are adjacent to the site's southwest corner. He indicated the extensive recreational areas occupying much of the site, including a baseball field, football field, basketball courts, picnic area, and splash park. He said that his firm was hired by the D.C. government to implement a concept that was developed through community consultation, configuring the recreation center building as a bridge structure spanning Watts Branch. However, this configuration proved to be infeasible after further study of the stream's flood zone and the overall floodplains in the area; he cited the opposition of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the D.C. Department of the Environment (DDOE). He said that the current concept proposal was developed to respect the spirit of the community-based design while addressing the site's environmental constraints; he noted that the recreation center's namesake, the musician Marvin Gaye, grew up in this neighborhood and popularized songs about environmental issues.
Mr. Schneider said that the desire to keep the site's recreational areas and large trees resulted in the identification of a narrow strip of land south of Watts Branch as the only feasible location for the new building. Due to the low elevation within the floodplain, the building would be set on a plinth; and because of the small area of buildable land available, a two-story building is proposed instead of the earlier plan for a one-story bridge structure. The upper story would be rotated and cantilevered toward Watts Branch and the adjacent trees, encouraging the community users of the recreation center to enjoy the proximity of the stream and conveying a sense of the originally intended bridge structure.
Mr. Schneider presented the site plan, indicating the shifted location of the basketball courts and football field. A new walk from Banks Place on the west, the primary direction for neighborhood access, would lead to the recreation center's entrance; an additional entrance plaza and walks would connect the new building with 61st Street on the north and Southern Avenue on the southeast, using an existing pedestrian bridge across Watts Branch. He described the proposed building's primary entrance on the west, with a less formal secondary entrance on the east close to the pedestrian bridge. He said that the recreation center building is conceived as a three-dimensional expression of the system of site walks, internally conveying the sense of being able to move in angular patterns around the site and across Watts Branch. He indicated the configuration of ramps and stairs that would bring people up from grade to the top of the plinth and the building's first floor. The long cantilever of the upper level would culminate in a balcony overlooking the stream and trees. The south facade of the upper level would have extensive glazing to provide views across the recreation fields, augmented by a perforated metal screen to reduce solar heat gain and glare. The screen would also extend upward to shield the sizeable rooftop mechanical equipment. He likened this facade treatment to the recently constructed Shaw branch of the D.C. Public Library, using a very modern material for practical benefits. He indicated the design features on the site model, emphasizing the use of simple rectilinear volumes to create a rich design. The graphic design on the screen has been refined to a foliage pattern, after consideration of bolder alternatives such as images of Marvin Gaye in performance; he said that the foliage pattern would convey the spirit of the music in a simpler and less literal manner.
Mr. Schneider presented the building plans, indicating the major spaces: on the first floor, the lobby, gallery, community room with stage, and a set of restrooms that can be entered from the interior or exterior; on the second floor, a fitness room, continuation of the gallery, and senior citizens' room with the balcony overlooking the stream. The design includes a green roof as well as rooftop mechanical equipment. He described the elevations, noting that additional solar shading and reduction in the extent of glazing are still being studied for the south facade. The metal screen would be carved away to mark the main entrance on the west, where signage may be located. The north facade, without need for solar shading, would provide framed views of the stream. The columns supporting the second-story cantilever would be angled, conveying a dynamic character. He presented building sections and perspective views, noting that the size of structural framing is still being studied.
Mr. Freelon asked why the screen with the foliage pattern is cut off on the north side of the building instead of continuing further. Mr. Schneider responded that the elevations omit the trees that fill and constrain some views of the building; the decorative screen was considered unnecessary in areas where the facade would be seen through actual tree foliage. He also emphasized that the metal screen with the foliage pattern would serve as a solar shading device, which is functionally less important for the north facade; instead, the building surfaces would be directly exposed.
Ms. Meyer described the project is very beautiful, but she noted the prevalent regulations concerning environmental issues, as seen in the Commission's review of site designs with extensive biofiltration areas; she asked how this building is being allowed within a floodplain, and whether mitigation measures are required. Mr. Schneider responded that the project team's civil engineering firm has been evaluating the project's impacts and coordinating with FEMA and DDOE. The goal has been to demonstrate that the proposal would have minimal impact on potential flooding, which is addressed by having a small footprint and an elevated first floor. Ms. Meyer reiterated her surprise that the project is obtaining regulatory approval, because it appears to reduce the extent of open land that would be available for normal groundwater filtration, potentially worsening the flooding in downstream areas. Mr. Schneider said that the bermed plinth is preferable to setting the building on low pilotis, which could result in creating a habitat for unwanted wildlife beneath the building; because the proposed area of fill is relatively small in comparison to the overall site, he expressed optimism that the ongoing regulatory review process would have a favorable outcome. He said that initial approval is needed from DDOE, which will forward its recommendation to FEMA for further review. Ms. Meyer said that the design could be defended for its positive environmental effects: urban streams often become too warm to support wildlife, while this project would provide shade for the stream to reduce the water's heat gain. She acknowledged the design intent to avoid attracting wildlife to this building, but she suggested more careful consideration of how this project could contribute to riparian wildlife habitat. She emphasized that awareness of such environmental benefits could be important as a response to regulatory concerns about floodplain impacts, in order to achieve permission to construct this very elegant project. Mr. Schneider agreed, adding that the goal is a "regenerative" project rather than a project that is simply neutral in its environmental effects.
Mr. Krieger questioned whether the design has quite achieved the superlative quality cited by Ms. Meyer. He commented that the modest program elements within the southeast wing of the first floor—an office, computer lab, and restrooms—result in an awkward relationship between the major volumes of the building. He suggested that a more elegant design would be achieved by emphasizing the angled volume that slopes upward from the lower entrance to the upper balcony, with a strong visual relationship to the stream. He said that this refinement would make the building more elemental and beautiful, while being less costly. He added that the footprint of the deleted program areas could be treated instead as a terrace overlooking the recreation fields to the south, and the program areas could be accommodated elsewhere in the building. He expressed appreciation for the physical model of the proposal, which he said clarifies his concern; he said that the currently proposed massing may retain unnecessary vestiges of earlier conceptual approaches that are no longer important to the design.
Mr. Powell joined in supporting the proposal as an elegant design, while also supporting Mr. Krieger's guidance to simplify and clarify the major design gestures. Mr. Freelon observed that eliminating portions of the program may not be feasible; Mr. Krieger reiterated that they could instead be reconfigured.
Chairman Powell suggested a consensus to approve the revised concept subject to the comments provided, with further review delegated to the staff. Ms. Lehrer asked if a more developed landscape design would be presented to the Commission; Mr. Schneider said that this was covered more extensively during the initial presentation in September 2015. Chairman Powell revised his motion to omit the delegation, anticipating further review by the Commission of the next submission. Mr. Luebke noted that some of the issues raised by the Commission may have a significant effect on the design, and an action today on the revision of the previously approved concept may be unnecessary. Mr. Krieger suggested a more supportive action, and Chairman Powell noted that several Commission members expressed enthusiasm for the proposal while none has opposed it; he said that the issue now is to develop the concept. Mr. Schneider offered to meet further with the staff on the next steps for the building design and a response to previous comments concerning the landscape, which can be presented to the Commission as part of the final design submission. Chairman Powell supported this procedure, and the Commission voted to approve the revised concept submission.
(Chairman Powell departed at this point, and Vice Chairman Freelon presided for the remainder of the meeting.)
2. CFA 19/NOV/15-8, Marie H. Reed Community Learning Center, 2200 Champlain Street, NW. Building renovation, additions, and site alterations. Concept. Mr. Lindstrom introduced the proposal for renovations, additions, and site alterations to the Marie H. Reed Learning Center, located in Washington's Adams Morgan neighborhood. He asked Jeffrey Luker of Quinn Evans Architects and landscape architect Sharon Bradley of Bradley Site Design to present the project.
Mr. Luker said that the Marie Reed Center was designed in 1972 and completed in 1978. The building is composed of separate east and west blocks joined by a bridge over Champlain Street, a north-south street that is primarily residential. The current entrance is in the western block facing 18th Street, the major commercial artery of Adams Morgan, although he said that the intended primary entrance had been at Champlain Street. He described the building as an active community center adjacent to a lively commercial district. It houses an elementary school, a daycare center, and health clinics; the popular recreational amenities of the building and site include an indoor swimming pool, playgrounds, tennis courts, soccer field, amphitheater, and basketball courts. The lower level of the eastern block contains a parking garage and mechanical services, while the lower level of the western block houses the swimming pool with a gymnasium above. The community had supported a proposal to replace the building, which was acceptable to the D.C. Historic Preservation Office, but he said that the building's massive concrete frame would be very difficult and expensive to demolish; the decision is therefore to modernize the existing structure, although the community is not yet convinced that this is the best approach.
Mr. Luker described the site as large and topographically complex. The building is set toward the north end of the site, where the grade remains level from 18th Street east to Ontario Street. South of this flat area, the ground slopes steeply down to the soccer field and the southern boundary along Florida Avenue and California Street; this steep slope creates distinct places for different programmatic elements. He noted that vagrancy poses security problems on the site at night.
Mr. Luker said that many features of the building's heavy, Brutalist design pose challenges for renovation, including small windows, a dark interior, large floor plates, and transverse concrete barrel vaults. The facades are dominated by concrete balustrades. The building would retain the same uses and occupants, along with much of the existing structure and organization.
Mr. Luker presented the proposed alterations, which include many changes to the facades intended to respect the heavy character while making it more open. Alternating pairs of brick panels would be removed from the facade and replaced by glazed storefronts with solar controls, allowing adequate daylight to reach the classrooms. New skylights would be cut into the concrete vaults. The school's open classrooms would be reconfigured as three different commons areas lit by skylights and surrounded by acoustically controlled individual classrooms. Green roofs and photovoltaic arrays would be added to improve the building's sustainability. Skylights and solar panels would be set in the existing concrete barrel vaults behind a new parapet wall, built in line with existing arched windows. A new entrance is proposed on the west, facing 18th Street, leading to a lobby for the school, and a nearby second lobby at a lower level would serve the program areas of the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation. The two lobbies would be connected by ramps and a grand internal stairway; the connection between the two areas could be closed off so they can be operated independently. Other changes include moving the kitchen out of the parking garage to a new floor inserted above the pool and adjacent to a cafeteria; a new community "legacy space" would also be located on this infill floor above the pool. Younger children would use playground areas adjacent to their classrooms; older children would use the larger playground on a lower level of the site.
Mr. Krieger asked for clarification of the location of the existing and proposed facades. Mr. Luker responded that the existing facades are generally developed as two masses, with the upper floor overhanging the lower; niches or recesses in the building plan would be filled in, bringing every facade surface out to the same plane. An addition containing a new elevator is proposed, but generally the proposed changes to the building would not extend beyond the existing footprint. Mr. Krieger asked for further clarification of the new facade elements depicted in the drawings. Mr. Luker indicated where a storefront facade would be added; in front of this a perforated metal screen would provide solar shading, and the building's name would be printed on the screen in supergraphic lettering.
Ms. Bradley presented the site design, noting the goal of providing clarity and definition of use among the multiple programs at Marie Reed Center; she emphasized the complexity of the programs and site. She said that the uses are now poorly organized, and the building has complicated circulation patterns with no clearly defined entry points or routes, difficult sightlines, and dark corners. She described the Marie Reed Center as a civic space for Adams Morgan as well as a school; it is the location for many community events, and the rehabilitation project should provide venues for such activities as well as a safe and secure space for the school. She said that the existing site design includes about a dozen different levels in front of the school and does not provide barrier-free circulation; the challenge is to create contiguous spaces with simplified alignments. The site also needs improved connections with 18th Street.
Ms. Bradley identified the point where the axis of 18th Street intersects the axis leading east to the school entrance; she said that this node would form the beginning of the entry sequence into the school grounds. The design proposes configuring the entire area between the building and 18th Street as a single plane, creating a continuous civic space that would be available for community use. Fence panels are proposed to create a secure school zone; these could be removed to allow the school area to form part of the civic space when needed. Clear visual and physical access would be provided from the entrance plaza to the recreation lobby's entrance plaza below; the sightline to the Washington Monument would be emphasized. She indicated the proposal for a grand exterior stairway, designed to follow the rhythm of the building columns. Walks with a shallow slope of less than five percent would weave through gardens of themed plantings; these plants, along with stormwater management features, would be interpreted as part of the broader educational experience. The grounds would also include play areas for younger students, demonstration areas for nutrition, edible gardens, and an urban garden program.
Mr. Krieger commended Mr. Luker and Ms. Bradley for the intelligent presentation of a promising proposal. However, he commented that some aspects of the project are difficult to understand from the presented drawings. He recommended construction of a physical model, observing that renderings may not be sufficient to describe the site's complicated topography and the relative position of the program elements. Mr. Luker responded that the design has been developed three-dimensionally using two different computer rendering programs. Mr. Krieger indicated the inaccuracies in a rendering, and he reiterated that either the drawings should be improved or a model should be provided. Mr. Freelon suggested preparation of a sectional model showing the relation of the building and grade; Ms. Meyer supported this request.
Ms. Meyer agreed with Mr. Krieger that the project is strong, but even the experienced professionals on the Commission are having difficulty understanding the graphics. For example, she said that the relationship between interior levels and the site topography is unclear, particularly for the interior stairway. She also requested a clearer depiction of the proposed subtractions and additions to the building; Mr. Krieger agreed. Ms. Meyer concluded that better graphics could substantially reduce the presentation time while strengthening the concept as a preservation strategy.
Ms. Lehrer emphasized that a study model could be sufficient, with removable roofs and walls allowing for experimentation with different forms for the internal stairway; it would also be a useful tool for community presentations. She agreed that the project is impressive, commenting that its ambitious scope could serve as an example to other communities on how to combine a wide variety of programs. She asked about the overall size; Mr. Luker responded that the building encompasses 150,000 square feet. Ms. Lehrer observed that the building's high ceilings provide the opportunity to insert other uses as the community grows. Noting that children do not necessarily follow a direct line, she commented that the planting areas along the entrance route would likely be trampled; she recommended developing a consistent design solution for edges in the landscape, such as curbs and perhaps seating. Noting the project's many nighttime activities, she requested more information on the proposed night lighting.
Mr. Freelon observed that the proposal would improve a representative 1970s building through judicious subtractions and additions, with the subtractions particularly effective in lightening the overall heaviness. He said that the building accommodates its programs well, and he supported the proposed programmatic changes. He commented that the presentation of the existing and proposed plans was too difficult to follow, and he suggested simplifying them before the next community presentation. Mr. Krieger agreed that the proposed changes seem intelligent, but he reiterated the request to prepare clear and accurate graphics. He compared a photograph and rendering of the slope in front of the building, observing that the drawing does not accurately depict the steepness of the slope. Mr. Luker asked if a fly-through video animation would be helpful; Ms. Meyer said that preparing many additional sections might suffice. Mr. Luker agreed to produce more renderings and sections, and to consider making a study model as well.
Ms. Meyer observed that the first presentation at today's meeting, on the proposed World War I Memorial, involved demolishing a design from roughly the same period as the Marie Reed Center. She commented that this building could easily be disliked, and yet the project team has found things to appreciate in the design and has identified ways to make it better. She said that while it is common to say that a community cares about sustainability, this project demonstrates an understanding that social memory and material energy are embodied in this building, and she supported the effort to give it new life. Ms. Lehrer added that she is pleased that tearing down the building would be too expensive, resulting in the proposal for respectful renovation.
Upon a motion by Ms. Meyer with second by Ms. Lehrer, the Commission approved the concept for the proposed rehabilitation, with a request for additional graphic materials to align the design with the verbal presentation.
F. D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs — Shipstead-Luce Act
SL 16-016, Jewish Primary Day School of the Nation's Capital, 6045 16th Street, NW. Addition and building alterations. Concept. Ms. Batcheler introduced the proposal for the Jewish Primary Day School of the Nation's Capital, located slightly north of Military Road and across 16th Street from Rock Creek Park. The project would expand the existing modernist brick school building to accommodate two additional grades of students and to improve the school's overall facilities; the design also encompasses the adjacent public space. She noted the constraints of the oddly shaped site and steep grades. She introduced John Wittmann of Geier Brown Renfrow Architects to present the design.
Mr. Wittmann described the existing building, dating from 1950 and in need of modernization; the Jewish Primary Day School has been using the building since 2002 for grades two through six, and the proposal would accommodate students through the eighth grade. He said that educational needs now require more extensive space than in 1950, and the overall size of the school would therefore be increased from 30,400 to 68,400 square feet. He described the context of single-family homes along 16th Street and apartment buildings, and he emphasized the forty-foot grade change across the site. From the streets to the east, elevated views extend across the school site to Rock Creek Park on the west. He indicated the existing entrance at the middle of the 16th Street facade, reached by monumental stairs flanked by lawns; a major component of the proposal is to move the school's entrance to a more secure location at the back of the building along a parking area.
Mr. Wittmann presented massing diagrams of the proposal to retain the northern block of the existing school, containing classrooms that are configured well for current needs; add a third floor to this block, along with smaller modifications at the north end; demolish the central entrance area and gymnasium block to the south; and construct new blocks to the south and east. The existing parking area to the northeast would be retained and improved, extending beneath the eastern addition. The new gymnasium to the south would have a rooftop playing field. The new central core area would connect all of the blocks, and its entrance lobby would include access from 16th Street as well as from the parking area. He said that the appearance of the building from 16th Street, as experienced by many people in vehicles, has been carefully designed for compatibility with the residential context. He indicated the facade alterations to the retained classroom block, as well as the use of brick, curtainwall, and rain screen panels to define portions of the overall west facade. Projecting from the upper part of the 16th Street facade at the central core, the beit midrash—a room for the study of Jewish writings—would be emphasized as an iconic element of the school.
Mr. Wittmann presented several renderings and diagrams of the facades, indicating the use of a planted trellis and glass curtainwall at several locations. Mr. Freelon questioned the extent of glass on the lengthy west facade, noting the problem of solar heat gain. Mr. Wittmann responded that this would be addressed in the selection of the glass; Mr. Freelon recommended consideration of shading in addition to the properties of the glass. Mr. Wittmann said that some shading is currently included in the design, and this feature can be developed further; he noted the difficulty of the low sun angle in relation to the west facade. Mr. Krieger asked about access to the rooftop playing field above the gymnasium; Mr. Wittmann responded that a stair and lift would provide access to a top-floor vestibule, not shown in the presented plans, that would connect to this playing field. He said that this upper projection would be kept low to avoid an excessively tall appearance for the building.
Sharon Bradley of Bradley Site Design presented the landscape proposal. She described the challenge of retaining the natural character of the constrained site while accommodating the school's program; she emphasized the site's position between Rock Creek Park to the west and a smaller linear park extending to the southeast. The design responds to the park context by placing bioretention areas, native plantings, and stone walls within the sloped edge along 16th Street. She said that the proposed materials are related to those of Rock Creek Park as well as the building facades, and the design of the stormwater management system would provide an immersive educational experience for students and faculty. The existing topography is generally used in the design, with minimal regrading. She indicated the second-floor access and curved walk leading to an elevated nature-themed playground area southeast of the school; the walk would have sufficiently shallow grades to provide barrier-free access without extensive ramping. Adjacent to the walk, an amphitheater-shaped learning space would be set within the descending topography. Beyond the playground would be a secluded garden for reflection and prayer, framed by existing trees at the site's highest point. Ms. Meyer asked about the existing treatment along the property line. Ms. Bradley indicated an existing fence and a row of evergreen trees, which would be retained or replaced; she acknowledged the importance of screening the site from neighboring properties, and she said that the site design places quiet activities along the site's most sensitive edge. She presented the proposed plant palette, which emphasizes native plantings that would be massed in large swaths.
Ms. Gilbert asked about the dimensions of the stairway leading to the 16th Street entrance, commenting that it appears small. Mr. Wittmann indicated the offset ten-foot-wide flights, and he confirmed that this is not intended as the school's main entrance; some pick-up and drop-off would occur here, and it could be used for more direct access to Rock Creek Park, but the primary entrance would be at the northeast corner of the lobby. The design intent is nonetheless to provide an entrance feature within the prominently visible facade along 16th Street; he acknowledged the ongoing issue in the design process of how to emphasize this feature while not encouraging people to climb the stairs to reach a closed entrance. He said that an additional design goal is to establish a park-like landscaped character along the west facade instead of the larger underused plaza and monumental stair that currently exist. Mr. Krieger commented that the resulting proposal may look too much like an undersized stair and not enough like a landscape. Ms. Gilbert said that the design appears to be a missed opportunity for adding small gathering areas to each side of the landings; Mr. Krieger agreed, commenting that people may want to sit in this area to enjoy the Rock Creek Park views in addition to using the entrance door. Ms. Gilbert said that this location could have a very contemplative character.
Ms. Gilbert acknowledged the purpose of the site walls within the sloping grade, but she questioned their unclear relationship to the proposed curving walks; she suggested more careful study of the design elements. Ms. Bradley said that the site walls serve to establish flat areas within the steep slope in order to accommodate the bioretention features; the curves are constrained by the limited available space along 16th Street. Ms. Gilbert and Mr. Freelon suggested extending the walls further into the landscape, beyond the ends of the walks, in order to convey a sense of movement through the site.
Ms. Meyer raised an overall concern that the site plan appears to be merely a series of events that are not coherent and connected. She recommended giving first priority to addressing 16th Street as an important corridor of the city; she observed that the site plan does not convey a clear strategy for this frontage, citing the uneven spacing of street trees. She said that a possible concept could be to establish a second row of trees along 16th Street to create a stronger urban edge; an elegant landscape solution could allow for eliminating the 16th Street stairs and entrance, instead creating a balcony or terrace in this area. She said that the proposed design may result in a chain being placed across the stair to block access to this entrance. Mr. Wittmann clarified that this entrance would be used in the morning for students arriving by bus. Ms. Meyer and Ms. Gilbert said that a more generous design is therefore needed for this stair, inviting students to sit and gather before entering the school.
Ms. Gilbert asked about the treatment of the site's southern edge. Mr. Wittmann clarified that two houses are located in this area, sharing a driveway entrance from 16th Street. One house is owned by the school; the other is privately occupied, and it is therefore not included in this project. Ms. Lehrer said that notwithstanding the gap in the school's ownership along 16th Street, the streetscape should be more coherent; she questioned the apparently abrupt termination of the sidewalk before reaching Military Road to the south. Ms. Bradley offered to clarify the graphics in this portion of the site plan. Mr. Luebke noted that much of the proposed stormwater bioretention area would be located within the public space along 16th Street, which is typically not allowed under D.C. regulations. Ms. Bradley responded that on previous projects, she has worked with the D.C. Department of Transportation and Department of the Environment to address this issue successfully; creative solutions involving public space can be an acceptable response to site constraints. She said that the school would likely need to enter into a maintenance agreement to take responsibility for this space.
Ms. Meyer said that the more important issue is to treat the 16th Street frontage as public space rather than just as a water filtration area. She suggested further consideration of the site walls as places where children could sit near their bus stop, not only as retaining walls for the stormwater features. Ms. Bradley acknowledged the reasons for designing a more welcoming space in this area, but she said that the design goal has been a visually pleasing space rather than one that invites occupancy; she cited the school's concern with security and the preference not to have students gather in the outdoor area along 16th Street. She said that student pick-up would occur at the more protected location of the parking lot to the northeast. Mr. Krieger asked if the site design includes security barriers; Mr. Wittmann responded that protection would be provided through the design of the facade and windows. Mr. Krieger commented that regardless of the school's issues, 16th Street has significance as a primary axis for the national capital, and it should be enhanced by this project, such as through additional street trees or an improved sidewalk. He acknowledged the reasoning for not designing the street frontage as an attraction for students, but he emphasized that it could be designed to provide more benefit for the general public. He suggested giving more prominence to the beit midrash on this facade, treating it as a civic feature even if not a public space, and he added that the current design is somewhat understated.
Ms. Gilbert commented that providing more canopy trees would contribute to the site design; Mr. Krieger agreed. Mr. Freelon added that large trees along 16th Street would serve to shade the west facade. Ms. Meyer said that the shift in the 16th Street site stair, along with the offset alignment of the entrance and the beit midrash, suggests the opportunity for improved spaces for students. Mr. Krieger emphasized that regardless of programming details, the school should be in the tradition of a public building on a public street, including a strong entrance feature and major room along the west facade. Ms. Gilbert added that this conceptual guidance should also extend to the landscape design. Mr. Krieger and Mr. Freelon agreed that the project needs further creativity, refinement, and enhancement. Ms. Bradley offered to restudy the entrance area and 16th Street frontage, drawing on alternative concepts that were developed earlier in the design process.
Mr. Luebke asked for comments on the portion of the building around the parking area; Mr. Krieger said that this part of the concept design is satisfactory. Vice Chairman Freelon suggested approval of the concept submission with the comments provided; upon a motion by Mr. Krieger with second by Ms. Meyer, the Commission adopted this action.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 3:32 p.m.
Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA