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 10:04 a.m.
Hon. Earl A. Powell, Chairman
Hon. Philip Freelon, Vice Chairman
Hon. Edward Dunson
Hon. Liza Gilbert
Hon. Mia Lehrer
Hon. Elizabeth Meyer
Thomas E. Luebke, Secretary
Frederick J. Lindstrom, Assistant Secretary
A. Report on the disposition of agenda items from the canceled meeting of 21 January 2016. In lieu of January minutes, the Commission was provided with a report on the disposition of items from the January agenda, which was published prior to the decision to cancel the meeting.
B. Dates of next meetings. Secretary Luebke presented the regularly scheduled dates for upcoming Commission meetings, as previously published: 17 March, 21 April, and 19 May 2016.
C. Confirmation of:
1. Approval of minutes, 19 November 2015
2. Adoption of the updated Commission of Fine Arts Strategic Plan
D. Confirmation of the approval of recommendations for:
1. December 2015 Old Georgetown Act submissions
2. January 2016 Government Submissions Consent Calendar
3. January 2016 Shipstead-Luce Act submissions
4. January 2016 Old Georgetown Act submissions
Mr. Luebke requested a vote by the Commission to confirm several actions taken by notation vote during December and January. With a sequence of motions, the Commission confirmed these actions.
E. Report on the approval of one object proposed for acquisition by the Freer Gallery of Art in December 2015 and two objects in February 2016. Mr. Luebke reported Chairman Powell's approval earlier in the week of the Smithsonian Institution's acquisition of two artworks as part of the permanent collection of the Freer Gallery of Art: an 11th-century stoneware jar for storing grain, intended as a funerary accoutrement; and a Neolithic ritual tube of carved jade. He noted that an inspection of these objects by the Commission is currently difficult to arrange because the Freer building is undergoing renovation. The approval of these artworks is in addition to the acquisition of a silk ceremonial dress that was approved by Chairman Powell in December 2015.
F. Introduction of the new staff Public Affairs Specialist, Daniel Fox. Mr. Luebke introduced Daniel Fox, who joined the Commission staff in late November to work on publications, public communications, and the website. He summarized Mr. Fox's training in American studies and historic preservation, and his work experience with the D.C. and New York chapters of the American Institute of Architects and at a New York architecture firm. Chairman Powell joined in welcoming Mr. Fox to the staff.
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 said that no changes have been made to the draft appendix for February 2016. Upon a motion by Ms. Meyer, the Commission approved the Government Submissions Consent Calendar. (See agenda item I.D for the Government Submissions Consent Calendar from January 2016.)
Appendix II – Shipstead-Luce Act Submissions: Ms. Batcheler reported that the only revisions to the draft appendix for February 2016 are minor wording changes and updates to note the receipt of supplemental materials. Upon a motion by Ms. Meyer with second by Mr. Freelon, the Commission approved the revised appendix. (See agenda item I.D for the January 2016 appendix of Shipstead-Luce Act cases, and II.E for an additional Shipstead-Luce Act submission.)
Appendix III – Old Georgetown Act Submissions: Mr. Martinez reported that the only revisions to the draft appendix for February 2016 are updates to note the receipt of supplemental materials that conform to the recommendations of the Old Georgetown Board. Upon a motion by Mr. Freelon with second by Mr. Dunson, the Commission approved the revised appendix. (See agenda item I.D for the December 2015 and January 2016 appendices of Old Georgetown Act cases.)
B. American Battle Monuments Commission
CFA 18/FEB/16-1, National War Memorial Park, Wellington, New Zealand. New United States memorial. Concept. Secretary Luebke introduced the concept proposal for a new United States memorial to be located in the Pukeahu National War Memorial Park in Wellington, New Zealand. He said that the New Zealand government has invited the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) to build this memorial to honor the American armed forces that helped defend New Zealand in World War II; it will recognize the shared sacrifice of both countries. The memorial will be part of a new commemorative precinct adjacent to New Zealand's War Memorial; the 2015 expansion, honoring the centenary of the First World War, includes sites for smaller monuments from different national and international groups. The U.S. memorial will be located in the eastern arm of this new park. A design team led by architect Monica Ponce de Leon of MPdL Studio won the three-stage competition. He asked Thomas Sole, chief engineer of the ABMC, to introduce the proposal.
Mr. Sole described the ABMC's establishment in 1923 as an independent federal agency to design and build monuments commemorating U.S. participation in World War I. The program continues today, honoring U.S. involvement in other overseas wars, and the ABMC has begun a new program working with historians to identify periods of American history that have not been adequately commemorated. As a result, the ABMC has recently built some new monuments, such as one in South Korea that was reviewed by the Commission in March 2012. He added that from the ABMC's inception, the designs of its memorials have benefited from CFA review. He introduced Harry Robinson, executive architect of the ABMC, to present the design on behalf of Ms. Ponce de Leon; Mr. Luebke noted that Mr. Robinson is a former CFA member and chairman.
Mr. Robinson described the new memorial precinct, formed by depressing and decking over an east-west roadway running in front of New Zealand's national War Memorial; an array of small sites has been disposed symmetrically on either side of a central axis extending down a hill from a plaza in front of the New Zealand memorial. The current site for the U.S. memorial is toward the east end, adjacent to a street with a wide pedestrian walk; the assignment of the site has been changed since the design competition, and this new site has allowed the winning design team to further develop the idea of discovery and improve the relationship to the context.
Mr. Robinson said that simplicity is a guiding principle of the design, following the precedent of Maya Lin's Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The design includes a central panel that has been oriented so that visitors would have to walk around the site to find the optimal point for viewing the panel; they would see the existing New Zealand war memorial rising in the background. He said that the panel would be treated as an extrusion from the ground, and both the panel and the surrounding ground would be warped planes. Portions of the panel would be articulated as waves, imagery referring to New Zealand's maritime history, and a commemorative quotation would be inscribed on the faces of the extrusions. He summarized that the memorial would provide a place of respite from which to contemplate the entire National War Memorial Park.
Mr. Dunson commented favorably on the idea of warping the ground plane, and for the design's connection to the larger park landscape. He asked if the reorientation of the competition design for the current site had improved its relation to this landscape. Mr. Robinson responded that the new site's proportions are similar to the original, but all the sites are small relative to the larger landscape. Instead of entering the site directly off a walk as first conceived, visitors at the new site would have to discover the small memorial within a grove of trees and also find the view of the national war memorial across the panel.
Ms. Lehrer asked for clarification of the layout of the multiple sites; Mr. Robinson confirmed that each of the stepped areas shown on the plan would be a memorial site of similar scale. Mr. Dunson observed that the context drawing suggests this site is almost separate from the rest of the park; he asked if it would be visually or physically connected to the overall commemorative complex. Mr. Robinson said that each of the small memorial sites is separate, and each steps down from the grade of the central war memorial plaza; retaining walls on the U.S. site extend down the slope on two sides, and four steps lead up to the site from the adjacent major pedestrian walk. He noted that Ms. Ponce de Leon hopes to eliminate these steps and have a sloped pedestrian route rising directly onto the site.
Ms. Meyer expressed her admiration for the general conception of the design. She supported the decision to change sites; although the new site will be about the same size as the previous one, she said that the new site will be perceived differently because it is located on a corner. She encouraged the designers to think about how this memorial will be experienced on this particular site. She observed that the design includes only the ground plane and a tree canopy above eye level, with little to provide a visitor with a sense of visual separation from the experience of the city; she said that an alternative would be to create a grove with more layers of planting. She also commented that experience is related to scale, and she recommended that the design team think further about the modest scale of this site, which is only about a ninth of an acre. She questioned whether the waves on the panel and the configuration of the ground plane as currently proposed would be understandable as a single aesthetic idea. She recommended simplifying the multiple elements of the project to emphasize its design integrity and enrich the visitor's experience. Mr. Robinson responded that the design team has conceived of the surface as a single warped plane, and although the design guidelines had designated a certain number of trees for this site, the design team has negotiated for more in order to create a grove. Ms. Meyer supported this effort.
Ms. Lehrer recommended exploring the idea of relating the color, texture, or topography of the perimeter walls to the design of the memorial itself to establish a more integrated design, adding that such a treatment could set a precedent for other memorials in this park. Mr. Robinson clarified that the enclosure of the U.S. site varies from a forty-inch-high wall at the rear to a four-inch-high curb with no wall at the front. He said that the varying height of the perimeter walls would help with the intent to have a single ground plane that is partly warped and partly vegetated. Ms. Lehrer questioned the longevity of some of the plants that are proposed in the guidelines, specifically Dodonaea viscosa.
Ms. Gilbert commented that visitors may not have a clear sense that they are in the memorial space. She supported Ms. Lehrer's suggestion to create an entirely sculpted, integrated landscape, including the panel. Ms. Gilbert added that the proposed text appears very small in relation to the size of the panel, and the waves look too much like computer-drawn lozenge shapes. She acknowledged this was probably only the first iteration of the design, but she emphasized that it needs more exuberance.
Chairman Powell noted the helpful comments that have been provided, and he recommended approval of the concept proposal; upon a second by Mr. Dunson, the Commission adopted this action.
C. DC Water
CFA 18/FEB/16-2, O Street Pumping Station, 125 O Street, SE. New administrative headquarters building for DC Water. Concept. Mr. Lindstrom introduced the proposal from DC Water for an office building along the Anacostia River waterfront. The site encompasses DC Water's existing O Street Pumping Station and is adjacent to recent and planned developments along the waterfront, one block east of the Washington Nationals baseball stadium. He asked architect Sven Shockey of SmithGroup JJR and landscape architect Lisa Delplace of Oehme, van Sweden & Associates to present the design.
Mr. Shockey said that the project results from the need to move DC Water's administrative offices away from Blue Plains, where more space is needed for the water treatment processes. The proposed building would accommodate all of the administrative offices in a single location instead of at scattered sites. The building is intended to be a strong example of sustainable design and to serve as a highly visible face for this utility agency. The proposal is a six-story office building with 150,000 square feet; it would be part of a small campus of DC Water facilities, which includes the O Street Pumping Station from the 1960s and the adjacent historic pumping station from 1907. He described the site's character as utilitarian and industrial; seventy percent of the city's stormwater and sewer flow passes through this location. He presented a plan of the extensive below-grade infrastructure, much of it at a shallow depth, that must be protected from damage; he said that the constraint of these existing conditions has greatly influenced the structure and form of the proposed building, along with the opportunities provided by the riverfront site. He indicated the anticipated development to the north and east, planned by the Forest City development company, that will improve the definition of the street grid in this area.
Mr. Shockey described the proposed form of the building. Its placement toward the south end of the site reduces the extent of structural spanning above the existing pumping station; he presented a diagram of the proposed foundation system that is threaded around the existing below-grade pumping equipment and pipes, including a 200-foot-long truss system that would support conventional structural framing above. The eastern edge of the building is constrained by the north-south view corridor of Canal Street. The building's curved form responds to the views up and down the river, which bends at this location; he said that these views along the river's edge would be more interesting than simply orienting the building for views directly across the river. The building core would be in the deepest portion of the plan, and the north facade would be predominantly opaque; the office space on the upper floors would be configured as a relatively shallow band oriented to the daylight and river views on the west, south, and east. The ground floor would be limited to the relatively small area not occupied by the existing pumping station; this entire space would be configured as a combined lobby and exhibit area, with building entrances at the southwest and northeast. He noted that the southwest entrance would initially be secondary but would become more important as the adjacent Forest City development is completed. He indicated the extensive glazing proposed for the ground floor's facade, allowing extensive views between the site and the interior lobby-exhibit space. The interior would also have views into the existing pumping station through windows that would be cut into its facade abutting the lobby-exhibit space, allowing visitors to directly observe the pumping equipment.
Mr. Shockey presented samples of the proposed exterior materials: two types of clear glass for the lobby and the upper floors; tinted glass that would provide an additional layer of solar protection at two portions of the upper facades, determined through energy modeling; an additional type of tinted glass interspersed on the facades; painted aluminum panels, used primarily on the north facade; a gray metal panel for the penthouse; and a perforated metal panel for a screen wall around the loading areas to the north.
Mr. Shockey described additional sustainability and energy conservation features of the design. The office space configuration would provide abundant daylight from the perimeter, reducing the need for electric lighting. On the south, each upper floor would project two feet beyond the floor below to provide shading, which would be particularly effective in summer months. The topography would be built up by one foot to place the building above the 500-year floodplain. Rainwater on the site would be collected in a 30,000-gallon cistern for use within the site and building; he noted that most of the ground is not permeable due to the extensive below-grade infrastructure. Taking advantage of the site's unusual concentration of sewer lines, an innovative heat recovery system would draw energy from the sewage. The landscape design emphasizes low-impact development techniques, and native plantings would be used on the site and roof. Parking on the site would be very limited, and extensive bicycle facilities would be provided. Ms. Meyer asked for clarification of how people would reach the site; Mr. Shockey noted the existing Navy Yard Metro station two blocks to the north, bus service in the area, and the availability of commercial parking garages nearby. He summarized that the building is designed for the highest energy rating of LEED Platinum, and many of the energy conservation features would be made apparent to the workers and visitors.
Ms. Delplace presented the landscape design, which she said responds to the site's existing infrastructure constraints. She emphasized that DC Water's commitment to sustainability extends to encouraging employee commuting without cars. She indicated the site's multiple access points that would be available to employees, as well as the two building entrances and the extensive bicycle facilities; one of the bicycle storage areas would be adjacent to a guardbooth, and a bicycle maintenance facility would be provided. The existing truck and service area for the O Street Pumping Station would remain to the north and west. A proposed auto court to the northeast is designed as a flexible plaza space that could be used for gatherings. A promenade leading south from the auto court would extend the Canal Street alignment to the riverfront. An esplanade parallel to the river would be edged by a continuous bench, set within the extensive planted areas that would provide biofiltration of stormwater. Runnels and swales from the auto court would lead to this biofiltration area, providing an open display of the rainwater management system. Rainwater beyond the capacity of the biofiltration would be collected in the cistern for reuse.
Ms. Delplace described the proposed near-term configuration of site fencing and the visual screening of the service area; this configuration would be modified upon completion of the Forest City development, and it would take advantage of the planned adjacent building as part of the screening. Sightlines toward the river would be more open. She described the various palettes of plants for different parts of the site, including extensive planting at the entrances; she also presented the palette of roof plantings. She summarized the design goal of expressing the mission of DC Water through both the architecture and landscape of the project.
Ms. Lehrer expressed appreciation for the presentation that described the thought process for developing water-related design concepts and responding to the existing pumping station. She acknowledged the success in integrating the landscape and architecture. She asked how the proposed boardwalk esplanade would relate to general circulation routes along the riverfront. Ms. Delplace clarified that the DC Water campus would be secured and would not be generally accessible to people using the waterfront; access would be arranged as needed for visitors, typically school groups. She indicated the existing public boardwalk that is set above the river to the south, providing a public connection to the waterfront park areas to the east and west; the design goal is for the site's landscape to be visually open to people on this boardwalk, and the proposed cable fence along the river edge would allow for this visual transparency.
Ms. Meyer cited the compelling presentation and the logic of the proposal; she noted the rarity of presentations that provide a clear diagrammatic explanation of the reason for proposed forms. She reiterated her concern with access to the site, noting that the controlled perimeter was not initially clear. She acknowledged the programmatic choice to make the site non-public, and she recommended designing the site to be welcoming for those who do gain access.
Ms. Gilbert suggested consideration of expressing the extensive below-grade infrastructure in the landscape design; she asked for clarification of the infrastructure lines illustrated in the presented diagram. Ms. Delplace acknowledged the complexity of this infrastructure. She indicated two pipes that extend to tide gates at the river's edge; a large machine lifts or lowers these wooden gates when necessary, and the brickwork behind can be seen. Sewer pipes are located at various depths and date from various historical periods; they continue south beneath the river toward the Blue Plains treatment facility. Older components that are no longer in use, such as historic manhole covers, could be part of the lobby exhibits. Ms. Gilbert asked what would be visible from the public boardwalk; Ms. Delplace confirmed that the tide gate openings within the seawall would be visible. Ms. Gilbert emphasized her support for promoting the visibility of DC Water's infrastructure, such as the design feature of providing views from the proposed lobby-exhibit space into the existing O Street Pumping Station. Ms. Lehrer suggested providing interpretation to improve understanding of the infrastructure, including along the site's limited-access promenade.
Chairman Powell joined the other Commission members in enthusiastically supporting the project, and he suggested approval of the concept proposal. Upon a second by Mr. Dunson, the Commission adopted this action. Mr. Luebke noted Mr. Freelon's recusal from the vote due to his business relationship with the architecture firm.
D. District of Columbia Department of General Services
1. CFA 18/FEB/16-3, Duke Ellington School of the Arts, 1680 35th Street, NW. Building modernization and additions. Final. (Previous: CFA 20/MAR/14-5.) Ms. Batcheler introduced the final design submission for modernization of the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, designed by a joint venture of Lance Bailey & Associates and Cox Graae + Spack Architects. She noted the Commission's previous review of concept submissions in January 2014 and March 2014. The design team has subsequently developed the design in response to the comments from the Commission, other review agencies, and the community; the design has also been adjusted to reduce the project cost. She asked architect Chris Graae of Cox Graae + Spack Architects to present the proposal.
Mr. Graae said that the presentation emphasizes a comparison of the current design with the approved concept from March 2014; the focus will be on the major changes to the site plan and building exterior, with less discussion of the interior plans that have also been evolving as the design has been developed. He noted the building's complex history as previously presented, with the front portion dating from the late 1890s and numerous subsequent additions; he said that the school has been only modestly renovated in the past. He summarized the overall diagrams of the proposed modernization, emphasizing that the integrity of the concept remains even after removal of some elements due to budgetary constraints. He indicated the previous proposal for a large glass-enclosed reading room, described as the "lantern," to be placed within the building's entrance portico; this reading room has been eliminated from the design, and the school's media center will be entirely within the existing building volume. He added that this cost-saving deletion could be considered a benefit for retaining the integrity of the historic central portico. The rooftop gathering space above the main auditorium has been modified, following extensive coordination with the community; he said that the protrusion above the roof of the egg-shaped auditorium volume has now been reduced to approximately the height of a railing. The fly loft above the auditorium stage would now mostly be contained within the existing fly loft; the proposed exterior treatment is now painted brick, as seen elsewhere on the historic facades, instead of the previous proposal for new cladding. The location for the entrance to the lower-level garage has been debated throughout the design process; the previous proposal was along Reservoir Road on the south, while the current proposal is along 36th Street to the west as requested by the D.C. Department of Transportation. He indicated the resulting changes on the elevation drawings and site plan. He indicated revisions to the proposed facades in response to programmatic spaces that need to be windowless. Several existing windows on the west facade, dating from the 1920s, were proposed for restoration; but these windows would not be desirable adjacent to the planned black-box theater. The current proposal is to infill these openings with recessed brick, based on consultation with the staffs of the Commission and the D.C. Historic Preservation Office. A similar treatment is proposed for several other windows on the north and south facades.
Mr. Graae presented samples of the proposed materials and finishes, which he said have evolved as the design has been developed. Fritted glass would be used in some areas to respond to privacy concerns of neighborhood residents. Other materials include clear glass and composite panels; modern materials would be used to replicate some historic features that were removed in the past, including the balustrade and a pair of entrance porches. One of these porches would become the primary entrance for students, requiring durable materials. Windows would be replaced, and existing trim would be replicated; a new atrium skylight would become a major interior feature but would not be visible from the surrounding streets.
Mr. Graae described the site plan revision to eliminate the previously proposed stepped amphitheater space in front of the central portico, which had necessitated multiple walks to address the grade changes. The current design has been simplified, and the relationship of the portico to the landscape will be more direct and clear. Ms. Gilbert asked about the monument sign indicated on the site plan. Mr. Graae responded that several options are being considered for replacing the unsatisfactory existing sign for the school, with several potential locations toward the east side of the site. He said that the D.C. government has suggested developing the sign design as a project of the school's art program, making use of the talents of the students at this magnet school for the arts. In addition to the school's name and address, he said that the sign could include display space for information about upcoming events at the school such as the major theatrical productions.
Mr. Freelon recalled the Commission's earlier concern that the facades of the proposed additions suggest the character of an office building in contrast to the historic school facades. He said that the comparison of drawings in the presentation shows little response to this concern; he expressed overall support for the project but suggested further effort to make the new facades consistent with the historic educational architecture. Mr. Graae responded that this past advice has not been rejected, but recent changes have focused on smaller changes such as simplifying the design and selecting colors that are less strong. He said that the contemporary design aesthetic and complex curves of the new facades are intended to be clearly distinct from the building's historic fabric. Mr. Luebke clarified that Mr. Freelon is likely describing the Commission's comments in January 2014; the subsequent presentation in March 2014 responded to these comments, and it is the March design that is shown for comparison in the current presentation. He said that the design evolved considerably between the two reviews in 2014, although the Commission may still decide to comment that further revision is needed. Mr. Freelon reiterated that the design continues to suggest a corporate appearance, although the full extent of the design's evolution may not be apparent in the presented comparisons.
Ms. Meyer supported Mr. Freelon's comments; she said that a contemporary addition to a historic building can be appropriate, but the issue for the Commission is to give the school the character of an educational building rather than a commercial building. She said that this issue may not be sufficient reason to disapprove the current proposal, but it should be taken into consideration for future projects. Mr. Graae responded that the design for this project is unusual because of this school's unique arts-focused curriculum; while Washington has other magnet schools, this building requires numerous large performance spaces for the arts activities, and the program is therefore unlike the traditional classroom configuration of a school. He said that these spaces have generated the design response of tall glass panels and the expression of large volumes that would not be expected for a typical school. Ms. Meyer said that the issue is not the expression of the program but the choice of materials, which give the design the character of an office building. Mr. Freelon emphasized his overall support for the project notwithstanding this concern.
Ms. Gilbert commented that the simplified site treatment in front of the central portico has the result of preserving a landscape that clearly has an academic character; she cited the simple site elements of grass, walks, and trees as an ideal setting for the school. She recalled her concern at the number of trees that were previously proposed for removal, and she said that the elimination of the amphitheater feature is an improvement. She commended the thorough tree survey that has now been provided to the Commission. She said that a monument sign must be carefully sited to avoid intruding on the front landscape, and she recommended that new site elements including trees be coordinated with the important views across the landscape. Mr. Graae responded that the large lawn in front of the building has been kept unobstructed in the design to encourage impromptu student activities such as playing Frisbee. Ms. Gilbert supported this strategy, commenting that the teenagers would readily enjoy the landscape without needing an amphitheater.
Chairman Powell summarized the consensus to approve the final design while providing comments for further consideration by the project team. Upon a motion by Mr. Freelon, the Commission adopted this action.
2. CFA 18/FEB/16-4, Marie H. Reed Community Learning Center, 2200 Champlain Street, NW. Building renovation, additions, and site alterations. Revised concept. (Previous: CFA 19/NOV/15-8.) Mr. Lindstrom introduced the revised concept proposal for renovations to the Marie H. Reed Community Learning Center. He noted that the Commission approved the concept design in November 2015 with a request for additional documentation, including clarification of what would be removed from and added to the existing building, and of how the landscape would relate to interior spaces. He asked Jeffrey Luker of Quinn Evans Architects and landscape architect Sharon Bradley of Bradley Site Design to present the design.
Mr. Luker said that the proposal would separate the building's elementary school and the community services, which are located on the building's top two levels, from the recreation facilities on the lower levels. This division is necessary primarily to separate student use of the swimming pool and gym on weekdays from community use after school hours and on weekends; it requires clearly recognizable separate entrances and an improved means of negotiating the site's steeply sloping site. The focus of the intervention would be a new addition to the west side of the building facing 18th Street, with a new main entrance to the school at the north end of this addition and a new entrance to the recreational facilities at the south; these would replace the original entrance beneath the building's bridge structure spanning Champlain Street. In front of the proposed school entrance, a large plaza would provide a gathering place for community events. A stairway and a series of ramped walks would lead down the slope to the recreation center entrance, the soccer field, and the two tennis courts. The playground for younger children would be retained at the east side of the site, near Ontario Street. A playground for older children would be built on the west, adjacent to the new community plaza, and would incorporate the existing basketball court.
Mr. Luker said that the main school entrance would lead to a new double-height entrance lobby. A metal scrim for solar control and signage would be added on the facade. He noted that Marie Reed was built in the aftermath of the 1968 riots, and it was designed with very small windows. For the proposed rehabilitation, blocks of concrete panels would be removed and replaced by insulated glass storefront windows with solar controls, opening up views and flooding each classroom with daylight. The building would be organized around large programmatic spaces—the pool area, the lobby overlooking the pool, and the three large skylit commons areas surrounded by classrooms.
Mr. Luker said that sustainable design strategies for the project include green roofs and a large array of rooftop solar panels. Some spaces on the site would be used more efficiently, such as an area on the east side that would create a service bay for trash pickup off Champlain Street.
Ms. Bradley described the proposed landscape as an interactive experience that would encourage people to use the entire site. The landscape along 18th Street, currently broken up into multiple areas, would be reorganized as the community plaza. Sliding fence panels would allow the space to be enlarged or reduced to suit different activities and to create a controlled area for the school. A consistent vocabulary of materials for the architectural and landscape design would provide visual continuity.
Ms. Bradley said the plaza would function as a node at one end of an east-west axis through the building; it would create a clear approach to the school entrance as well as a cross-axis to the stair and ramps, which have a distant vista southward to the Washington Monument. Along the axis, the scale would shift from the urban context and larger spaces for older children at the west to the more residential scale at the east, where the smaller classrooms and playground for younger children would be located.
Ms. Bradley indicated the barrier-free pedestrian route through the landscape that would connect 18th Street with Champlain Street. From the community plaza, ramped walks would negotiate the twenty-foot descent through terraced bioretention areas; the walks would have a slope of less than five percent, and handrails would therefore not be necessary. She described the bowl shape of the topography, the selection of year-round plantings, and the use of seat walls as some of the strategies that would guide movement and prevent people from cutting through the bioretention areas. Rainwater would flow through these areas and beneath cantilevered benches, and the second plaza at the recreation entrance would feature a splash pad area that could be used for other activities when the water is not on.
Ms. Bradley said that the landscape design's connection to the building has been improved in response to the Commission's previous comments. Retaining walls are now designed to meet the building columns at right angles; the walks would be laid out as two sets of repeating parallel lines down the slope. She added that the design includes space for programs that reflect the school's tradition of incorporating gardening and environmental topics into the curriculum. Edible gardens would be planted on the hillside at the east side of the building; adjoining the playground for younger children would be a learning area with two raised planters and a demonstration table.
Ms. Lehrer expressed appreciation for the excellent presentation that clarified the program, movement through the site, the incorporation of environmental systems, and the use of color. She said that the proposed work would make the forty-year-old building appear fresh, and she recommended also extending the use of more of the color across the site, including in the new paving. Noting that the next renovation may be many decades away, she encouraged careful study to find the best solutions and materials, and she suggested working with vendors to select creative play equipment.
Ms. Gilbert observed that the bright blue continuous lintel and other highlights on the facade would point to the terrace gardens, direct one's view to the Washington Monument, and signify the building entrance. She suggested making the line or its color bolder, or employing a different color for the perforated screen, because color against the dull beige of the concrete facade would be an effective design gesture.
Ms. Gilbert commented that the unshaded ramps would be hot during the summer, and she recommended adding trees wherever possible to create comfortable areas for sitting. Ms. Meyer agreed, adding that more trees should be planted to provide shade for parents watching children play in the recreational areas during the summer. She suggested drawing additional landscape sections and studying views. She also agreed in expressing appreciation for the excellent presentation of an impressive proposal; she added that the programmatic challenges had appeared nearly insurmountable, but the design team has figured out how to make strategic deletions and insertions to simultaneously interlock and separate the programs of school and community center. Mr. Dunson commented that he is pleased to see a successful revival of a Brutalist building; he said the building would create a literal and metaphoric bridge between communities.
Mr. Freelon commended the design team for its solution to a challenging program, and for addressing the Commission's comments from the previous review; he supported approval of the proposal. Mr. Luker responded that the Commission's previous comments had benefited the project. Upon a motion by Mr. Powell, the Commission approved the revised concept design and delegated review of the final design to the staff.
(Chairman Powell departed during the lunch recess, and Vice Chairman Freelon presided for the remainder of the meeting.)
E. D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs—Shipstead-Luce Act
SL 16-053. Three new single-family residences at 4652, 4654, and 4656 Broad Branch Road, NW. Concept. Ms. Batcheler introduced the proposal for three new residences to be built on three contiguous undeveloped lots in the 4600 block of Broad Branch Road, NW, facing the west side of Rock Creek Park. She described the character of the park edge as sylvan, with the road running through a steep, narrow valley next to the Broad Branch stream and little visible development alongside it. The three lots, each approximately a quarter acre, are wooded and steeply sloped at the rear. Two lots would have vehicular access from new curb cuts on Broad Branch Road, and the northwestern lot would have access from an existing alley on the side. She said that the proposal will likely require zoning review because the lots are within a zoning overlay district that protects certain trees on steep slopes, and the local Advisory Neighborhood Commission will review the two proposed curb cuts on Broad Branch Road. She asked architect James Phillips of Workshop T10 to present the proposal.
Mr. Phillips said that the concept design is for three unique houses that would be unified through some common elements, primarily materials. Constraints on siting the houses include the topography, required setbacks, and trees that must be preserved. He said that the design of each house is intended to take advantage of the site while limiting the need to cut into the hill. Each house would be approximately 5,000 square feet with a footprint of 2,200 square feet, and the three front facades would be generally aligned. The primary entrance to each house would be from the garage; front entrances are expected to be used mainly by guests. Major living spaces would be located at the front along with garages to keep the rear of the lots as natural as possible; garage door openings would be oriented sideways, to minimize visibility from the street. Two stories of living space are proposed above the ground floor to take advantage of views to the park; these upper levels would have floor-to-ceiling aluminum-clad tilt windows. In addition to the garages, ground floors would contain recreation rooms, play rooms, and bedrooms; most of these rooms would receive no natural light. Materials would include cast-in-place concrete for ground-floor facades; dark-gray brick walls, metal panels, and aluminum storefronts above; and cedar siding on the side and rear facades. Garage doors would be aluminum with frosted glass, and driveways would be paved with pea gravel. For privacy, the side facade of the southeastern house would not have windows facing the adjacent house.
Mr. Freelon asked about the treatment of the roofs; Mr. Phillips responded that all three roofs would be flat and would be vegetated. The garage roofs of the middle house and the house to the southeast would have terraces with glass railings. The house to the northwest would have a green roof and a small ground-level courtyard patio at one side, screened from the road by a wing of the house. He said that this house would have the least impact of the three, because the access to the driveway would be from the alley, although a small turnaround area would be needed.
Secretary Luebke indicated the prevailing deeper setback of nearby houses, which are located above the valley edge; he noted that only two other houses along this stretch of Broad Branch Road are situated forward of this prevailing setback and within the valley itself. He said that the addition of the three proposed houses would eventually result in a line of perhaps as many as six or more houses, raising the question of their cumulative impact on the federal Rock Creek Park, the issue for which the review under the Shipstead-Luce Act was established.
Ms. Meyer asked for clarification of how the placement of the houses is affected by the site restrictions, which she said were not diagrammed clearly in the presentation: she asked the location of the steep slope; limitations on how much can be built on the slope; and how the setback of the proposed would compare to other houses in the valley. Mr. Phillips responded that the required front setback is 25 feet, and each house can occupy a maximum of 40 percent of its lot. In addition, each house must have a combined total of 24 feet of side yard, which for each house has been treated as an 8-foot-wide yard on one side and a 16-foot-wide yard on the other. Only a certain number of trees can be cut down, and those with a diameter of 17 inches or more cannot be removed. He indicated on the plan a large tree in front of the middle house, which he said has influenced this house's siting and design. He added that houses can be cut into the slope; the main restriction is on tree removal. The front garages on the southeastern and middle houses would create a 75-foot setback line from the road, while the house to the northwest would be set back 80 feet.
Ms. Lehrer said that the presentation should have documented the topography and tree cover for the nearby lot with an existing house to the northwest of the alley. Ms. Gilbert observed that the design attempts to preserve the vegetation in back of the houses, but the area in front presents the major issue because construction of these houses would dramatically change the experience of driving along Broad Branch Road; she said that aligning the facades of three houses placed so close together would create the impression of "one huge facade." She asked for further information about the intended landscape in front of the houses. Mr. Phillips responded that the houses would be screened by a wall of vegetation planted along a four-foot-high landscaping fence of green mesh; only the driveways would be left visible.
Ms. Gilbert emphasized that the site is in an existing woodland, with canopy trees on the private side of the road and federally owned woodland on the northeast side, and the landscape on these lots needs to remain wooded for the houses to fit in. She said that the special character of the roadway would be lost if construction of these houses creates a huge gap in the woodland landscape. Mr. Phillips acknowledged the difficulties presented by these lots. Ms. Gilbert observed that much of the problem would be created by two new curb cuts on Broad Branch Road; she asked if the project team has explored providing access to all three houses from the alley. Mr. Phillips responded that creating a rear alley was considered but would have severe impacts on the slope and trees. He emphasized that the three houses would add only two curb cuts, and the proposed paving is limited to simple driveways without extensive motor courts.
Ms. Gilbert suggested that the impact of the proposal on the park's setting would be much reduced by elimination of the middle house, which would allow for trees to be planted between the two remaining houses down to the edge of the road; she said that constructing three houses in this context is exceedingly tight. Ms. Lehrer suggested that three smaller houses could also be a solution; she added that a contemporary architectural style may be suitable for buildings in a woodland, but she criticized the placement of large windows that face neighboring houses across a narrow side yard. Without on-street parking allowed along Broad Branch Road, she questioned whether the two-car garages would be sufficient for residents of such large houses; Ms. Gilbert agreed. Mr. Phillips responded that the minimal paving is intended to discourage bringing a large number of cars onto the lots.
Ms. Meyer suggested ways to balance the site constraints with marketability of the houses. She emphasized that the Commission's priority is to minimize the impact of the development on Rock Creek Park. She observed that sheer size does not seem to add value to these houses, commenting that buyers would not want houses with windowless rooms, especially located on a different floor from the kitchen and other areas of activity. She observed that only one of these ground-floor rooms would have a window, and it would face a huge retaining wall. To improve the planning of the houses, she advised taking a more creative approach to circulation and parking, which could reduce the impact on the federal park: the garages could be located underneath the main mass of the houses instead of projecting forward; two families could share a single driveway and parking; or a single driveway from the alley could serve all three houses, eliminating the need for any curb cuts. She advised focusing more on the overall benefit to the woodland than on the loss of a single tree, the removal of which would allow for consolidation of driveways. She concluded that not enough exploration of alternatives at the site-planning stage has been done to justify this particular concept, and instead the impression is that someone simply wants to build large houses, each with a separate driveway, and to squeeze them onto the site regardless of the consequences. Mr. Phillips responded that an alley or a shared driveway would result in a long driveway in front and a larger motor court, and the one large tree cannot be removed; Ms. Meyer reiterated that a case could be made for removing this single tree to mitigate the impact of this development on the stream valley and the national park.
Mr. Dunson commented that driving along this stretch of Broad Branch Road, where few houses intrude on the scenery, provides a welcome respite from the city; he encouraged Mr. Phillips to aspire to designing houses that will contribute to, rather than detract from, this beautiful area. He agreed with the suggestion to minimize the building footprints by locating the main occupiable areas above the garages. He added that while the loss of a significant tree would be unfortunate, in this case it may be warranted. He suggested a revised concept submission that includes a site model showing contours and indicating sightlines along Broad Branch Road to assist the Commission members in evaluating the project's impact. He added that the landscape treatment of the building yards should not resemble a formal green border, such as with the proposed vegetated fence, but should contribute to the area's woodland character.
Vice Chairman Freelon summarized the consensus of the Commission to request a revised concept submission that responds to the comments provided.
F. Department of the Treasury / U.S. Mint
CFA 18/FEB/16-5, 2017 America's Beautiful National Parks Quarter Dollar Program. Revised designs for Iowa and New Jersey coins. Final. (Previous: CFA 15/OCT/15-3.) Mr. Simon introduced the follow-up submission of revised design alternatives for the reverse of two of the state quarters scheduled for issue in 2017. The designs will be produced as circulating quarters and as larger silver bullion coins, and he provided the Commission members with samples of past coins from the ongoing series. He said that the Iowa and New Jersey coins were among the five that were presented to the Commission in October 2015; at that time, the Commission had declined to recommend any of the Iowa design alternatives. The Mint's Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) also reviewed the five coins in October, declining to recommend a preference for Iowa and for New Jersey. The Mint has therefore prepared revised design alternatives for both of these coins. He noted that the Mint has provided an additional design for New Jersey, alternative #5-A, that was not included in the advance materials distributed to the Commission members; this design is the preference of the CCAC, which met earlier in the week to consider the revised alternatives. He asked April Stafford of the Mint to present the designs.
Effigy Mounds National Monument (Iowa)
Ms. Stafford presented 27 reverse designs for the coin depicting the prehistoric Effigy Mounds, noting that the low aerial view of alternative #9 is the preference of the CCAC and of the site superintendent, who is designated as the Mint's liaison for the site. She added that alternative #1 was the CCAC's second choice, depicting a ground-level view with a deer in the foreground.
Ms. Meyer asked about the size of the Effigy Mounds, observing that some designs suggest a scale relationship between the mounds and nearby trees. Ms. Stafford responded that some of the mounds are quite large, and the artist in alternative #4 has included people in the design to further define the scale of the setting. Mr. Dunson said that alternative #4 is his preference, due to its success in conveying the scene.
Ms. Gilbert suggested consideration of alternative #2, depicting a peregrine falcon instead of a pictorial view. Ms. Stafford said that the falcons have been part of a release program at the park, and the design includes wildflowers from the park and an arrowhead with the image of a bird-shaped mound; the arrowhead is a reference to the National Park Service logo and to the Native Americans who built the mounds. Ms. Gilbert emphasized the difficulty of adequately conveying the physical characteristics of the mounds in a coin design.
Secretary Luebke asked whether the designs convey a realistic spacing of the mounds or are collages of more distant landscape features. Don Everhart, the Mint's lead sculptor-engraver, responded that in views of multiple mounds, the mounds are depicted in their correct orientation to each other but are spatially compressed; the actual mounds are spread much further apart, and they would appear merely as scattered dots on a coin design. Ms. Lehrer said that an aerial photograph of the mounds would be helpful in evaluating the design alternatives.
Ms. Meyer commented that the techniques of depicting the mounds as three-dimensional, such as stippling, do not yet appear successful; she questioned whether a satisfactory treatment could be obtained for the medium of a coin. She said that a more diagrammatic alternative may therefore be preferable to an attempt at a realistic depiction. If a more pictorial design such as #9 is chosen, she suggested that the trees be shown in a winter condition with lines for the branches, rather than in full leaf which results in visual confusion with the mounds. Mr. Everhart said that the feasibility of minting coins with such fine linework could be problematic, but a more feasible treatment could be to include a few branches within the shape of the trees to distinguish them from the mounds. Ms. Meyer supported this solution, emphasizing that the tree crowns appear too similar to the shape and size of the earthen mounds.
Ms. Gilbert asked how relief would be used in depicting the mounds. Mr. Everhart responded that both relief and texture would be used to distinguish the trees, background grass, and foliated mounds. Ms. Stafford noted that the range of relief is very limited on the quarters. Mr. Everhart said that some special engraving techniques can give the relief a higher appearance if necessary; Ms. Meyer said that the enhanced relief is apparent on the coin depicting Mount Hood. Mr. Luebke noted the ongoing challenge of depicting large scenes such as a landscape on a small coin, as necessitated by the legislative direction for the coin subjects; he said that the Commission has repeated recommended an abstracted or diagrammatic design approach rather than a pictorial representation. Mr. Everhart acknowledged that the Effigy Mounds have been particularly difficult to convey.
Ms. Meyer recommended alternatives #13 and #14 as examples of a diagrammatic treatment of the Effigy Mounds; Mr. Luebke said that these simplified shapes could still be distinguished from the coin field through texture and relief. Upon a second by Mr. Dunson, the Commission adopted this recommendation.
Ellis Island, Statue of Liberty National Monument (New Jersey)
Ms. Stafford presented sixteen alternative reverse designs for Ellis Island, which is part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument. She said that the CCAC recommendation from earlier in the week is alternative #5-A; the site liaison assessed the accuracy and appropriateness of each design but did not recommend a preferred alternative. Mr. Luebke noted that some designs depict buildings from ca. 1900 that is commonly associated with the peak period of immigration through Ellis Island, while other designs depict a 1930s Art Deco-era building. He also questioned whether the clothing of the depicted immigrants appears to be from an earlier time period than the buildings. Ms. Stafford responded that these issues were discussed with the site liaison; she said that immigrants would often arrive in clothing that looked to be from several decades earlier, and questions about the choice of buildings have also been addressed where necessary. Ms. Meyer asked about the printed number pinned to the clothing of some immigrants. Megan Sullivan of the Mint responded that a sequential number would be assigned to each family upon arrival; the specific number "72" in the alternatives does not have special significance.
Ms. Sullivan confirmed that the background building in alternative #5-A is the Main Hospital Building. Ms. Meyer commented that the depiction of smiling family members in combination with the hospital may be inappropriate, because immigrants would be sent to the hospital if they were sick and could not be allowed to leave Ellis Island; she asked why this building is part of the CCAC's preferred design. Mr. Everhart responded that the typical landing place for immigrants was directly across from the hospital, and it is therefore appropriately shown in the background of this view of an arriving family. Ms. Meyer observed that the difference between alternatives #5 and #5-A appears to be that the child in #5-A is smiling and holding an American flag; she asked if this is the reason for the CCAC preference. Ms. Stafford responded that the CCAC preferred the faces in alternative #5-A as conveying the range of emotions that a family would feel upon arriving.
Mr. Dunson commented that the compositions depicting families from the back are much more powerful, due to conveying the sense of going from one place to another and avoiding the selection of a particular subgroup of the many immigrants who arrived during this historical period. He summarized that these back views convey the universalized experience of arrival instead of focusing on a particular immigrant group. He added that the gesture of the child pointing is also a powerful design element. He observed that alternative #1-A takes the somewhat different approach of a child pointing to an American flag, but he supported the other alternatives that use the Ellis Island buildings as symbols of coming to the United States. Ms. Gilbert supported the depiction in alternative #1 of the interior of the Great Hall in the Main Building, which she described as cathedral-like.
Ms. Lehrer supported alternative #1 for its setting in the Great Hall with the flag and the child pointing, but she said that the choice not to depict the people's faces seems somewhat strange. Mr. Dunson clarified that his support is for alternative #2, which has a similar back view in an exterior setting; he said that his support extends to any of the similar compositions, including alternatives #1, 1-A, 2, and 6. Mr. Freelon said that the Great Hall interior conveys that the family has arrived. Mr. Dunson agreed, but he said that the theme may be more about the overall journey than a specific point of arrival; he emphasized the arrival as a symbolic and emotional experience, which is perhaps best conveyed in alternative #6.
Mr. Luebke noted that the Main Building is the most familiar image of Ellis Island, but it is not included in most of the submitted alternatives. Greg Weinman, an attorney with the U.S. Mint, responded that this coin subject involves some complications that have become increasingly apparent. Ellis Island was chosen for the New Jersey coin at the beginning of the development process for this coin series, with consideration of recommendations from the state governors. Much of Ellis Island is considered to be in New Jersey, but a portion is part of New York, which has proven to be a concern in developing a design for this New Jersey coin. He said that the Great Hall is in New York, and it is therefore not featured prominently in the range of alternatives. Other initial designs depicting the Manhattan skyline in the background were similarly not favored by New Jersey reviewing officials. He said that the Mint has been working with the artists to develop designs that emphasize the New Jersey portion of Ellis Island, resulting in less emphasis than might be expected on some of the island's more iconic images. Ms. Stafford added that the previous presentation of Ellis Island designs had emphasized buildings, and the Commission's request for new alternatives has provided the opportunity to develop the current designs with an emphasis on people. She said that the selection of Ellis Island as the subject has the benefit of including an integral part of our nation's story in this coin series.
Ms. Meyer asked if the direction of view in alternatives #2 and #6 are related to looking toward New Jersey instead of New York. Mr. Everhart responded that alternative #2 shows a view looking north, and alternative #6 is a view to the west. Mr. Freelon offered support for alternative #6 but questioned the water extending all the way to the building, giving the appearance that the building is actually in the water. Ms. Meyer and Mr. Dunson said that this is a reasonably accurate depiction of the Ferry Building; Mr. Everhart added that a concrete walkway extends from the building to the water's edge.
Ms. Meyer recommended alternative #6, with the view from a ship travelling northwest toward Ellis Island. Upon a second by Ms. Lehrer, the Commission adopted this recommendation.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 2:10 p.m.
Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA