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 10:07 a.m.
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
(Due to the absence of the Chairman, the Vice Chairman presided at the meeting.)
Secretary Luebke noted the absence of Chairman Powell due to events commemorating the 75th anniversary of the opening of the National Gallery of Art, where he serves as director. Mr. Luebke added that all four directors in the National Gallery's history have served on the Commission of Fine Arts, and three have served as the Commission's chairman.
A. Approval of the minutes of the 18 February meeting. Mr. Luebke reported that the minutes of the February meeting were circulated to the Commission members in advance. Upon a motion by Mr. Krieger with second by Ms. Lehrer, the Commission approved the minutes.
B. Dates of next meetings. Mr. Luebke presented the regularly scheduled dates for upcoming Commission meetings, as previously published: 21 April, 19 May, and 16 June 2016.
C. Report on the 2016 National Capital Arts and Cultural Affairs grant program. Mr. Luebke reported on the federal grants program administered by the Commission to support Washington cultural institutions. The application deadline for the 2016 program was earlier in March; the 23 applicants include 22 returning organizations and one new applicant. A panel that includes Chairman Powell will be convened to determine the eligibility of the new applicant. He noted the grants budget of $2 million that will be distributed on the basis of an established formula.
D. Elect three Commission members to serve on the design competition jury for the 2018 World War I American Veterans Centennial Commemorative Coin Program. Mr. Luebke reported a recent legislative requirement that the Commission elect three members to serve on the jury for a U.S. Mint design competition for a planned coin commemorating the centennial of U.S. involvement in World War I. He noted that Mr. Dunson, Ms. Gilbert, and Ms. Lehrer have expressed interest in serving on this jury. Upon a motion by Mr. Freelon with second by Mr. Krieger, the Commission designated these three members as the Commission's appointees to the jury.
E. A report on the pre-meeting site inspection. Mr. Luebke noted that the Commission members visited sites in Georgetown earlier in the morning, in preparation for the review of submissions that are anticipated in the coming months.
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. He noted the addition of the staff's recent approval of the final design for the Friendship Recreation Center by delegated authority; the delegated approval is attached to the appendix for the Commission's information. Upon a motion by Ms. Meyer with second by Mr. Krieger, the Commission approved the Government Submissions Consent Calendar.
Appendix II – Shipstead-Luce Act Submissions: Ms. Batcheler reported that the recommendation for a window replacement project (case number SL 16-055) was changed to be favorable based on revisions to the proposal; another project (SL 16-060) has been withdrawn from the current appendix to allow for further design revision. Other minor revisions reflect the receipt of supplemental materials. Upon a motion by Ms. Krieger with second by Mr. Freelon, the Commission approved the revised appendix. (See agenda items II.F.1, 2, and, 3 for additional Shipstead-Luce Act submissions.)
Appendix III – Old Georgetown Act Submissions: Mr. Martinez reported that revisions to the draft appendix include updates to note the receipt of supplemental materials that conform to the recommendations of the Old Georgetown Board. The supplemental materials for one project (case number OG 16-013) require further coordination for conformance, and this project has been removed from the current appendix. Upon a motion by Mr. Krieger with second by Mr. Dunson, the Commission approved the revised appendix.
B. District of Columbia Department of Transportation
CFA 17/MAR/16-1, 11th Street Bridge Park, 11th Street at the Anacostia River, SE. New public park on old bridge piers. Information presentation. Secretary Luebke introduced an informational presentation on a planned park that would reuse infrastructure of the former 11th Street Bridge. The sponsor is a local non-profit organization, the 11th Street Bridge Park Initiative, working with THEARC (the Town Hall Education Arts Recreation Campus) in coordination with the D.C. Department of Transportation. The project would involve construction of a new, elevated park on a bridge structure spanning the Anacostia River, connecting the neighborhoods of Anacostia and Capitol Hill. A design competition was held in 2014, with over eighty firms submitting entries. He introduced Scott Kratz, director of the bridge park project, to present the selected design; he noted that the Commission members may remember Mr. Kratz from his previous work as the National Building Museum's vice president for education.
Mr. Kratz described the four key goals for the bridge park: improving public health through providing areas to play; re-engaging residents with the river; connecting communities; and creating an anchor for economic development. He emphasized that the process of selecting a design has been based on active community engagement; local residents were asked whether the bridge park would be a useful addition to the community and what programming would be desirable. A range of community groups agreed on several objectives: public art relating the area's history; urban agriculture; festivals; performance spaces; an education center focused on stewardship of the Anacostia River; and access to the river.
Mr. Kratz described the nationwide interest in transforming old urban infrastructure into new parks that connect communities, most prominently New York's High Line; many of these parks also engage with city waterfronts. He said that although Washington is located at the confluence of the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers, it has not typically been perceived as a river city, but this identity is growing. The recent reconstruction of the 11th Street Bridge resulted in three new spans located next to the old bridge complex dating from the 1960s; the park site corresponds to the old downstream span. The deck of the old span has been demolished because it could not feasibly be reused; the existing piers, which are in good condition, would be used to support the new park structure. He noted that all these bridges connect Capitol Hill and the area around the Navy Yard with neighborhoods located east of the river, including Anacostia and Fairlawn.
Mr. Kratz summarized the national design competition for the bridge park design. The selected design—from the team of the architectural firm OMA and the landscape architects OLIN—was independently recommended by both the professional jury and an oversight committee composed of community members and federal stakeholders. Mr. Freelon noted that that the winning entry for this national competition is from an international team. Mr. Kratz clarified that each team was required to have an office in the U.S.; while OMA is headquartered in the Netherlands, it has a New York office that will be handling this project.
Mr. Kratz described the OMA/OLIN design as simple but ingenious. Two trussed decks would be built as planes that intersect at a central gathering space, providing above- and below-deck areas and abundant shade. The idea of an angled crossing to symbolize the meeting of communities was inspired by the characteristic avenue crossings of the L'Enfant Plan for Washington. Because the north end of the bridge, adjacent to the Navy Yard, is surrounded by an urban hardscape and the south end in Anacostia Park has a setting of green space, the design would invert this relationship and employ more hardscape at the north with more programming areas at the south to draw residents from one end of the bridge to the other. The competition program required water features to play an acoustic and an aesthetic role; the selected design includes waterfalls to serve as projection screens for art projects and to cycle water in a demonstration project for re-oxygenation of the river. The project also proposes introducing beds of mollusks, which can filter large amounts of water, around the bases of the piers. The design includes a 280-seat amphitheater, and a café and a restaurant within a hammock grove. The park would provide dramatic views of area landmarks such as the Nationals baseball stadium and the U.S. Capitol.
Mr. Kratz summarized the schedule and interim steps: an eighteen-month of pre-construction phase should begin soon, followed by eighteen months of construction, with the park's opening likely occurring in 2019. As a preliminary step, the space is already being used for such events as the second annual Anacostia River Festival, scheduled for mid-April; other events may include temporary pop-up urban gardens and public art projects. He outlined plans for community initiatives to encourage and sustain rental properties in this area, to support job training, and to encourage new small businesses. He stressed the fundamental importance to the proposal of using the bridge park to help the community shape its own neighborhood.
Vice Chairman Freelon thanked Mr. Kratz for an excellent presentation. Mr. Krieger agreed that the project sounds wonderful, but he asked if sufficient funding would be available for operation and maintenance. Mr. Kratz responded that the capital program has a fundraising goal of $45 million, including an endowment to support ongoing maintenance; funding has already been secured for the pre-construction phase. He added that the bridge park would incorporate existing programs—such as those of the Anacostia Watershed Society—to pursue common goals and would rely on these organizations' existing staff and expertise to reduce the project costs. Rental income would be received from the café, the restaurant, special events, and other uses, and another potential financial resource is new market tax credits.
Ms. Lehrer expressed appreciation for the thorough presentation of a project that could provide a wonderful model for similar efforts across the country to address issues of gentrification, equity, and environmental justice. She asked about the size of the bridge park and the population of the nearby neighborhoods. Mr. Kratz responded that the park area totals approximately three acres—roughly 1,100 feet long by 175 feet wide—and the nearby population is 72,000 living within a one-mile radius and 42,000 within a half-mile. Ms. Lehrer raised concern that the winning design as presented is too busy for a three-acre park. She observed that it would be a destination, not simply a community park, and capacity would therefore be an issue; the park as designed would be so crowded that visitors would feel uncomfortable. As a landscape architect concerned with community process, she said that the project appears to have been designed to accommodate too many stakeholder ideas. Mr. Krieger commented that the busy scheme would likely be simplified through the design development process and budget constraints.
Ms. Lehrer questioned the intent to dedicate such a great extent of space to hammocks, which require significant maintenance and are not usable for much of the year in Washington's temperate climate; she added that as a native of El Salvador, where hammocks are part of everyday life, she objects to the use of hammocks as a trendy feature of U.S. parks. She commented that the proposal deals effectively with environmental issues, but she said the park may not be achievable within the $45 million budget. She concluded that the 11th Street Bridge Park will be an exciting destination.
Ms. Meyer commended the project team for developing an exciting project and for making plans to ameliorate its potential negative impacts on the community. She encouraged consideration of the park in relation to the larger scale of the river and the city, a shift in emphasis that might help to simplify the design; she said that the project is strong enough to survive editing. She observed that the park would be a place that people visit to promenade as well as to linger for the programmed uses, so understanding the scale of these activities is important. She urged careful study of the microclimate, and specifically the need for summer shade. She commented that the diagram may be too simple in its dichotomy of urban and green areas, noting that significant urban development exists on both sides of the river. She said that this simplistic diagram could hinder the evolution of the design into a comfortable park; careful analysis of the microclimate and of the seasonal changes in the angle of the sun in this exposed setting could make the project extraordinary. Mr. Krieger agreed, observing that the design includes a tremendous amount of concrete, affecting the comfort of users. Emphasizing the importance of understanding the larger social and environmental history of the Anacostia River, Ms. Meyer recommended several studies: an environmental history of the river currently being written by Paul Kelsch, a professor at Virginia Tech's Washington-area program, and the reports produced in the 1960s and 1970s for the National Park Service by the nationally recognized landscape architects Ian McHarg and Lawrence Halprin.
Mr. Krieger asked if development of the design is ongoing; Mr. Kratz clarified that the presented drawings are from the design competition, and feedback is critical before they are developed further. Ms. Gilbert commented on the importance of studying the approach to the park along the river banks, giving the example of Brooklyn Bridge Park; she expressed enthusiasm for seeing the project develop. Mr. Kratz noted that the bridge park will link to the Anacostia Waterfront Trail, which will extend from the South Capitol Street bridge to Bladensburg, Maryland.
Mr. Freelon commented that the scheme is strong and would be improved by editing. Ms. Lehrer asked about the long-range goals for the quality of the river. Mr. Kratz responded that the D.C. government goal is for the river to be safe for swimming and fishing by 2032, while THEARC and the Anacostia Watershed Society expect this goal to be achieved by 2025. He added that DC Water intends to reduce combined sewer overflows in the area's waterways by 2018 through the Clean Rivers Project.
The Commission members thanked Mr. Kratz and said that they look forward to seeing the 11th Street Bridge Park as it develops. The discussion concluded without a formal action.
C. DC Water
CFA 17/MAR/16-2, O Street Pumping Station, 125 O Street, SE. New administrative headquarters building for DC Water. Final. (Previous: CFA 18/FEB/16-2.) Mr. Lindstrom introduced the proposed final design for a DC Water headquarters building adjacent to the existing O Street Pumping Station. He said that the Commission reviewed the concept a month ago, and the design is substantially unchanged; in response to the Commission's comments on the project's interpretive program, an exhibit and interpretive consultant has been added to the project team to further develop this component. He noted that the staff has been provided with construction documents at the seventy percent stage as part of the final design submission. He asked architect Sven Shockey of SmithGroup JJR and landscape architect Lisa Delplace of Oehme, van Sweden & Associates to present the design.
Mr. Shockey summarized the program and design goals, as previously presented, and addressed the Commission's previous concerns. The building is intended as a public face for DC Water while containing its administrative offices. He emphasized the desire for visibility of this DC Water campus while protecting the critical water-related infrastructure that already exists on the site. He said that the design achieves a visual sense of openness, particularly when seen from the public boardwalk that extends along the Anacostia River, while maintaining a secured precinct to protect the facilities. He added that school groups and other guests would be invited to tour the proposed building and grounds, and the new exhibit designer will assist in conveying the story of water, sustainability, the building, and the site. He indicated the existing tidal gates on the site at the river's edge, related to the below-grade infrastructure; these would be visible features of the site, although the previous presentation did not emphasize sufficiently the intent to enhance their setting and improve their visibility. He presented a model of the proposal, indicating the four-story-high truss that would span the existing pumping station to carry the load of the new headquarters building above; this large truss allows the remainder of the structural system to use conventional framing. He indicated the glass facades with an additional layer of glass at selected locations to reduce solar heat gain. He described the unusual curved configuration of the plan for the upper floors, intended to maximize interior views of the Anacostia River to the south and along the river edges to the east and west. He described the consistency of the building with the street grid, which will be more clearly expressed as planned nearby development is completed. He summarized the interconnected relationship of the building and site, as well as the careful consideration of the interior space and the building's energy efficiency.
Ms. Meyer requested further focus on changes from the previously presented design. Mr. Shockey responded that the design is essentially unchanged, while more thorough construction drawings have now been provided. Ms. Meyer noted that the initial concept submission in February 2016 was apparently made when the project was approximately sixty percent through the construction documents phase. Mr. Shockey acknowledged that the past year of the design process has involved finalization of the project's complex details, such as structural and sustainability issues, as well as regulatory compliance.
Vice Chairman Freelon suggested further description of the current site plan, which apparently has been adjusted in response to the Commission's comments. Mr. Shockey reiterated the intent to better display the existing site infrastructure such as the tidal gates. Ms. Meyer said that the broader issue is how this limited-access site would relate to the public realm. Mr. Krieger requested clarification of the boundary between public and secured areas, as well as the intended sequencing of improvements to areas adjacent to this project. Mr. Shockey responded that the public boardwalk already exists, set above the river to the south of the site. The existing seawall at the edge of the site would remain. He indicated the two controlled access points to the site; visitors and employees could arrive at either of these locations. The entire ground floor of the proposed building is designed as an interpretive exhibit area while also functioning as a lobby and gathering space. He clarified that the public could visit this exhibit area, as well as the interpretive displays on the site, only as part of a guided tour after clearing the security control. He indicated the interior and exterior amphitheater areas that could accommodate visiting school groups as they learn about the site's features.
Ms. Delplace emphasized the relationship of the site plan to the critical water-related infrastructure that extends below much of the site. Visual porosity is also an important goal for the site, notwithstanding the lack of general public access; she said that the public using the Anacostia riverfront trail system should perceive the site as part of the waterfront context. An additional goal is interpretation of the infrastructure, including the visible pumping stations as well as the unseen utilities. She noted the intention to allow views from the proposed building lobby into the existing O Street Pumping Station, which will remain in operation. Interpretation could also address the site's stormwater management system; she summarized the goal of expressing DC Water's new vision for stewardship, with a cohesive interpretation of both interior and exterior topics rather than a fragmentary explanation. She provided additional details on the tidal gates, which she described as creating an interesting pattern on the landscape; they would continue to be operational at infrequent intervals, perhaps annually, and the metal grates would be removable to allow access for equipment.
Vice Chairman Freelon asked about any new interpretive elements resulting from adding an exhibit designer to the project team. Mr. Shockey said that this work is still in progress; he indicated the typical route that students or other visitors would take through the building and site, passing numerous locations for group discussions and interpretative displays. He noted that historical artifacts related to DC Water would be exhibited throughout the lobby, and several of the site's large tanks for recycled water would be visible to visitors. Exterior interpretation would include the tidal gates, plantings, and stormwater strategies. Vice Chairman Freelon asked specifically for changes to the site plan from the previous presentation; Mr. Shockey said that there are none, and the current work on the project involves detailing.
Ms. Lehrer expressed concern that the proposed exterior walk would be too narrow where it passes alongside the southeast corner of the building—a problem that is apparent on the site plan and especially on the model. She said that this constriction would be uncomfortable for groups moving through the landscape on this walk. Mr. Shockey confirmed that the walk narrows to approximately eight feet at this point, and he offered to expand the width slightly; he said that this area of the site is constrained by the nearby tidal gates and the route for equipment access. Ms. Lehrer emphasized that the presence of features of interest to visitors makes the constriction even more problematic, and she recommended designing the walk to accommodate visitors more generously.
Ms. Meyer noted that the Commission had previously raised this concern. Vice Chairman Freelon suggested approving the final design on the condition that the narrow walk dimension is addressed. Secretary Luebke said that the staff could work with the project team to ensure resolution of this issue.
Ms. Lehrer asked for clarification of the use of metal on the site. Mr. Shockey indicated the perforated metal walk surface for a promenade aligned with Canal Street, SE, and the location of solid and perforated metal screen walls at the site perimeter to provide security with visual porosity. Ms. Lehrer commented that this material is currently popular but may soon make the building appear dated; she suggested developing design details that are more closely related to this unique project, particularly for use at the level of pedestrians and in an interpretive setting. Mr. Shockey responded that the metal walk was added in response to a suggestion during the zoning review to provide visitors the opportunity to view the nearby loading and operational area. He clarified that various tones of metal finish are proposed, and the perforation pattern would produce an additional tonality when viewed from a distance as the individual perforations become imperceptible; he said that the varied metal treatment is intended to relate to the treatment of the building facades.
Mr. Krieger commented that the building's curtainwall system appears quite sophisticated, and the quality of the building is dependent on this design intent surviving through the budgeting process. He asked how the Commission's approval of the current proposal would be affected by subsequent cost-cutting revisions. Mr. Luebke responded that a proposed final design should match the project's actual construction; he asked the project team if cost issues have already been addressed. Mr. Shockey responded that his firm is partnered with Skanska, a construction contractor, as part of a design-build team; this team has been coordinating throughout the design process to ensure that the high-quality design features are consistent with the budget. He expressed confidence that the costs are understood and that the presented design will be built as shown. Mr. Krieger said that architects typically believe this to be true, but problems can nonetheless arise. Mr. Shockey added that the process has also included ongoing coordination with subcontractors in various specialties; design and cost issues have been raised and addressed throughout the process, and he reiterated that the quality of visible facade materials would be maintained as presented. Mr. Krieger continued to express concern that changes may occur during the construction process, and he emphasized the importance for this project of avoiding extensive changes; he said that cost reductions could result in a very different building.
Mr. Luebke suggested addressing this concern through staff inspection of the construction documents as they are completed. Mr. Shockey said that he has provided drawings at the seventy percent stage of completion, and the documents will be at eighty percent within a week; Mr. Luebke noted that a final design submission is more typically at the ninety percent stage. Mr. Shockey emphasized that the proposed curtainwall is a unitized system, and its quality has remained in the design throughout the process. Ms. Lehrer asked if the Commission could inspect mockups; Mr. Shockey confirmed that mockups would be prepared to assess quality issues. Mr. Luebke said that Commission members have sometimes inspected mockups as part of the review process; he suggested an approval that is conditional on widening the constricted part of the site walk, providing a mockup for inspection, and providing additional information or samples for the proposed metal screen wall system. Mr. Krieger reiterated the importance of assuring that the quality conveyed in the drawings does not get diminished during the construction process.
Ms. Meyer commented that the project appears to be poised for the start of construction, as suggested by the project team's decision to present to the Commission in consecutive months with no design revisions that respond to the Commission's concerns. She supported Mr. Krieger's concern with fully understanding the quality and nature of the building's facade. Mr. Shockey confirmed the goal of obtaining permits and commencing construction as soon as possible. Mr. Luebke said that the Commission could grant a conditional approval and delegate further review to the staff to address the outstanding concerns, or the action could simply state conditions for approval and delegate the actual approval to the staff. Vice Chairman Freelon supported this approach and emphasized the desirability of reviewing on on-site mockup. Mr. Krieger added that the mockup should illustrate the variety of important facade conditions rather than simply a single glass panel and its attachment to the structure; Mr. Shockey said that the goal is for a mockup that illustrates all of the typical conditions.
Mr. Dunson noted the Commission's apparent hesitation on the sequencing, and he asked if the concern is whether the Commission would prefer to see the mockup before approving the final design. Mr. Luebke said that this sequence could be lengthy, perhaps a year or more; Mr. Shockey confirmed that the process involves some time for obtaining materials in the specified custom colors, but the unitized system is relatively simple and is based on the presented drawings. Mr. Luebke noted that a mockup inspection can routinely occur after the Commission grants approval, and requiring the mockup before approval of this project would likely be unrealistic. Mr. Shockey offered to provide shop drawings for review in the interim. Ms. Meyer objected that the mockup for this project would apparently occur after all of the construction materials have been manufactured and brought to the site; she contrasted this with other projects where the mockup occurred earlier in the design process. Mr. Krieger emphasized that the building design is very promising as drawn, and the goal is to ensure that this quality is maintained through the lengthy construction process; he summarized that the Commission is trying to help rather than obstruct the process. Mr. Shockey agreed with the concern while requesting that the project team be able to address it through continued coordination with the Commission staff.
Ms. Delplace said that much of the design and cost challenge for this project has been with the substructure, which has been refined repeatedly to improve its efficiency in relation to the existing below-grade infrastructure. She said that the visible surface features such as paving, as well as the visible architectural features such as the curtainwall, have not been the major issues during the cost analysis. She emphasized that the project's designers are committed to the features that are shown in the drawings. Mr. Krieger reiterated his concern that this assurance, while sincere, may not prevent changes during the construction process. David Coleman, a member of the Skanska design-build team, responded that the design features presented have been integral parts of the project from its inception; he said that his firm has been pricing the design continually, and the client has identified components that cannot change. He confirmed the commitment to the curtainwall and facade design, which he said are already at the stage of shop drawings.
Mr. Luebke summarized the apparent consensus to approve the final design submission subject to the three conditions that were discussed: the walk width, the curtainwall mockup, and information on the metal screen wall. He said that subsequent changes that are problematic could be brought back to the Commission if necessary. Ms. Meyer emphasized that the constricted width of the walk is only an example of the broader issue of the site's public nature, even without public access. She cited the lack of information about how portions of the site perimeter would be treated, an important concern because the public would have to understand where the accessible public realm ends. Ms. Delplace responded that a six-foot-high steel cable fence would be placed within plantings at some locations, replacing an existing chain-link fence, and part of the perimeter condition will change in the future as nearby private-sector development is built. As another perimeter condition, she indicated the guardrails that would be built alongside a historic boat slip, connecting with existing guardrails beyond the project site. Ms. Meyer and Mr. Krieger objected that these details are not illustrated in the presentation drawings; Ms. Delplace responded that they are shown in the more detailed landscape drawings, including both the near-term and long-term treatment at the boundary with the adjacent development.
Mr. Freelon offered a motion for approval subject to the three conditions outlined by Mr. Luebke, with these outstanding issues to be addressed by the staff. Mr. Luebke said that the staff would also request the overall project documentation as it passes the ninety percent stage, as well as the shop drawings for the building facade. Upon a second by Mr. Krieger, the Commission adopted this action.
D. District of Columbia Public Library
CFA 17/MAR/16-3, Cleveland Park Neighborhood Library, 3310 Connecticut Avenue, NW. New replacement building. Revised concept. (Previous: CFA 19/NOV/15-6.) Ms. Batcheler introduced the concept proposal for a new building to replace the Cleveland Park Neighborhood Library. She said that the Commission previously reviewed the concept in November 2015, requesting further study of the massing and materials; the current proposal responds to the previous review. She asked Richard Reyes-Gavilan, the executive director of the D.C. Public Library (DCPL), to begin the presentation.
Mr. Reyes-Gavilan emphasized the extensive community involvement in the project and the importance of this library, the most heavily used neighborhood branch of the D.C. library system. He said that the Commission's previous comments were consistent with those of the community residents, facilitating the process of making substantial revisions to improve the design. He introduced architect Matt Bell of Perkins Eastman to present the design.
Mr. Bell summarized the guidance received from the Commission and the D.C. Historic Preservation Review Board to clarify and simplify the design. He described the distinctive historic context as previously presented, indicating the apartment buildings and low-rise commercial strip along Connecticut Avenue and the single-family houses to the west. He also noted the Metro station a block to the north and the Connecticut Avenue bridge across the deep ravine of Klingle Valley a block to the south, which forms a gateway to the Cleveland Park neighborhood. He presented photographs of architectural features in the neighborhood that serve as precedents for the proposed library design, helping the library to add to the design context. He described the single-family homes as typically having simple massing with a front porch. He also noted the constraint of extensive Metro ventilation grates in the sidewalk along the northern half of the library site's Connecticut Avenue frontage, resulting in the proposal to locate the library entrance toward the building's southeast corner at Macomb Street.
Mr. Bell presented diagrams of the program and desired functional relationships. The proposal is to place the meeting rooms and children's area on the ground floor, with the adults' collection on the second floor and administrative space in the basement level. The goals for the Connecticut Avenue facade include opening the library interior to sidewalk views, marking the entrance location near the south corner, and defining the street wall despite the prominent gap of a surface parking lot to the north across Newark Street. Facade details would include rounded piers, similar to those seen on nearby Art Deco-style buildings. The primary exterior materials would be brick and limestone, consistent with the typical palette of the neighborhood's major buildings, and additional materials would include metal and wood; he noted the previous guidance to simplify the variety of materials.
Mr. Bell described the geometry of the proposed building, combining the city grid of the residential streets and the diagonal alignment of Connecticut Avenue. The major interior spaces would generally be aligned with the grid, providing the opportunity for north windows giving a view directly toward the historic facades of the Connecticut Avenue commercial area, and the open stairwell in the southwest corner would also provide views of the historic context and the nearby ravine. He indicated the double-height interior "forum" space along Connecticut Avenue, with an interior limestone facade to provide acoustic separation for the second-floor adult reading room. The north and south ends of this room would be configured with exterior porches, relating the library to the typical form of the nearby houses; in response to the previous Commission comments, the porches are now shown as much less prominent. He said that the design emphasis on height, such as the double-height entry and tall bay windows along Connecticut Avenue, is intended to give the building a sense of civic scale that is distinct from the residential and commercial buildings in the vicinity. He noted the relationship of the proposed bay windows to the facades of the nearby commercial buildings; he said that the design has also been improved by reducing the number of these bay windows from five to four. Mr. Krieger asked about rooftop mechanical areas; Mr. Bell responded that they would be set back from the facade, and rooftop solar panels would also be part of the design.
Mr. Bell described the proposed treatment of materials in greater detail. Because wood is used on the interior, he wanted some use of it on the exterior as well; the proposal includes using wood to frame the main entrance. The Macomb Street facade has been revised to provide a more unified use of brick with limestone and wood accents. The Newark Street facade would be configured with brick bays; the Connecticut Avenue corner would be curved, as seen on nearby historic buildings. He provided comparisons of the previous and current design proposals, emphasizing the better balance among the massing components of the building, the stronger prominence of the entrance, and the improved transition of the massing to the houses along Macomb and Newark Streets. Mr. Freelon asked how the limestone joints would be articulated; Mr. Bell responded that steel frames are proposed for this detail, as seen on such precedents as the new Barnes Foundation museum building in Philadelphia. He described the proposed buff-colored brick as having some red and orange, and he indicated the use of metal screening for the mechanical systems.
Mr. Bell presented the landscape plan, including a small landscaped garden along Newark Street and a grove of trees along Macomb Street that would shade the south facade. The Connecticut Avenue frontage would include raised planters around the Metro grates, with nearby seating areas and flowering trees. Several existing plaques, related to past library donors, would likely be placed along the Macomb Street facade. He indicated additional planted areas and a retaining wall along Newark Street, and a bioretention area at the west side of the site. Ms. Gilbert asked about the relatively small green rectangles shown within the southern portion of the Connecticut Avenue sidewalk. Mr. Bell responded that these are currently designed as grass, but would likely be changed to a paved surface in order to improve durability. Ms. Gilbert suggested that the area be used for additional bicycle racks to supplement the small number of racks shown on the landscape plan.
Mr. Dunson expressed appreciation for the responsiveness to the Commission's previous comments. He said that the Connecticut Avenue facade is reminiscent of traditional library designs; although a more contemporary treatment is often preferable, he said that the proposed aesthetic is appropriate for this location and serves to stitch the building into the community. He emphasized scale mitigation and materials as the important issues, and he concluded that the current design is an improvement.
Mr. Krieger supported the reduction in the number of materials, commenting that the current proposal looks more elegant than the previous concept. He said that the range of materials remains excessive, and the treatment of them suggests a confusion of trim and surface uses as seen in the varied use of limestone. He questioned the significant change of recessing the reading room volume from the north facade, commenting that it likely affected the program size and results in a less civic appearance than the previous design. Mr. Bell responded that the reading room has been widened to make up for its reduced length, and the program area is therefore essentially unchanged. Mr. Krieger said that this reconfiguration also results in an odd isolated area of brick wall on the exterior. He also commented that porches typically have a relatively light construction, and the proposed use of heavy-looking limestone for this building's porches seems odd; he suggested consideration of a lighter material such as wood for this feature. He encouraged studying the Barnes Foundation as a precedent, and he also cited the recent design by Norman Foster for Boston's Museum of Fine Arts; he said that the precedents may suggest the opportunity to eliminate brick altogether from the library design. He summarized his concern with the complex and confusing use of materials for this relatively small library building, while noting his overall appreciation for the design's improvement.
Mr. Freelon questioned the rounded corner treatment on the exterior, commenting that it appears to be out of place. Mr. Krieger said that the apparent attempt is to convey a sense of receding volumes; Mr. Freelon said that the effect is to reduce the building's intended civic presence. Mr. Bell reiterated that the corner detail is based on nearby historic precedents. He added that receding the volume of the reading room from the north facade was a response to guidance from the D.C. Historic Preservation Review Board on improving the scale relationships along Newark Street. To offset the reduced prominence of this north feature, the entrance at the southeast has been enlarged and given more emphasis; he said that this revision addresses a concern that people would perceive the prominent north porch as the building's entrance.
Ms. Gilbert commented that the Barnes Foundation building has a monolithic appearance; she supported Mr. Krieger's recommendation to simplify the use of materials, and she suggested either a more uniform design for the limestone joints or eliminating this special joint treatment. Ms. Meyer commented that this library seems very small in comparison to the Barnes building; Ms. Gilbert agreed, recalling that the patterned facade of the Barnes constitutes the primary massing rather than being applied to a small part of the building.
Ms. Gilbert questioned the proposed placement of trees on the south side of the library, described as a grove; she said that the location of some trees may be too close to the building, and a more columnar tree selection may be appropriate. She added that the solution may be to use only a single row of trees within the limited available space.
Ms. Meyer commented that the grading of the site is difficult to understand, and she criticized the lack of spot elevations on the drawings. Mr. Bell confirmed that the site's overall grade change is approximately twelve feet. Ms. Meyer observed that retaining walls are shown in the perspective views but not in the plan drawings; she emphasized that an important factor for greatness in a public building is how it meets the sidewalk. She requested further grading information and more consistent drawings in order to assist in the Commission's review. Mr. Bell offered to verify the accuracy of the drawings, noting that some low site features may be difficult to discern on the perspective views due to the context's varying geometric alignments and sloping grade. Ms. Meyer emphasized her overall concern with achieving a gracious appearance for the building. She also urged careful attention to terminology in relation to scale and typology: the proposed tree grouping along Macomb Street might be characterized as a bosque or allée but not a grove, which would have a larger scale; and the typology of this project is a library, not a museum, which affects the landscape as well as architectural design. She summarized that the design would be improved by not pretending that it is larger than it is. Ms. Gilbert added that the appropriate terminology for the Macomb Street landscape may simply be "street trees" rather than a "grove"; Mr. Bell said that the intent is for the character of this landscape to be distinct from the treatment along Connecticut Avenue.
Mr. Krieger amplified his comments on the more restrained expression of the reading room on the north facade, commenting that this revision may be an overreaction to the guidance received by the design team, resulting in a less powerful design. He said that the reading room has been pushed too far back. Mr. Dunson agreed, and he suggested further study of an alignment between the previous and current proposals. Mr. Bell responded that an additional factor in establishing the building alignment is allowing sufficient exterior space for the adjacent garden along Newark Street; he emphasized the intent for this garden to be large enough to accommodate group seating. Mr. Krieger commented that the previous configuration of this garden was better; he said that further revision to this north facade may involve shifting the wall northward, extending the porch, adjusting the response to the angular geometry, or perhaps simply reintroducing an extensive overhanging roof which adds prominence and conveys the character of a porch. Mr. Dunson added that the increased emphasis at the building entrance is helpful, allowing a return to more emphasis on the north porch without resulting in a hierarchical confusion between these two features. Mr. Freelon said that further study of the previous design would help in improving the resolution of forms. Ms. Gilbert commented that the second-floor views into the garden are a desirable design feature that should be maintained as the landscape and interior layouts are being revised. She summarized the consensus that the previous and current designs illustrate excessively prominent and recessive treatments for the north side of the building, and the best solution will be between these extremes.
Secretary Luebke noted the responsiveness to the Commission's previous comments and the relatively detailed nature of the current comments; he suggested that further revisions could be addressed in preparation for the final design submission, which he confirmed would allow for an additional review by the Commission, or an intermediate submission could be requested. Mr. Krieger supported approval of the concept-level submission subject to the comments for further study of the north porch, the materials, and the landscape. Upon a second by Mr. Dunson, the Commission adopted this action.
E. District of Columbia Department of General Services
CFA 17/MAR/16-4, Engine Company 22, 6825 Georgia Avenue, NW. New four-bay firehouse. Revised concept. (Previous: CFA 21/MAY/15-10.) Mr. Lindstrom introduced architect Suman Sorg of DLR Group / Sorg to present the revised concept submission for Engine Company 22, a new fire station proposed at 6825 Georgia Avenue, NW.
Ms. Sorg described the setting at the southeast corner of Georgia Avenue and Butternut Street along a portion of Georgia Avenue that has many mid-rise early- to mid-20th-century brick apartment buildings. She said that meetings with community groups, including the Advisory Neighborhood Commission, have made clear that many area residents are concerned about the design of the second floor. The concept design has also been revised in response to the past Commission of Fine Arts comments.
Ms. Sorg summarized the proposed massing: two stories high along Georgia Avenue, stepping down at the rear toward the residential neighborhood of small single-family houses. Four vehicle bays would face Georgia Avenue, and the first floor would also include a large dining room and a community meeting room accessible from Butternut Street. The plan and facades of the second floor have been revised so that some areas of glass on the exterior will not be opaque cladding but will relate to interior functions and enliven the appearance of the building at night. Lockers have been moved away from the exterior walls, with circulation instead located along the periphery. The exterior walls along the sleeping quarters and an operations room would remain opaque. Vertical glass fins are proposed to shade windows on the second floor of the front facade along Georgia Avenue and on the first-floor east facade of the community room; she noted that these glass louvers fins can be manufactured in a range of colors.
Ms. Sorg asked project architect Robert Widger to present the proposed exterior materials. Mr. Widger said that the insulated glass assembly would include a fritted application between two glass panels; this system provides natural light to the interior along with privacy, and a shading system for the second floor could be used for additional privacy. The laminated glass fins, composed of clear glass over an inner colored layer, would be supported by the curtainwall framing; he said that this sculptural treatment would enliven the Georgia Avenue facade and reduce heat gain. The exterior brick replaces the previous proposal for metal panels, in response to the preference of neighborhood residents for brick as more appropriate for the context. Ms. Gilbert asked if the color of the mortar joints would match or contrast with the brick. Mr. Widger responded that a neutral color is proposed that provides a slight contrast so that individual bricks would be perceived. Mr. Krieger asked if the south facade's second-story glass would need solar protection; Mr. Widger and Ms. Sorg responded that this facade uses the opaque wall assembly because of the interior spaces that do not require natural light.
Mr. Krieger asked if the identification sign on the front of the building would be attached to the brick wall or simply hang from the second story. Ms. Sorg responded that the sign would be suspended, and it would be positioned so that the overhang would not impede its visibility. Ms. Lehrer asked if there would be a green roof; Ms. Sorg indicated the roof area near the sleeping quarters that would be planted, with a raised parapet providing separation from the nearby apartment building.
Vice Chairman Freelon invited public comment. Andre Carley, the Advisory Neighborhood C commission (ANC) member for the area that includes the site, summarized a resolution drafted by the ANC. The resolution requests that the project team work with the relevant groups to address several design concerns; among these are that the new building's massing and height should be consistent with other structures in the neighborhood, and that the turning radius from the garage opening should be sufficient to allow exiting emergency vehicles to turn onto Butternut Street for access to areas on the east. The ANC also requests that the D.C. government ensure that adequate funding is available. He added that two local ANCs have requested office space in the new building. He acknowledged the project team's responsiveness to community concerns conveyed through numerous meetings; he expressed his personal support for the design, with a preference for the blue range of glass colors instead of red as shown on renderings of alternative colors.
Vice Chairman Freelon recognized Faith Wheeler, representing the Committee of 100 on the Federal City. Ms. Wheeler discussed the architectural context of the neighborhood, noting that the site had been part of the historic Walter Reed Army Medical Center campus and that the neighborhood was Washington's first railroad suburb. She expressed concern that the proposed design differs from other buildings in the neighborhood. She said that the Committee of 100 finds the current design to be an improvement over the previous version; the group supports the blue color for the glass and the increased articulation of the facades but objects to the west facade's hanging sign, which she described as "very aggressive."
Ms. Gilbert asked for more information about the proposed community room. Ms. Sorg indicated its location on the first floor with access from the Butternut Street lobby; a restroom is adjacent. The lobby has doors that allow it to be opened on special occasions to the dining room and adjacent large kitchen, which are usually used only by the building's staff. Ms. Gilbert expressed support for this amenity.
Mr. Krieger asked what material is intended for the soffit of the second floor's six-foot-deep projection on the west facade. Ms. Sorg responded that due to budget constraints, it would likely be plaster, stucco, or a similar material. Mr. Krieger acknowledged the community concern about the appearance of the overhanging second floor, but he emphasized that a contemporary fire station should look different than a historic fire station; he described the proposed treatment of the second floor as a creative feature for an otherwise plain structure. He encouraged reconsideration of the size and design of the hanging sign facing Georgia Avenue, and he suggested more texture on the brick facades. He summarized that the design has been substantially improved, and he commended the design team for its responsiveness to the Commission's comments.
Mr. Freelon agreed that the new design is responsive. He expressed appreciation for the valuable information about the neighborhood's history provided by Ms. Wheeler and suggested that future presentations include such context. He recommended reconsidering the intent to use opaque glass on so much of the exterior, observing that there is a logical inconsistency in this application, and that a material other than glass in these areas could improve the building's compatibility with its surroundings. Ms. Lehrer agreed, commenting that the use of opaque glass involves using materials for an aesthetic rather than a functional purpose; she suggested further study of this facade treatment.
Mr. Dunson observed that the site is near a point where Georgia Avenue turns slightly, and he described this design with its distinctive second-floor overhang as an appropriate response for this location. He commented that the hanging sign would effectively demarcate the upper and lower stories but suggested further consideration of its material and color. He also requested additional information about the ground plane and the proposed design's relation to the houses behind the site. He commented that this design will be a good example of architectural progress that provides a context for the extensive redevelopment that will soon occur at the former Walter Reed campus across Georgia Avenue. He agreed that the design has greatly improved, and he commended the community participation.
Mr. Krieger addressed the community concern about the non-traditional style of the proposed design, commenting that the historic evolution of traditional architectural styles probably seemed jarring when changes were introduced; similarly, he said that the glass-sheathed projecting second floor of this building may appear to be in great contrast to the neighborhood context, but it will add character in a contemporary way. Ms. Gilbert agreed. Mr. Krieger and Mr. Dunson expressed support for the selection of red instead of blue for the glass color.
Mr. Krieger offered a motion to approve the revised concept with a request for further study of the scale, material, and construction of the signage, particularly the sign facing Georgia Avenue, and for reconsideration of the proposed extensive use of an opaque glass assembly on the facades. Upon a second by Ms. Meyer, the Commission adopted this action.
F. D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs — Shipstead-Luce Act
1. SL 16-067, Southwest Waterfront Development (The Wharf), Pier 4, 580 Water Street, SW. Two-story addition and renovation of existing pier. Concept. Ms. Batcheler introduced the concept design for the renovation and expansion of Pier 4, located toward the southeastern end of the Southwest Waterfront redevelopment project known as The Wharf. She noted that the pier is located near the police pier to the southeast on the Washington Channel and connects directly to the Waterfront Park on the northeast. The initial master plan proposal for residential use on Pier 4 was not supported by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; the current proposal is therefore to continue the existing use of the pier for commercial tour boats, to provide operational and administrative space for the tour boat business, and to accommodate additional office space. The concept design reconfigures and adds two stories to the existing one-story building on the pier, and it restores the existing brick Colonial-style headhouse. She asked Shawn Seaman of Hoffman-Madison Waterfront, the developer of the Wharf, to begin the presentation.
Mr. Seaman provided an overview of the first phase of The Wharf. The northwestern portion of the waterfront, extending along Maine Avenue, SW, from 7th Street to the Fish Market, encompasses two million square feet of development and is currently under construction. Toward the southern end of the waterfront near Pier 4, several additional projects are nearing completion: St. Augustine's Episcopal Church, an adjoining 108-unit condominium building, and Waterfront Park. Although the Pier 4 redevelopment was originally scheduled for a later phase, it is now proposed as part of the first phase in order to minimize the impact of construction on the surrounding neighborhood. Approaching from the north, Pier 4 is the second-to-last pier on the Washington Channel; the last pier is occupied by the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department and the D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department. He described the scale and maritime sensibility of the proposed design as complimentary to the rest of the waterfront redevelopment.
Mr. Seaman described the historical use and development of Pier 4. It was once used by the Wilson Line, a recreational tour boat operator in the 20th-century history of the Southwest Waterfront. It has more recently been used as the base of operations for Spirit Cruises, which operates two public tour boats. Although the master plan approved by the D.C. Zoning Commission had called for relocating the waterfront's tour boat operators, Spirit Cruises and Odyssey Cruises, to a new pier further northwest, this plan became problematic when the Army Corps disallowed the planned residential development for Pier 4 as being insufficiently maritime-related. The current proposal would therefore locate all of these tour boat operations on Pier 4, and the Army Corps has approved the 55-foot-tall office use that is proposed. He said that many of the existing grade-level facilities of Spirit Cruises are part of the proposal, and the Odyssey Cruises operations would be added. He introduced Adam McGraw of McGraw Bagnoli Architects to present the design.
Mr. McGraw described the context of Pier 4: the police and fire pier to the southeast, the Harbour Square and Tiber Island residential developments to the east; Waterfront Park to the northeast; and Arena Stage, St. Augustine's Church, and the adjacent condominium development to the north. He described the extensive views from the pier, ranging from Hains Point and the Potomac River to The Wharf development and the Washington Monument. He said that pedestrians, including cruise passengers, would primarily approach the pier from the northwest along the waterfront; secondary pedestrian approaches would be from the northeast, in the direction of the Waterfront Metro station, as well as from the southeast. On reaching the pier, visitors would enter through the north side of the existing headhouse, and upon entering the pier they would be able to circulate around the office building's perimeter to access the cruise boats. The headhouse would continue to contain ticket vending operations. Within the pier building's first floor, a waiting area and restrooms would serve the larger Odyssey boat on the north side and smaller boats docking on the south side; additional waiting areas would be located on the sides of the building and at the end of the pier. A southern gate at the headhouse would be used for exiting passengers and for pier and building services. He indicated the extension of the pier to increase its capacity to five boats as part of the consolidation of boat companies to this pier.
Mr. McGraw described the building's general program: the first floor is for cruise operations such as administration and food preparation; the second is for cruise company offices; and the third floor would be used for construction-related offices for The Wharf during the second phase of the waterfront redevelopment. The third-floor terrace would have garden-like plantings, and the upper roof would be planted with sedum; he noted that the green roofs are required for stormwater management. He said that the interior plan is not further developed because his firm was tasked only with the shell and core of the building.
Mr. McGraw said that the form and color of the building were developed in consultation with Commission of Fine Arts staff. As an example, the third-floor plan has been indented around its edges to reduce the perceived scale when seen from the ground plane, and the third floor was also stepped back from the smaller headhouse building to avoid overwhelming it. The consultation process also informed the lighter overall color proposed for the building, the increased use of glass on the third floor, and the separation of the mechanical penthouse into two parts. He added that the building's form was shaped in part by Army Corps regulations, which do not permit the building to extend beyond the footprint of the existing canopy. He emphasized the horizontal character of the design, which he said was an important feature in presentations to community groups. He noted the concern of Harbour Square residents with the design of the green roof, and he said that the local Advisory Neighborhood Commission approved the proposal unanimously at its meeting earlier in the week.
Mr. McGraw presented samples of the materials and finishes. Treated wood is proposed for the second- and third-floor soffits and entryway panels; insulated metal panels would be used in conjunction with the fenestration. The first floor would be clad with a dark-colored cement fiberboard panel.
Ms. Lehrer expressed appreciation for the thorough presentation and commended the development team for its overall progress in redeveloping the waterfront. She observed that the site plans provide only minimal information on how the pier would meet the park to the northeast, and she requested more detailed documentation to assist in understanding this connection. She also noted the need for environmental sensitivity along a river, and she asked about the handling of the cruise ships' wastewater. Gaby Riegler of Hoffman-Madison Waterfront responded that the existing six-inch sanitary line connecting to the pier is being replaced, and it would connect with new sanitary lines being constructed underneath the pier. She added that the electrical service to each boat is also being upgraded, which will enable use of on-board systems without idling the boat engines. Ms. Lehrer noted that using solar power would be mandatory in California; Ms. Riegler said this is not being considered for this pier.
Mr. Freelon commented that the nautical theme of the design is understated and appropriate, and he noted the building's resemblance to a ship. Mr. Krieger agreed that the design's nautical allusions are appropriate, and he said that the building would provide an attractive focal point for approaching pedestrians. While supporting the use of wood for the soffits and of light-colored panels at the second and third floors, he questioned the use of cement fiberboard on the pier level, commenting that this unattractive, cheap material is inappropriate for areas of heavy pedestrian traffic. He suggested that if the intent is to make the higher levels appear to be floating above the base, a different dark-colored material could be selected for the first floor; he added that the cantilever above the first floor already achieves this floating effect. Ms. Meyer agreed in criticizing the proposed use of cement fiberboard, commenting that its texture would negatively affect the tactile experience of queueing passengers, and that its dark color would make the area hot in the summer.
Secretary Luebke said that project team has responded well to the staff's concerns about the building's appearance by making it look less like an office building on a pier. He said that the staff could work further with the project team on the selection of materials.
Mr. Krieger offered a motion, seconded by Mr. Freelon, to approve the design subject to reconsideration of the proposed first-floor cement fiberboard. Mr. Luebke said that the Commission may prefer to require elimination of the cement fiberboard as a condition of approval, and to authorize placing the final design submission on the Shipstead-Luce Act appendix following staff review. Ms. Lehrer asked if the concern is just the color of the cement fiberboard; Mr. Krieger clarified that both the proposed color and the overall texture of cement fiberboard would be inappropriate. Mr. Seaman expressed willingness to work with the Commission and staff on specifying a different material.
Ms. Lehrer reiterated her request that the pedestrian connection between Pier 4 and Waterfront Park be documented more clearly for review. Mr. Krieger observed that sufficient soil depth may not be available for the proposed green roof. Mr. McGraw responded that a system using mineral wool is envisioned that would retain more moisture, allowing for a shallower curb depth.
Vice Chairman Freelon suggested including these additional comments in Mr. Krieger's motion for approval of the concept proposal; the Commission adopted this action.
Due to the absence of the next project team, the Commission departed from the order of the agenda to consider item II.F.3.
3. SL 16-066, 7981 East Beach Drive, NW. New single-family residence. Concept. Ms. Batcheler introduced a concept submission for a new single-family residence to be located at 7981 East Beach Drive, NW, on a site overlooking an arm of Rock Creek Park containing a tributary stream of Rock Creek that extends into the North Portal Estates neighborhood. The proposal is for a three-story house on a lot that has been subdivided from the rear yard of an existing house facing another street to the northeast. The new lot is shallow, steeply sloped, and has significant front and rear setback requirements that affect the depth of the building footprint. She noted that the house would be prominently visible from the busy Kalmia Bridge that crosses the stream.
Ms. Batcheler asked architect Patrick Cooper of Compass Design & Development to present the design, noting that he is also the contract purchaser of the property. Mr. Krieger and Mr. Freelon asked for clarification of this role; Mr. Cooper responded that he has a contract to buy the lot, but his purchase is contingent upon a successful feasibility study and financing. Secretary Luebke added that the Commission's review should be considered part of that feasibility. Mr. Cooper said that the rear of the lot will be enlarged by subdividing additional square footage from the existing home's lot in order to provide adequate rear yard space for the proposed house while establishing the desired setback of its front facade.
Mr. Cooper described the site's context in a neighborhood of multilevel single-family houses on wooded lots. This sloped lot, slightly under 10,000 square feet, provides views of the tributary stream and Kalmia Bridge, which is directly in front of the proposed house. He presented photographs of the context and site, noting that the existing fence and treehouse would be removed. He said that the neighboring house to the north appears to be only intermittently occupied and is in disrepair.
Mr. Cooper presented a site plan with the footprint of the proposed house and the various setbacks. The regulatory building restriction lines are 15 feet from public space in the front, an 8-foot setback on each side, and a 25-foot setback in the rear. He indicated the deeper proposed front setback, derived by projecting lines from the facades of the two adjoining houses along the curving street; these two lines intersect at a shallow angle toward the southeast edge of the lot. He said that the front of the proposed house is angled to follow this alignment generally, with a slight forward projection at the northwest corner due to the limited buildable depth available at this end of the lot. He summarized the size of the house's footprint as 70 feet long and 37.5 feet deep, totaling 2,200 square feet; the total floor area of the house, including the basement, would be 5,500 square feet. He said that the construction would be wood frame with brick cladding on the first floor, similar to other houses in the neighborhood; the second floor exterior would be flat metal panels, either colored or copper, in a shingle pattern. An exterior stairway, partially forward of the projected setback lines, would lead up along the front facade from the driveway to the front door. Blue-stained redwood is proposed around the front entrance. Tall windows would take advantage of views to the park.
The Commission members' discussion focused on the issue of setbacks and siting. Mr. Freelon said that to be consistent with the setbacks of the adjacent houses, the front setback line should be an arc rather than straight-line projections from the other houses; he emphasized that an arc would respond to the curving street edge of the lot. Mr. Cooper agreed and said that an arc would give a similar setback, but he reiterated that the required 25-foot rear setback poses a problem for the depth of the house. Mr. Luebke noted that the Commission staff had advised all contract purchasers for this property that they should observe a consistent setback that would follow the geometry of the curving street, adding that the staff had not advised projecting straight setback lines from the adjacent houses.
Mr. Dunson acknowledged that projecting the adjacent houses' facade lines to determine the front setback is a design decision, not a zoning requirement. In response to the curving frontage of this lot, a curving facade could be designed that would lie behind the setback line; designing such a curve would be more important than following an arbitrary projection of lines from the existing buildings. He emphasized that the front facade should be designed in accordance with an appropriate setback that reflects the specific qualities of its location, including the curve of the street. Mr. Krieger noted that this design approach might also allow for placing the house further forward on the lot to provide sufficient interior depth; the important concern is to follow the curve of the street rather than to maintain a specific projected setback. Mr. Krieger and Mr. Freelon expressed appreciation for this first effort, and Mr. Dunson commented that the lot is located in an area of great natural beauty. Mr. Krieger said that the site presents an opportunity to build an amazing house, but he described the proposed design as "ungainly" and emphasized that the decision to base the front setback on an abstract alignment seems arbitrary. He recommended shaping the house as an elegant curving structure in response to the curving street; Ms. Meyer agreed.
Ms. Lehrer encouraged greater consideration of the character of the neighborhood in developing the design. She requested further information on access between the house and the front and rear yards, which she said is not clear in the drawings. Mr. Cooper indicated the proposed exterior access points and the wall alongside the front steps. Ms. Lehrer said that more information is needed on site circulation, the removal and addition of trees, and other landscaping details.
Ms. Meyer commented that designing the house on an arc would make it part of the slope, allowing elimination of the jog in the plan and simplification of the house's rear perimeter. She said that the slope behind the house would have to be flattened to shed water adequately, requiring a retaining wall in the rear. She requested another site plan at a larger scale and with spot elevations; one issue is to ensure that the house is placed at the best elevation, which is a critical decision for such issues as the amount of cut and fill required and whether trees are saved or lost. She acknowledged the site's complexities, but said she is not convinced that the proposed building is optimally located.
Ms. Lehrer emphasized the need for further consideration of how best to take advantage of the site; Mr. Krieger and Ms. Meyer agreed. Ms. Meyer added that a beautiful landscape could be designed here, but without thoughtful planning of the house's interior, it could end up as a walled compound. Mr. Cooper responded that rock is present beneath much of the site, which limits the feasibility of excavation. Mr. Dunson emphasized the special quality of this location on the park's edge, providing an opportunity to create a special design. He commented that the bedrock is an intrinsic part of its character, and he advised Mr. Cooper to take cues from the site conditions, even when they run counter to his initial design inclinations.
The Commission members agreed to request a new concept proposal. Secretary Luebke summarized the consensus that the proposal had too many unresolved pieces to take an action, with the guidance that a house on a site of this prominence requires a simpler and more unified facade, potentially using a curving setback to inform its design. The discussion concluded without a formal action.
The Commission returned to the order of the agenda with item II.F.2.
2. SL 16-061, 411 New Jersey Avenue, SE. New three-story building for the National Democratic Club Inc. Concept. Ms. Batcheler introduced the concept submission for a new three-story building to house facilities of the National Democratic Club (NDC). The site at 411 New Jersey Avenue, SE, is in the Capitol Hill Historic District and one block south of the Longworth and Cannon House Office Buildings; the parcel is adjacent to the southern portal of the railroad tunnel leading north to Union Station. She noted the direct north views from the site to the Capitol complex, and the corresponding visibility of the site from the Capitol complex. She asked Aimee Occhetti of the NDC to begin the presentation.
Ms. Occhetti said that the NDC operates a restaurant occupying one floor of a building next to the Democratic National Committee building; the club also leases a small nearby row house for its management offices. The restaurant will remain at its current location, but the offices would be moved to the proposed building, which would also provide space for meetings and receptions. She noted that the Capitol Hill Restoration Society and the local Advisory Neighborhood Commission have supported the proposal, and neighbors have not raised objections. She introduced architect Neal Hodgson of Nelson Architects to present the design.
Mr. Hodgson described the difficulties presented by the site. He indicated the irregular property line shared with the railroad property to the north; the remote possibility of future development on this adjoining lot results in the requirement that all windows in the north facade be treated as at risk of being blocked by future construction. The east facade on New Jersey Avenue is therefore treated as a complete design for the building's front rather than as part of a corner composition. While the 44-foot width along New Jersey Avenue is twice the extent of a typical row house front, the lot narrows at the rear to less than 27 feet, and the design approach is therefore to treat the facade as a single building rather than as two row houses. The NDC would terminate the series of historic row houses to the south, all now occupied by businesses, and would rise to the height of the existing row house that is immediately adjacent.
Mr. Hodgson described the study of historic buildings on Capitol Hill for ideas on appropriate architectural style and details. The conclusion is that a simple Richardsonian Romanesque style is an appropriate general model, and the defining characteristics include a residential scale, repetition of elements, and brick construction. The proposed building would be constructed of red brick set on a low base in a slightly different shade of red. Identical windows would be repeated on all three floors of the seven-bay front facade. He indicated the differing lintel treatments above the second- and third-floor windows. Based on guidance from the D.C. Historic Preservation Review Board, slightly recessed spandrels of herringbone brick would emphasize the verticality of the fenestration pattern; he indicated the paired treatment of windows on the side and rear facades. A three-bay-wide bow window, two stories high, would be placed adjacent to the north corner; it would be the front facade's most distinctive feature, corresponding to the presence of a meeting room as the primary space on each floor. He said that a turret had been considered for this corner, but placing the turret entirely within the north property line would be problematic. The front entrance would be through a large arched opening to the south of the bow window.
Mr. Hodgson described the interior configuration, indicating the multiple meeting rooms with removable partitions. On the third floor, a sliding door would open to an elevated terrace, and the upper roof would probably be planted to meet regulatory requirements. The landscape design for the New Jersey Avenue frontage has not yet been developed, and the rear of the site would have pervious paving for parking. He indicated this rear parking area that is already used by the NDC for its other nearby facilities; its grade is six feet below the New Jersey Avenue frontage, with access to the basement level of the proposed building that would contain the kitchen and other support spaces. Mr. Hodgson said that parking at the rear would be accessed by the existing public alley, and some excavation there will require a new retaining wall.
Mr. Hodgson summarized the design as "a soft, very gentle building" that would be less detailed than most row houses on Capitol Hill. He added that the hierarchy of facades established by the fenestration would give the building a three-dimensional quality.
Mr. Krieger emphasized that the site presents a rare opportunity for this club. Observing that the proposed design looks as if it has been truncated on the north, he recommended negotiating with the railroad company for the right to articulate this corner of the building, allowing the NDC structure to have a strong public presence and take better advantage of the exceptional view of the Capitol from its major rooms. He also commented that the proposed historic architectural style seems inappropriately conservative, and accurate details will be critical for the design's success. He advised against the static repetition of identical windows on every floor, recommending instead that the hierarchy among rooms and stories be expressed through the careful detailing of the fenestration. Noting that the top floor would have the largest meeting room, he suggested treating this entire frontage as a single space; he also suggested relocating the second-floor storage space to allow the two eastern meeting rooms to be combined more effectively into a single large space.
Mr. Freelon suggested recessing the front entrance to provide visitors with some protection in bad weather; Mr. Krieger supported this idea. Mr. Hodgson responded that the entrance is already proposed to be recessed nine inches, and increasing this depth would reduce the size of the vestibule. Mr. Freelon emphasized that the entrance should appear more gracious than a just an opening in a flat wall.
Ms. Meyer commented that the proposal needs a great deal of work. Noting her academic background in architectural history and historic preservation, she observed that the design does not reflect an understanding of the architectural vocabulary of a Richardsonian building. She said that the presentation lacked thoughtful analysis of the historic context and of the proportions and rhythm of other buildings in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. Given the street, location, and client, she criticized the proposed design as a poor-quality pastiche.
Secretary Luebke noted that the staff has emphasized the enormous opportunity presented by this site to create a building that takes advantage of its dramatic reciprocal views with the U.S. Capitol complex. He said that the staff encouraged the project team to reconceive the building in respond better to the space on the north, instead of composing a primary facade that is oriented only toward New Jersey Avenue. He observed that the proposed floor plan has lozenge-shaped spaces with odd protrusions. He suggested that the lack of connection between the site and this design would confuse visitors to the building, who would find they could not see a view of the Capitol from its windows. Mr. Krieger acknowledged that the NDC cannot build across the lot line, which is why he has urged negotiation with the railroad; Mr. Luebke noted that a different design could also engage with the corner while respecting the existing property line.
Acknowledging the difficulty of the site, Mr. Dunson suggested restudying the interior arrangement, possibly placing all of the minor service spaces against the blank side wall and moving the bow window to the other side, with the entrance moved toward the corner. He said that these adjustments could also help the proportions of the facades, and careful details and proportions could make the proposed design more convincing.
Mr. Krieger requested more information at the next review about how a revised design would use and improve on historic precedents, in order to help Commission members to understand the design intent. Vice Chairman Freelon summarized that the Commission is providing comments for a revised concept design while taking no action on the current proposal. The discussion concluded without a formal action.
Agenda item II.F.3 was reviewed earlier in the meeting; the Commission continued with items II.G.1 and 2.
G. Department of the Treasury / U.S. Mint
Mr. Simon noted that the Commission acted earlier in the meeting on two items concerning the U.S. Mint: the design for a platinum proof coin (on the Government Submissions Consent Calendar, agenda item II.A) and the selection of Commission members to serve on the design jury for a World War I commemorative coin program (agenda item I.C). He introduced April Stafford of the Mint to present design alternatives for the two remaining submissions on the agenda, which are for special coins and medals that will not be in general circulation.
1. CFA 17/MAR/16-5, 2017 Boys Town Centennial Commemorative Coin Program. Designs for five-dollar gold, one-dollar silver, and half-dollar clad coins. Final. Ms. Stafford summarized the authorizing legislation for the three-coin program, with surcharges from coin sales to be paid to the Boys Town organization. She outlined the history of Boys Town, which was founded by Father Edward J. Flanagan in 1917; the organization is a national leader in child and family care, and its programs include community services around the nation and a research hospital.
Ms. Stafford noted that the Commission members have been provided with a sample of a past silver commemorative coin, which is the same size as the proposed one-dollar silver coin. She said that the presentation reflects a new approach by the Mint to provide paired obverse and reverse designs, as selected by the artists to form a single harmonious coin design; the artists sometimes suggested using the design for one side as part of multiple potential pairings, as shown in the presentation. She also noted that the Mint's Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) reviewed the submissions earlier in the week, subsequent to the advance materials provided to the Commission, and the new CCAC recommendations will be highlighted during the presentation. She added that each of the CCAC preferences for Boys Town is a pairing that was proposed by an artist.
Ms. Stafford introduced two Boys Town officials, Dr. Jerry Davis and Laura Tatten, who serve as the Mint's liaisons for the coin program. Dr. Davis contrasted Boys Town's longstanding expertise in helping children and families with its new involvement in the unfamiliar process of creating coins. He welcomed the advice of the CCAC and the Commission in developing the designs, and he cited the objectives of Boys Town for this coin program: to commemorate Father Flanagan and Boys Town, and to attract coin sales that will raise funds to support additional Boys Town services.
Five-dollar gold coin
Ms. Stafford presented the eleven proposed pairs of obverse and reverse designs for the five-dollar gold coin, which she said will be approximately the size of the familiar circulating nickel. She noted the CCAC preference for pair #7, with an obverse depiction of Father Flanagan and a reverse depiction of an outstretched hand holding an acorn and an oak seedling, conveying the potential of each child to grow into a productive adult. She said that the Boys Town preferences include pairs #1 and #4, along with the portrait of Father Flanagan in obverse #7.
Mr. Freelon expressed support for pair #1, citing the resonance of the obverse composition of Father Flanagan looking downward, as if to an accompanying child, and the reverse of a boy looking upward toward the iconic Boys Town pylon. He also supported the text "The Work Will Continue" as seen on reverses #3, 4, and 7; he suggested substituting this text for the phrase "Saving Children – Healing Families" on reverse #1. Mr. Dunson agreed with this revision to pair #1; upon a second by Mr. Krieger, the Commission adopted this recommendation. Ms. Stafford confirmed that the Mint could consider the text revision to the design of pair #1.
One-dollar silver coin
Ms. Stafford presented 22 proposed pairings for the one-dollar silver coin, which will be significantly larger than the gold coin as shown in the sample provided to the Commission. She said that the CCAC recommendation for this silver coin is to use a pairing that was presented for the half-dollar clad coin. She presented clad pair #13, the CCAC preference for the silver coin, subject to several modifications to the composition: repositioning the obverse text "Boys Town" so that the words fall to either side of the oak branch; modifying the obverse date "2017" to indicate the centennial as "1917–2017"; and eliminating the obscured text "100 Years" from the reverse. She noted the Boys Town preferences for silver obverse #7 and pairs #16, 17, 19, and 20; she added that pairs #19 and 20 share the same obverse design, and silver pair #17 is the CCAC recommendation for the clad coin.
Mr. Krieger noted the depiction of girls in the designs and asked if the name Boys Town is likely to change in the future. Ms. Tatten responded that the name had been changed previously to Girls and Boys Town, but this change was not well received by the public and diminished the value of the familiar Boys Town name. She added that the vast majority of people in Omaha, near the home of Boys Town, already know that the organization helps girls as well as boys.
Ms. Meyer supported clad pair #13 as a powerful design, observing that the reverse design would be more legible on the silver coin than on the smaller-sized clad coin. She therefore agreed with the CCAC recommendation to use clad pair #13 as the design for the silver coin. Upon a second by Mr. Krieger, the Commission adopted this recommendation, including the text alterations that were presented.
Half-dollar clad coin
Ms. Stafford presented thirteen proposed pairings for the half-dollar clad coin, noting the Boys Town preference for obverse #3 and reverse #5, as well as reverse #11. She also again presented silver pair #17, which is the CCAC preference for the clad coin and is also supported by Boys Town. Mr. Freelon criticized silver pair #17 as a redundant design, with both the obverse and reverse showing a boy carrying a girl on his back. He instead supported the Boys Town suggestion to pair clad obverse #3 with reverse #5, which he said results in a better combination of imagery; Ms. Meyer agreed.
Mr. Krieger asked if collectors would purchase these coins as a set of three; Ms. Stafford responded that the coins are sold individually, although some collectors may choose to purchase all three. Mr. Krieger suggested using very different designs for each of the three coins in order to encourage people to acquire all three. He observed that the Boys Town pylon appears in both of the reverses being discussed for the clad coin, and it also appears on the recommended design for the gold coin. He instead suggested consideration of clad pair #4, which includes the very legible text "Boys Town" on the reverse along with a U.S. map that conveys the organization's national scope and Nebraska origins. Mr. Freelon agreed to support this pair.
Mr. Dunson offered support for silver pair #16 as the clad coin's design. Ms. Stafford noted that this design depicts a graduation ceremony, which is an important part of supporting the children and families. Mr. Dunson emphasized the combination of text and symbolism in this design, conveying a sense of children moving forward into the future. Mr. Krieger asked if the Boys Town pylon could be omitted from silver obverse #16; Mr. Dunson said that it is an important design element. Ms. Stafford noted that the CCAC, in expressing limited support for gold pair #1, had suggested eliminating the pylon from that design.
Ms. Meyer asked if the complex design of silver reverse #16 would be too difficult to execute at the smaller scale of the clad coin. Don Everhart, the Mint's chief sculptor-engraver, responded that the design could be conveyed successfully; some details could be simplified if necessary, such as by reducing the number of lines between roof tiles. Mr. Freelon asked if the sculpted coin would adequately convey the portraits of the four students as seen in the presented drawing; Mr. Everhart responded that this should be achievable. The Commission then adopted the recommendation to use silver pair #16 as the design for the clad coin.
2. CFA 17/MAR/16-6, 2017 American Liberty High Relief 24-karat Gold Coin and Silver Medal Program to commemorate the 225th anniversary of the United States Mint. Designs for a gold $100 coin and a silver medal. Final. (Previous: CFA 22/JAN/15-10, 2015 issue.) Ms. Stafford summarized the program to produce high-relief coins and medals featuring modern renditions of the allegorical figure of Liberty on the obverse and of an eagle on the reverse. For this 2017 issue, the gold coin would also feature the edge-incused inscription "225 Years of American Coinage." She described the technical constraints in producing a high-relief coin, requiring offsetting relief areas on the obverse and reverse, or placing the thicker elements toward the center of the design. In the absence of samples, she described the size of the coin and the slightly larger medal, which would be more affordable for collectors. Mr. Krieger asked how the precise dimensions are determined; Greg Weinman of the U.S. Mint responded that the origins of the standard sizes may be related to historical legislative requirements to use a specific weight of a precious metal.
Ms. Stafford presented 25 alternatives for the obverse design, noting that the paired images in the presentation include the slightly different designs that would be used for the coin and medal due to the requirement for additional inscriptions on the coin. She noted the preference of the Mint's Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) for obverse #8, featuring the figure of Liberty in profile wearing a crown of stars, similar to the Statue of Freedom atop the U.S. Capitol dome. She then presented 14 alternatives for the reverse design featuring an eagle, noting the CCAC preference for reverse #1.
Mr. Freelon supported the CCAC preference for obverse #8, commenting that it is the most successful in achieving the Mint's goal of expressing the nation's diversity. For the reverse, he supported alternatives #1 and #4, commenting that the eagle in #4 has a more aggressive stance within an attractive composition; he supported reverse #4 in comparison to the even more angry-looking eagle in reverse #6.
Mr. Krieger agreed that obverse #8 is a good design. He noted that the raised portrait would be in the center of this obverse composition, and the reverse should therefore also feature a central motif in response to the technical requirements of the high relief. He suggested reverse #1 as the most appropriate pairing; Ms. Meyer agreed. Upon a motion by Mr. Krieger with second by Mr. Freelon, the Commission recommended obverse #8 and reverse #1.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 3:58 p.m.
Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA