The meeting was convened in the Commission of Fine Arts offices in the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20001, at 9:09 a.m.
Members present: Hon. Earl A. Powell, Chairman
Hon. Philip Freelon, Vice Chairman
Hon. Edward Dunson
Hon. Alex Krieger
Hon. Mia Lehrer
Hon. Elizabeth Meyer
Thomas E. Luebke, Secretary
Frederick J. Lindstrom, Assistant Secretary
A. Approval of the minutes of the 19 May meeting. Secretary Luebke reported that the minutes of the May meeting were circulated to the Commission members in advance. Upon a motion by Mr. Powell with second by Mr. Freelon, the Commission approved the minutes. Mr. Luebke said that the minutes will be made available on the Commission's website.
B. Dates of next meetings. Mr. Luebke presented the regularly scheduled dates for upcoming Commission meetings, as previously published: 21 July, 15 September, and 20 October 2016. He noted that no meeting is scheduled during August.
C. United States Mint design competitions. Mr. Luebke said that two programs of commemorative coins require the participation of three Commission members in the design competitions, in accordance with the authorizing legislation for the programs. Both programs involve the issuance of coins in 2018. He asked Mr. Lindstrom to report on the status of the two programs.
1. Report on the first phase of the World War I American Veterans Centennial Commemorative Coin competition. (Previous: 17/MAR/16 Admin-D: election of three Commission members for jury) Mr. Lindstrom reported that Mr. Dunson, Ms. Lehrer, and Ms. Gilbert participated in the first phase, involving evaluation of the portfolios of prospective designers for the coin. Twenty designers have been selected to continue into the second phase, which involves preparation of proposals for the coin design. The Mint has scheduled the competition jury's meeting for the second phase on 14 September, the day before the Commission's September meeting.
2. Elect three Commission members to serve on the design competition jury for the 2018 Breast Cancer Awareness Commemorative Coin Program. Mr. Lindstrom said that this competition is still being organized, and the Commission needs to select three members to participate in the design competition jury. He added that this program will include three coins. In the absence of volunteers from among the Commission members, Mr. Luebke said that the selection of three members could be deferred until the July meeting, depending on the Mint's schedule. Chairman Powell suggested returning to this issue later in the day, and Ms. Meyer said that the Commission members could discuss this during the lunch recess. Mr. Lindstrom added that staff from the Mint will be present later in the meeting in conjunction with the final two agenda items, in case the Commission has further questions.
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 the only change to the draft appendix is a minor adjustment to the title for antennas at the Department of the Interior headquarters building (case number CFA 16/JUN/16-e). Upon a motion by Mr. Freelon with second by Ms. Meyer, the Commission approved the revised Government Submissions Consent Calendar.
Appendix II – Shipstead-Luce Act Submissions: Ms. Batcheler reported several changes to the draft appendix. The recommendation for one project has been changed to be favorable due to design modifications (case number SL 16-124). Two favorable recommendations are subject to the receipt of supplemental materials (SL 16-116 and 16-125), and she requested authorization to finalize these recommendations as the materials are received. She also noted that the revised appendix includes minor wording changes and updates to note the receipt of supplemental materials. Upon a motion by Mr. Powell with second by Mr. Freelon, the Commission approved the revised appendix. (An additional Shipstead-Luce Act submission for 7981 East Beach Drive, NW, was reviewed later in the meeting.)
Appendix III – Old Georgetown Act Submissions: Mr. Martinez reported that two projects have been removed from the appendix at the request of the applicants, who are submitting supplemental materials for further review by the Old Georgetown Board. The revised appendix also includes minor wording changes and updates to note the receipt of supplemental materials. Upon a motion by Mr. Freelon with second by Ms. Meyer, the Commission approved the revised appendix.
B. National Park Service
CFA 16/JUN/16-1, President's Park Fence—White House Grounds. Pennsylvania Avenue and East and West Executive Avenues, NW. Perimeter fence improvements—Phase I. Concept. (Previous: CFA 21/APR/16-1, Information presentation) Secretary Luebke introduced the concept proposal for a new fence around the White House grounds. The proposal is submitted by the National Park Service, which has been in consultation with the U.S. Secret Service, and he noted that the Commission heard an information presentation on this project in April 2016. He said that the proposed fence would replace the existing seven-foot-high fence surrounding the 18.5 acres of the White House grounds; the fencing of adjacent areas, including the main Treasury Building and the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, will be undertaken in a later phase. The proposed fence would follow the existing alignment and use the same gate access points, but it would be significantly taller and stronger than the current fence, with anti-climb and other security features. He asked Peter May, associate regional director for lands, planning, and design for the National Park Service, to begin the presentation; Mr. May introduced Thomas Dougherty of the U.S. Secret Service.
Mr. Dougherty said that the contract for the new fence is expected to be awarded in fiscal year 2017 with construction to follow soon. Concept approval is requested for the new design's overall height, the size and spacing of the pickets, the finials and base, the piers and lighting, and the fence gates for vehicles and pedestrians. He indicated the two design alternatives displayed on the meeting room's wall with full-scale elevation drawings of a fence segment: one for a 1¾-inch-diameter picket with a spacing of 5 inches between pickets, and the other for a 2-inch-diameter picket with a spacing of 5½ inches. Mr. Dougherty said that the fence height would be just over 11 feet on an 18-inch-high base, and the preferred option of the Secret Service is the 2-inch-diameter pickets with 5½-inch spacing because this design would better meet security needs and deter potential fence-jumpers. He said that a consideration in determining the height of the fence is the amount of time needed for a person to scale it, either through the person's own efforts or using mechanical means: the fence must be high enough to protect against both scenarios and bring about enough delay for the Secret Service to have time to respond. The fence's top elements have been placed relatively high to ensure that a child sitting on an adult's shoulders could not be injured on the finials.
Emphasizing the importance of balancing security and aesthetics, Mr. Dougherty said that the wider opening of the preferred alternative would provide visitors with the most open view of the White House. He said that the two alternatives have been studied by calculating the proportion of open space to within the elevation of the fence. The proportion is 73.3% in the preferred alternative versus 74.1% for the alternative with narrower, closer-spaced pickets; the slightly thicker pickets would have 17% more cross-sectional steel area, providing greater strength and thus more protection.
Michael Mills and Anne Weber of Mills and Schnoering Architects continued the presentation. Mr. Mills summarized the comments in the Commission's letter responding to the information presentation in April 2016: a new fence design should evoke freedom and strength; it should express function without a defensive appearance; the project team should study the hierarchy and proportion of the design's top and base; and the landscape and mature trees adjacent to the fence should be preserved. Mr. Mills said that the primary issues are the fence's height and the size and spacing of pickets. He also summarized the background research for the project: a review of the history of White House fences indicated that its basic geometry and design elements have not changed since 1902; and general sources for the new design have been expanded to include American domestic-scale precedents, in addition to such monumental urban examples as the fence surrounding the Belgian parliament building.
Ms. Weber provided additional context and analysis for the two alternatives. She said that the existing White House fence has ¾-inch-diameter pickets spaced 4 inches apart. The project team has examined views of the fence from approximately the middle of the sidewalk, calculating the breadth of view until the pickets or a masonry pier would block the visibility through the fence. The extent of visibility through the existing fence is the widest of the variations that were studied, approximately 70 feet, while the configuration shown at the April meeting was the poorest, at approximately 25 feet. The two new proposals would have a similar degree of openness, allowing an extent of visibility approximately 40 feet wide.
Ms. Weber described the options for treating the top of the fence in relation to the two picket alternatives. The top railing must meet Secret Service requirements for "graspability," height, and other security issues. All options include spikes to keep people from grasping the top bar. One option would reuse the spear motif of the existing fence, with the volutes beneath them doubled in number and rotated in plan to increase their three-dimensional effect. A new ashlar base for the fence would visually balance this complex top; the sides of the base would be slightly darker than its capstone, as in the existing base. The fence composition of thinner pickets with slightly tighter spacing would result in this somewhat denser top design. The other options for the top are simpler: in one, the volutes have been eliminated, and the spears are placed above small spheres; others have only spikes between pickets. She said that the recommended alternative—the 2-inch-diameter pickets with the 5½–inch spacing—would have a simplified spear tip, and she concluded that this alternative would provide the best balance between proportion and performance.
Ms. Weber described the preferred fence alternative as it would be configured around the site. Small sensors for a laser protection system, generally located approximately thirty feet apart, would be attached with brackets to the back of posts just above the top railing; they would be visible from the side but not the front. Where the fence curves around the south lawn, more closely spaced sensors would be required to keep the line of the laser close to the fence. Along the sloping grade of East and West Executive Avenues, the top of the fence would not be stepped but would follow the topography, and intermediate masonry piers would not be used. The vehicular gates at East and West Executive Avenues would follow the historic precedent of a simple gate with a straight top and additional vertical bars at the base; the metal gates would be the same height and use the same picket design as the existing fence. Vehicular gates on Pennsylvania Avenue would follow the precedent of including an iron tracery design at the base, and the gates would be flat on top. Pedestrian gates would have the same characteristics as the fence, but they would have larger pickets and would typically not be framed by masonry piers.
Ms. Meyer expressed appreciation for the project team's responsiveness to the concerns raised at the information presentation. She asked Mr. May to stand next to the full-scale elevation drawings of the two alternative designs so that Commission members could evaluate their height and scale.
Mr. Freelon also expressed appreciation for the design changes and supported the 2-inch-diameter picket with the wider spacing as the better alternative because it would be stronger and looks as good in the overall composition. Mr. Krieger disagreed, and he asked why the 5½-inch spacing had not been used with the thinner proposed picket. Mr. Dougherty reiterated that the 2-inch picket would provide more strength due to its larger cross-sectional area; he said that the goal is not only to prevent people from jumping over the fence but also to protect against other efforts to get through it, such as by the use of explosives.
Mr. Luebke noted that both alternatives had been submitted as viable options; Mr. Dougherty clarified that the Secret Service now prefers the 2-inch picket. Mr. Luebke acknowledged that Secret Service officials would always prefer larger and stronger solutions, but they had previously said that the 1¾-inch picket would be acceptable; Mr. Dougherty reiterated that the Secret Service now believes the 2-inch picket diameter is preferable for its additional strength. Mr. Krieger asked if the smaller picket is still a viable alternative; Mr. Dougherty said it is being presented as an option, and the Secret Service is open to discussion, but the request is for the Commission to approve the 2-inch-diameter picket.
Mr. Dunson commented that the 1¾-inch picket appears very tall and slender, while the 2-inch picket conveys strength and stability, an important issue of image for the White House fence. He asked if color could mitigate the fence's massive appearance. Mr. Mills responded that fences have historically been painted in dark colors with the understanding that these fade into the background; black is proposed for the new fence because the existing fence is black, but a very dark green might be a possibility. Mr. May showed the Commission members a small physical mockup of four fence pickets, three black and one dark green. Mr. Krieger asked why the pickets appear light-colored in the full-scale rendered drawings; Mr. May responded that they had been drawn only to represent the shape, not to convey a color.
Mr. Krieger expressed skepticism that the fence design with the thicker picket is actually necessary. He noted that during the April presentation, the Commission had been shown many examples of fences from various authoritarian regimes across history that are as tall as the proposed fence but have narrower pickets; he strongly questioned the idea that a fence needs to be massive to embody strength. He said that the 2-inch picket looks larger and more monumental, and he believes that the 1¾-inch picket would be a better choice; he also requested the opportunity to see further evidence that black results in less visual prominence than other colors.
Mr. Krieger asked whether the existing fence has sensors. John Stann, a structural engineer with the Secret Service, responded that sensors are present on the north fence but not on the south fence; the goal with this project is to provide continuous coverage around the entire White House complex by installing sensors on the top of the new fence. Mr. Krieger asked if the sensors would still need to be placed fourteen feet apart along the south fence. Mr. Stann confirmed this spacing; he added that having someone actually jump over the fence is the best way for Secret Service officers to detect an intruder.
Mr. Krieger asked if the Secret Service is discouraging tracery on the fence due to a concern that someone could use it for climbing; Mr. Stann confirmed this concern. Observing that the gates are shown with tracery, Mr. Krieger asked if this could also be used for jumping. Mr. Stann responded that this is possible but is of lesser concern because Secret Service officers are posted at all times at each gate. Mr. Dougherty said that any element providing a foothold is a problem. He added that the color of the fence is not a security issue but a matter of what the National Park Service finds appropriate. He said that the requirements for the new fence are continually being re-evaluated to ensure that the design will last into the next century. Due to the importance of the White House, he said that the fence needs to function as the permanent barrier it appears to be; he added that the more robust fence will also address other threats that the Secret Service does not reveal to the public.
Ms. Meyer discussed the project's methodology. She expressed appreciation for the project team's attempt to understand the impact of the fence on the visitor's experience. She recalled that in responding to the previous presentation, Mr. Dunson had spoken eloquently about the importance of projecting an alternative image for public space than the culture of fear that tourists now find in Washington, in contrast to other countries where security measures are handled in a way that projects confidence and strength. She expressed support for the consideration of the range of openness to understand questions of visual accessibility, and she said that the design team has found an acceptable middle ground. She also welcomed the presentation of the experience of seeing the White House behind the new fence as if seeing it through a series of apertures. She commented that the design of the new White House fence is a relational problem of urban design or landscape architecture rather than architecture. She observed that the full-scale drawings are illuminating but appear disturbing because things of the same scale look different when seen inside a building versus when viewed outside in the open. She requested that a full-scale mockup showing a segment of the preferred fence design be prepared before the final submission so that the Commission members can understand the relationship between the proposal and the site. She emphasized that seeing a mockup is important in providing a better representation of the design; she commented that the full-scale drawing of the preferred alternative suggests the appearance of a jail. She also commented that a lighter color for the fence might reflect sunlight more and reduce its apparent mass. She observed that the discussion has focused on the diameter of the pickets, but the more important issue is the spacing of 5 versus 5½ inches between them; she said that the thicker picket dimension could be acceptable in order to have the wider opening. Mr. Dougherty agreed to provide a mockup.
Mr. Krieger asked how the spacing between pickets relates to their diameter. Mr. Stann responded that the goal is to keep the opening small enough so that even if one bar is removed from the fence, a person could not easily pass through the opening. Mr. Krieger asked if the 2-inch-diameter picket is preferred only because it would be stronger; Mr. Stann said that this is one factor.
For the design of the top of the fence, Ms. Lehrer expressed a preference for the more three-dimensional and complex option because the other alternatives look inappropriately contemporary. Mr. Krieger agreed, and he asked if a wider spacing of the heavier metal posts used between groupings of pickets would affect the fence's structural integrity. Mr. Mills responded that the posts have approximately the same spacing in both options. Ms. Weber added that the existing posts are spaced approximately eight feet apart; with the increased height of the new fence, their spacing would be widened to approximately ten feet, and the possibility of a wider spacing would be studied. Mr. Krieger recommended exploring this issue since the fence's other proportions are being altered.
Mr. Dunson observed that the existing metal fence posts have diagonal supports behind them, which may allow for these posts to be thinner; he asked if such bracing would be included on the new fence. Ms. Weber responded that using a 4-inch solid bar for the intermediate posts would eliminate the structural need for the traditional "kicker" supports, but they might be added if the posts are placed further than 8 feet apart. Mr. Dunson asked if the post itself would be smaller and less visible; Ms. Weber said this could be studied.
Mr. Powell said that he agrees with the apparent consensus that the 2-inch diameter picket with the 5½-inch spacing and the simpler finial is preferable. Mr. Luebke asked to clarify if there was a consensus that the simpler finial is preferable to the more decorative option. Ms. Meyer said that the simpler finial as presented in the large elevation drawing is better, because the additional detailing in the alternative makes the fence look very top-heavy; Mr. Powell agreed. Mr. Luebke suggested that if the Commission members approve the general concept, they could request more study of the design and spacing of the posts; he emphasized that the Commission should consider the typical combination of pickets and intermediate posts. Mr. Krieger expressed reluctance to approve the thicker picket because the explanation of its benefits was too vague.
Chairman Powell suggested approval of the 2-inch-diameter picket with the 5½-inch spacing, along with the simpler finial. Mr. May suggested that the National Park Service could continue studying the design of the finials, eliminating a third option of a series of graduated spikes. Mr. Luebke asked if the concept proposals are satisfactory for the gates, the stone base, and the lighting. Ms. Meyer supported these components but said that the approval should be contingent on seeing more extensive full-scale mockups of a segment of the proposed fence, including pickets and posts. Mr. May offered to coordinate with the staff to determine the best way to prepare a mockup as an intermediate stage step before the final review. Upon a second by Mr. Freelon, the Commission adopted the chairman's motion with these comments.
C. American Battle Monuments Commission
CFA 16/JUN/16-2, Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Fort Bonifacio, Manila, Philippines. New visitor center building. Concept. Mr. Luebke introduced the concept submission for a new visitor center building at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, the largest of the cemeteries worldwide that are maintained by the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC). The Manila cemetery was designed by San Francisco architect Gardner Dailey in 1948 and completed in 1960; it encompasses 152 acres of gently rising ground on part of the former U.S. Reservation of Fort William McKinley, now named Fort Bonifacio. He said that the proposed visitor center, the cemetery's first, would be located behind the chapel within an existing grove of trees.
Mr. Luebke asked Harry Robinson, the executive architect for the ABMC and a former chairman of the Commission of Fine Arts, to introduce the project. Mr. Robinson said that this proposal is a continuation of series of new visitor centers developed in recent years by the ABMC. He introduced Elizabeth Chu Richter and David Richter of Richter Architects to present the design.
Ms. Richter described the beauty of the site and the serenity it conveys despite being located in the center of Manila. She said that the juxtaposition of the cemetery with the dense urban growth of the city—most of it occurring after the cemetery's completion—illustrates the prosperity resulting from the Allied victory in World War II, and the design gives visitors a sense of gratitude to the sacrifices of the 17,201 soldiers buried there. She added that the names of 36,285 other people missing in battle are inscribed on walls at the memorial.
Ms. Richter indicated the two routes that lead through the cemetery. A formal, processional approach on the cemetery's main axis extends from a parking court at the entrance to a stairway ascending a low, broad hill—the cemetery's primary topographic feature—to the central circular memorial complex of two hemicycles flanking a tall, narrow chapel. The second, less formal approach is typically made by car or bus on one of the three nearly concentric drives which circle the hill. The innermost road leads to the site of the new visitor center, downhill and behind the chapel, now a landscaped grove of small trees and shrubs; the trees frame views of the descending slope beyond. A small existing restroom building is hidden among the trees.
Ms. Richter said that the new visitor center is designed to be respectful of the existing cemetery design and to be integrated with the topography and landscape. To keep it subordinate to the central memorial area and chapel, the visitor center would be placed off the main axis; the proposed siting is at the end of a minor, secondary axis established by one of a pair of existing walks that extend behind the chapel. To avoid further competing with the memorial area, the proposed building would be mostly transparent and partially obscured by plantings; large areas of glazing would give visitors broad views of the cemetery.
Mr. Richter characterized the cemetery landscape as having rolling lawns planted with individual acacia trees and groves of smaller trees such as plumeria, in addition to shrubs and groundcover plantings. The grove in which the visitor center would be situated is relatively large and dense; seen from the front, the new building would be almost hidden among the trees. He said that the siting of the visitor center away from the main axis is informed by the existing offset relationship of the three curving drives to the central circular memorial area. The mass of the new construction would be further minimized by its subdivision into the visitor center and a separate restroom building; this separation, and the extension of the plantings, would help integrate the structures within the grove. He said that plantings would be less dense at the side of the restroom structure facing the visitor center to establish a visual connection between them.
Mr. Richter said that the visitor center would be set back approximately ten meters from the circular drive in order to retain the existing landscape in front. The visitor center's curving footprint would reflect the curves of the roadways and the topography. The exterior would be sheathed in the same travertine as the memorial complex, although the pattern of the stonework and the form of its cantilevered roofs would be differentiated. Visitors would enter the lobby on the upper level and descend to a glass-walled gallery. People looking south from the top of the hill would glimpse the roofs of the center and the restroom building, which would be set slightly above eye level; the building's height of eleven feet was calculated in relation to an eye-level view from the monument. A small courtyard would be located between the visitor center and the restrooms.
Mr. Freelon asked how the site had been chosen. Ms. Richter responded that the general location of this grove of trees was identified before the design team was selected, but it was her firm's decision to place the visitor center off the main axis. Mr. Freelon commented that an understanding of the larger context of the site is difficult without a plan showing the entire area, including the circulation pattern.
Ms. Meyer observed that the cemetery presents a dramatic, rigorously topographic landscape, and the circumferential roadways have their own rigor. She expressed concern that the project has been conceived as a building to be hidden in a mass of trees and shrubs rather than as a piece of topographic architecture that responds to the scale, shape, and structure of the landscape. She encouraged the design team to think about the project in relation to the surrounding trees and as part of the broader topography. Mr. Robinson responded that the design team has emphasized the importance of retaining the original areas of lawn in front of the new building. He added that the ABMC had originally wanted to locate the visitor center at the cemetery entrance, but he instead encouraged selection of the currently proposed site so that visitors would have to travel through the cemetery to reach it. He said that the design team has tried to strike a balance between limiting the building's visual impact and connecting it with its setting.
Ms. Lehrer cautioned that if the visitor center is placed within the grove, the extensive root systems of the tropical trees should be protected, perhaps by cantilevering the building or raising it on pilotis. She commented that although the cemetery's landscape is not very old, the designers could consider the next generation of forest such as by imagining the hill landscape as a composition of gardens in which the building is placed. She recommended study of the site in section and consideration of the larger topography.
Mr. Krieger commented that the landscape plan does not clearly distinguish trees from shrubs. He asked if any trees would be removed or new trees planted when the existing restroom building is removed; the architects responded that eight- to ten-foot-tall plumeria trees grow here, and some new trees would be planted.
Mr. Krieger referred to the 1905 plan for Manila developed by Daniel Burnham, the pioneering American planner who was the first chairman of the Commission of Fine Arts and a leader in the City Beautiful movement. He said that Burnham would have located the visitor center on the primary axis and created a colonnade of some kind to provide a sense of arrival. Mr. Krieger commented that the proposed off-axis placement of the visitor center may be awkward because the building cannot truly be hidden; also, the location is not quite on the terminus of the secondary axis. He expressed general support for the design, but he recommended siting the building either further off the secondary axis or directly on the main axis. He added that isolating the restrooms in a separate building would only make them more prominent, and he recommended incorporating them into the main volume of the visitor center. Ms. Lehrer asked if the buildings would have overhangs for protection in the rainy season; Mr. Richter said that they would.
Ms. Richter emphasized that the visitor center has been designed not to compete with the chapel nor to obstruct the view from the hill. The length of the building, originally projected to be 200 feet, was minimized by placing the volume on two levels and separating the restrooms from the main block. Having the two separate structures makes circulation more efficient by providing more gathering room outside and allows for the visitor center to have a narrower footprint. Mr. Robinson added that the ABMC prefers separation of restrooms from visitor centers for operational reasons. Mr. Krieger responded that the separation in this design would result in tourists seeing the restrooms first; he commented that if the restrooms were attached to the main building, the overall complex would actually be more compact. He agreed with Ms. Meyer that the building should be thought of as a structure in the landscape to improve its composition and siting, and he reiterated that the proposal appears awkward.
Mr. Dunson commented that the presentation should have included a comprehensive site plan to explain the relationship between the roads, the main axis, and the proposed location of the new building. He said that including the restrooms in the visitor center, even if the resulting building is 200 feet long, may be an acceptable solution because the overall site area is large enough for a building of such length; he added that the increased length and the addition of overhangs might increase the visitor center's elegance. He suggested consideration of lifting the building off the ground so that it does not intrude on the landscape.
Ms. Meyer commented that a concept approval will require further documentation: clarification of the building's relation to the site in section; a site plan and a contour plan; plans clearly indicating what exists and what is proposed, including the location of existing vegetation; and clarification of the special requirements of a tropical landscape and how these might affect the design. She offered a motion for approval of the general concept design contingent on this documentation, with a request for submission of a revised concept; the Commission adopted this action.
D. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
CFA 16/JUN/16-3, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, 2700 F Street, NW. Pedestrian-bicyclist bridge—part of the south expansion project. Final (revised). (Previous: CFA 19/MAY/16-2) Secretary Luebke introduced the revised final design proposal for a pedestrian and bicyclist bridge at the Kennedy Center. He said that the bridge had originally been included in the Commission's review of the overall expansion project for the Kennedy Center, but this part of the project was withheld for separate submission. He summarized the Commission's most recent request in May 2016 for further study of the lower portions of the bridge's approach ramp, including the constricted area beneath the ramp and the potentially congested intersection points between the ramp and the existing riverfront recreational path. He suggested that an approval action should include a stipulation for further staff review of the final construction documents. He asked Christopher McVoy of Steven Holl Architects to present the revised design.
Mr. McVoy noted the familiarity of the Commission members with the context and the overall expansion project through numerous past reviews, and he presented the changes resulting from the May 2016 review. In response to the Commission's concern with congestion along the recreational path, the approach ramp's switchback landing and access stairs have been moved slightly south, and the ramp's lower landing has been reshaped to provide a more defined area of pavement. He said that the benefits of these revisions include increasing the landing width from ten feet to twelve feet; creating a bend in the ramp landing that articulates a separation of the ramp traffic from the existing path; and shifting the area of intervention further away from the root zone of an existing tree that will remain. He added that the paving of the landings has also been adjusted in response to the Commission's suggestion: an eight-foot-long portion of the landing area would be paved in concrete, slightly different in texture from the ramp's concrete and distinct from the trail's black asphalt paving in order to demarcate the landing area. He said that the Commission had also requested further study of the constricted area beneath the ramp, where gravel had been proposed, with the recommendation to design a more substantial base for the lower part of the ramp. The concrete base has now been extended by 25 feet, and he said that the intersection of the concrete with the upper ramp's steel structure is now improved; he added that the ramp's supporting piers remain as previously designed. He indicated the typical use of cable guardrails along the ramp, with a contrasting solid panel where benches are located.
Mr. McVoy said that widening the bridge and ramp was considered, but the conclusion was that additional width would preclude the desired treatment of the landings within the very limited width of the recreational path's park setting. The usable width of the bridge and ramp design was analyzed more carefully: the proposed structure would provide a nine-foot-wide clear area for passage, and he illustrated the sufficiency of this width for various combinations of pedestrians, bicyclists, and wheelchair users. He said that the width of design elements would continue to be studied as the design's final documentation is prepared; Mr. Krieger encouraged this further study. Mr. McVoy concluded with several views of the revised design, noting that the changes can be accommodated within the park's existing grading without the need for retaining walls.
Mr. Krieger suggested extending the proposed concrete paving of the ramp landing in order to more clearly define this area and to provide continuity for the recreational path's edge, instead of limiting the concrete to the proposed eight-foot dimension. Ms. Lehrer expressed appreciation for the attention to detail and for the responsiveness to most of the Commission's previous concerns. She asked for clarification of existing trees; Mr. McVoy responded that one tree would be removed, and a new tree would be planted to replace it. Ms. Lehrer suggested additional study of the landscape constraints to consider the possibility of further widening the landing areas, perhaps from twelve feet to thirteen feet, in order to accommodate fast-moving bicyclists travelling in opposite directions. She said that the use of concrete for the landing is a helpful safety improvement at the intersection of the ramp and recreational path, but she reiterated her concern that more width may be needed due to safety concerns with fast-moving bicyclists. She said that the design response may involve adjusting the placement of the proposed new tree; Mr. McVoy acknowledged that the site plan allows for some further flexibility in the landing design. Ms. Lehrer reiterated her overall support for the revised proposal and for the creation of a bridge to connect the riverfront with the Kennedy Center grounds.
Peter May of the National Park Service requested clarification of the Commission's guidance on extending the concrete landing areas, due to potential impact on the recreational path and the park landscape. Mr. Krieger said that his primary concern was the northern intersection point, where the shallow angle at the merger of the ramp and path could benefit from a more distinct demarcation. He said that the southern intersection point at the switchback landing is less of a concern, although Ms. Lehrer said that even this location may have safety issues. Mr. May agreed that a clear definition of the path would be helpful. He said that the National Park Service generally supports a generous width for recreational paths, but the existing trees in this area are a constraint and no overall widening of this path is being planned.
Ms. Lehrer offered a motion to approve the revised design with the request to study further widening of the landings and to extend the use of concrete for their paving. At Mr. Luebke's suggestion, Ms. Lehrer added that staff review of the final documentation would be a condition of the approval. Upon a second by Ms. Meyer, the Commission adopted this action.
E. Federal Reserve System
CFA 16/JUN/16-4, William McChesney Martin, Jr. Building, 20th and C Streets, NW. Additions and alterations for visitor screening and conference center. Revised concept. (Previous: CFA 19/NOV/09-8 with final delegated to staff; CFA 16/JAN/14-I, delegated approval) Mr. Lindstrom introduced the revision to a previously approved design for adding a conference center and visitor screening area to the north building of the Federal Reserve headquarters complex. He said that the design has been reconsidered by a different architect; he asked Shalom Baranes of Shalom Baranes Associates to present the proposal.
Mr. Baranes said that the Federal Reserve is willing to implement the previously approved design but requests consideration of some modifications. While the program and the general location of the additions have not substantially changed, he said that the current design would reorganize the program, modify the appearance of the additions, and improve the public's experience of entering the building. He provided an overview of the existing conditions, indicating the historic headquarters building to the south designed by Paul Cret; a tunnel connects this building to the Martin Building. The Department of State headquarters is to the west across 21st Street; an American Red Cross building is to the north; and other federal office buildings are to the east. He noted the triangular shape of the Martin Building's block, which includes small National Park Service reservations at the north and east corners. He also emphasized the strong and consistent north-south axis through both Federal Reserve buildings and the Red Cross building; the proposed alterations are intended to respect the symmetry along this axis.
Mr. Baranes presented photographs of the existing building, supported by massive concrete pilotis in a formal modernist style that also suggests the influence of Brutalism or ancient Greek temples. Notwithstanding the mixed imagery, he said that the proportions are beautiful and the facades are detailed well; he indicated the complex rhythm of window widths that relates to the pilotis. He said that the design intent may have been for transparency across the ground floor, but the views are now blocked and the bottom of the building is very dark; the entire building rests on an extensive stone podium with landscaping. Due to the asymmetrical shape of the site, the west side provides a modest setback for landscaping along 21st Street, while the east side has a more generous area of open space along the diagonal of Virginia Avenue.
Mr. Baranes presented three comparative axonometric drawings of the existing building and site, the previously approved design for additions, and the current proposal. He indicated the location of additions for the conference center at the east and west ends of the building, in both the previous and current designs; and he indicated the location for a visitor entrance and security screening addition on the south side, which would be a much smaller volume in the current proposal. He said that the previous 244-foot-long entrance addition was designed to bring visitors up from the C Street sidewalk level to the raised podium level; visitors would then descend to a basement level to reach the tunnel for access to the Federal Reserve's south building. The new proposal for the entrance addition, less than half the previously proposed length, would bring visitors down from the sidewalk to a lower level. He said that the conference center additions were previously designed as extensions of the existing building, while the new proposal treats them as more independent pavilions that can be perceived as part of the landscape. The new proposal would also retain more of the existing podium and landscape.
Mr. Baranes described the advantages of the new design for the entrance addition. The smaller pavilion, with its orientation toward a lower level, would allow the existing pilotis and glass wall along the lobby's south facade to remain exposed; he emphasized that the viewer's perception of these features is important in understanding the building's distinctive character of a volume supported by pilotis. The angled roof and south wall of the addition would make it formally distinct from the existing building, and the perception of the existing podium would be more strongly retained. The entrance itself would be at the center of the building, consistent with the prevailing north-south axis through the complex. The tilted glass facade along C Street would provide views of the historic building to the south, and the interior volume would have a character of simplicity and openness because no interior partitions would be necessary at the sidewalk level. He contrasted this solution with the previous design, which had created interior space around most of the height of the large pilotis, leaving only their upper portions exposed from the exterior, and had introduced new columns of a similar shape and rhythm along the addition's facade which concealed a labyrinthine security screening area. Mr. Freelon asked for clarification of visitor movement into the building; Mr. Baranes indicated the descent route, by stairs or lifts, from the sidewalk level to the lower-level security screening area; the security equipment would be contained within the main volume of the building, instead of creating visible clutter within the glazed entrance addition.
Mr. Baranes described the adjustments to the design of the conference pavilions, including increased distance from the existing building and the use of transparent glass volumes with lower height to connect the building and additions. The design vocabulary of the exterior of these pavilions is derived from the existing building's re-entrant stone corners rather than its primary facades. The two additions would generally be symmetrical; the facade of the west addition would have less glass and more stone due to the security issues of the proximity of 21st Street on the west, and the stone wall would be used as the backdrop for a water scrim that falls into a narrow pool.
Mr. Baranes introduced landscape architect Eric Groft of Oehme, van Sweden & Associates to present the site design. Mr. Groft noted his thirty years of involvement with the landscape of the Federal Reserve complex, following the original design in the 1970s that was the firm's first public garden in Washington. He said that this design introduced the firm's distinctive garden style to the American public, with careful attention to year-round plantings that celebrate the seasons. He said that this concept would be continued in this new project, which would re-introduce some of the special plantings that have become associated with the Federal Reserve site. He noted that in more recent years his firm has been involved with perimeter security improvements for the Federal Reserve, which will be considered as part of this project.
Mr. Powell supported the proposal as an improvement over the previous design. Mr. Freelon agreed but questioned the advisability of adding a glass box to the south side of the building; he asked if heat gain and energy conservation have been considered. Mr. Baranes responded that the glass would have some fritting to reduce the heat gain while maintaining the desired transparency. He also noted that this visitor entrance addition is essentially a vestibule rather than an occupied space, and greater-than-normal heat gain could therefore be accepted.
Ms. Lehrer acknowledged the advantages of the angled glass wall and roof of the entrance addition, but she questioned whether people on the interior would feel disoriented by the combination of stairs and the angled shadows of the facade mullions, as depicted in the interior sectional perspective. She also questioned the need for the water scrim in this era of heightened concern for sustainability: it would not be visible nor audible for the people inside the building, and would not have garden space in front of it, so it appears to be provided only for the enjoyment of people walking by on the 21st Street sidewalk. She said that this walk-by amenity may be perceived as an excessive luxury for the Federal Reserve to be providing for the public. Mr. Baranes responded that the proposed facade of rusticated stone would not be significantly different if the water were eliminated from the design. Ms. Lehrer acknowledged the benefit of fountains as an enjoyable amenity, but emphasized the need to consider water as a valuable commodity and to limit the use of mechanical equipment for fountains. She suggested using a water feature only where it would be very effective, such as at the large circular fountain toward the east end of the site where ample garden space is provided. Mr. Groft responded that the proposed site design includes the use of stormwater for the fountains and for landscape irrigation, to the extent feasible. Ms. Lehrer said that the fountains should nonetheless be located where people can enjoy them, such as near an outdoor seating area. Mr. Baranes said that the 21st Street sidewalk has a substantial number of pedestrians, and he indicated the popular tennis court located at the north end of the site. Ms. Lehrer asked if the stormwater being collected is limited to the roof of the building. Robert Karow, an architect with Shalom Baranes Associates, responded that stormwater from throughout the site would be harvested, which includes the extent of the building podium in addition to the upper roof. He added that the stormwater would also be used for the building's cooling equipment. Mr. Krieger observed that the proposed water scrim would apparently not require a substantial consumption of resources, and he suggested keeping it as part of the design.
Mr. Krieger commented that the new proposal appears to be a much more elegant solution than the previous design. He supported the overall approach of creating three pavilions that are perceived as separate from the existing building while being related through the use of materials. He also supported the reduced size of the entrance addition, which he said shows greater respect for the existing building. However, he questioned whether the design of the entrance addition is too insubstantial; he suggested consideration of more solidity, whether for aesthetic or environmental reasons. He commented that the proposed design for the east and west additions appears to be more compatible with the character of the existing building, forming an ensemble while being separate. He acknowledged the desire for transparency at the entrance addition but said that it appears foreign to the building's architecture.
Ms. Meyer joined in supporting the proposal as an improvement, particularly in the elegant design of the east and west additions that are compatible but clearly distinct from the main mass of the building. She said that the previous proposal for the additions would have detracted strongly from the existing building's design. She observed that the angularity of the entrance pavilion's wall and roof is derived from the form of the pilotis, and this relationship may be getting in the way of the more fundamental issue of solar protection for people entering at the south facade. She said that in addition to heat gain, the issues include glare and the visitor's sense of orientation while moving from the public sidewalk to a security screening area and then into the building. She emphasized that further consideration of these issues would strengthen the design for the entrance addition.
Mr. Dunson agreed that the new design is an improvement. He supported the effort to update the site design; he said that the landscape drawings are compelling and show the strong relationship of the additions and the landscape, resulting in an elegant solution. He also cited the effort to enhance this modernist building instead of discarding it; he said that the proposal makes it a better building.
Chairman Powell summarized the consensus to approve the concept with the guidance to revise the design of the south addition in response to the comments provided. Upon a second by Mr. Freelon, the Commission adopted this action.
F. Smithsonian Institution
Mr. Luebke noted that Mr. Freelon is recused from participation in the two submissions from the Smithsonian Institution.
1. CFA 16/JUN/16-5, National Air and Space Museum. Independence Avenue at 6th Street, SW. Envelope and HVAC Revitalization Project—Replacement of building terraces and new entrance vestibules with canopies. Revised concept. (Previous: CFA 18/JUN/15-7) Ms. Batcheler introduced the revised concept design for alterations to the National Air and Space Museum's landscape and terraces, including two new entrance pavilions for security screening of visitors. She noted that this submission is part of a larger initiative to renovate the museum's exterior; the project for replacement of the museum's stone facade is being submitted separately. She summarized the previous review in June 2015, when the Commission approved the general concept and provided numerous recommendations for the development of the design. She asked Ann Trowbridge of the Smithsonian Institution to begin the presentation.
Ms. Trowbridge said that the submission includes two alternatives for the landscape and terraces: Scheme A, which emphasizes at-grade planting areas to create a more open pedestrian environment with larger shade trees and wider walks; and Scheme B, which uses above-grade planters that are more consistent with the original design aesthetic of setting the museum building on a plinth defined by terraces and planters. She said that the Smithsonian Institution prefers Scheme A, while acknowledging that elements of Scheme B could be incorporated into Scheme A where appropriate.
Ms. Trowbridge noted that as a part of the separate facade replacement project, the museum's current exterior cladding of thin Tennessee pink marble panels would be replaced by thicker panels of a material that has not yet been selected; this material would also be used for the cladding of the terrace walls. She said that pending federal funding, a construction manager will be hired whose first task would be to construct multi-panel mockups for several exterior stone options, and the Commission and staff would be invited to evaluate the mockups. She introduced architect Larry Barr of Quinn Evans Architects and landscape architect Roger Courtenay of AECOM to present the design.
Mr. Courtenay said that the revised proposal is intended to respond to the Commission's previous comments to simplify and open up the low terrace walls and to lower the planter walls, while meeting the modern requirements of accessibility and security. Some of the proposed planters would serve as part of the museum's perimeter security barrier, and these are common to Schemes A and B; these walls would be the same height or lower than the existing planters, with a minimum height of three feet to provide the required security, reaching a maximum height of nearly five feet above the varying grade level. He said that the visitor access plan, common to both alternatives, includes improved walkways and a continuous terrace that would allow visitors to circulate around the entire exterior of the building within its grounds; this is intended to increase pedestrian access to the site and to allow for outdoor museum displays. The northwest and southwest corners of the site would be graded to provide more direct access between the sidewalks and the terrace; the terrace's stone paving would extend to these corners to reflect the material palette of the museum and welcome visitors. He noted that the previously proposed ramp at the site's northeast corner is now proposed as stairs. On either side of the central entrance stairs on the north and south sides of the site, gently sloped walkways would provide universal access to the museum's entrance pavilions. The security perimeter of Schemes A and B would be largely the same, with the insertion or deletion of bollards and barrier walls at various locations. He said that the proposal would also improve the public realm on the west side of the museum grounds, intended to engage the site with the cultural corridor forming along 7th Street extending from the Southwest Waterfront to downtown Washington.
Mr. Courtenay said that writings by Gyo Obata of HOK, the museum's original architect, described the importance of the visual relationship between the Mall and the museum's glazed atria, including the visibility of the exhibit objects within. As a result, Mr. Courtenay said that the revised concept proposes to raise the height of the tree undercanopy along the museum's edge to allow for a greater angle of unfiltered views from the Mall to the museum.
Mr. Courtenay presented the general differences between Schemes A and B, beginning with the plantings along the terrace edges in eight places: four areas flanking the north and south entrances, and four areas at the corners of the site. Scheme A, using at-grade planting areas, provides for larger shade trees by allowing the root zone of the trees to extend underneath the paved areas beyond the planting beds. He said that the soil depth is typically four feet under these areas, which can accommodate the root zone needed to grow larger trees. Scheme B would use raised planters, which reduces the volume of planting soil available and would necessitate planting smaller types of trees that would provide less shade than in Scheme A. He noted that the building's basement ceiling slab extends ten to fifteen feet beyond the building facade in some areas, necessitating careful design of the plantings to avoid damaging this substructure.
Mr. Courtenay described the differences between Schemes A and B at specific areas of the site, beginning with the northwest corner. Scheme A would introduce a new line of trees between the museum and the existing trees at the sidewalk, located in an at-grade planting area that would be fronted by a low barrier wall; bollards would be located at the head of a walkway that leads to the museum entrance. The existing line of trees in raised planters closest to the museum would be replaced with trees planted at ground level; this is intended to lend a sense of physical and visual continuity for visitors, welcoming them onto the museum grounds. He said that Scheme B would plant trees in the same areas as Scheme A, but within raised planters using the design vocabulary of the existing landscape. He noted that in order to provide sufficient elevated soil volume in this alternative's raised planters, the walkway that leads to the entrance would be narrower than in Scheme A. In both alternatives, the existing mature willow oaks at this corner would be preserved; a loose arrangement of ground plantings—intended to evoke the character of the Tuileries Garden in Paris—would augment several new trees, along with seating.
Mr. Courtenay indicated the existing tall planters near the museum's north entrance facing the Mall, where approximately eighty percent of visitors enter. The previously presented proposal was to remove these planters and replace them with a walkway between two walls; the outermost wall was shown as part of a lower but slightly raised tree planter, creating a perimeter security barrier, but the Smithsonian security staff has deemed this design deficient. In the current submission, Scheme A would place a twelve-foot-wide gently ascending walkway between a tall balustrade wall and a planting area; the wall would have the museum's name inscribed on its face. Scheme B substitutes the planting area and balustrade wall with planters similar to the existing conditions, reducing the width of the walkway to approximately nine feet.
Mr. Courtenay said that the current planter and vegetation at the site's northeast corner create a physical and visual impediment to visitor access. He acknowledged the deficiencies of the previous proposal's ramp, including its monumental character and tall walls. In the current proposal, both alternatives would replace the existing planters with a walkway and set of stairs, which would be lined with ground-level plantings in Scheme A or raised planters in Scheme B; the walkway in Scheme B would be narrower to accommodate the desired width of the planters.
Mr. Courtenay said that the a similar design approach is applied to the site's southeast corner: in Scheme A, a gently ascending walkway would be flanked by rows of trees on the ground plane fronted by a wall, and in Scheme B smaller trees would be located in planters and would flank a narrower walkway. Because a portion of the basement in this area is occupied, both alternatives would use planters in the area adjacent to the walkway near the museum building; however, in Scheme A the plaza area at the head of the walkway would place two trees at grade, while in Scheme B all trees would be in planters. Mr. Powell asked if the observatory in this part of the site is still in use; Mr. Courtenay responded that the Haas Public Observatory is still active and is sometimes open to museum visitors.
Mr. Courtenay described the existing conditions of the south entrance, noting that the large sculpture currently located here might be moved to a new location during the renovation work. He said that the proposed design for the approaches to the south entrance is similar to the proposal for the north entrance: in Scheme A, broad walkways would run between balustrade walls; in Scheme B, narrower walkways would be flanked by a planter and a balustrade wall. In both alternatives, the walls along the sidewalk would be inscribed with the words "Smithsonian Institution" and the museum name.
Mr. Courtenay said that the most extensive changes to the site would be at the southwest corner, which is currently occupied by a fountain and pool with a sculpture in the center titled Delta Solar, and by a large planter that physically and visually constrains pedestrians. In the previously approved concept, a plaza surrounding the fountain and pool would be ringed with bollards and open to pedestrians. In the current proposal, the existing sloping grass lawn that surrounds the fountain would be replaced with paving, and plantings around the fountain would be integrated with the shady willow oaks at the northwest corner. He said that the current proposal eliminates many of the bollards; he indicated the proposed security barrier configuration of bollards and walls, differing slightly for the ground-level plantings or raised planters of Schemes A and B. The fountain itself would be enlarged and moved closer to the site's southwest corner; the height of the fountain wall would be increased to three feet to serve as part of the site's perimeter security. He said that water would flow over the fountain's wall in the warmer months, and it would serve as a sculptural element in the colder months.
Mr. Courtenay presented the proposed planting plan and improvements to the terraces. He said that the planter walls currently provide an eighteen-inch-high datum established on the outside edge of the main terrace, and they serve as a seating wall. For reasons of historic preservation and consistency, the proposed design would maintain a datum height around the building, although the height may be taller in Scheme B. He said that the planting plan is being coordinated with the Smithsonian's garden staff to ensure its appropriateness for education and interpretation purposes. The design emphasizes an architectonic approach to the proposed plantings by using vase- or pyramid-shaped trees, which are intended to reinforce scale and provide an undercanopy that allows for improved views of the museum building. Diverse, low-profile ground plantings would be selected for differing sun exposures and for themes related to the museum's mission; they would be kept under two feet tall to maintain sightlines to and from the museum. He said that the paving would likely be monolithic stone pavers set in a running bond pattern; the pavers would be parallel to the building on the terrace, and perpendicular to the building on the ascending walkways leading to the terraces. He added that the design team is working with the Smithsonian staff to introduce new educational, interpretive, and exhibition opportunities around the building's exterior, sited near the various sculptures and fountains and at other locations.
Mr. Courtenay concluded the site design presentation by detailing the proposed stormwater management plan. He said in some areas, stormwater is currently absorbed and filtered by soil; most other stormwater from the site currently goes directly into the city's combined sewer system. The proposed design would use a cistern system to collect stormwater from the museum's roof and portions of the terraces for reuse in irrigation and in the building's air-handling system; other portions of the terraces would divert stormwater into more permeable areas for at-grade filtration. Overflow water would drain into the city system.
The Commission members inspected the physical model of the site, which included interchangeable inserts to illustrate Schemes A and B. Chairman Powell suggested that the Commission members provide comments on the site design before considering the design of the entrance pavilions to be presented by Mr. Barr.
Ms. Meyer questioned whether the enlarged fountain pool could be beautiful and satisfy perimeter security requirements; she asked if this fountain would differ from other inoperable or dry fountains in Washington. Mr. Courtenay responded that the design team has been sensitive to this concern; for an improved appearance, the precast concrete walls of the enlarged fountain pool would most likely be clad in stone, which could also be shaped. He added that design details such as the pool's depth are intended to balance the goals of providing visual interest when empty and of serving as a protective area around the sculpture at the center.
Ms. Meyer commended the design team for its proposed solution to this complex project encompassing numerous disparate conditions. She said that Scheme A would create a more desirable public space than Scheme B, which elaborates on the existing planter vocabulary and would foster an environment less conducive to plant life and visitor comfort; she added that the existing design repels visitors. She suggested further refinement of the details of the freestanding barrier walls that line the pedestrian pathways in Scheme A, such as the potentially awkward end conditions of these walls; she said that the detailing could evoke awareness that the locations of the walls were previously occupied by boxy planters. Ms. Lehrer agreed, while questioning whether sufficient soil depth is available to accommodate the proposed plantings of Scheme A. Mr. Courtenay responded that the roof slab above the basement parking garage would be redesigned and waterproofed, and the required four-foot depth of planting soil could be provided; he noted that the need for improvements to this roof was one of the reasons for initiating this project.
Several Commission members joined in supporting Scheme A. Upon a motion by Mr. Powell with second by Ms. Meyer, the Commission approved the revised site design concept with Scheme A.
Mr. Barr continued the presentation with the proposed design for the entry pavilions at the museum's north and south entrances. He said that while the majority of visitors currently enter the museum through the north entrance, the proportion could shift when the Eisenhower Memorial is completed to the south of the museum. He indicated the differing distances between the museum facade and the street curb: approximately 115 feet on the north along Jefferson Drive, and 58 feet on the south along Independence Avenue although this dimension varies due to the slight angle between the building and the avenue.
Mr. Barr described the museum's current entry sequence on the north side: visitors climb stairs and pass through doors, then move fifteen feet into the museum's primary atrium gallery before passing through security screening. He said that this sequence creates an undesirable condition, with potentially valuable space for exhibition and visitor orientation being used instead for security. On the south side, a twenty-foot-high interior vestibule mediates the passage between entry, security, and arrival into the primary gallery. He said that on a holiday weekend such as Memorial Day, visitors typically wait 45 minutes to pass through security and enter the museum.
Mr. Barr said that the proposed curvilinear shape of the entry pavilions is influenced by the museum's collection of spacecraft and airplanes, drawing on their practical, efficient, and elegant designs. Both pavilions would be constructed of steel with glass curtainwall facades and roofs composed of translucent polymeric panels. The stairs at both entrances would be widened by approximately six feet to allow for visitor queueing on flat ground under the roof canopies that would project from the new pavilions.
Mr. Barr said that the north entrance pavilion would provide approximately 3,500 square feet of enclosed, conditioned space. The pavilion's structural efficiency has been increased in comparison to the previous design by moving its supports closer to the center of the structure, enabling a more pronounced arch in the roof form and a reduction in the size of its structural members. The entry portal would project forward from the pavilion's curtainwall, a revision from the previous design that is intended to simplify the structural support for the doorway and to improve the legibility of the museum's entrance. The tapering clusters of support columns would meet the ground directly, rather than land on plinths as previously designed. He said that the interior of the pavilion would include four security screening lines.
Mr. Barr said that the south pavilion's design has also been simplified and is related more closely to the north pavilion. The south pavilion would be composed of a canopy and a vestibule; the enclosed vestibule would be appended to the existing security screening areas within, and the canopy would protect the exterior visitor queueing and rest area. The canopy structure's four sets of steel columns would thicken and meet the ground in a similar manner as those of the north pavilion, and its roof would also be made of translucent polymeric panels.
Mr. Barr concluded by presenting the proposal for the building's photovoltaic components, which he said are inspired by the benefits to society from the space exploration program's technological advances. The south pavilion's canopy would have photovoltaic components woven into the translucent panels that compose its roof; these photovoltaic components would produce approximately 7,000 kilowatts per year, enough power for perhaps two security x-ray machines, and the photovoltaics would be visible to visitors looking up through the roof. Photovoltaic panels would also be placed on the museum building's roof and would support seven to ten percent of the building's electrical load; these panels would be slightly below the roof parapet and would not be visible from the Mall.
Mr. Krieger asked about the sequencing of the work on the proposed landscape improvements and new pavilions. Mr. Barr said that the architectural and site work would be performed together, starting on the west side and proceeding east. He said that the project's phasing and integrated implementation is closely tied to the demounting and remounting of the museum's exhibits. For example, the existing return-air plenums are integral with the exterior walls and would be taken out of service during the exterior work, thus rendering the adjacent gallery space unusable for exhibitions during this period. Mr. Courtenay added that the extent of construction work and equipment present on the site would also determine the sequence of landscape and terrace improvements. Ms. Trowbridge said that the museum would stay open during the renovation.
Ms. Meyer acknowledged the uncertainty surrounding the phasing of the project's design and construction, commenting that the project's conceptual phasing is also important. She said that she accepts the general relationship of the pavilions to their sites, but further comment would be difficult until the proposal for the building's new cladding is more developed. Ms. Trowbridge clarified that the Smithsonian is only considering stone cladding—not ceramic, metal, or another material; Ms. Meyer expressed disappointment at the limited material palette being considered.
Mr. Krieger asked if the pavilion canopies would be independent or integrated into the building itself; Mr. Barr confirmed that they would be independent of the building. Mr. Krieger commented that compared to the previous design, the canopies are now perhaps too curvilinear, but that overall he supports their current design; he said that they exhibit an elegant, "windblown" character. Chairman Powell agreed and suggested a motion to approve the design for the pavilions.
Mr. Krieger supported approval of the pavilions, pending the submission of final documentation to the Commission. Secretary Luebke noted that the design is only at the revised concept stage, and Chairman Powell emphasized that important portions of the project, including the selection of materials, still need to be reviewed by the Commission. Mr. Krieger agreed that if the building's exterior material selection could affect the review of the currently submitted components, then the Commission should review the project again. Mr. Luebke said that the Commission may choose to delegate review of the final design to the staff, or review the design of the site and pavilions again in conjunction with the building's exterior cladding. Mr. Krieger clarified that if the proposed building material does not affect the currently submitted design, then the Commission would not need to see these components again; he confirmed that this guidance could allow for placing future submissions of this project on the Commission's consent calendar. Chairman Powell emphasized that if the design is changed substantially then the Commission should review the final design submission.
Mr. Krieger suggested that the Commission's approval of the canopies be adopted as an amendment to the approval of Scheme A for the site design earlier in the presentation. Upon a second by Ms. Meyer, the Commission supported this action for the revised concept submission.
(Mr. Freelon remained in recusal for the following agenda item.)
2. CFA 16/JUN/16-6, National Museum of Natural History, 10th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW. Access ramps at south entrance (Madison Drive). Concept. Ms. Batcheler introduced the concept proposal for modifications to the south entrance of the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. The project would add two ramps that would make this heavily used entrance on the Mall fully accessible. She noted that the central portion of the museum was designed by the firm Hornblower and Marshall, with additional refinements by architect Charles McKim, and opened in 1911. She asked Ann Trowbridge of the Smithsonian Institution to begin the presentation.
Ms. Trowbridge said that this museum and the National Air and Space Museum are the two most visited of the Smithsonian Institution. The proposed symmetrical ramps would address the accessibility challenge of this entrance on the Mall: the grade change of approximately ten feet between the Madison Drive sidewalk and the museum's main lobby is traversed only by stairs, and the alternative is a seven- to ten-minute walk around this large building to reach the only existing barrier-free entrance, on Constitution Avenue. She said that the ramps would also accommodate wide strollers as well as queueing space for school groups other visitors. She introduced architect Alyson Steele of Quinn Evans Architects and landscape architect Claire Bedat of AECOM to present the design.
Ms. Steele said that a majority of the museum's visitors use the south entrance, which is near the Smithsonian Metro station, accessible parking, and other attractions on the Mall. She estimated that during an average busy day, the waiting time to clear security at this entrance is fifteen minutes; during an event on or near the Mall, such as the Cherry Blossom Festival, a visitor might wait more than thirty minutes to enter.
Ms. Steele described the building as having a strong neoclassical facade that draws pedestrians toward the central portico. The south facade, set back from Madison Drive, has a three-part composition: a base clad in rusticated Milford Pink granite, the main block of the building of Bethel White granite, and a receding attic story of white Mount Airy granite. The portico is also clad in Bethel granite, and she described the disciplined detailing that features steel window insets and zinc finishing. She said that the existing entrance terrace spans an areaway that was expanded in the 1960s for parking, with the addition of retaining walls and planters on each side of the historic south entrance. Additions to the entrance area over the decades have included guardrails in the mid-20th century; new entrance doors flanking the original entrance in 1979; planters on the masonry plinths at the top of the stairs in the 1980s; and perimeter security elements in the 2000s. The planters along the Madison Drive sidewalk provide visual screening of security elements and of the parking moat below; she added that the existing plantings are habitats for birds and insects.
Ms. Steele presented the overall design for the two new ramps, each 117 feet long and 24 feet wide with an incline of less than five percent; among the visitors benefitting from this universal accessibility would be intergenerational groups who could ascend together to the museum's south entrance portico. She said that although the project is small in area, it engages three major programmatic areas of the museum building: visitor services, operations, and security. She emphasized that the ramps are intended to have a minimal impact on the existing historic stairs, landings, and portico, and that the symmetrical design would emphasize the building's central rotunda and reinforce its historic materiality and design logic.
Ms. Steele said that a priority of the project is to clean, repair, waterproof, and repair the historic fabric at this entrance, such as the cast-iron door surround and the bronze doorways. The project would also improve stormwater management and introduce security enhancements, including blast-proofing. She noted that the roots of the plants in the large planters on plinths at the top of the stair have infiltrated the stair structure and are causing water leakage and structural problems. The proposed design would remove various planters and replace guardrails to restore portions of the entrance to their early 20th-century configurations. She said that new plantings would provide shade for visitor comfort, even if no longer serving as visual screening for security infrastructure that would instead be incorporated into the new ramps.
Ms. Bedat presented the proposal for the ramps and landscape in greater detail. She said that the design draws on elements from the existing entry's four plinths and two-tier staircase, and is intended to be a subordinate composition that does not visually compete with the historic entrance. At the sidewalk, the ramps' entry portals would be framed by plinths; the plinth on the western side would be inscribed with the museum's name to suggest that this is the primary entrance to the museum. Landings at the switchbacks of the ramps would allow for pedestrians to rest, and could serve as locations to affix information panels or to display an object from the museum's collection and related interpretation. She indicated how the two ramps would connect to the existing lobby-level terrace between the outermost portico columns and the plinths flanking the stairs, bringing visitors through an opening slightly more than seven feet wide. The material for the ramps would be the same type of Milford Pink granite found on the base of the existing, using several different finishes.
Ms. Bedat said that the new railings, intended to serve also as perimeter security elements, would have integrated panels derived from the golden ratio patterning of the museum fenestration's mullions. The retaining wall portion of the ramps would also provide perimeter security, replacing the existing security elements that are closer to the sidewalk, and would be screened by new planters of evergreens placed above the existing curved bench wall along the perimeter of the intermediate plaza between the two sets of stairs. Ten new trees along Madison Drive would provide additional shade for the ramps, and recesses in the ramp walls along the sidewalk would accommodate vendors.
Ms. Bedat described the paving materials under consideration for the ramp surface: Mount Airy granite, Bethel White granite, or an exposed aggregate concrete. She said that the design team prefers a stone paver, although the concrete would allow for the walkway to be heated. She added that the selected material would have an accent band of Jet Mist granite. The landings would be paved with either Echo Lake granite or New Jersey Pink granite, which is used for paving in the existing entrance portico. She presented a nighttime lighting study evaluating two designs that are intended to reduce light pollution: integrating the lighting into the ramp railings, or placing a small lantern on the top of the end pier at the ramp switchbacks. Both alternatives would include fixtures illuminating the western wall.
Ms. Bedat concluded the presentation by discussing the proposed landscape design, which would transition from the current habitat for birds and pollinating insects to semiformal plantings along the edges of the ascending walkways; the intent is to create a sense of order and simplification leading to the entrance, as well as improve views to the museum. The two-tiered landscape would be planted with shade trees, groundcover, and seasonal bulbs; the proposed shade trees—the 'Princeton' cultivar of the American elm—would complement the existing street trees and create an allée along Madison Drive to provide shade for pedestrians and visitors.
Mr. Krieger expressed support for the concept. He observed that the length of each ramp would result in a long walk from the sidewalk to the entrance—a walk that for some visitors would be just as difficult as ascending the existing stairs—but acknowledged the difficulty of identifying any alternative locations for the ramps. He said that the materials and detailing of the railings and piers make them look heavy, and he asked for clarification of the materials for these elements. Ms. Bedat responded that lower railings of the ramps are intended to serve as perimeter security elements, and the piers for these railings therefore have an enhanced structure; as the walkway ascends past an elevation of 2.5 feet above the adjacent ground level, the railing must also serve as a guardrail. She said that a consistent design is proposed for all of these railing conditions.
Ms. Meyer acknowledged the importance of making this entrance accessible and commended the Smithsonian Institution for this initiative. She questioned the decision to build two ramps and commented that if building two symmetrical ramps would necessitate using cheaper materials and construction techniques, then one asymmetrical ramp of superior quality would be preferable. She said that only a single ramp may be functionally necessary, unless one is programmed for entry and the other for exit, and a decision to build only one would eliminate a large portion of the extensive superstructure required to support the ramps. Regarding the ramps themselves, she commented that they are indecisively designed—perhaps in a partially abstracted classical style—resulting in a coarse, unsophisticated character. She also observed that the presented drawing of the west ramp contains a rendering error in which the elements of the railings in different planes overlap in a confusing manner, leading to the conclusion that the person who completed the drawing is not the designer of the ramp structure and is not fully considering the proposed design's character. Ms. Bedat responded that the design team is still resolving these details and agreed that the design would benefit from refinement.
Ms. Lehrer asked which side would be preferable if only one ramp were built, and Ms. Meyer asked from which direction the majority of visitors arrive. Ms. Trowbridge responded that the western side would be preferable because it is closer to the Smithsonian Metrorail station. She added that alternatives exploring a single ramp concept were included in staff-level consultations with several review agencies, and the D.C. Historic Preservation Office strongly preferred a symmetrical design approach. Ms. Meyer expressed frustration with the current practice of historic preservation in Washington, commenting that its practitioners often advocate superficially contextual designs that are at odds with common sense, comfort, and economy; she reiterated that for this project, the insistence on a symmetrical design is resulting in two long ramps, where only one may be needed.
Ms. Trowbridge responded that a design with two ramps—one programmed for entering, the other for exiting—is the preference of the museum staff that is responsible for the visitor experience. Ms. Steele added that the space allocated for security screening inside the museum entrance is approximately 12 feet deep, which is relatively small compared to other museums such as the National Air and Space Museum. As a result the staging, organization, and procession of visitors occur outside the museum, and the ramps would accommodate the museum's programmatic needs as visitors wait to enter the screening area at a rate of approximately sixty people per minute.
Mr. Krieger continued to question the operational logic of two ramps, anticipating that visitors would likely not use both ramps in equal numbers unless they are explicitly instructed to do so at the sidewalk area. He agreed with Ms. Meyer's comment that one ramp of superior quality would be preferable to two ramps of lesser quality. He also suggested that if only one ramp were built, a porch or other element could be designed on the opposite side to maintain a visual balance. Ms. Steele responded that the Smithsonian is considering the placement of staff at the bottom of the stairs and ramps to direct visitors to either the east or west ramp.
Ms. Lehrer commented that most people who are able to use the stairs would simply choose that entrance route, bypassing the ramps altogether. Ms. Meyer agreed, adding that visitors could be confused when confronted with the decision between gracious stairs and two ramps; without proper direction, visitors using the stairs would improperly bypass those queueing on the ramps and create a conflict at the entrance. She suggested that if the Smithsonian prefers that all visitors use the ramps, then the existing bollards along the sidewalk in front of the stairs could be replaced with a seat wall that would divert pedestrians away from the stairs and up the ramps, while also creating a space for visitors to rest and congregate.
Ms. Steele said that the Smithsonian is working on a visitor procession plan for this museum. Mr. Krieger summarized the response of the Commission members that managing visitor flow would be essential to the success of this project. He suggested the inclusion of renderings that depict the entrance area with large numbers of people to convey the effect of the entrance design, and he noted his preference not to place a wall at the base of the stairs. Ms. Trowbridge suggested that representatives of the museum's visitor experience staff could attend the Commission's next review, or the Commission members could meet with these staff members during a site visit. Secretary Luebke said that a site visit could be arranged depending on the length of the agenda of the related meeting.
Mr. Krieger offered a motion to approve the concept design, pending further description of the materials of the ramps and the submission of additional information on the proposed visitor procession plan to better understand the relationship between the stairs and the ramps. He added that the decision to build two ramps should be reconsidered if budget constraints will affect the quality of the construction. The Commission adopted this action.
G. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
CFA 16/JUN/16-7, Metrorail Stations, systemwide. Digital advertising and signs in Metrorail stations. Concept. Mr. Lindstrom introduced the proposal to install digital advertising and information signs throughout the Metrorail system. He asked Ivo Karadimov, manager of architecture at the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), to present the proposal.
Mr. Karadimov said that WMATA is following the lead of other U.S. transit agencies by developing a pilot program for implementation of digital signage, including wayfinding and advertising. He described the types of digital signs that would be installed. The "Station Ahead List" would display the Metro stations that are in the travel path of an approaching train, for the orientation of passengers. He said that the digital list would include an overall map of the system as well as a linear map of the train lines passing through the station, providing better information than the current static display. He described the new format as simpler and more clear, and it would also communicate the color designation of the train lines to those who do not perceive the colors well. Ms. Meyer observed that the existing and proposed signage both appear to rely on color recognition; Mr. Karadimov indicated the lettering that identifies the lines—such as "OR" for orange—within each color circle on the proposed graphic display, and he said that this simple addition is an important difference. He indicated other features such as the highlighting of the station name and the end station of the line, and the arrow indicating the direction of travel. He said that the digital display would allow a scrolling format for the map, and the brightness of the display would be self-adjusting in response to the lighting level within a station. He added that the text size, as well as the designation of colors with lettering, would make the signs compliant with regulations requiring legibility for the disabled. He said that WMATA is also exploring the potential for using these signs to display special alerts or emergency messages. He presented drawings to show how these digital signs would be installed within existing pylons in Metro stations; the 32-inch screen would have a vertical format. Two sides of a pylon would display the digital sign, and the other two sides would continue to display the station name prominently. He clarified that only a few of the many pylons within each station would have these digital signs. Mr. Krieger asked if this limitation is due to a budget constraint; Mr. Karadimov responded that a few signs would be sufficient to ensure that the information is readily available to all passengers, and additional signs are unnecessary.
Mr. Freelon asked if the station information would be available from a non-electronic source in case the digital signs are disabled by a technical problem or power failure. Mr. Karadimov responded that the pylons already include electric lines for lights that are located in the top of the pylons; in the event of a major power failure, these electric lines are probably not part of the emergency power system, and only the typical emergency signage in the station would be visible. Ms. Meyer observed that the existing static displays could continue to be seen with ambient light or a flashlight in such situations, and Mr. Freelon emphasized that a problem could occur due to a technical failure with the digital signage system rather than a general power outage. Mr. Karadimov said that the digital signs would be monitored remotely at a central location, where an indicator of the sign's status could be seen; a software failure could be fixed remotely, and a mechanical failure would result in someone being sent to repair or replace the sign. Mr. Freelon reiterated his concern that the information conveyed by these digital signs would not be available by other means in case of a technical problem; Mr. Karadimov confirmed this observation, while noting that the redundancy of multiple signs within each station would address the concern of a single digital sign's failure.
Mr. Karadimov presented the second type of digital sign, containing advertising to replace the existing station signs known as "advertising dioramas." The new signs would have a 65-inch high-definition digital screen in a vertical format; he said that these signs could also be used to display emergency information. The new double-sided signs would be mounted on a base with the standard dark-brown finish used in the Metro system, similar to the existing signs. The new signs would be tamper-proof and vandalism-resistant, and the screen brightness would be adjustable. He presented a comparison of the existing and proposed advertising signs: the new signs would be narrower and one foot taller, based on achieving the desired vision height and accommodating the vertical format. He said that the pilot program will include installation of two screens at each of six Metro stations that have center platforms; he illustrated the planned placement of the advertising signs at one of these stations. Additional signs would be tested at nine stations with side platforms; these signs would be mounted on the wall behind the parapet at the edge of each platform.
Mr. Karadimov presented the third type of proposed digital sign: an information display near the escalator and elevator entrances to each station, providing information about the status of Metro service. He said that this type of sign does not currently exist in the Metro system, and it will alert customers to any Metro disruption before they enter the station. These signs would have a 42-inch screen, with a button to provide audio information when needed. He said that these signs would allow flexibility for future technology improvements; for example, the signs are not currently designed for touch-screen technology but could later be adapted for this. He presented an elevation comparing this six-foot-high sign type to the typical twelve-foot-high identification pylon located next to each Metro station entrance; he said that the sign and pylon would not be directly adjacent to each other but would often be visible together in the vicinity of a station entrance. Mr. Freelon observed that some drawings depict rounded edges for these signs, while other drawings suggest a more rigorously rectangular plan. Mr. Karadimov said that the drawings are somewhat diagrammatic, and the detail being developed would have slightly rounded corners, but not the semi-circular profile that is conveyed in one of the perspective views. Mr. Freelon supported this design direction.
Mr. Karadimov concluded with photographs of similar digital signage in New York City's transit system, and he said that other cities also use digital signs.
Mr. Freelon asked if the Commission would have the opportunity to review more detailed drawings of the cabinetry design and finishes, particularly because the presented drawings do not consistently convey the design intent. Mr. Karadimov offered to provide this information. Secretary Luebke suggested that the Commission could respond to the general program and provide any specific guidance, and the staff could then follow up with a more detailed review; he said that the submissions could then be handled through the consent calendar or by delegation to the staff.
Mr. Krieger noted the intent to shift the advertising to a vertical format for improved visibility, and he therefore questioned the apparent variation in height of the multiple sign types; he asked why the signs would not be mounted consistently at an ideal viewing height. Mr. Karadimov responded that the difference in height is relatively small, approximately one foot, and it is based on the differing needs for perception of advertising and informational signs. Donna Murray, the manager of advertising for WMATA, responded that the advertising signs are being designed and installed by a national firm that has a contract with WMATA. She said that the advertising signs are higher because they are intended to be viewed from a distance, perhaps from across a station platform, while people would typically stand much closer to a wayfinding sign when viewing it.
Chairman Powell suggested supporting the concept proposal with comments for its further development. Mr. Freelon emphasized that further review by the staff should include careful attention to the design details, including the finishes, materials, and fastening methods. Ms. Meyer supported Mr. Freelon's earlier concern with potential technical problems, commenting that Mr. Karadimov's response addressed WMATA's operational issue while Mr. Freelon's concern was with customer convenience and orientation; she recommended that the project team give more careful thought to the issue of providing necessary information in a physical medium that is not subject to technical failures. She noted that analogous issues have arisen with the inability to use mobile telephones during emergencies, causing people to retain traditional telephone lines for some needs. She emphasized the importance of addressing the customer experience as well as the operational issues as part of the design process, and she suggested that the staff consider this concern in further review of the project.
Upon a motion by Mr. Freelon, the Commission approved the concept submission with the comments provided, and encouraged further review by the staff as the design is developed in more detail.
H. District of Columbia Department of General Services
CFA 16/JUN/16-8, Triangular park (Reservation 323E), bounded by 13th Street, Quincy Street, and Kansas Avenue, NW. New landscape improvements. Concept. (Previous: CFA 19/MAY/16-5) Mr. Lindstrom introduced project manager Shahrokh Ghahramani of the D.C. Department of General Services (DGS) to begin the presentation of the revised concept submission for the triangle park at 13th Street, Quincy Street, and Kansas Avenue, NW. Mr. Ghahramani said that the site is under the jurisdiction of the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation, and the Commission reviewed the initial concept design in May 2016. He said that the local Advisory Neighborhood Commission has provided the Commission of Fine Arts with a letter of support for the revised design. Noting that the District government would like to begin construction soon, he asked the Commission to consider delegating review of the final design to the staff. He introduced landscape architects Adrienne McCray of Lee and Associates and Peter Nohrden from the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation to present the design.
Ms. McCray summarized the park's context and existing condition. The triangle park is located within a residential community of two-story row houses near the Georgia Avenue–Petworth Metro Station and the Raymond Recreation Center and Playground. Except for a small community garden, there is no open space nearby for the community's use. The 5,400-square-foot park is currently an empty lawn panel surrounded by a rounded concrete curb that is typical for D.C. parks; the triangle also includes several canopy street trees. She noted that all of the surrounding streets have two-way traffic, and 13th Street is a relatively busy commuter route.
Ms. McCray said that when the previous design was presented as a "Zen" park, the Commission members expressed concern about the lack of a clear relation between the name and the design, and they also questioned the use of groundcover plantings and the relation of the design's scale to its program. The revised concept design retains the main central element of a circular plaza, proposed to be forty feet in diameter with a two-percent slope. The park's walks would be five to seven feet in width. She said that the intended programming for the park includes yoga classes on the plaza, and even when a class is being held, the revised plaza design would be large enough for pedestrians to walk through the plaza easily. Cube-shaped benches of varying sizes would be placed around the plaza's perimeter, and a larger circular bench would occupy the center of the plaza. The site would be framed on all sides by the existing street trees, and closely spaced flowering trees would be placed around the north side of the plaza. Along the west edge of the site, a series of three grass-covered undulating mounds and an ornamental fence would screen the park from 13th Street. To the east, an open lawn area along Kansas Avenue would include groundcover grasses and seasonal flowers. She presented several site sections, indicating the topography that slopes gradually downward to the south. She indicated the use of groundcover plantings at the base of the mounds, along with additional plantings used as accents and to emphasize the site's corners.
Ms. Lehrer commented that the revised design is an improvement over the first submission; however, she questioned whether this small park has sufficient space for all three mounds. She said that if the D.C. government's goal is to create a prototype for the city's triangle parks, then this project provides an opportunity to work with designers in developing a range of approaches. She commented that an oval plaza might be better than a circle on this site, and striated paving might be more successful than a defined plaza; she added that the presented solution is too limiting to approve as a prototype. Mr. Nohrden responded that this park is intended to be a retreat as well as a public space, and the larger goal is to develop unique designs for small parks in each ward of the city. Ms. Lehrer responded that more design ideas for this park should have been presented; she expressed support for the intent to create neighborhood parks but stressed the need for more creativity. Mr. Nohrden said that this design attempts to introduce variety to the standard repertoire of park elements. Mr. Krieger asked for clarification of whether this design would serve as a prototype; Mr. Nohrden responded that it would not. Mr. Freelon suggested that the D.C. government should sponsor a design charrette to develop a broad range of design options for the triangle parks.
Ms. Meyer said that the Commission is providing these comments because the triangle parks are currently an underused resource but present an exciting opportunity. She observing that a great deal of programming is being planned for a small site, and she suggested several ways to simplify the design. Noting the apparent assumption that the design needs a center, she said that the proposal to create a circular plaza is fighting with the nature of the triangular site. Even if the plaza concept is accepted, she said that a well-designed plaza requires a more level grade than two percent, which would result in a perceptible slope. She said that a flat plaza within a sloping site would need a retaining wall on the downhill side and a retaining wall or seating edge that faces the plaza on the uphill side; she concluded that working with the topography and simply flattening the plaza would make it a better, more attractive space. She also suggested adding a narrow path around the outside of the plaza to allow pedestrians to avoid the activities taking place within. She said that the design of the western edge, if intended to provide a built-up buffer against the traffic on 13th Street, would be better as a single big linear earthwork instead of three separate mounds. She also commented that the proposed planting is too dispersed to define a place, and she advised against installing too many plantings in the low areas around the mounds.
Ms. Meyer said that in the last review the Commission members had discussed the advantages of designing the entire triangle as a linear plaza of striated permeable paving. She commented that the proposed design creates three separate places—lawn, plaza, and mounds—in too small a site, and none of these places would accommodate multiple functions. Mr. Nohrden responded that the three zones had been developed partly in response to the community's conflicting desires; Ms. Meyer said that the general public often does not understand the issue of scale.
Mr. Krieger commented that the design is not perfect, but it responds to the neighborhood's need for a community gathering place, and he deferred to the designers for the park's configuration. Rather than advocating a full redesign of the park, he said that he encourages refining a design that meets the community's expectations. He supported Ms. Meyer's suggestion to replace the three mounds with one and to consider the effect of the longitudinal topographical section on the circular plaza, but he emphasized that the Commission should accept the fundamental concept of the circular plaza. Ms. Meyer clarified that this was the intent of her comments, in addition to noting that the problems in the design originated with the decision to create a circular plaza.
Ms. Lehrer commented that a small physical model of the topography, perhaps using cork, would help the design team in understanding the Commission's comments on designing the plaza. She added that if a single long mound were built, then inclusion of planting on its west side facing 13th Street might eliminate the need for a fence.
Chairman Powell suggested that the staff summarize the Commission's comments of general support and suggestions for improvement, with the request that the project team work with the staff in further development of the design while facilitating the project schedule. Upon a second by Mr. Krieger, the Commission adopted this action.
I. D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs—Shipstead-Luce Act
SL 16-129, 7981 East Beach Drive, NW. New single-family residence. Concept. (Previous: SL 16-091, April 2016) Ms. Batcheler introduced the third concept submission for a house on East Beach Drive, NW, across the street from a small tributary stream of Rock Creek. She summarized the previous review in April 2016, when the Commission recommended developing a less complicated design that is more elegant and responsive to the context. She said that the current submission continues to propose a three-story house on the newly subdivided lot that was formerly the rear yard of a house that faces onto Poplar Lane. She added that the applicant is a contract purchaser of the lot, not yet the owner, and the staff has therefore allowed for a submission that is less developed than a typical concept design; she suggested that the Commission may choose to review it as a general concept, to be followed by a future submission of a more developed concept design. She asked architect and developer Patrick Cooper of Compass Design and Development to present the concept design.
Ms. Lehrer asked for clarification of Mr. Cooper's role as a contract purchaser. Mr. Cooper responded that he has a contract that allows him to purchase the subdivided lot from its owner; this contract has been extended to provide sufficient time for Mr. Cooper to evaluate the feasibility of developing the lot. Ms. Batcheler said that the Commission's review of a general concept, at an earlier design stage than usual, would assist Mr. Cooper in deciding whether to purchase the lot. Secretary Luebke added that the two previous reviews have involved issues of the house's siting, volume, and overall design approach.
Mr. Cooper presented several photographs of the lot and its context, indicating the site's location obliquely facing the recently renovated Kalmia Bridge. He noted the curving alignment of East Beach Drive and its continuation as Kalmia Road, with existing houses on the adjacent lots to the north, northeast, and southeast of the lot. He indicated the building restriction lines that constrain the site's development; an additional subdivision process is currently underway to add a small triangular parcel to the rear of the lot, which would improve the configuration of the required setback from the rear property line.
Ms. Lehrer suggested focusing on the design changes subsequent to the previous review. Mr. Cooper said that the size of the proposed house has been reduced and it is now proposed to be set back further on the lot, in order to improve the relationship of the house to its neighbors along the curving street frontage. The massing has now developed as two primary volumes skewed at an angle of approximately fifteen degrees, which was determined after consideration of numerous angles; the two volumes would be separated by a wedge-shaped foyer and stair hall. He emphasized that the house is now designed with sufficient setback to respect the frontage on East Beach Drive and the park stream, with nothing projecting into the prevailing zone of green space established by the context. He indicated the revised design for stairs and walks along two sides of the garage, providing access from the driveway to the front door and to the rear yard; he said that the design is intended to provide a graceful approach to the home and reduce the earlier fortress-like character. He indicated the additional access to the rear yard from the interior stair and the kitchen. He presented the interior layout in greater detail, noting that the two primary volumes are both square in plan. He said that the angled foyer would provide a dramatic opportunity for light and views. A previously proposed balcony has been replaced by a projecting bay that rises through all three stories at the center of the southern volume's street facade; he described the bay as a more elegant configuration that would allow for year-round enjoyment of the views toward the stream, bridge, and park. He summarized that many of the interior spaces and window locations are intended to take advantage of the views from the site.
Mr. Cooper described the topography of the site, with an eighteen-foot drop from the rear of the site to the front sidewalk. He said that the driveway and parking area is at a sufficiently shallow slope, and retaining walls have been kept within the four-foot-high regulatory limit. He emphasized that topographical considerations have affected the proposed placement of the home and driveway, grading of the site, configuration of the exterior stairs, and tiered form of the patio spaces.
Mr. Cooper presented the proposed elevations, noting that the roof slopes on the primary volumes have been reduced from 9:12 to 5:12 in order to reduce the overall height of the house. The depth of the roof overhangs has been reduced to eight inches to create a more compact volume, and the material has been changed to dark gray standing-seam metal roofing. The roof of the south volume would extend to cover the projecting bay. He added that the roof above the foyer area would be nearly flat, and he indicated the small canopy projection that would shelter the exterior landing at the house's front door.
Mr. Cooper presented the proposed materials, describing the house as primarily masonry with wood accents. He presented images of two potential types of dark gray brick for the water table, buff brick above, the dark metal roofing, bronze windows, and redwood siding that would be used primarily for spandrel panels and at the foyer.
Mr. Freelon commented that the plan of the house is much improved. He supported the clarification of the plan into two primary squares, each subdivided appropriately into rooms and support spaces. He also supported the simplified configuration of two primary roofs, along with the use of differentiating materials for the foyer zone between the two volumes. Mr. Krieger agreed in supporting the improvement of the design. Ms. Lehrer added that the relationship of the house to the site has also improved.
Chairman Powell joined in supporting the current design, noting that he had not previously reviewed this project. He suggested approval of the concept submission. Mr. Luebke noted that the submission does not include typical components such as wall sections, but the Commission has provided a helpful response that the basic strategy of siting and massing is reasonable; he suggested that the Commission review a subsequent submission during the design development phase, which would be treated as a revised concept submission. Upon a motion by Mr. Freelon, the Commission approved the concept submission. Mr. Cooper added that the staff has been very helpful in assisting with the development of the submission.
J. United States Mint
Mr. Lindstrom introduced April Stafford of the Mint to present the two sets of submissions for medals and coins.
1. CFA 16/JUN/16-9, Barack Obama Bronze Presidential Medals for first and second terms. Designs for two bronze medals and duplicates. Final. Ms. Stafford said that U.S. presidential medals originated early in the nation's history when they were presented to American Indian chiefs and other important leaders; these medals, known as Indian Peace Medals, featured an image of the president on the obverse along with symbols of peace and friendship on the reverse. Modern presidential medals typically include some combination of the president's inauguration date, term of office, presidential symbols and seals, an obverse portrait, and a quotation on the reverse. Since the 1960s, with the exception of President Reagan, presidents serving a second term have been honored with a separate medal for each term.
Ms. Stafford said that the Mint initially developed a wide range of design alternatives; this has been narrowed to the set of designs being presented today after close coordination with the office of the White House chief of staff, which has served as the Mint's liaison for the medals. She said that the liaison wants to consider comments from the Commission and from the Mint's Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee before identifying a final preference for the designs.
Ms. Stafford presented two alternatives for the obverse of the first-term medal, each featuring a President Obama's name and portrait; she indicated the closer portrait in alternative #1. The single alternative for the reverse features the date of President Obama's first inauguration, his signature, a quotation at the center, and the presidential seal above, all surrounded by a border of fifty stars. For the second-term medal, the single alternative for the obverse features President Obama's name and a traditional profile portrait. The two alternatives for the reverse feature a quotation at the center; the second inauguration date and a view of the White House above; President Obama's signature below; and a border of fifty stars. Three phrases of additional text—"We the people," "We shall overcome," and "Yes we can"—would be placed along the upper portion of the border in alternative #1, or along the lower portion of the border in alternative #2.
Chairman Powell suggested a recommendation for obverse alternative #1 for the first-term medal, along with the single presented design for the reverse. For the second-term medal, Ms. Meyer recommended reverse alternative #2 as the more balanced placement of the three text phrases, while acknowledging that alternative #1 provides a more spacious setting to emphasize the signature. Mr. Powell suggested moving the White House image downward in alternative #1 to improve the balance; Mr. Freelon and Ms. Meyer discouraged this solution, and Ms. Meyer reiterated a preference for the text configuration of alternative #2. Secretary Luebke suggested that the border of stars could be omitted to improve the legibility of the text; Mr. Krieger and Ms. Meyer supported inclusion of the stars. Mr. Freelon noted the profusion of design elements on the reverse, and he asked about the size of the medal; Ms. Stafford responded that the bronze medals would have a three-inch diameter, and the Mint may also produce half-size medals. Mr. Krieger commented that three inches is relatively large, and the border of stars is therefore acceptable; Mr. Freelon agreed.
For the first-term medal, Mr. Krieger offered a motion to recommend obverse alternative #1 featuring a more closely cropped portrait, along with the single presented design for the reverse. Upon a second by Ms. Meyer, the Commission adopted this action. For the second-term medal, Mr. Powell offered a motion for the single presented design for the obverse, along with reverse alternative #2 featuring a lower position for the three text phrases. Upon a second by Mr. Freelon, the Commission adopted this action.
2. CFA 16/JUN/16-10, 2018 America the Beautiful Quarter Dollar Program. Designs for: Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Georgia, and Rhode Island. Final. (Previous: CFA 18/FEB/16-5) Ms. Stafford summarized the authorizing legislation from 2008 for this ongoing series of coins. The continuing obverse design features the familiar portrait of George Washington from 1932; the reverse features a national park or other national site chosen from each state or territory. The design alternatives have already been reviewed by the liaison to the Mint from the site, and the Mint's Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) will meet later in June to review these designs.
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (Michigan) and Apostle Islands National Lakeshore (Wisconsin)
Ms. Stafford described the narrow strip of Pictured Rocks parkland that extends for more than forty miles along the shore of Lake Superior; the shoreline includes beaches, 200-foot-high colorful sandstone cliffs, and 300-foot-tall sand dunes. She presented thirteen alternative reverse designs, noting the preference of the site liaison for alternative #8 as a first choice, and alternatives #1 and #4 as second choices.
Chairman Powell supported alternative #8 as the best of the site liaison's three preferred alternatives for Pictured Rocks; Mr. Freelon agreed. Mr. Krieger said that this depiction of Chapel Rock, with a white pine tree growing above it, has a strange appearance; he supported an alternative that includes people enjoying the park, such as alternative #1 that includes kayakers within the shoreline scene. Ms. Stafford noted that the next set of alternatives to be presented is for the nearby Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in Wisconsin, which has similar scenery; the Michigan site's liaison prefers a design focusing on the site's scenery of rocks and trees, while the Wisconsin site's liaison prefers to emphasize recreational activities such as kayaking. She said that the Commission may wish to consider this distinction between the designs, particularly because these two coins will both be issued in 2018. She clarified that the design approach suggested by Mr. Krieger will be more evident in the alternatives for the Wisconsin coin; Mr. Krieger therefore suggested presenting these alternatives for Wisconsin before making a recommendation on the Michigan coin.
Ms. Stafford presented nine reverse alternatives depicting Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in Wisconsin, an area that includes 21 islands along with the mainland shoreline along Lake Superior; she described the park's features of sand beaches, coves, caves, and lighthouses. She noted the preference of the site liaison for alternative #9, with alternative #1 as a second choice. Mr. Krieger acknowledged that the Pictured Rocks liaison's preference for alternative #8 for the Michigan coin, depicting Chapel Rock without emphasizing people, is appropriate in comparison to the Apostle Islands liaison's preference for alternative #9 that would emphasize a kayaker for the Wisconsin coin.
Upon a motion by Mr. Krieger with second by Ms. Meyer, the Commission recommended reverse alternative #8 for Pictured Rocks and reverse alternative #9 for Apostle Islands, both of which were the first choices of the site liaisons.
Voyageurs National Park (Minnesota)
Ms. Stafford described the 200,000-acre Voyageurs National Park that includes many islands and lakes; the park is characterized by rocky shorelines, varied forest types, and many species of wildlife. She presented five alternatives for the coin reverse, noting the site liaison's preference for alternative #5 featuring a view of several islands; she added that the liaison had also offered some support for alternative #6 featuring a loon in a lake setting.
Mr. Krieger commented that an intended design element of alternative #3, a fish clutched in the talons of a soaring eagle, is difficult to discern. He said that the loon in alternative #5 would be an attractive feature for the coin design; Mr. Powell agreed but said that this design does not seem to convey a distinctive character for the park. Mr. Freelon added that the water in alternative #5 is not clearly rendered, giving the impression that the loon is floating in space. Ms. Meyer commented that the loon is nicely rendered with small-scale texture. Chairman Powell agreed in commending the depiction of the loon, and he summarized the consensus of the Commission to support alternative #5.
Cumberland Island National Seashore (Georgia)
Ms. Stafford described the wilderness character of Cumberland Island, a large and ecologically diverse barrier island along the Atlantic Ocean; the island also contains extensive cultural resources from 4,000 years of human habitation. She presented thirteen alternatives for the coin reverse, noting the site liaison's preferences for alternative #1 as first choice, #6 as second choice, and #3 as third choice.
Mr. Powell commented that the distinctive live oak trees featured in alternative #1 do not appear realistic, and he suggested consideration of alternative #6 featuring a snowy egret on a branch at the edge of a salt marsh; he said that this design conveys the character of the area's low-lying landscape. The other Commission members agreed, and he noted the consensus to recommend alternative #6.
Block Island National Wildlife Refuge (Rhode Island)
Ms. Stafford presented twelve reverse alternatives for the depiction of Block Island, known for its scenic barrier beaches and abundance of migratory birds. She noted the site liaison's preference for alternative #2 as first choice, #1 as second choice, and #10 as third choice.
Mr. Freelon offered support for alternative #2 featuring a black-crowned night heron and alternative #6 with piping plovers. Mr. Krieger supported these designs; Mr. Dunson commented that the composition of #6 is preferable to #7, which features similar subject matter. Mr. Krieger asked if the Mint could consider a recommendation from the Commission that is not among the site liaison's preferences, such as alternative #6; Ms. Stafford responded that any recommendation from the Commission is welcome. Ms. Meyer supported alternatives #4, 4-A, and 5, citing the compelling composition of the birds flying above the lighthouse and depicted from their elevated viewpoint; Mr. Dunson added that the visible shoreline in these compositions is an interesting feature. Ms. Meyer said that the bird's head extending beyond the circular border is an awkward feature in alternatives #4 and 4-A, and Chairman Powell concluded that alternative #5 would therefore be the best of this group. Noting his familiarity with the island, Mr. Krieger suggested that a view looking up toward a lighthouse may be most characteristic of this landscape. Ms. Meyer said that #4, 4-A, and 5 depict the island from a bird's elevated viewpoint. Mr. Dunson reiterated his support for #6, which shows birds, a lighthouse, and a sand beach. Mr. Krieger observed that alternative #2 also shows these features, while showing the water's edge that conveys the setting of an island; he concluded that #2 has the greatest combination of the location's distinctive elements. Ms. Meyer supported alternative #6 because it shows birds on the ground, conveying that they use the island as a habitat rather than merely fly past it on their migratory routes. Mr. Powell supported alternative #2 because it includes the depiction of the water setting; he noted that he is originally from Rhode Island. Upon a second by Mr. Krieger, the Commission adopted this recommendation.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 4:08 p.m.
Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA