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 9:10 a.m.
Hon. Earl A. Powell, Chairman
Hon. Elizabeth Meyer, Vice Chairman
Hon. Edward Dunson
Hon. Liza Gilbert
Hon. Toni Griffin
Hon. Mia Lehrer
Thomas E. Luebke, Secretary
Frederick J. Lindstrom, Assistant Secretary
A. Administration of oath of office. Secretary Luebke introduced Toni Griffin, who was appointed by President Obama on 15 November to a four-year term on the Commission. He summarized Ms. Griffin's work as an architect and urban designer based in New York City, her current teaching position at Harvard's Graduate School of Design, and her past teaching positions and public-sector work including at the D.C. Office of Planning. He also noted President Obama's reappointment of Mr. Powell, Mr. Krieger, and Ms. Meyer to additional four-year terms. He administered the oath of office to Ms. Griffin, Mr. Powell, and Ms. Meyer, noting that the wording of this oath was established early in the nation's history.
B. Approval of the minutes of the 17 November meeting. Secretary Luebke reported that the minutes of the November meeting were circulated to the Commission members in advance. Upon a motion by Mr. Powell with second by Mr. Dunson, the Commission approved the minutes. Mr. Luebke said that the minutes will be made available on the Commission's website.
C. Dates of next meetings. Mr. Luebke presented the regularly scheduled dates for upcoming Commission meetings, as previously published: 16 February, 16 March, and 20 April 2017. He noted that today's meeting was rescheduled from the typical third Thursday of the month to Monday, 23 January, due to conflicts with preparations for events associated with the U.S. Presidential inauguration the previous week.
D. Confirmation of the approval of the recommendations for the December 2016 Old Georgetown Act submissions. Mr. Luebke asked the Commission to take a formal vote to confirm the Old Georgetown Board recommendations that were circulated and endorsed in December, when no Commission meeting was held. Upon a motion by Mr. Powell with second by Mr. Dunson, the Commission confirmed its approval. (See agenda item II.A for the January 2017 appendix of Old Georgetown Act submissions, and item II.G for an additional Georgetown submission.)
Later in the meeting, immediately prior to agenda item II.D, the Commission considered the additional administrative item of the election of a new Vice Chairman.
II. Submissions and Reviews
Mr. Luebke introduced the three appendices for Commission action. Drafts of the appendices had been circulated to the Commission members in advance of the meeting.
Appendix I – Government Submissions Consent Calendar: Mr. Lindstrom said that no changes have been made to the draft appendix. Upon a motion by Ms. Meyer, the Commission approved the Government Submissions Consent Calendar.
Appendix II – Shipstead-Luce Act Submissions: Ms. Batcheler reported several changes to the draft appendix. The recommendation for a project at 1275 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, has been changed to be favorable due to a revised scope of work that removes the problematic portion of the project (case number SL 17-038). Other changes are limited to minor adjustments to note the receipt of supplemental materials. Seven recommendations are subject to the anticipated receipt of further supplemental materials, and she requested authorization to finalize these recommendations when the materials are received. Upon a motion by Mr. Powell with second by Ms. Meyer, the Commission approved the revised appendix.
Appendix III – Old Georgetown Act Submissions: Mr. Mellon said that no changes have been made to the draft appendix, which includes 31 cases. Upon a motion by Ms. Meyer with second by Mr. Dunson, the Commission approved the Old Georgetown Act appendix.
At this point, the Commission departed from the order of the agenda to consider items II.E, II.F.1, and II.F.2. Mr. Luebke said that the Commission may wish to act on these submissions without presentations, noting that they do not meet the requirements for inclusion on the Consent Calendar.
E. District of Columbia Commission on the Arts and Humanities
CFA 23/JAN/17-6, Howard Theater Walk of Fame, 7th and T Streets, NW. Public art installation to honor 15 artists and others associated with Howard Theater. Concept.
F. District of Columbia Department of General Services
1. CFA 23/JAN/17-7, Fort Dupont Ice Skating Arena, 3779 Ely Place, SE. Replacement building. Concept. (Previous: CFA 16/JUL/15-7.)
2. CFA 23/JAN/17-8, Edgewood Recreation Center, 301 Franklin Street, NE. Replacement recreation center building. Concept. (Previous: CFA 17/NOV/16-6.)
Mr. Luebke said that the submission for the Edgewood Recreation Center appears to be responsive to the Commission's comments from the two previous reviews of this project, and he noted the Commission's guidance to consider a less bright color for the exterior of the Fort Dupont Ice Skating Arena. Upon a motion by Mr. Powell with second by Mr. Dunson, the Commission approved these three concept submissions.
The Commission returned to the order of the agenda with item II.B.1.
B. National Park Service
1. CFA 23/JAN/17-1, President's Park Fence—White House Grounds. Pennsylvania Avenue, E Street, and East and West Executive Avenues, NW. Perimeter fence improvements—Phase I. Final. (Previous: CFA 17/NOV/16-1.) Secretary Luebke introduced the proposed final design for the replacement of the perimeter fence around the eighteen-acre White House grounds, as the first phase of a larger project for the perimeter security of the wider White House complex. He summarized the Commission's previous review in November 2016, which included inspection of an on-site mockup of a segment of the fence; the Commission had provided comments for refining the design, while not taking an action on the submission. He said that the current submission includes further development of the fence's structural and decorative elements in response to the Commission's comments, including the recommendation to develop a coherent design character for the fence at its new scale, rather than merely enlarging the design of the existing fence. He asked Peter May, associate regional director for lands and planning at the National Park Service, to begin the presentation.
Mr. May emphasized the importance of moving this project forward. He said that the comments from the previous review have been considered carefully in advancing the proposal to the current final design submission. He introduced Thomas Dougherty of the U.S. Secret Service, which is cooperating with the National Park Service on this project, to continue the presentation.
Mr. Dougherty acknowledged the extensive work of the project team in refining the design following the November 2016 review, with the assistance of the Commission staff. He noted the importance of the project to national security, with the desire to begin construction as soon as possible; he described the existing fence as inefficient and deficient.
Michael Mills and Anne Weber of Mills + Schnoering Architects presented the design. Mr. Mills said that the mockup in November was helpful in clarifying the design challenges of the project. He noted the Commission's request for further refinement and articulation of the fence details, as described in the letter to the National Park Service following the Commission's November review; the current presentation addresses the concerns raised in the letter.
Mr. Mills noted the Commission's dissatisfaction in November with an apparent inconsistency of design vocabulary for the fence design. He said that the design philosophy for the new fence is to express both the freedom and strength of our system of government. The fence's increased height and strength would address the security requirements for the site. The fence would be visually open to the extent possible, with wider spacing between the vertical pickets, in order to enhance the visitor experience and provide a clear view of the White House and its grounds. The fence is intended as a new design feature, not merely a larger version of the existing fence; the goal is to use and reinterpret the historic design elements in a simple but rigorous way, with a design that presents a consistent artistic image that is architecturally compatible with the White House. He said that the design approach is a traditional, neoclassical composition to serve as the foreground element for the classically inspired architecture of the White House.
Mr. Mills summarized the historical evolution of the fence, which has been presented in previous reviews. He said that the existing fence was in place by the early 20th century, and parts of it may date from the late 19th century. He described the historic fences at other locations that have been studied as precedents for the elements of the White House fence; examples include fences for large houses, government buildings, campuses, and religious buildings. He cited two precedents that are particularly similar in their height and design configuration: a gateway and fence at Princeton University's Nassau Hall, and the fence at the Palais de la Nation in Brussels, Belgium. The fence at the Grove Street Cemetery in New Haven, Connecticut, provides a precedent for the proposed detail of a base plate that would provide weather protection where the pickets meet the masonry base wall.
Mr. Mills described the approved concept design from June 2016 and the numerous components identified for further study and development in conjunction with the review of the mockup in November 2016. The current final design submission includes alternatives for each of these components, with identification of the project team's preferred alternative.
Ms. Weber presented the details and alternatives for each of the fence components being studied. The limestone piers would be enlarged as part of the overall increase in the fence's scale. In response to the Commission's concern that the larger piers would have a massive appearance, their previously proposed width of four feet is now proposed as 3.75 feet; she indicated the elevation drawing of an additional alternative width of 3.5 feet, which she said appears too slender. She noted that the existing fence's piers range from 3.5 to 4 feet in width. The masonry joints along the shaft of the piers were previously proposed with substantial one-inch beveled edges adjacent to the half-inch-thick mortar; however, further study has shown that these dimensions could facilitate climbing, and the preferred design is to reduce the depth of the bevel to half an inch. The top of the piers was previously shown with a sixteen-inch-high terminating block beneath the cap; due to the Commission's concern that this top block appeared excessively tall, the preferred height of this block is now fourteen inches, which slightly reduces the overall height of the piers. She indicated the drawing of an additional alternative with a twelve-inch height for the top block, which she said would be too similar to the coursing of the pier's shaft. She noted that the top of the pier needs to rise sufficiently high above the fence pickets to accommodate the operation of security sensors.
Ms. Weber presented alternatives for detailing the junction between the granite base of the piers and the fence's granite base wall beneath the metal pickets. She noted that the previously presented treatment was to align the top of the base wall's cap with the bottom of the pier base's beveled upper edge, but this alignment would be problematic to achieve in the actual construction. The current preferred treatment is to increase the height of the pier base by two inches, providing a separation between the bevel of the base and the intersection of the fence's base wall; this two-inch separation would allow for some flexibility in construction due to field conditions. She indicated elevations of two other alternatives that would provide a separation by reducing the height of the base wall, but she said that the shorter wall would appear too thin as a base for the metal fence.
Ms. Weber presented alternatives for detailing the base wall and the intersection of its cap with the metal pickets. She said that the pickets would extend downward into the concrete structure within the granite cladding; the granite cap would therefore be constructed of two pieces to fit around the pickets. A metal base plate would extend along the center of the cap to conceal the continuous joint and to provide protection from water infiltration. A decorative metal shoe would encircle each picket immediately above its intersection with the base plate. The previously presented design had an ornate shoe for the pickets and six-foot-long granite blocks for the wall. She said that the shoes appeared too massive when seen in the mockup, and the long stone blocks could pose difficulties for construction. The current preferred alternative uses a slightly simpler shoe profile and two-foot-long granite blocks. She indicated another alternative, with smaller blocks that would be set in two courses, comparable in size to the stones of the existing rough-laid wall, but she said that this treatment would have an insufficiently monumental character for the context of the enlarged fence. She also presented an alternative for a more simplified profile for the picket shoes, but she said that the intermediate detailing of the preferred alternative has the appropriate amount of design character.
Ms. Weber presented alternatives for the connection of the fence's top rail to the piers, a detail that emerged from the mockup as requiring further study. An additional issue that has arisen is accommodating the thermal expansion of the fence, particularly between the piers along Pennsylvania Avenue on the north side of the White House grounds. The previously presented design simply extended the top rail, along with the decorative metal tracery beneath it, into the side of the limestone piers; the current proposal uses a slot on the side of the pier to accommodate some movement of the fence rail. She presented several alternatives for treatment of the arched tracery at this intersection; the preferred alternative is to omit this decoration adjacent to the pier in order to allow greater construction flexibility in the spacing of the pickets in relation to the piers. She also presented axonometric views of this area of the fence, indicating the panel for sensor equipment in the side of each pier; she said that the plate of this panel, framing the two sensor windows, could have a color resembling the limestone.
Ms. Weber presented detail alternatives for the square metal posts that would be placed at intervals within the fence. The previously presented design for the finial was a spear-point with a slightly cruciform plan on top of a sphere, set on a cylinder at the top of the post. She indicated two alternatives for the finial that would omit the sphere, including either a deeper cruciform profile or a smooth, curved extrusion. She said that the refined cruciform spear-point is the preferred alternative. For the larger posts framing the pedestrian gates, an urn form would be used for the finials to provide visual emphasis; she indicated the refinement in dimensions for this detail in comparison to the previously presented urn finial. The posts themselves would be constructed of panels instead of the square extrusion that was previously presented; she presented two alternatives for detailing the edges of the posts and said that the slightly wider banding is the preferred alternative.
Ms. Weber presented alternatives for the finials on top of the fence's pickets. The previous design, as illustrated with drawings and a physical model, used a spear-point on a sphere, comparable to the previous finials of the posts. This general configuration remains for the current design of the picket finials, with further refinement of the dimensions and transitions among the elements. She presented a model and drawings of the current design, and she indicated the anti-climb spikes that would be located above the top rail near the finials.
Ms. Weber said that the masonry piers framing the pedestrian gates have been removed from the design in response to the Commission's suggestion at the previous review. The current proposal is to frame these gates with square metal posts; the preferred width of these posts is six inches. She noted the Commission's previous recommendation to design the vehicular gates to serve as crash barriers, instead of providing a separate, visually distracting crash barrier behind the gates. This design approach necessitates solid panels across the lower portion of the gates to conceal the bulky reinforcing features, which she said may conflict with the Commission's overall guidance to maximize visual transparency in the design. She therefore asked the Commission to clarify its guidance on the treatment of the vehicular gates. She said that the pedestrian gates do not require a crash barrier, and the lower portion of these gates could have a more open design. She presented the recommended design of the lower panel for the pedestrian gates, with differing designs along Pennsylvania Avenue and East and West Executive Avenues.
Mr. Mills presented a long elevation drawing of the Pennsylvania Avenue fence, depicting approximately one-third its extent from the Treasury to the northeast vehicular gate. He noted the Commission's previous request for an elevation of the fence's entire length but said that the very long, low proportions of a complete elevation would make it infeasible to present. He noted that the eastern portion of the Pennsylvania Avenue fence is generally a mirror-image of this drawing, and the central portion of the fence is simply pickets with no piers nor posts. He indicated the removal of the pedestrian gate piers as the most notable change in the elevation of the previously presented design compared to the current proposal. He also indicated the decorative treatment of the lower panel of the pedestrian gates along Pennsylvania Avenue, derived from the arched design in the existing gates; this treatment was intended to be consistent with the design of the larger vehicular gates, although the Commission instead recommended the alternative of solid lower panels for the vehicular gates. He presented perspective renderings of the Pennsylvania Avenue fence where the pedestrian and vehicular gates are near each other, including views of the previous and current proposals, and he presented an additional alternative of using a solid lower panel for the pedestrian gates to be consistent with the current design of the vehicular gates. He also presented existing and proposed views along the Pennsylvania Avenue sidewalk to illustrate the visibility of the White House and the relationship of the fence to the paving of the sidewalk and the pedestrianized street bed. He concluded with a similar comparison of existing and proposed views of the south fence, seen from the Ellipse. He summarized the request for the Commission's approval, allowing the project to move forward expeditiously, and he offered to work further with the Commission and staff in responding to any remaining design issues.
Chairman Powell asked for clarification of the necessary barriers at the gates. Mr. Mills responded that bollards would not be needed behind the pedestrian gates, regardless of the selected design alternative; bollards or another type of barrier would be needed behind the vehicular gates if these gates themselves are not reinforced as crash barriers.
Ms. Griffin asked for clarification of the alternatives for connecting the fence's top rail to the pier, observing that the connection appears to be the same in the designs that include or omit the arch decoration below the rail. Mr. Mills responded that the connection of the bar would be the same, and he reiterated the preference for omitting the arch to allow for minor adjustments during construction as well as for thermal expansion, which could be significant along the length of the fence. Ms. Griffin asked if the arch would interfere with the intended flexibility at this intersection; Mr. Mills confirmed that this is a concern, although the arch would be terminated a short distance away from the pier. He noted that the typical spacing between pickets would be 5.5 inches. Mr. Luebke observed that providing half this distance at the end condition would allow more than two inches for thermal expansion, which should be far more than needed. Mr. Mills responded that the thermal movement could be as much as 1.5 inches; Ms. Weber clarified that this calculation is for the 450-foot length of continuous fence at the center of the Pennsylvania Avenue edge, along the north lawn of the White House. Mr. Luebke questioned whether this length would require some intermediate accommodation of expansion, such as with a sleeve connection; Ms. Weber said that the preference is not to interrupt the structure into segments. Ms. Meyer said that the concern is not necessarily the connection itself but the uncertainty of the exact fraction of a typical spacing that would remain at this end condition—perhaps half of a typical spacing, but perhaps another proportion, and changing due to the movement from thermal expansion. She therefore supported a simple, less encumbered treatment of this intersection. Mr. Mills added that this connection detail is not a concern along the south lawn of the White House, where the plan of the fence is a continuous arc.
Ms. Gilbert asked if an alternative transitional treatment was considered for this intersection, such as a taller segment of fence alongside the pier. She observed that this solution is used for the fence precedent at Princeton that was included in the presentation; she said that this separation of the pier from the typical fence configuration allows for better resolution of these design issues. Mr. Mills responded that the strength of the White House fence is an important consideration in the design of its details, and any change in the fence pattern would introduce structural concerns. He said such challenges may nonetheless be solvable if this design approach is preferred. Mr. May said that he had similarly suggested alternative techniques for addressing thermal expansion, but the problem is that introducing more structural flexibility for movement along the fence's length could also weaken the fence's required strength as a barrier.
Ms. Griffin observed that the pedestrian gates become much less noticeable when their framing piers are removed from the design, as illustrated in the comparative elevation drawings; she said that these gates appear to blend in with the rest of the fence, while the previous design and existing condition give a more pronounced sense of arrival at these gates. She asked for clarification of how the decision was reached to eliminate these piers. Mr. Mills responded that the mockup and drawings had shown the clustering of piers in a modestly sized area around the vehicular and pedestrian gates along Pennsylvania Avenue; the comments from the Commission of Fine Arts, as well as from the National Capital Planning Commission, were that the increased height of the piers would result in the sense of a very narrow, heavy-looking portal for the pedestrian entrances. He said that the design response is to use metal posts instead of masonry piers to frame these entrances, which is presented as the preferred alternative, but either solution would be feasible; he added that neither cost nor structural strength would be problematic with either choice. Mr. May added that the comments on eliminating some of the piers had come from numerous parties, particularly in reaction to the on-site mockup showing the proposed configuration alongside the existing gates. He emphasized that the urn finial at the top of the posts framing the pedestrian gates is intended to accentuate these entrances, although the size of the urns may not be depicted consistently in the presented drawings. Ms. Griffin encouraged this marking of the pedestrian gates so that they do not simply blend in with the rest of the fence.
Ms. Meyer commented that the current submission is impressive for its coherent approach to developing the fence's design; she supported the overall concept of relying on the existing fence's traditional proportions while streamlining and simplifying the details in response to the new construction, enlarged scale, and modern security issues. She encouraged a commitment from the Secret Service to treat the area in front of the fence as a space of engagement between the public and the White House grounds; she emphasized that the issue for the project is public space as well as national security, and the evaluation of the design would be very different if security were the only concern. For the specific details of the design, she recommended not using a solid panel on the pedestrian gate because it is not functionally required; for the vehicular gate, she observed that the visual impact of the alternatives encompasses the unwelcoming presence of a secondary barrier such as bollards, and she therefore supported the use of the crash-resistant gate with a solid panel so that bollards would not be required. She added that the result is a design that honestly expresses the different functional requirements of the two types of entrances.
Mr. Luebke noted that this design guidance would result in the limited use of the arched motif for only the lower panel of the three pedestrian gates along Pennsylvania Avenue; the pedestrian gates along East and West Executive Avenues would have a simpler design, while the vehicular gates would have solid lower panels. He asked whether the arched motif would be eliminated entirely from the project's design instead of being used in such a limited way. Ms. Weber confirmed that the arched motif is not proposed along East and West Executive Avenues, noting that historic photographs show that a simpler design was always used at these locations. Ms. Meyer supported designing the Pennsylvania Avenue pedestrian gates in the same way as the gates along East and West Executive Avenues, where the lower panels would be emphasized simply by the inclusion of additional short intermediate pickets known as "dog bars."
Mr. Dunson commented that the presentation has clearly conveyed the very complicated issues of the project, with many slight variations among the alternatives. He said that with the assistance of the clear drawings, the discussion has reached a good conclusion on the treatment of the gates and points of connection, and the project can therefore move forward expeditiously. Chairman Powell agreed that the Commission is ready to take action on the proposed final design, as facilitated by the clear presentation.
Mr. Luebke suggested a summary of the decisions and clarification of some issues to assist the staff in advising the project team on any remaining details. He asked if the consensus is to use half of the decorative arch motif at the intersection of the fence with the piers; Ms. Meyer reiterated her preference for omitting the arch and simply bringing the horizontal top rail directly into the pier. Mr. Luebke asked for clarification of the guidance for the granite base wall below the picket fence. Ms. Weber said that the proposal is to use a rougher texture for the wall, while the base of the piers would have a smoother texture; she provided samples of the materials and various finishes that are being considered. Mr. Luebke suggested that an intermediate finish texture, perhaps bush-hammered, could also be considered instead of the samples shown. For the length of the granite blocks in the wall, Ms. Griffin suggested consideration of a length between the illustrated alternatives of two feet and six feet; she commented that the two-foot length appears too segmented in comparison to the fence height, while acknowledging that overly long blocks could be problematic for construction. Ms. Gilbert commented that the shorter blocks have the advantage of relating to the scale of the existing rough-laid wall, while the six-foot-long blocks have a very different, contemporary character. She added that the construction difficulties of larger blocks may become even more problematic with the curved plan of the fence along the south lawn, potentially resulting in unsightly offsets. Ms. Meyer also recalled the Commission's previous concern that the base wall should have the character of a garden wall rather than be perceived as an extension of the sidewalk paving. Ms. Gilbert said that the rough texture would help in differentiating the base wall from the sidewalk paving, and smaller blocks would also provide more differentiation. Ms. Weber acknowledged that the presented sample may be too rough, and she offered to explore an intermediate finish texture. Mr. Luebke suggested that review of this detail be delegated to the staff, with the likely solution being a bush-hammered or striated finish. For the length of the base wall's blocks, Ms. Weber noted that one of the drawings illustrates a length of approximately three feet; Ms. Griffin said that this dimension seems appropriate, while suggesting that the solution could be explored further in relation to the selection of the granite finish.
Ms. Meyer suggested a consensus to approve the proposed design with the project team's preferred alternatives, subject to the guidance provided concerning a simple straight connection of the top rail to the pier, the simple dog-bar treatment for the lower panel of all of the pedestrian gates, an intermediate finish for the stone of the base wall, and a length of approximately three feet for the blocks of this wall. Mr. Powell offered this consensus as a motion; upon a second by Mr. Dunson, the Commission adopted this action.
2. CFA 23/JAN/17-2, Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial. Intersection of Maryland and Independence Avenues, between 4th and 6th Streets, SW. Revised final design. (Previous: CFA 18/JUN/15-5.) Secretary Luebke introduced the proposal for a revision to the approved final design from 2015 for the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial, submitted by the National Park Service on behalf of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission. The memorial is to be located on a rectangular site on the south side of Independence Avenue between 4th and 6th Streets, SW, and north of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Building, the headquarters of the Department of Education. The Eisenhower Memorial Commission is now proposing three modifications: changing the image on the memorial's colossal metal tapestry from a composite view of the landscape of Eisenhower's boyhood home in Abilene, Kansas, to a contemporary image of the World War II D-Day landing beach in Normandy, France; shifting the statue of the young Eisenhower from the center of the composition to an off-center location near the Department of Education building; and removing trees from the center of the landscape plan to increase the visibility of the tapestry. He said that while these would be technically minor changes, they could be considered significant alterations to the design's symbolism and narrative. He asked Peter May of the National Park Service to begin the presentation, and Mr. May introduced Carl Reddel, the executive director of the Eisenhower Memorial Commission.
Mr. Reddel said that the proposed changes have the support of the congressional members of the Eisenhower Memorial Commission. He emphasized the central paradox of Eisenhower's public life: both as a professional military officer and then as civilian commander-in-chief, his commitment was to peace rather than war. Eisenhower was the only president to have served in both world wars; he came to believe that war could not solve national or international problems and that American security must be defined in a global context. The invasion of Normandy, under his leadership as Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force, transformed Eisenhower into a figure admired throughout the world. In his Guildhall speech in London, delivered after the Allied victory in Europe, and in a speech he delivered in Abilene, Kansas, Eisenhower expressed his profound identification with the American heartland. Eisenhower's ultimate goal was to balance security with freedom to ensure that democracy would flourish throughout the world, and Mr. Reddel said that this legacy would be symbolized in the revised design for the Eisenhower Memorial. He introduced architect Craig Webb of Gehry Partners to present the changes to the design.
Mr. Webb summarized the design and conceptual narrative of the previously approved design for comparison with the proposed revisions. The memorial has been envisioned as an urban park filled with trees; two multi-figure sculptural compositions at the center of the park would include bronze representations of Eisenhower, as general and as president, placed on limestone blocks and accompanied by inscriptions and bas-relief backdrops. Large limestone columns framing the memorial core would create a virtual temple and define thresholds where visitors would enter the park. A large woven steel tapestry along the southern edge of the park was proposed, bearing an image of a Kansas landscape to suggest Eisenhower's Midwestern roots and values; at the very center of the composition was a sculpture of Eisenhower as a youth looking toward his future.
Mr. Webb said that the design team has been asked to reconsider the narrative of the memorial, including consideration of a new image for the tapestry that is intended to unify all elements of the design. The image on the tapestry is now proposed to be of the Normandy coast, with the steep promontory known as Pointe du Hoc in the center and the beaches where the invasion took place stretching out to either side. He noted that the proposed image is a digital montage of contemporary photographs, not a historic photograph from the war era. He said that Normandy would serve as the symbolic bridge between Eisenhower's military and civilian careers, a duality that would become the central theme of the memorial: Eisenhower as the general who won the peace in World War II and the president who secured the peace after the war.
Mr. Webb described the challenges in creating this new tapestry image. He said that the fabrication technique for the previous image had been worked out through mockups, resulting in an image of the rural Kansas landscape that was both legible and transparent enough to let the north facade of the Department of Education Building be perceptible as a fourth wall of the memorial's urban room. The new image would be similarly denser at the bottom, becoming more transparent as it rises; the bottom would have an eighty- to ninety-percent density of woven stainless steel wire, changing to a density of approximately twenty percent at the top, allowing the Department of Education building to be visible behind the tapestry and permitting views from the building across the site. He said that the tapestry's designer, Tomas Osinski, has been studying landscape paintings of coastlines in an attempt to create a similarly abstracted image. He added that Mr. Osinski will produce mockups of the new design.
Mr. Webb said that the sculptor of the memorial's bronze statue groups, Sergey Eylanbekov, has been working on three-foot-tall clay maquettes of the group depicting Gen. Eisenhower and soldiers on the day before the invasion. These maquettes are an intermediate stage before the production of the sculptures at the final scale, which will be one-third larger than life size. He added that Mr. Eylanbekov is studying how to adapt the depiction of President Eisenhower's modern suit to the rough surface texture that he has decided to use for the sculptures to convey strength and solidity.
Mr. Webb described the two other proposed changes to the memorial design. The previous intent was for the real trees of the urban park to blend into the trees depicted on the tapestry. He said that the new image of the Normandy coast would need more separation from the living trees to avoid the illusion that the trees form part of the image; the proposal is therefore to remove four of the proposed trees near the center of the park. The last change is to move the sculpture of Eisenhower as a young man; this statue was previously sited as the focal point of the memorial, intended as a bridge between the tapestry image of Kansas symbolizing Eisenhower's youth and the statues representing his adult roles as general and president. With the change to the tapestry image, he said that treating this sculpture as the memorial's focus would no longer be appropriate, and the proposal is to move it south to a position on the promenade along the north facade of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Department of Education Building. He described the intent for this promenade to serve as an interpretive space for the Department of Education, and this area would therefore be an appropriate place for this sculpture, which would be adapted for its new location and purpose. An excerpt from Eisenhower's homecoming speech in Abilene—"The proudest thing I can claim is that I'm from Abilene"—would be inscribed on its three-foot-high limestone base.
Ms. Meyer asked if other sites had been considered for the sculpture of the young Eisenhower. Mr. Webb responded that the Eisenhower Memorial Commission had suggested moving it to a location on a grass area within a grove of trees, but this location and its barrier-free accessibility were problematic, while the promenade is paved and accessible. Ms. Griffin asked for clarification of the intended use of the promenade by schoolchildren and others, such as for groups to gather or have lunch. Mr. Webb responded that the entire site would be a public park, including the promenade, and all visitors would be free to gather or picnic. Ms. Griffin expressed support for the statue of the young Eisenhower as an isolated element that encourages the engagement of schoolchildren, and she suggested that a location at the entrance to the memorial park or along a path through the memorial could be more effective.
Mr. Powell asked how the image of the Normandy coast would be translated to the tapestry. Mr. Webb responded that the tapestry's elongated dimensions—60 feet high and more than 400 feet long—would be appropriate for a landscape image. Visitors standing in the center of the memorial would have a clear view of the central image of the Pointe du Hoc, and as they move to the sides, they would primarily see the tapestry representation of the tranquil sky above the living trees.
Ms. Gilbert commented that the previous design, which the Commission reviewed many times, had featured the innovative concept of marrying an actual landscape with the depicted landscape of Kansas; the new design would be dramatically different, lacking any representation of trees or Eisenhower's early life. She questioned how much of the Normandy image visitors would actually be able to see, commenting that it would look like a sky full of clouds. She said that removing the four trees from the center of the grove would make the design appear very different, and she noted that the placement of every tree, as well as the lighting, had been thoroughly discussed by the Commission. Mr. Webb agreed that the previous image had given a much more seamless connection between landscape and tapestry. He described how the new image has been carefully studied, with consideration given to a view from the shore toward the sea, or an eye-level view similar to that seen by the military forces as they approached the beach. The viewing angle of the selected image is elevated to create a relationship with the proposed landscape, to add depth, and to align the trees with the horizon. He emphasized that the tapestry design is still evolving and expressed confidence that Mr. Osinski would create a successful image.
Ms. Lehrer asked if the Commission could see a portion of the tapestry image at a larger scale. Mr. Webb responded that the image uses high-definition photography, but it is so large that it lacks detail. He said that Mr. Osinski is studying how to translate the image into the wire tapestry through "rasterizing," the process of creating a line drawing that will guide the equipment weaving the tapestry, and is currently preparing a ten-by-fifteen-foot mockup of a portion of the image.
Ms. Griffin commented that visitors to the memorial would never see the image as it was shown in the presentation because they would either be viewing it from a distance or looking upward from ground level. She said that the image might have to be adjusted to provide the desired experience for visitors, and she asked if the image could be modified as the mockup is created. Mr. Webb emphasized the ongoing study of how to create an artistic abstraction of clouds and sky that would be successful under daylight conditions, and he said that Mr. Osinski will make any changes needed as part of preparing the mockup. Ms. Gilbert asked if the bright area of sky toward the center of the Normandy image would be aligned with the center of the memorial; Mr. Webb responded that the bright sky and the promontory would appear centered between the two sculptural blocks in the memorial core.
Chairman Powell invited public testimony. The first speaker was Justin Shubow, representing the National Civic Art Society. Mr. Shubow described the proposal as a radically changed memorial idea that should have been submitted for review as a concept rather than a final design. He said that the previous design had presented a narrative of the young Eisenhower symbolically looking ahead to his future accomplishments, and without this narrative the new concept is confused and weak. The statue of Eisenhower as a young man with his roots in the American heartland had been essential to the design, but now it is proposed to be hidden in a dark area behind the tapestry in the center of a promenade dedicated to another president. In addition, the memorial had been described as an object in a temple, but now the statue would sit at the rear of the temple, leaving a void at the center. He noted that an image of the memorial core without the statue has not been provided. He described the new tapestry image as simply representing geography, banal and lacking in symbolism; it would not be recognizable as the beaches of Normandy but would be merely a "dark blob" with clouds above, presenting a harsh horizon line extending the entire width of the tapestry. The weaving technique, while appropriate for depicting trees, would not be suitable for this featureless scene. He urged the Commission members to see a mockup before approving the design. In conclusion, he said that the radical changes to the memorial design have resulted in a confused, incoherent proposal with an uninspired tapestry, the result of political compromise and design by committee, and he asked the Commission to reinstate the previous design.
The second speaker was Susan Eisenhower, granddaughter of President Eisenhower and a member of the Eisenhower Memorial Commission. She emphasized that the revised design is not a political compromise; instead, the image of the Normandy beach in peacetime represents Eisenhower's real legacy as the architect of a united Europe. She commented that while many presidents are memorialized on the Mall, they are honored for their heroic deeds and not for their childhoods. She requested the Commission's collaboration in reframing the narrative of the memorial.
Chairman Powell expressed appreciation for the public comments. Ms. Meyer said that the two speakers have led her to modify her comments. She said that the only point on which she agrees with Mr. Shubow is that this revised design presents a radically different concept. She took exception to his characterization of the Normandy image as just "geography"—on the contrary, she said that landscapes are imbued with meaning and memories, and she finds the argument compelling that the Normandy coast can symbolize peace in the modern world. She acknowledged that the revised concept lacks the coherence of the previous idea of the memorial as a park, agreeing that this is a loss; but she said that the new concept could become even more powerful than the original design. She added that the Commission's confidence in the previous tapestry design was based on seeing its translation to a physical mockup, and therefore she could not give final approval to the revised design without seeing a new mockup.
Ms. Meyer raised two additional concerns, most importantly with the proposed location for the statue of the young Eisenhower. Instead of moving the statue behind the tapestry to the promenade, she advised shifting it to one of the two paved areas located east and west of the memorial core. She said that these gathering spaces have always appeared too large in relation to the adjacent walks, and they would benefit from having a focal point. Such a location would also be responsive to the suggestion of the Eisenhower Memorial Commission to move the statue to the grove. She also objected to the proposal to remove four of the trees, arguing that it would not improve the visitor experience of the tapestry and would certainly degrade the experience of the public space. She affirmed the idea that a park needs trees—especially a park in a southern locale during a period of climate change. She added that the Commission members had spent years discussing the location of these trees, and the argument for their removal was not persuasive.
Mr. Dunson said that Mr. Reddel's remarks have convinced him that the Normandy beach scene is key to understanding Eisenhower's legacy, and he finds this to be a more important consideration than the exact placement of the memorial's individual elements. However, he emphasized the primary importance of the statue of the young Eisenhower as a representation of the idea that even someone from a modest background can achieve great things, and he emphasized that this idea needs to be retained in the memorial.
Chairman Powell summarized the Commission's overall willingness to support the changes with the request for a mockup, and he suggested that the current submission is therefore more appropriately considered as a concept rather than a final design. He commented that the proposal is proceeding in a good direction, but he agreed with Ms. Meyer that the site of the statue of Eisenhower as a youth should be considered further. He noted that questions remain about the technical translation of the image of Normandy into the stainless steel tapestry which have to be addressed through the mockup. He offered a motion to approve the revised design submission as a concept; upon a second by Ms. Meyer, the Commission adopted this action.
3. CFA 23/JAN/17-3, Washington Monument Grounds, 15th Street between Constitution Avenue, NW and Independence Avenue, SW. Visitor screening facility. Final. (Previous: CFA 20/JUN/13- 1.) Secretary Luebke introduced the proposal for a permanent visitor screening facility at the Washington Monument. He said that the Commission's previous reviews resulted in the preference for a pavilion instead of below-grade entrance alternatives; the Commission had concluded that a pavilion would have the least physical impact on the site and monument, maintain the historic point of entry, allow for reversibility if future security needs change, and provide the most direct route into the obelisk while addressing the operational needs of visitor screening. The Commission reviewed several alternative concept designs for a pavilion at its June 2013 meeting, during which they noted the inherently transitory nature of security operations and approved the design alternative that best emphasized the subordinate role of the facility as a "an elegant but temporary passage" to the monument. He said that the proposal is consistent with the approved concept, but some details have been revised. He asked Peter May of the National Park Service to begin the presentation.
Mr. May said that the current proposal would replace the existing utilitarian structure with a new glass-clad pavilion on the Washington Monument's entry plaza. The pavilion would be constructed in conjunction with the rehabilitation of the monument's elevator. He noted the presence of two National Park Service staff members from the National Mall and Memorial Parks to answer technical questions regarding the monument and its operations: Catherine Dewey, chief of resource management, and Sean Kennealy, chief of professional services. He introduced architect Hany Hassan of Beyer Blinder Belle to present the design.
Mr. Hassan began by recalling the previous presentations of the project, noting that the monument's context had changed since the first review in 2010 due to the recent completion of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. He said that the solution approved by the Commission is to place the pavilion on the east side of the monument, directly in front of and connected to the historic entrance. This was then developed into four concept alternatives for a glass-clad pavilion that would meet security requirements and be sufficiently transparent. In 2013, the Commission selected Alternative 2, which has been developed and revised for the current submission, in part to respond to blast and ballistic security studies.
Mr. Hassan then presented the current proposal and the changes from the concept design. He said that the entrance door was previously shown at the center of the pavilion's east facade; due to security concerns, the current proposal is to locate the entrance and exit doors on opposite ends of the east facade. The hyphen connecting the pavilion and the monument has also been revised: the roof of the hyphen would be lower and, for security reasons, it would be clad with an opaque material rather than glass. The mechanical system ventilation, previously proposed to exhaust upward from the hyphen's roof, would instead exhaust to the side. He provided models and samples to illustrate the proposed design and materials.
Ms. Lehrer asked if the sides of the pavilion would be composed of an opaque material or transparent glazing. Mr. Hassan said that the side walls would have a double-glazed envelope approximately one foot in width surrounding the heavy structural members: the outer layer would be laminated glass with a metal mesh insert, and the inner later would be a clear ballistic-resistant glass. He said that because of security considerations, he could not provide the specific details of this glazing system, but it is intended to protect the visiting public and the U.S. Park Police officers; the system would allow visitors and police officers see out from the pavilion, while views into the pavilion from the exterior would be obscured to protect security operations.
Ms. Meyer asked for further explanation of the optical qualities of the proposed glazing system. Mr. Hassan said that natural light would enter the pavilion during the day, and at night the pavilion's interior lighting would be visible from the outside, making it appear to glow softly. Ms. Griffin asked if the obscuring properties of the glazing would be functional at night; Mr. Hassan responded that at all times, views from the exterior of figures and activity inside would be indistinct or diffuse. Ms. Gilbert asked if the interior of the pavilion would remain illuminated when the monument is closed to visitors; Mr. Kennealy of the National Park Service responded that when the monument closes for the night, the interior lights would be turned off. Mr. Hassan added that the existing pavilion intrudes on the nighttime uplighting of the monument, casting a shadow against its wall; the lighting for the proposed pavilion would have supplemental uplights on its roof to counteract this shadow effect. He added that red security lighting would illuminate the area around the hyphen structure to give police officers a clear view of sensitive equipment that would be placed there.
Mr. Hassan described an additional design change involving the number and location of the proposed geothermal wells. Previously, only 8 wells were to be installed in a small triangular area to the north of the monument's plaza, designed to meet the energy needs of the pavilion. The current proposal calls for 64 geothermal wells, and they would be installed to the west of the monument in an area of the grounds near the Jefferson Pier; the current design would provide energy needs for the monument itself as well as the pavilion. Each well would be drilled to a depth of 200 to 400 feet, depending on the thermal properties and ground temperature of each site, and piping beneath the plaza would connect the wells to the pavilion and monument. He emphasized that the grading of the grounds and the paving of the plaza would be returned to their current state after the wells are installed.
Ms. Gilbert asked for more information on the proposed base of the pavilion structure. Mr. Hassan said that in the previous proposal, the pavilion's glazing was to be channeled directly into the monument's plaza. However, after further consideration of the slope of the plaza, the current proposal is to channel the glazing into a base composed of a light-colored granite similar to stone that is currently installed on the plaza. Ms. Meyer asked how the base would accommodate the grade change; Mr. Hassan confirmed that the bottom of the pavilion's glazing would be horizontal, and the height of the base would vary with the grade. Ms. Griffin asked for the height range of the granite base; Mr. Hassan responded that it tapers from six to approximately four inches.
Chairman Powell expressed appreciation for the quality of the presentation and suggested approval of the final design submission. Upon a second by Ms. Meyer, the Commission adopted this action. Mr. Dunson added that the models were helpful in reviewing the design.
C. General Services Administration
CFA 23/JAN/17-4, Southeast Federal Center—The Yards. Parcel L-1, bounded by Tingey, 2nd, and 3rd Streets, SE. New eleven-story hotel building. Concept. Ms. Batcheler introduced the submission from the General Services Agency (GSA) on behalf of Forest City Washington for a site within The Yards, a private-sector redevelopment of the Southeast Federal Center. She noted the 2005 memorandum of agreement between GSA and the Commission that limited the Commission's review role for this redevelopment to the concept level only. She said that Parcel L will be developed as two projects: a residential building on Parcel L-2 to the south, adjacent to the waterfront Yards Park, which was reviewed by the Commission in July 2016; and a hotel on Parcel L-1, which is the current submission. She noted that Parcel L-1 occupies the northern fifth of Parcel L, extending to Tingey Street on the north. She asked Mina Wright of GSA to introduce the project, and Ms. Wright introduced Brian Pilot of Studios Architecture to begin the presentation.
Mr. Pilot provided an overview of the site. Parcel L-1 is approximately 12,000 square feet and provides a strong eastern terminus to N Street, which ends at the Tingey Square park immediately west of the proposed hotel. The new building will be located within the historic area of the Southeast Federal Center, an area whose primary uses are residential and retail. Development plans for parcels to the west, as well as a design for Tingey Square, will be addressed in future submissions. Parcel L-1 is zoned for hotel use, with 75% of the ground floor reserved for retail. On the north, the setback line from Tingey Street is 27.5 feet from the curb line, consistent with other new buildings along this street; he noted that some historic structures, such as the Foundry Lofts immediately to the east, extend forward of this setback line. He said that the hotel on Parcel L-1, unlike the residential building on Parcel L-2, would be built to its full density, taking advantage of the allowable height of 110 feet.
Mr. Pilot presented additional views of the site's historic context. Many buildings in the Southeast Federal Center were constructed of red brick with concrete framing, well-defined bases, and strong vertical lines; some structures were built of dark masonry. Guidelines for the design of new buildings in the area include: expression of the structural frame; combining transparency with a "muscular" use of masonry; a repetitive structural base; and multi-light metal-framed windows.
Mr. Pilot said that the new hotel would be oriented east–west, similar to most other nearby buildings. The long north facade would step back six feet above the three-story base, relating to the height of historic Building 170 to the north across Tingey Street, while the west facade would rise without a setback to emphasize its verticality as a terminus to N Street. The building details are intended to emphasize the rigorous composition, and the base would be detailed to relate to the historic D.C. Water building to the southwest. Brick would be laid in a stacked bond, simply detailed to create texture across all facades; brick piers would extend the full height of the building; and brick spandrels would be set back two inches from the face of the piers, with window glass recessed an additional six inches. Brick window surrounds would be used to add detail at the base and would extend the full height of the piers, and the piers at the northwest and northeast corners would extend to the ground to emphasize verticality. A penthouse clad with dark metal and glass would step back from the primary facades.
Mr. Pilot said that while the buildings on Parcels L-1 and L-2 would have different uses and would differ in appearance, they would share the same approach in adapting a historic architectural language. The hotel on Parcel L-1 would be more direct in its historic references; the previously presented residential building on Parcel L-2 would become more expressive near the Anacostia River, with a terraced, landscaped south wing. The two buildings would share internal loading and underground parking; because the hotel site is above a large sewer line, the shared parking garage would be located under the residential building.
Ms. Griffin asked if the design team has studied perspectives of the building's western facade terminating N Street. She observed that this facade has been designed symmetrically with a center entrance, although the building would be slightly off-center relative to N Street. She suggested either shifting the view corridor away from the street's centerline, or designing the facade asymmetrically in response to the N Street alignment. Mr. Pilot responded that such options have been explored; he said that the two sites on Parcel L are interconnected, and the decision was that a symmetrical composition would strengthen the hotel design, while an asymmetrical design would weaken it. Ms. Griffin observed that contemporary architecture in Washington is constrained by many limitations, and she encouraged exploration of any available opportunity to be less symmetrical and more adventurous; she emphasized that the strong terminus of N Street provides such an opportunity. She summarized her questioning of whether the hotel's west facade really requires such symmetry when its context is quite asymmetrical.
Ms. Meyer acknowledged Ms. Griffin's comments while offering general support for the proposal's massing strategy. She observed that the short street segment along the hotel's west side that forms the east side of Tingey Square does not continue beyond to the north or south. She questioned the design of a generous radial curve as N Street curves northward to this street segment in front of the hotel; she said that it appears to have been drawn to facilitate fast driving—more characteristic of suburban development than this urban plaza setting. She suggested redesigning this turn with a squared edge, which would create room for a drop-off plaza and a better approach to the entrance. She said that this comment relates to Ms. Griffin's discussion of whether the N Street condition should determine the design of the west facade, and she summarized that the proposed building could fit into its site in various ways. Mr. Pilot responded that it had been the intention to keep a distinct separation between the entries of the hotel and residential buildings, although they will share a vestibule for the parking garage. Ms. Meyer agreed that the entrances of the two buildings should not be immediately adjacent. Mr. Pilot added that the project's landscape team would be involved in developing this corner. Ms. Meyer asked if a design had been prepared for Tingey Square; Mr. Pilot said that it has not yet been designed, and he noted the importance of understanding how pedestrians would walk across the area between the two buildings and N Street.
Ms. Griffin reiterated the importance of Parcel L-2 as the terminus of N Street. If the facade's relationship to the street will be off-center, she suggested designing it to mark the terminus more emphatically, and she questioned whether the proposed symmetrical facade would take full advantage of the opportunity to create a gateway into the parcel.
Ms. Lehrer supported the use of historic industrial precedents to guide the design of the hotel's fenestration and other elements. However, she suggested exploring a more contemporary approach to the design of the exterior brick, such as the selection of a non-standard brick module. Ms. Meyer asked if the brick would be gray as shown in the computer-generated renderings; Mr. Pilot responded that the intent is to use a contemporary brick, such as iron spot or a type that is longer than the standard size.
Chairman Powell summarized the consensus of the Commission to generally support the concept with the comments provided. He offered a motion for approval; upon a second by Mr. Dunson, the Commission adopted this action.
Following the lunch recess, Secretary Luebke noted the administrative matter that the position of Vice Chairman became vacant several months ago with the departure of Philip Freelon; he suggested that the Commission continue the tradition of appointing one of its members to this position. Chairman Powell nominated Ms. Meyer; upon a second by Mr. Dunson, the Commission adopted this appointment. Mr. Luebke noted that Ms. Meyer would likely be presiding at the February meeting in the absence of Chairman Powell.
D. Department of the Navy
CFA 23/JAN/17-5, Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, MacDill Boulevard and South Capitol Street, SW. Installation of ground-mounted photovoltaic panels at three locations. Final. (Previous: 20/NOV/14-6.) Mr. Lindstrom introduced a proposal for photovoltaic panels to be installed at three locations on Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling (JBAB). He asked James Cannon and Nicole Tompkins-Flagg of the Naval Facilities Engineering Command to present the design.
Mr. Cannon said that the project was begun under the previous administration's One Gigawatt initiative to generate power from renewable energy generation facilities to be installed on or near Navy properties. The Navy has selected an outside contractor for a long-term lease with the Navy to develop the JBAB project. The proposed fixed, ground-mounted photovoltaic panels would provide approximately ten percent of JBAB's energy requirements. He said that an earlier proposal called for a variety of photovoltaic configurations including rooftop-mounted panels, but this method was deemed infeasible for development. The current submission therefore focuses on an expanded set of ground sites appropriate to receive the panels; he presented an overview of the three sites, numbered as 1, 4, and 34. Site #1, in the northern section of the base along the Anacostia River, is currently the location of a baseball field and surface parking lots, and is composed mostly of reclaimed land. Site #4, located directly south of #1, is also along the Anacostia and composed mostly of fill. Site #34, still further south at the mid-section of the base, is mostly unused land and covered with brush and some trees that would be removed; a portion of this site abuts the Anacostia Freeway (Interstate 295).
Mr. Cannon said that the photovoltaic panels would be secured to the ground, typically by either driven posts or concrete footers. A perimeter fence, approximately seven feet tall, would be installed around the sites to protect the panels and related equipment. He said that the fence is stipulated by international electrical standards and would be in compliance with the 2008 Naval Support Facility Anacostia Installation Appearance Plan. Eight-foot-wide planted buffers would be installed to block views of the fence and the panels within. He said that the proposed trees have been selected for their ability to block views and would require minimal maintenance. He referred to an agreement with the National Capital Planning Commission that these trees should be species expected to grow to 1.5 times the height of the fence; they would be planted in a staggered pattern to ensure that views of the fence and the photovoltaic sites would be obscured. He presented several comparisons of existing and simulated views of the proposed installation from across the river to demonstrate the intended effect of the landscape buffers.
Ms. Gilbert asked if the public has access to the riverbanks near the northern sites; Mr. Cannon responded that JBAB is a controlled-access naval facility, and the public is not permitted on the riverbanks nor in the areas where the panels would be installed. Ms. Lehrer asked if the panels would be visible from nearby buildings within the base; Mr. Cannon said that the panels would likely not be visible from the buildings, although only views from outside JBAB were considered.
Ms. Meyer expressed disappointment that the proposed panels would not be part of a landscape that is experienced by the public or JBAB employees. She expressed support for the renewable energy goals of the initiative and noted that the project has the potential to serve as a precedent for other naval facilities around the country. She emphasized that the panels could be more than mere infrastructure, suggesting that they could shape entrances and thresholds, or function as shading structures for spaces accessible to employees or the public. She said that the panels—which she described as beautiful infrastructure objects—do not need to be hidden from public view, especially when seen as a part of the larger panorama of the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers.
Ms. Meyer said that if the landscape buffers are an absolute requirement for the project, then the proposed palette of plant species was inappropriately selected. She cited the proposal for planting kalmia shrubs, which require shade and would likely not survive in these exposed locations. She emphasized that soil conditions are site-specific, and the areas proposed for the landscape buffers are composed of fill of poor-quality soil; therefore native plants, which are adapted to survive in undisturbed woodland topsoil, would most likely not survive at this location. In addition, considering the poor soil quality on the site, she commented that the proposed southern variety of the wax myrtle would not be as hardy as the more appropriate northern variety. She said that forsythia, described in the presentation materials as a plant native to the area, is actually exotic to Washington and therefore has no habitat value in its specified location along the water. She also noted that three-quarters of the proposed plants are not trees, as was indicated during the presentation, but rather shrubs. Mr. Cannon responded that he agrees with Ms. Meyer regarding the merit of allowing the solar panels to be visible along the waterfront, but the landscape buffers and the tree heights are required by the base's Appearance Plan and by the National Capital Planning Commission. He added that the shrubs are intended to obscure portions of the fence that would not be covered by the fully grown trees.
Ms. Gilbert suggested that the buffers for Sites #1 and #4 could establish riparian wildlife habitats along the river bank rather than merely serving as visual screening. Mr. Cannon responded that the fence and buffers are operational requirements for the military base and are not intended to serve as a nature preserve. He added that the outside contractor, not the Navy, will be responsible for maintaining the landscapes. Ms. Gilbert said that appropriate trees and shrubs could be selected so that animals will be naturally attracted to the area.
Chairman Powell advised that if the landscape buffers are required, then the design team should engage the professional services of a landscape architect to specify suitable plants for the project. Ms. Griffin acknowledged the challenges of installing a substantial infrastructure project within a naval facility on the waterfront. She suggested that the more important views toward the proposed photovoltaic installations are not from the opposite riverbanks, but rather from the river itself. She said that even though the proposed landscapes would not be accessible to the public, they would still be within the public realm since the river is enjoyed recreationally. She emphasized that the landscapes could serve as both low-maintenance visual buffers and pleasing scenery to be appreciated from the water. She suggested that a professional landscape architect could bring a more thoughtful approach to the design of the required perimeter fence and planted buffer, adding that the tree-to-fence-height ratio constrains the possibilities for the design. She also noted that the design for the perimeter fence was not documented or presented.
Ms. Tompkins-Flagg acknowledged that this height ratio, along with technical requirements for the panels' productivity, limits the planting palette. However, she reiterated the requirements of the base's Appearance Plan, adding that the perimeter fence would have a screen behind it to limit visibility through the fence. She noted that the staffs of the review agencies advised designing the buffer for the two northern sites with taller trees to appear more inviting from the water and the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge. She added that her Navy office does not have a landscape architect on staff, and she asked the Commission members to provide specific guidance for the plant species. Ms. Meyer said that the role of the Commission is to provide expert advice on matters of design and aesthetics, not to serve as architects and landscape architects for applicants that have not hired professional design consultants. She summarized that the Commission has provided general advice regarding the appropriateness of the proposed plants, and she reiterated the recommendation of Chairman Powell and Ms. Griffin that the project team hire a landscape architect to assess soil, wind, and solar conditions and specify suitable plants for the project.
Ms. Lehrer suggested that the excess soil resulting from the installation of the panels could instead be used to fill in the areas in front of the perimeter fence to add height to the plantings and improve soil conditions, instead of carting away this soil. Mr. Cannon said that he would bring this suggestion to the attention of the contractor. He added that when the project is no longer being used, the contractor will be responsible for removing all of the equipment and returning the sites to their previous condition, including filling in the post holes.
Ms. Meyer suggested that the applicant return to the Commission with a revised planting plan; Chairman Powell agreed. The discussion concluded without a formal action.
E. District of Columbia Commission on the Arts and Humanities
CFA 23/JAN/17-6, Howard Theater Walk of Fame, 7th and T Streets, NW. Public art installation to honor 15 artists and others associated with Howard Theater. Concept. The Commission acted on the submission earlier in the meeting without a presentation, following agenda item II.A.
F. District of Columbia Department of General Services
1. CFA 23/JAN/17-7, Fort Dupont Ice Skating Arena, 3779 Ely Place, SE. Replacement building. Concept. (Previous: CFA 16/JUL/15-7.) The Commission acted on the submission earlier in the meeting without a presentation, following agenda item II.A.
2. CFA 23/JAN/17-8, Edgewood Recreation Center, 301 Franklin Street, NE. Replacement recreation center building. Concept. (Previous: CFA 17/NOV/16-6.) The Commission acted on the submission earlier in the meeting without a presentation, following agenda item II.A.
G. D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs—Old Georgetown Act
OG 16-375, 3401 Water Street, NW, Multi-family residence, five-story roof addition and alterations. Concept. Mr. Mellon introduced the proposal for a private-sector project at 3401 Water Street, NW, incorporating an existing two-story commercial building that was constructed in two phases in 1939 and 1946. Although the existing low building is largely obscured from the riverfront on the south by the elevated Whitehurst Freeway, he said that the site's prominence will become more apparent with the proposed five-story addition. He noted that the Commission's Old Georgetown Board has reviewed the project three times, most recently earlier in January 2017, and the Board has forwarded a recommendation for approval of the concept design. Mr. Luebke noted that most of the hundreds of Georgetown projects submitted each year are placed on the Old Georgetown Act appendix, and only a few are placed on the Commission's agenda for presentation; these typically involve are buildings, projects of special historic interest, and projects that are particularly prominent.
Scott Fuller of IBG Partners, the project developer, began the presentation. He said that the Old Georgetown Board has reviewed several alternatives for the project's massing, and the current submission is the version preferred by the Board as well as the project team. The proposal has also been presented to National Park Service officials, whose only concern was to confirm that the project does not exceed the massing allowed by D.C. zoning regulations. He described the intent to design the project to fit in with the context of the Georgetown waterfront. The existing two-story warehouse building would be preserved for adaptive reuse. The addition above is largely screened by existing structures: the Whitehurst Freeway to the south, Key Bridge to the west, an office building to the east, and on the north a high retaining wall along the C&O Canal and tall trees across the canal in Francis Scott Key Park. He characterized the site as being "swallowed up in a pocket" at the western end of the Georgetown waterfront area. He said that the proposed addition would be part of a stepping-down of building heights from the higher buildings toward Wisconsin Avenue on the east to Key Bridge on the west, with the top of the proposed building being slightly lower than the nearest buildings to the east. He said that the design responds to the Old Georgetown Board's comments on providing sufficient "breathing room" for Key Bridge by shifting the rooftop penthouse location and by stepping back the top floor of apartments from the west facade. The building also sets back significantly from the towpath of the C&O Canal, in contrast to the buildings to the east that are much closer to the towpath; he said that this setback is part of a general pattern of the towpath context opening up more widely toward the western end of the Georgetown waterfront. He introduced architect Israel Olmos of BBGM and historic preservation consultant Andi Adams of Goulston & Storrs to present the project.
Mr. Olmos described the site and context in greater detail, indicating the proximity of an elevated vehicular ramp connecting the northbound side of Key Bridge to the eastbound lanes of the Whitehurst Freeway. He presented historic maps of the area, indicating 34th Street on the east side of the project site; he noted that 34th Street had once bridged the canal and connected to the north, while currently only a remnant of the street remains alongside the site. He emphasized that M Street a block to the north and Key Bridge to the west are significantly higher than the site, and the Whitehurst Freeway to the south is slightly higher than the existing two-story building on the site. He presented views of the site looking downward from Key Bridge and the ramp to the Whitehurst Freeway, and he contrasted the highway-speed experience of the site from these viewpoints to the slower ground-level movement of vehicles and pedestrians. He said that the existing building would be perceived primarily from the ground level while the addition would be perceived primarily from elevated viewpoints; the only place where the old and new construction would be readily perceived simultaneously would be from 34th Street to the east. He indicated the brick construction of the earlier eastern portion of the building and the concrete block of the western portion. He said that the existing roofs would be replaced, and he indicated the sometimes irregular placement of window and door openings as well as the lack of ornamentation. He presented photographs of the site's existing frontage along the C&O Canal, which is simply a seven-foot-high wall of concrete block with a wire fence above. He noted that the building's northwest corner is the first portion that is perceived by people walking toward Georgetown along the towpath.
Mr. Olmos presented the context analysis that was prepared at the request of the Old Georgetown Board. Water Street is angled in contrast to Georgetown's prevailing grid; the buildings to the east are generally aligned with the grid, while those with frontage on Water Street typically reflect the geometry of the waterfront in their south facades. Parking garage and loading entrances are typically located along Water Street, while the pedestrian entrances to the buildings are typically located at corners or along the north-south streets. He said that the proposed building would follow this pattern, with its garage and loading entrance to the south on Water Street and the pedestrian entrance to the east on 34th Street. He presented a diagram of permissible building heights along Water Street as allowed by D.C. zoning. Although Water Street is relatively flat, the topography rises to the north, and more sharply further east with the highest ground toward Wisconsin Avenue; the allowable heights are typically measured from the higher elevation, resulting in the pattern of higher building envelopes along Water Street to the east of the site, and then downward again extending east of Wisconsin Avenue, resulting in an overall crowning effect that is centered on Wisconsin Avenue. He also indicated the stepping up of buildings as they rise with the topography toward M Street and beyond.
Mr. Olmos presented a diagram for Water Street prepared by the Georgetown Business Improvement District that would introduce a roundabout at 34th Street, providing a turnaround and an implied separation for more private vehicular circulation to the west; he said that this is one of the best of several plans that have been generated for this area of Water Street, and it would be consistent with the proposed building's main entrance at 34th Street with the parking and loading access along the more private portion of Water Street.
Mr. Olmos presented an analysis of the experience along the C&O Canal, indicated the tight urban conditions east of 33rd Street and the gradual opening of the canal's setting toward the project site. He said that the project would provide a better setting for the canal than is typically found in Georgetown, and the proposed massing steps back from the permissible building envelope to enhance the canal. He said that the history of Georgetown was also considered in the design process, with recognition of warehouses as a prevailing historic building type along the waterfront due to Georgetown's location at the head of the navigable river with connections to rail and canal transportation. This history of waterfront shipping, along with the guidance of the Old Georgetown Board, have helped to shape the building concept; the conclusion was to draw inspiration from the area's historic warehouse architecture while creating a contemporary building with a residential use, instead of directly mimicking the historic warehouses. These design goals were combined with the zoning and site constraints and with the building dimensions that are desirable for residential use.
Mr. Olmos said that the resulting building configuration is a long east-west bar. To avoid the perception of a relentlessly long building when seen from the south, along the Whitehurst Freeway, the massing has been articulated by inflecting the bar. He said that this inflection also responds to the curving alignment of the C&O Canal to the north, an improved relationship to the slight setback of the office building to the east, and a better east facade where the old and new construction are seen together along 34th Street. He said that the proposed stepped massing avoids the effect of simply dwarfing the existing building with a large addition rising directly upward.
Mr. Olmos said that the proposed exterior demolition is primarily on the north facade to allow integration of the old and new construction. On the second floor, the existing window openings would remain; on the first floor, the irregular pattern of openings is difficult to reuse and would be altered to provide a more ordered appearance. He said that the Old Georgetown Board has requested further study of the openings to retain more of the existing pattern, which will be studied for the next submission. The Board also requested consideration of reducing the penthouse height, currently designed as slightly more than sixteen feet; he said that this will be studied further but is constrained by the requirements of elevator equipment.
Mr. Olmos presented the plans and elevations in further detail, indicating the use of materials to articulate the stepped massing and break down the scale of the project. He indicated the stepback of the seventh floor on the west, approximately aligned with the height of Key Bridge. He presented perspective views of the project, emphasizing the very different appearances from ground level and from the elevated roadways. He indicated the relatively large size of windows in the east facade, intended to provide a special character for the building entrance as suggested by the Old Georgetown Board. He concluded with a more distant view of the project from the Kennedy Center and other vantage points, illustrating the overall context of the Georgetown waterfront; he indicated the proposal's low height compared to the buildings on the much higher topography along M Street. He noted that the trees of Francis Scott Key Park would greatly limit views of the project from the north, and the project does not significantly affect any important views such as from the more elevated streets to the north of M Street.
Mr. Luebke noted that the Old Georgetown Board has forwarded its recommendation, which the Commission may choose to adopt. He summarized the Board's overall satisfaction with the massing after several reviews, while concern remains with a few specific issues such as the balcony configuration, the articulation of the east facade, and the penthouse dimensions. More generally, he said that the details and materials require further development; the Commission's approval would confirm the general design direction before more detailed development of the proposal.
Mr. Dunson asked for clarification of the extent of restoration for the existing building, particularly in relation to the historic canal. Ms. Adams responded that the two portions of the existing warehouse are contributing buildings in the historic district, built within its period of significance, and will be retained; the treatment of these buildings would be adaptive reuse rather than restoration. She said that an example of an unresolved issue is whether to keep or alter the existing first-floor openings on the south facade; these have been altered over the decades, and further study is required. She said that enough of the existing building would be kept to qualify as an alteration under D.C. preservation law. Mr. Luebke added that the proposed regularization of the facade openings along Water Street was an additional concern of the Old Georgetown Board, potentially resulting in a marked change to the historic character.
Ms. Gilbert asked how the roundabout on Water Street, as illustrated in the presentation, would be executed. Mr. Fuller responded that two proposals have emerged: the presented diagram from the Georgetown Business Improvement District, and another from the National Park Service in relation to the boathouses in the area. He said that both proposals are intended to address the problem of people driving west on Water Street to search for parking spaces, and then having to do a U-turn when they reach the end of the street beneath Key Bridge. The roundabout would suggest to drivers that the street is ending, discouraging them from continuing further westward to the private boathouse entrances.
Ms. Gilbert asked how the existing roof would be treated, and whether the project would incorporate green roofs; Mr. Olmos responded that the existing roof would be demolished to allow construction of a new, level base for the addition. Some of the new roof areas would be planted as indicated in the presented plans.
Upon a motion by Mr. Powell with second by Mr. Dunson, the Commission adopted the report of the old Georgetown Board, including the favorable recommendation on the concept with comments for further development of the design.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 1:56 p.m.
Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA