The meeting was convened in the Commission of Fine Arts offices in the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20001, at 10:14 a.m.
Hon. Earl A. Powell, Chairman
Hon. Elizabeth Meyer, Vice Chairman
Hon. Edward Dunson
Hon. Liza Gilbert
Hon. Toni Griffin
Hon. Alex Krieger
Thomas E. Luebke, Secretary
Frederick J. Lindstrom, Assistant Secretary
A. Approval of the minutes of the 16 February meeting. Secretary Luebke reported that the minutes of the February meeting were circulated to the Commission members in advance. Ms. Meyer noted one correction that she has provided to the staff; the Commission approved the minutes with this correction.
B. Dates of next meetings. Mr. Luebke presented the regularly scheduled dates for upcoming Commission meetings, as previously published: 20 April, 18 May, and 15 June 2017.
C. Report on the 2017 National Capital Arts and Cultural Affairs grant program. Mr. Luebke reported on the federal grants program administered by the Commission to support cultural institutions in Washington, D.C. He said that 23 applications have been received, but the funding of the program remains uncertain due to the lack of a full-year appropriation. He said that a recent bill had proposed authorizing approximately $2 million for the program, and he anticipated that the funding issue may be resolved by late April. He added that if the program proceeds, a panel would be convened in May to review the eligibility of applicants, and the funds would be distributed according to an established formula.
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 the changes to the draft appendix. The dates have been noted for the recent receipt of supplemental materials. One recommendation on proposed replacement signs has been changed to be favorable due to a reduction in the number and size of the signs (case number SL 17-069). Three favorable recommendations are subject to the anticipated receipt of further supplemental materials, and she requested authorization to finalize these recommendations when the materials are received (SL 17-062, 17-066, and 17-070). Chairman Powell noted the staff's confidence that the remaining issues for these cases would be resolved. 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; all of the supplemental drawings were received prior to distribution of the draft. The Commission approved the Old Georgetown Act appendix.
B. Smithsonian Institution
CFA 16/MAR/17-1, National Museum of Natural History, 10th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW. Access ramps at south entrance (Madison Drive). Final. (Previous: CFA 17/NOV/16-5.) Secretary Luebke introduced the presentation of a final design for a symmetrical pair of barrier-free ramps at the Mall entrance of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History. The Commission reviewed a revised design for the guardrails in November 2016 as part of its overall review of the project. He said that during that review, the Commission commented favorably on the revised design for the cast metal guardrails but expressed concerns with the detailing and fabrication method of the figural grass pattern. Commenting that the intended character may be difficult to achieve, the Commission members requested the development of a design with some greater variation in the pattern. In addition, they asked for a mockup of a segment of the railing assembly. He asked Ann Trowbridge of the Smithsonian to begin the presentation.
Ms. Trowbridge said that the opening of the ramps is planned for 2019—concurrent with the completion of the refurbishment of the museum's fossil exhibit halls, which is projected to increase attendance at the museum. This accessibility project is part of a larger program to improve the surrounding landscape, restore the southern entrance portico, and reorganize security screening operations. She introduced architect Alyson Steele of Quinn Evans Architects and landscape architect Claire Bedat of AECOM to present the design.
Ms. Steele thanked the Commission for the advice it has provided in reviewing this complex project. She said that the guardrail system has been simplified and refined, particularly at its transition points at the landings, its connection to the entrance portico, its detailing and fabrication, and its integration with the landscape and plantings. The guardrail itself has been refined to impart a more elegant and contemporary expression than previous iterations; its fabrication has also been further studied with a manufacturer and a structural engineer to clarify technical details. The planting palette has been further developed with Smithsonian Gardens for seasonal color and variation, and the integration of utilities and drainage with the landscape has also been advanced. She said that the project requires onsite infrastructure in order to meet the stormwater management requirements of the D.C. Department of Energy & Environment; two bioretention areas are therefore proposed for installation along the museum's sunken service drive below the ramps, removing a total of eight parking spaces.
Ms. Bedat then presented the design revisions for the benches and railings at the ramps' intermediate landings. The previously proposed curved bench would be replaced with a straight bench set back three feet from the main walkway; this configuration would allow all users, including those with strollers, wheelchairs, and walkers, to be out of the main flow of pedestrian traffic along the ramps. Between the bench and the outer railing, a wrap-around planting bed would contain wax myrtle shrubs. The handrails would be continuous along the entire length of the ramps, although not necessarily behind the planters on the landings, while the guardrail system would be used along the upper runs and behind the planters; she presented four alternatives for configuring the areas where these meet at the intermediate landings. In the first, the handrails would terminate perpendicularly into the guardrail; in the second, the handrails would terminate at a right angle after continuing 16 inches along the guardrail behind the bench; in the third, the handrail would be continuous, running along the guardrail for is entire length up to the portico; the fourth would be a variation of the first, with the guardrail extending further out along on the southern side of the bench and planter area. She said that the project team's preference is the second alternative.
Ms. Bedat described the revisions to the railing design at the upper landings where the ramps meet the museum's existing portico. New slabs of Milford Pink granite would replace some of the existing New Jersey Pink granite to accommodate the new walkways and resulting altered drainage flow. The large rectangular plinths on the portico would be lowered in height and would no longer be illuminated. The transition points between the proposed and existing railing systems at the upper landings, where the ramps meet the historic stylobate of the museum's portico, have also been modified: on the southern side, the guardrail system would end at the portico, and a simple handrail disconnected from the guardrail would continue to the plinth; on the northern side, the guardrail would return at a 90-degree angle and continue to the back wall of the portico.
Ms. Bedat said that the design for the guardrail has been refined; although its appearance is less exuberant than previously presented, it would be lighter and airier, while still having structural rigidity and the branching, three-dimensional formal reference to grass. She described the narrower proportions of the grass-like pickets, which taper as they rise from the base of the guardrail to the three-inch-wide top rail, which would extend horizontally four inches beyond the last picket. As in the previous proposal, some figural grass blades would curve outward to carry the handrail. Three panel types with slightly different patterns would be combined to create the run of the guardrail; the panels would be cast in a white brass alloy of copper, zinc, and other metals called "Tombasil," which supersedes a previous design that had proposed carved panels of stainless steel. She presented a scale model of one of the panels to the Commission.
Ms. Bedat described the proposed nighttime lighting plan. LED lighting would be integrated into the underside of the handrails on the ramps and main entrance stairs to illuminate the walkways; along the ramps, the resulting interplay of light and shadow is intended to accentuate the form of the guardrail and handrail. Lighting would also be integrated into the undersides of the benches on the intermediate ramp landings.
Ms. Bedat said that the new ramp structure would be clad in Lake Placid granite with a thermal finish; the museum's name would be carved into this granite and would be lit by external lamps. She added that the coursing pattern of the granite cladding of the ramp structure is inspired by geological sedimentation. The existing Milford Pink granite curbs, ground-level entry plinths, and entrance stairway would be complimented by new Milford Pink curbing and planter walls that would extend along the sidewalks on Madison Drive. Stainless steel would clad the visible structural posts at the rear of the structure. The ramps would be paved with exposed aggregate cast-in-place concrete, using two aggregate mixes: a lighter area—80 percent river birch pebble accented with 20 percent dark aggregate rose pink quartz—would run down the middle of the walkway; and a darker band—a 50-50 mix of the same stones—would border the lighter aggregate to improve perception of the walkway for people with impaired vision.
Ms. Bedat concluded by describing the proposed diverse planting palette of groundcover, shrubs, and ornamental and shade trees; the fragrant and drought-resistant species would bring colorful seasonal changes and attract pollinating insects. Narrow curved evergreen planting beds would be placed behind the existing large curving benches that frame the monumental entrance stairs, providing a sense of enclosure for the entrance area as well as a separation between the existing and proposed construction.
Mr. Krieger expressed appreciation for the improvements to the design, which he characterized as elegant. He provided suggestions for the refinement of three aspects of the design. First, he observed that the trough between the lower portion of the guardrail pickets and the masonry support walls would collect leaves and other debris, and he recommended revising this detail. Second, he commented that the guardrail pickets appear pleasingly light and thin, but the thicker metal stanchions that curve outward to support the handrail appear heavy in comparison. He said that if this thickness for the stanchions is not structurally necessary, then this problematic appearance should be refined. Third, he commented that transitions between the proposed railing systems are awkward, particularly at the upper landing where the railings meet the historic stylobate of the museum's portico. He suggested either continuing the guardrails on the southern side to terminate directly at the existing pedestals framing the stairs, or returning the guardrails southward at a right angle, mirroring the treatment on the north side of the upper ramps. He added that the railing transitions on the ramps' intermediate landings are less important because they would be obscured by plantings.
Ms. Gilbert supported the simplification of the railings and seating areas on the intermediate landings. She observed that the continuous handrail bisects the guardrail at an alignment that creates the undesirable appearance of an upper fringe of grass and a more orthogonal arrangement below, especially when viewed from a distance. She suggested that extending the branching pattern further down would create a more unified appearance for the guardrail and improve the figural reference to natural grass. Ms. Trowbridge said that in addition to some dimensional constraints on extending the patterning of the guardrail, the D.C. Historic Preservation Office expressed a preference for a simplified orthogonal railing with the naturalistic pattern confined to a limited zone, resulting in the compromise of the presented design. Ms. Gilbert expressed disappointment that this compromise design may not be further refined to achieve the more unified appearance she suggested.
Ms. Meyer asked if the top rail is needed for the guardrail behind the bench and plantings on the intermediate landings. Ms. Bedat responded that the top rail covers a structural member that provides essential stability for the overall guardrail system, making possible the design's ribbon-like appearance without intervening vertical posts. Mr. Krieger added that if the top rails were omitted only behind those planters, the appearance would be that they had accidentally fallen off.
Ms. Meyer commended the evolution of the project, while agreeing with Ms. Gilbert that the design for the guardrail had lost some of its wildness; she attributed this loss to the design review process. She said that the mockup of the guardrail presented to the Commission convinces her of the design's elegance. She agreed with Mr. Krieger that the handrail stanchions could be refined further, perhaps by extending them lower to the base of the guardrail. She observed that the three-dimensional drawings and the planting palette studies do not appear on a single combined drawing, which hampers the study of the color of the plantings relative to the color of the proposed stone and paving materials; she said that this results in a missed design opportunity that is common in many public landscape projects. Commenting that the bright, saturated colors of the proposed plants may clash with the elegance of the paving, railings, and walls and the color of the specified Milford pink granite, she advised preparing three-dimensional drawings of the ramps that document the proposed planting palette shown in all four seasons in order to fully anticipate the visual and color relationships of the plants with the architectural and site elements. As a comparison, she said that the bright pink, purple, and red azaleas currently surrounding the fountain in the rotunda of the National Gallery of Art, although beautiful, also have this unharmonious appearance. She asked if the proposed sweetgum tree would be a fruiting cultivar, commenting that the seed pods would be a nuisance in the wintertime. Ms. Bedat confirmed that it would be a non-fruiting specimen; she reiterated that the planting palette was developed in consultation with Smithsonian Gardens to convey a sense of ecology, and she acknowledged that the landscape design has become less formal than in previous versions. Ms. Meyer said that an ecological approach to the plantings does not foreclose consideration of the color palette.
Chairman Powell commended the evolution and sophistication of the design. In a motion to approve the final design, he suggested including Mr. Krieger's suggestions for further refinements but said that another review by the Commission would not be needed. Secretary Luebke said that the Commission could approve the submission conditional on the staff's review of further revisions of the design details. Ms. Meyer asked that the motion include the comments regarding the plantings. Upon a second by Mr. Krieger, the Commission adopted this action.
C. DC Water
CFA 16/MAR/17-2, Reservations #541 and #577, Kansas Avenue at 2nd and Longfellow Streets, and at 3rd and Ingraham Streets, NW. Two green infrastructure parks—new landscape with green infrastructure. Concept. Mr. Lindstrom introduced a submission from DC Water for a component of its Clean Rivers Project, an initiative that aims to mitigate the effect of stormwater overflow into the city's combined sewer system. The proposal includes designs for green infrastructure at two small triangle parks in the Brightwood neighborhood: Reservation 541 on Kansas Avenue, NW, at Second and Longfellow Streets, and several blocks to the southwest at Reservation 577 on Kansas Avenue at 3rd and Ingraham Streets. He introduced program manager Bethany Bezak from DC Water to present the proposal.
Ms. Bezak said that the DC Clean Rivers Project results from a mandate of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to eliminate sewer overflows in the central third of the District of Columbia, which relies on a combined sewer system that conveys both stormwater and sewage in the same underground pipe. Such overflows into local waterways typically occur only during heavy storms, when untreated water is discharged directly into the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers and Rock Creek; the goal of the Clean Rivers Project is to reduce this discharge by 96 percent across the system. DC Water is currently building large underground storage and conveyance tunnels throughout the city. The EPA has also mandated the installation of green infrastructure, and approximately 35 sites for this work have been identified within the drainage areas, or "sewersheds," for the Potomac River and for Rock Creek; the two sites currently submitted for review are located within the Rock Creek sewershed. She said that green infrastructure refers to mitigation techniques that manage urban stormwater in a manner similar to the performance of natural surfaces that existed before the city was built. Green infrastructure allows some water to evaporate and the rest to infiltrate into the ground through various techniques, including pervious pavement, rain gardens, bioretention, green roofs, and cisterns, reducing the amount of stormwater entering sewers. Green infrastructure would turn these two relatively barren sites into attractively designed parks that could serve as models for the other parks in the drainage area, which would be developed with green infrastructure over the next fifteen years.
Ms. Bezak described the design proposed for the park at Kansas Avenue and 2nd Street. She said that the triangular site, approximately 170 long and 90 feet wide, comprises compacted turf randomly planted with several small young trees and surrounded by narrow sidewalks. The sidewalks currently lack planted parking strips, and pedestrians are therefore forced to walk next to the relatively heavy traffic on Kansas Avenue; the proposal would create buffers between the sidewalks and the roadways. Runoff from road surfaces would be collected through trench drains spaced regularly along the park's edge. Designed to D.C. Department of Transportation standards, the trench drains would direct water into a concrete-edged cobble swale leading to a bioretention area or a rain garden at the south end of the park, which would include a permeable paved walk and a sitting area with a seatwall. Plantings along the curved swale would include native trees, shrubs, and perennial grasses; small boulders partially embedded in the ground would serve as children's play features. The sitting area would open on the north to a larger lawn area that would accommodate more active recreation. In addition, two curb extensions planted as bioretention areas are proposed on both Kansas Avenue and Second Street.
Ms. Bezak said that the second triangle park, at Kansas Avenue and 3rd Street, is similar in size, approximately 150 feet by 90 feet, and similarly has a lawn with several small randomly planted trees; these would be removed and replaced, while existing mature street trees would be preserved if possible. As with the park at 2nd Street, this design would direct most stormwater runoff through trench drains into a concrete-edged cobble channel. The surrounding sidewalks already have planting strips along the streets, providing a buffer for pedestrians. The proposed planting palettes for both parks would comprise mostly native species selected for hardiness and seasonal interest; DC Water will maintain the green infrastructure and other landscape features. She added that the nearby Washington Latin Public Charter School has expressed interest in using the park at Kansas Avenue and 3rd Street as an outdoor classroom.
Ms. Griffin asked if DC Water has consulted with people from the surrounding neighborhoods while developing the proposals, and if so, how their responses have influenced the programming. Ms. Bezak responded that community discussions held over the past two years included a meeting where neighbors were asked to propose features for the parks. Ms. Griffin asked for specific examples of how both designs accommodate the community's requested program; Ms. Bezak responded that the amount of open lawn area in one park has been increased. Ms. Griffin observed that both designs show concrete channels along only Kansas Avenue; she asked if runoff would be captured from all of the surrounding streets. Ms. Bezak responded that the designs include catch basins to direct additional runoff into underground detention cisterns.
Observing that the site plans show much of the two triangles planted with grass, Ms. Meyer instead suggested planting most of the parks as rain gardens or bioretention areas; she expressed concern that the proposed rain gardens are too small. She commended DC Water's decision to treat the parks as prototypes, but she said that a program to provide green infrastructure designs for 35 parks needs to set a goal stating the percentage of each site that will be devoted to a rain garden. While supporting community feedback, she emphasized the importance of scale and of being clear that not every desired program feature can fit onto a quarter-acre site; she noted that both reservations are located near larger parks and other public amenities. She said that designing each park entirely as a rain garden, with most of the green infrastructure above ground, would make the parks incredible places. She recommended planting a canopy of shade trees and an understory of low-level, moisture-loving plants, surrounding a single clearing in the center where people could gather. She said that this approach would create a park that has a sense of place, not just an awkward triangular site crowded with too many small elements. Ms. Bezak responded that the other parks slated for improvement under this program range in size from street medians to these two larger sites, which could accommodate more programming. Ms. Meyer emphasized that these two sites are not large.
Ms. Griffin commented that the triangular shape of these small parks would further limit the amount of useable space; they would more likely be used for small gatherings than for active recreation. Observing that the designs appear to prioritize programming, she agreed with Ms. Meyer that the priority should instead be the creation of a robust green infrastructure, a change in emphasis that could help achieve the larger goals of the program while still creating a neighborhood amenity. Ms. Bezak responded that the regulatory goal for both stormwater management and the Clean Rivers Project is to accommodate the storm standard of 1.2 inches of rain falling on 365 impervious acres, which the proposed designs would achieve, but she agreed that the designs could be stronger.
Ms. Gilbert recommended designing the plantings differently than in a typical triangle park; for example, she said that the cobble channel could be a large, bold element running through the park to a wonderful rain garden. She added that a bolder treatment would also fulfill educational goals: the parks could illustrate how stormwater is managed by bringing the trenches further into the sites and designing plantings that express their function. She agreed with the other Commission members that a single big design move would be better than creating five small gestures with a clearing. She also suggested placing benches directly in the rain gardens instead of on their edges, so that visitors could experience the gardens more fully.
Ms. Meyer emphasized that the entire project presents a great opportunity to reimagine public space in the city as space with an ecological and hydrological purpose. She said that although one- to two-inch rainfalls have been typical for heavy storms in the past, the future storms will likely become more erratic and intense due to climate change. Another result of climate change is that future urban microclimates will be different, altering the definition of a native plant. She said that such considerations underscore the need for these parks to perform ecologically, and she urged DC Water to conceive of these designs in a more visionary way.
Chairman Powell summarized that the Commission has raised important issues, and he encouraged further development of the concept with consideration of the comments provided. He said that the Commission looks forward to the opportunity for further review as the design advances. The discussion concluded without a formal action.
D. District of Columbia Department of Transportation
CFA 16/MAR/17-3, Cleveland Park, 3300 to 3500 blocks of Connecticut Avenue, NW (between Macomb and Porter Streets). Streetscape improvements. Concept. Ms. Batcheler introduced the proposed improvements along both sides of Connecticut Avenue in the three-block-long commercial corridor of the Cleveland Park neighborhood. She summarized the project scope as the reconfiguration of the northernmost intersection at Porter Street; a modification to the north end of the service road that extends along the east side of Connecticut Avenue from Macomb to Ordway Streets; and a new streetscape design throughout the area, encompassing paving, planting areas, street furniture, and stormwater management features. She asked Paul Hoffman of the D.C. Department of Transportation (DDOT) to begin the presentation.
Mr. Hoffman said that his agency is leading the project, and two other agencies are assisting: DC Water for the flood-control components, and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) for modifications related to the escalators and vents of the Cleveland Park Metro station. He recalled the recent history of related projects in this area. A lighting project in 2011 included installation of the traditional Washington globe streetlights. DDOT initiated a Cleveland Park transportation study in 2012, with special focus on whether to retain or remove the service lane along Connecticut Avenue; the strong response from the public was to leave it in place. In 2013, a drainage study of the area examined the sources of flooding and potential improvements; the conclusion was that the area's bowl-like topography, with extensive roofs and paved surfaces, is inherently problematic. Subsequently, flooding of the Metro entrances in June 2016 raised this issue to a high priority, and DDOT quickly reactivated the project to address flooding issues. He said that this concern, along with streetscape upgrades and traffic safety improvements, are the purpose of the current proposal. He introduced landscape architect Oliver Boehm of Volkert, Inc., to present the proposal.
Mr. Boehm described the context of the project, noting the proximity of several stream valley parks: Rock Creek Park to the east, Klingle Valley to the south, and Melvin Hazen Park to the north. The existing configuration of Connecticut Avenue is six lanes. At off-peak times, two lanes of travel are provided in each direction, and the curb lane on each side is used for parking; during peak hours, curb parking is not allowed, and four lanes are available in the primary direction of traffic flow, with two lanes in the opposite direction. The proposal would not alter this arrangement, although some changes to traffic signalization are proposed. He indicated the Metro station entrances and bus stops along this segment of Connecticut Avenue, with additional bus stops along Porter Street and numerous bicycle racks. He noted that the shopping plaza at the northeast corner of Connecticut Avenue and Ordway Street is a historic landmark dating from the 1930s; it is considered to be the first East Coast shopping center that is designed for customers arriving by car. He said that the service lane further south on the avenue's east side, between Macomb and Ordway Streets, was constructed in the 1950s, resulting in narrow sidewalks that are sometimes overflowing with pedestrians. After numerous studies to remove it or reconfigure its parking, which the business community has resisted, the current proposal would make some limited improvements to vehicular flow, pedestrian and barrier-free access, and drainage. He noted the importance of parking to the businesses, and the need to resolve some of the area's pedestrian-vehicular conflicts.
Mr. Boehm described several features along the west side of Connecticut Avenue: a fire station, post office, movie theater, and a branch library that is under construction. He indicated the very wide sidewalk fronting most of the business along the avenue's west side. Mr. Krieger asked how the businesses on the west side are able to attract customers without the service lane and additional parking that are available on the east side; Mr. Boehm responded that businesses do not always survive, and he estimated the retail vacancy rate at approximately five to ten percent. Mr. Krieger asked if the vacancies are skewed to one side of the avenue; Mr. Boehm said that vacancies exist on both sides. Ms. Gilbert noted that additional parking is available in front of the shopping plaza at Ordway Street. Mr. Boehm added that the customer base includes people arriving by Metro, walking from the neighborhood's residential areas, or arriving by car. Mr. Krieger emphasized that additional parking can always seem to be in demand, depending who is asked; citing the apparently satisfactory business environment on the avenue's west side, he said that the service lane on the east side may not actually be as essential as people seem to believe.
Mr. Boehm provided further information on the existing conditions. He indicated fragmentary streetscape elements of bollards, seating, and paving types. WMATA operates the bicycle lockers and racks at the Metro station; subject to ongoing coordination, a more contextual design would be developed for these elements, and changes to the Metro vents in the sidewalk have been submitted previously to the Commission. He said that the planting areas often lack edges, resulting in mulch on the sidewalks and litter among the plants; some existing planter railings and retaining walls provide some stronger spatial definition. He described the strong architectural context with groupings of Colonial Revival and Art Deco buildings. The architectural features of the numerous small retail facades are often obscured by modern storefronts or signage; he said that this project is intended to bring some of that historic architectural character to the streetscape design. The mature street trees help to provide a framework for the street; to the south, the historic bridge over Klingle Valley (designed by Paul Cret) has distinctive Art Deco features such as railings and entrance markers. He noted that a few buildings along the avenue are not considered to be contributing elements of the Cleveland Park Historic District, including the gas station to the north at Porter Street and some of the retail buildings along the service lane.
Mr. Boehm said that an additional source of coordination for the project is the D.C. Mayor's office, as part of the "Vision Zero" initiative to reduce and eventually eliminate traffic accident fatalities. This goal is particularly apparent with the proposed intersection redesign at Ordway Street and Connecticut Avenue. The service lane currently exits northward onto an extended intersection layout, with a separate traffic signal phase that gives a very brief green light for vehicles to exit from the service lane onto northbound Connecticut Avenue. This results in long and awkwardly located crosswalks; parked cars often obscure the sightlines. The proposed design would require vehicles in the service lane to merge onto the main cartway of Connecticut Avenue slightly south of Ordway Street; he presented several alternatives for the location of this merge, showing the resulting effect on the number of parking spaces provided. The northernmost merge would remove four existing spaces; an intermediate location would remove six spaces; and a more southern position for the merge would remove eight spaces. He said that the community residents and businesses prefer the northernmost option.
Mr. Boehm said that generally the sidewalks on each side of the service lane cannot be widened, due to complex below-grade utilities and the minimal width of the existing service lane itself. The proposed streetscape design for this area is therefore focused on new materials and very limited opportunities for increased planting. The service lane would be paved with granite setts; the sidewalk between the service lane and the main cartway of Connecticut Avenue would be porous rubber to support the growth of street trees; and the sidewalk immediately adjacent to the storefronts would be exposed-aggregate concrete. The existing signalized mid-block pedestrian crossing of Connecticut Avenue would remain, and the ramped access to it would be widened. At the southern end of the service lane at Macomb Street, a sidewalk bulb-out would be created to improve pedestrian safety and define more clearly the service lane's entrance. On the west side of Connecticut Avenue, the wider exposed-aggregate sidewalk would be scored to demarcate a special zone alongside the retail facades that could serve as an extension of the retail uses, such as for restaurant tables; a clear walkway zone would also be provided, and streetscape elements such as seating would be located along the boundary between these two zones. He added that the streetscape design in front of the branch library, at the northwest corner of Connecticut Avenue and Macomb Street, is being coordinated with that ongoing construction project. He indicated the existing bicycle-sharing rack that would remain and the proposed bioretention areas.
Mr. Krieger asked about the sporadic placement shown for street trees along the service lane, noting the potential complication of the below-grade utilities. Mr. Boehm said that they were evenly spaced when planted, but some have died and others are in poor condition; replacement trees would be planted where feasible.
Mr. Boehm said that the proposed use of granite is intended as a reference to the quarry that had existed in this area until 1890; its stone was used for the construction of many early local buildings. The proposed granite would have a similar texture to the granite from the historic quarry; he provided samples of each for the Commission's inspection, contrasting them with a dissimilar sample of the granite that is now more typically used in Washington. He said that the project team has been working with the local Tregaron Conservancy to better understand the geology of the area and to obtain samples of granite from the historic quarry. He indicated the markings of drill holes on the granite that result from the historic quarrying process; he said that these would be incorporated into the granite for this project to provide a visible connection to the historic quarrying process, allowing passers-by to understand the area's past prior to the extension of Connecticut Avenue through Cleveland Park. He presented photographs of granite sculptures and special bollard treatments, in Washington and elsewhere, that could be used as inspiration for further developing the streetscape elements of this design concept. He said that the bollards, to be located for pedestrian safety adjacent to driveways and the service lane, could be designed with differing textures of granite and could have an Art Deco character where appropriate to the immediate context; the bollard design could also include ceramic tiles and textured steel.
Mr. Boehm presented the proposed changes in the northernmost block, focusing on alterations on the east side of Connecticut Avenue near Porter Street. The gas station's northernmost driveway along Connecticut Avenue would be eliminated, improving access through this area for pedestrians. The Quebec Street lanes leading into this intersection would be reconfigured so that Quebec Street intersects Porter Street entirely to the east of Connecticut Avenue; as a result, a small triangular traffic island would be combined with the nearby sidewalk to create a more generous pedestrian plaza, accommodating a bicycle-sharing rack, seating, and a more conveniently located bus stop with safer pedestrian access. The plaza would also include bioretention areas for stormwater runoff from Quebec Street. He said that the vehicular circulation pattern would be improved, and the cartway would be narrowed as a traffic-calming measure.
Mr. Boehm said that the street furnishings could be one of the standard DDOT designs, either contemporary or traditional, or could have a unique design that responds to the special context of this area. He said that the solution may be to use standard DDOT benches along with granite seating that relates to the local history of quarries, comparable to the designs being developed for the bollards. Granite could also be used for the edging of the depressed bioretention areas, instead of the more typical concrete edging; the granite could include quarry markings and a rough natural-looking texture as references to the area's history prior to the presence of Connecticut Avenue.
Mr. Boehm concluded with the project schedule, indicating the ongoing sequence of reviews and public meetings; the submission of a final design for the Commission's review is anticipated for November 2017.
Ms. Meyer asked how the proposal addresses the problem of drainage and flooding, noting that this was described as an important design consideration. Mr. Boehm responded that a major constraint for any bioretention strategy is the Metro station and tunnel beneath Connecticut Avenue; the bioretention areas are therefore generally proposed to be slightly away from the avenue. Mr. Hoffman added that any bioretention areas above the Metro facilities are essentially just temporary water storage spaces—small and very expensive—that overflow into the sewer system. He said that stormwater issues can be more effectively addressed in the nearby alleys. Ms. Meyer asked if the Commission is being asked simply to ignore the flooding issue; Mr. Hoffman emphasized that it is being addressed, but much of the stormwater infrastructure is not immediately along the avenue, and he said that the presentation has omitted the infrastructure in the nearby alleys. Ms. Meyer said that this alleviates her concern that the presented design differs markedly from the stated goals for the project. Mr. Hoffman added that a project addressing only drainage would be politically infeasible: the community and the D.C. Council have advocated for streetscape improvements in conjunction with any stormwater management project.
Ms. Griffin commented that the presentation has included a series of options but not a strong design direction; she said that the larger conceptual approach to the project is unclear, and a coherent design has not yet emerged. She questioned the effort to relate the design to the early history of the quarry in the area; she said that a more compelling design inspiration is the existing architectural context that developed in later decades. She described the proposed quarry-related streetscape elements as being somewhat in conflict with the present-day context.
Mr. Dunson commented that the decision to retain the existing service lane has been critical in defining the difficult design challenge for this project. He observed that the east side of Connecticut Avenue has more pedestrians, more vehicles, and more shops and restaurants, yet it has narrower sidewalks and more potential conflicts; in contrast, the western side has the more generous sidewalk space. He acknowledged that this disparity will remain. He suggested consideration of extending the granite setts beyond the service lane, perhaps using them for the entire width of the avenue's cartway from Macomb Street to Porter Street in order to calm the traffic. He encouraged further development of the initial design ideas for the streetscape elements, and he said that sufficient traffic calming would allow pedestrians to be able to enjoy the spaces that are being designed. He suggested that more of the streetscape elements be included within the sidewalk space on the west side of the avenue, where ample space is available to develop the project's educational goals. He said that the improvements to the area would be welcome, particularly in clarifying the intersection of Porter and Quebec Streets with Connecticut Avenue.
Mr. Dunson asked if an alternative to eliminate the service lane has been presented to local residents and business-owners. Mr. Boehm responded that the study several years ago had shown various options for the service lane, such as converting it to angled parking or shared-use space, but the outcome after much controversy was to keep the service lane; he said that the current project is not intended to reopen this issue. Mr. Dunson emphasized the unresolved problem of the narrow sidewalk on the east side, resulting in pedestrians spilling out into the service lane. Ms. Gilbert observed that an additional problem with this sidewalk is the lack of shade. Mr. Boehm said that one alternative under consideration was to raise the service lane to align with the sidewalk level, but this proved to be problematic, requiring bollards or other barriers along the entire length of the service lane.
Mr. Krieger summarized that the Commission members would generally prefer to have the service lane eliminated. If it must stay, then a reasonable design approach is to provide a paving surface that is strongly differentiated from the sidewalk, as described in the presentation; he said that the proposed rougher surface for the travel lane would serve to slow down cars. He said that bollards might be useful in managing the movement of people and cars, but he questioned whether designing them to recall the historic quarry might be too "kitschy." He expressed support for the proposed roadway reconfiguration at Porter Street, describing the design for this area as a substantial improvement. He offered overall encouragement for the development of the design, and he suggested that the designers choose a clear preference among the alternatives, as suggested by Ms. Griffin.
Ms. Gilbert commented that the enlarged sidewalk area at the southeast corner of Connecticut Avenue and Ordway Street, created from the proposed realignment of the service lane's north end, could be an opportunity for a shade structure. She observed that the presented design shows a large paved area at this location. She suggested that the proposed safety barrier of bollards could instead be provided by a larger feature that provides shade for people waiting to cross the street; she added that the intended artistic treatment of the bollards would be largely unnoticed at such a low height. She said that seating within the shaded area would also be a welcome amenity.
Ms. Meyer supported the guidance to develop a stronger sense of the desired character for this area, rather than simply present a range of options. She said that designers over the past century have had enough confidence to design with their own voice and character, resulting in the existing context of Colonial Revival and Art Deco architecture. She said that the current design approach could be to somehow blend these precedents, or to create a consistent new character that is of our own time. She described the presented concept as having an ad hoc appearance, and she suggested that its further development could go in many directions. She encouraged the project team to take a stand on the intended character.
Ms. Meyer encouraged further consideration of the comments on using the granite paving to slow traffic; for example, additional use of granite paving may reduce the need for safety bollards. She said that granite could also be used for other details, such as the demarcation between the retail zone and walkway zone on the west sidewalk—instead of the proposed use of brick for the divider, which she said does not seem integrated with the overall design. She emphasized the special character of this area of Washington, which she has known for many decades, and the importance of ensuring that any changes are for the better.
Ms. Meyer said that the sidewalk space on the east side of Connecticut Avenue would greatly benefit from adequate summer shade. She suggested that the project team convey to the community that removal of a few parking spaces would allow for more generous planting beds and therefore healthier trees that provide more shade. Additional soil volume could also be located underneath structured pavement; she said that technical solutions are available for structured soil that would prevent excessive compacting of tree roots.
Ms. Gilbert suggested that the parking spaces along the service lane be regulated for short-term parking, such as a fifteen-minute limit for quick errands at the retail stores, or for handicapped parking, while longer-term parking would be available in the larger parking lots; this change might reduce the extent of public controversy over the possible removal of a relatively small number of parking spaces. Mr. Powell noted the prevalence of restaurants in this area; Ms. Gilbert emphasized the proximity of a larger parking lot.
Mr. Dunson reiterated the suggestion to use granite setts across the avenue cartway, which he said would make a strong statement by unifying the east and west sides. He acknowledged the contrast of this design approach with the current emphasis on treating Connecticut Avenue as a fast thoroughfare between downtown Washington and outlying neighborhoods, but he said that a unifying treatment would help to bring the community together and reinforce the special character of this area. He noted the comparable treatment of 4th Street, NW, between the two buildings of the National Gallery of Art; Mr. Powell said that this special paving treatment on 4th Street has been successful.
Ms. Gilbert observed that the proposed sidewalk bulb-outs at each end of the service lane could be developed as green areas that serve as entry and exit gates for the lane, having the effect of slowing traffic. Mr. Dunson suggested that special nodes be defined at multiple locations along the streetscape, perhaps in conjunction with adjusting the crosswalks to provide shorter, more direct crossings for pedestrians; he acknowledged the safety concerns of the crosswalks but said that pedestrians tend to take shorter routes anyway. Mr. Krieger observed that the design already includes raised speed tables, and these pedestrian crossings could instead be defined by special paving such as granite; Ms. Meyer agreed. Mr. Krieger said that the prevailing use of granite could then be defined as special paving in various locations along the horizontal plane, but not as a vertical element.
Chairman Powell summarized that the Commission has provided extensive comments at this early stage of the project, with the potential to develop a very good design. He said that the Commission looks forward to the opportunity for further review at the concept stage. The discussion concluded without a formal action.
At this point, the Commission departed from the order of the agenda to consider items II.F.1 and II.F.2.
F. United States Mint
Mr. Simon introduced the submissions for a non-circulating palladium bullion coin and for five medals honoring the U.S. armed forces involved in World War I. He provided the Commission members with a sample of a previously issued medal for Boys Town, which he said is comparable in size to the proposed coin and medals. He asked April Stafford of the U.S. Mint to present the design alternatives. Ms. Stafford conveyed the Mint's appreciation for the recent assistance of three Commission members—Ms. Meyer, Mr. Dunson, and Ms. Gilbert—in serving on the design jury for a forthcoming coin commemorating breast cancer awareness.
1. CFA 16/MAR/17-4, 2017 American Eagle Palladium Bullion Coin. Design for obverse and reverse. Final. Ms. Stafford summarized the recent legislation authorizing the issuance of one-ounce palladium bullion coins. She said that these coins will be part of the Mint's broader program of bullion coins with the American Eagle theme, already including gold, silver, and platinum coins. She said that design guidance for this coin is specified by legislation: on the obverse, a high-relief facsimile of Adolph A. Weinman's 1916 design for the Winged Liberty Head obverse of the Mercury dime; and on the reverse, a high-relief version of Weinman's eagle design from 1907 for the reverse of the American Institute of Architects gold medal. She indicated the proposed modern-day inscriptions, including the minting year of 2017. She said that the American Institute of Architects, which had commissioned Weinman to create the design for its gold medal, has provided the Mint with access to archival materials, including the original fourteen-inch-diameter plaster model and an early example of the medal that was struck in 1907; the Mint's technicians have used these resources in developing the current proposal. Secretary Luebke noted that Weinman was a member of the Commission of Fine Arts from 1929 to 1933.
Chairman Powell suggested supporting the single proposed alternatives for the obverse and reverse. He asked for clarification of the allegorical portrayal of Liberty on the obverse; Ms. Stafford responded that she is shown wearing a liberty cap. Ms. Gilbert described the proposal as stunning and beautiful. Upon a motion by Mr. Powell with second by Mr. Dunson, the Commission approved the proposed obverse and reverse designs.
2. CFA 16/MAR/17-5, 2018 World War I Armed Forces Silver Medals. Designs for five medals. Final. Ms. Stafford said that the five silver medals will complement the World War I American Veterans Centennial Silver Dollar, which will be minted in 2018, and the medals will have the same size as the coin. Each medal is intended to represent the contributions of a military branch during this war. She said that the Mint has worked closely with historians and other experts, as recommended by the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission, in developing the concepts for the medal designs and in reviewing them for historical and technical accuracy. She said that the Mint sought a relationship among the medals by encouraging the artists to use inscriptions such as "Over There!" and "Centennial of World War I," along with the year 2018 and the name of the military branch. Due to the flexibility given to the artists in selecting inscriptions and placing them on the obverse or reverse, she said that the selected pairings may require further adjustments to the inscriptions.
United States Army
Ms. Stafford presented six alternatives for the obverse and eight alternatives for the reverse of the medal. Ms. Meyer supported obverse #6 as an elegant design that conveys the experience of trench warfare; she added that her reaction is based on the visual character of the designs as well as the stories of World War I told by her grandfather. Mr. Powell supported obverse #6 and also suggested obverse #1 as an interesting design; Mr. Dunson agreed that both of these alternatives have merit. Ms. Gilbert supported obverse #6, commenting that its interest derives from its provocative modern composition that is used to depict a typical wartime scene; she cited the well-organized placement of the inscriptions along the perimeter, the vivid depiction of the cutting of barbed wire, and the large-sized depictions of the soldiers resulting in a very legible design.
For the reverse, Mr. Powell observed that alternatives #3 and #8 both depict the Army emblem, and he asked if any distinction is intended. Ms. Stafford confirmed that these alternatives are just differently rendered by different artists, and she noted that the military emblems that appear in some alternatives for each of the medals are those that were used at the time of World War I. She said that the Commission could generally support the use of the emblem for the Army reverse, or express a preference for the rendering in a specific alternative. Secretary Luebke suggested that a military emblem could be selected for the reverse of each medal, consistent with a traditional heads-and-tails differentiation and avoiding the potential confusion of having a battle-related scene on both sides of a medal.
Mr. Krieger commented that obverse #6 may be confusing because the soldier's action of cutting the barbed wire is difficult to understand. He suggested reverse #5 as a preferable battle scene, perhaps to be paired with obverse #6; Ms. Meyer observed that these two designs may be by the same artist. She suggested postponing a decision on this medal until after the presentation of design alternatives for the other medals, in order to evaluate whether a consistent selection of military emblems for the reverse of each medal would be desirable. Ms. Gilbert and Mr. Powell agreed that the Commission should consider this consistent approach to the reverse designs; Ms. Meyer added that this thematic treatment would also serve to differentiate the medals. Mr. Luebke said that the Commission could suggest using reverse alternative #5 as the obverse design.
Ms. Gilbert questioned the proportions of the eagle in the emblem as depicted in reverse alternatives #3 and #8, commenting that the eagle's head appears too small in proportion to the wings. Ms. Stafford emphasized that the emblem is based on historic images provided by the consulting experts. Ms. Gilbert said that reverse #3 is the better depiction of the emblem; Ms. Meyer and Mr. Powell agreed.
Chairman Powell summarized the consensus of the Commission to recommend obverse #6 and reverse #3 for the Army medal. Upon a second by Ms. Meyer, the Commission adopted this action.
United States Navy
Ms. Stafford presented three alternatives for the obverse and three alternatives for the reverse of the medal. Ms. Gilbert suggested obverse #2; Ms. Griffin commented that the ship appears to be sinking. Mr. Powell agreed to support obverse #2, and he recommended reverse #3 depicting the Navy emblem. Ms. Gilbert said that the eagle in the emblem looks cramped and oddly squat; Ms. Stafford confirmed that this is the historical image of the emblem from the World War I era.
Chairman Powell summarized the consensus for obverse #2 and reverse #3. Ms. Meyer observed that the fonts for this obverse and reverse pairing should be reconsidered to be more harmonious; Ms. Stafford confirmed that the Mint's sculptors could address this concern. Upon a motion by Ms. Gilbert, the Commission recommended obverse #2 and reverse #3 for the Navy medal.
Air Service, American Expeditionary Forces
Ms. Stafford presented eight alternatives for the obverse and eight alternatives for the reverse of the medal. Ms. Meyer singled out reverse #6—an overlay of top and side views of an historic airplane—as especially beautiful; Ms. Gilbert agreed. Ms. Meyer suggested that the Commission consider which obverse alternative would best be paired with reverse #6; Ms. Gilbert said that the choice of an appropriate obverse may be difficult. Chairman Powell noted the Commission's intention to recommend each military branch's emblem for the reverse; on this medal, the appropriate choice would be the winged aviator insignia of reverse #8. He therefore suggested using reverse #6 as the medal's obverse, paired with reverse #8. Ms. Meyer and Ms. Gilbert observed that the reverse #8 is a very sparse composition, with only the aviator insignia on a textured field; they suggested further embellishment of this reverse design, such as by inclusion of some of the medal's text. Mr. Powell agreed that this revision would be beneficial.
Ms. Griffin offered support for reverse #2, citing its composition with an eagle and airplane, and particularly the artistry of the depiction of the eagle. Ms. Gilbert agreed that this design is beautiful, with the eagle's wings extending along much of the medal's circumference. Ms. Meyer acknowledged the beauty of reverse #2 but did not support it because the eagle is too powerful within the design; she said that the medal's emphasis should instead be on airplanes. Mr. Krieger agreed that the eagle is too dominant. He suggested that the Commission continue the theme of using a military emblem on the reverse; the other Commission members agreed. Ms. Gilbert asked about the text "SPAD XIII" on reverse #6; Ms. Stafford responded that this identifies the type of plane depicted.
Upon a motion by Ms. Meyer with second by Mr. Krieger, the Commission recommended reverse #6 for the obverse, along with reverse #8 for the reverse, with the request to place some of the medal's text on the reverse to be consistent with other medals in this set.
United States Marine Corps
Ms. Stafford presented eight alternatives for the obverse and six alternatives for the reverse of the medal. Mr. Powell asked about the text "Battle of Belleau Wood" on some of the alternatives. Ms. Stafford responded that all of the battle scenes are based on the Battle of Belleau Wood, one of the most intense and significant battles that the Marines fought during World War I. Some designs depict the first part of the battle, when the Marines had to move across an open wheat field under fire in order to reach the woods. She added that the text on some reverse designs—"Woods Now U.S. Marine Corps Entirely"—is taken from a message sent from the battlefield to the military headquarters at the end of the battle.
Ms. Meyer and Mr. Powell supported reverse #4 or #6 for consistency in using the military emblem. Ms. Gilbert suggested superimposing the emblem on the background of reverse #1, a silhouette representation of the woods; the obverse could then depict the early part of the battle in the wheat field, while the reverse would show the arrival of the Marines in the woods. Ms. Stafford noted that reverse #1 already includes a small version of the Marine Corps insignia, which has an intertwined eagle, globe, and anchor. Ms. Gilbert said that the revision could therefore be to remove the depiction of the Marines and some of the text in this design, while enlarging the emblem to be comparable to the reverses of the other medals. Mr. Krieger observed that this would result in a very different design; Ms. Gilbert emphasized the goal of portraying the wheat field on the obverse and the forest on the reverse.
Mr. Krieger supported obverse #1 as the best of the alternatives depicting the battle; Ms. Meyer and Mr. Powell agreed. Ms. Gilbert recommended careful detailing of this design so that the foliage is clearly legible as wheat, not merely tall grass. Ms. Meyer added that the presented design has the appearance of privet, which Ms. Gilbert said could give the impression that the Marines are caught in a hedge. Don Everhart, a sculptor-engraver with the Mint, responded that the heads of the wheat plants would be large enough on the medal to allow for extensive detail. Mr. Powell suggested continuing the theme of featuring the military emblem on the reverse; Mr. Krieger recommended reverse #6 because the eagle is slightly larger than on reverse #4. He suggested rebalancing the text between the obverse and reverse, as with the other medals; Mr. Dunson agreed that the designs should be consistent. Ms. Gilbert observed that the selected pairing would not include the phrase "Battle of Belleau Wood," and Ms. Griffin said that the truncated Marine Corps motto, "Semper Fi," is on some alternatives but not in this pairing. Mr. Powell suggested removing "Over There!" from obverse #1, and instead substituting "Battle of Belleau Wood." Ms. Gilbert recommended moving the text "2018 – Centennial of World War I" from obverse #1 to reverse #4, and in its place adding "Battle of Belleau Wood" on the obverse. Mr. Powell supported this solution. Upon a motion by Ms. Gilbert with second by Ms. Meyer, the Commission recommended obverse #1 and reverse #4, with the suggested moving of text, for the Marine Corps medal.
United States Coast Guard
Ms. Stafford presented six alternatives for the obverse and six alternatives for the reverse of the medal. Mr. Krieger suggested the Coast Guard emblem of reverse #4 as the appropriate choice in the context of this set of medals. For the obverse, he supported alternative #2; Ms. Meyer and Mr. Dunson agreed. Mr. Powell commented that obverse #4 gives the appearance of the ship being abandoned. Ms. Gilbert asked if obverse #2 could be adjusted to show more water; Ms. Meyer and Mr. Powell said that this may not be the best motif for the Coast Guard, which stays closer to the shore. Ms. Gilbert supported the composition of obverse #2, citing the staggered base lines at the lower left and lower right on each side of the small Coast Guard emblem. Mr. Luebke observed that the recommended pairing would include this emblem on both the obverse and reverse. Ms. Meyer suggested removing the emblem from obverse #2; Mr. Powell observed that this would allow for a more extensive depiction of water. Mr. Krieger emphasized the importance of this obverse design's composition, and he suggested that some design element occupy the position of the emblem; Ms. Gilbert agreed, and Mr. Dunson likened its visual importance to a turret on a building. Mr. Everhart suggested a compass to replace the seal; Ms. Meyer supported this change, and Ms. Gilbert said that a compass would be consistent with the design's scene of binoculars being used as part of the coastal mission.
Upon a motion by Ms. Gilbert with second by Mr. Powell, the Commission recommended obverse #2 with the substitution of a compass for the Coast Guard emblem, along with reverse #4 featuring the emblem.
At this point, the Commission returned to agenda item II.E.
E. D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs—Shipstead-Luce Act
SL 17-044, 4672 and 4674 Broad Branch Road, NW (south of Davenport Street), Lots 0106 and 0107 in Square 2258. New single-family residences. Concept. Ms. Batcheler introduced the proposal for two new single-family residences at 4672 and 4674 Broad Branch Road, NW, designed by KC/DC Architects. She noted that no one from the project team is present at the meeting, despite the staff's notification of the agenda listing. In the absence of a project representative, the Commission members considered the available material and identified issues that the staff could ask to be addressed in a future concept presentation.
Ms. Batcheler said that these properties are within the Commission's Shipstead-Luce Act jurisdiction because of their location on the edge of Rock Creek Park. She said that the staff usually consults with the National Park Service staff for projects along this road, and an interest of the National Park Service is avoiding disturbance to the park from lights shining across the valley. Secretary Luebke added that under the Shipstead-Luce Act, the Commission can comment on any aspect of design, including the project's impact on character of the park's landscape edge. The potential effect of the two houses would depend on variables including their size, the amount of glass, and the treatment of their landscapes.
Ms. Batcheler said that the two steeply sloping sites had been subdivided from a single larger lot. Both sites are slightly larger than a quarter acre, and each house would be large, approximately 7,500 square feet in total floor area. Typical for this stretch of Broad Branch Road, both houses would be placed high on the ridge along the road; they would have Broad Branch addresses but would be accessed on the uphill side from the cul-de-sac of Chesterfield Place, NW. The site plan shows two separate driveways for the two lots.
The Commission members agreed that greater clarity is needed concerning grade changes and dimensions, including locations of proposed side and rear setbacks. They requested more information on D.C. regulatory restrictions for lot coverage and tree removal, along with a site model, renderings from different vantage points in the park, and cross-sections through the properties to the park. Ms. Gilbert and Mr. Dunson cited the importance of protecting the wooded corridor along Broach Branch Road, including consideration of the impacts that will be created by the D.C. Department of Transportation's previously presented widening of the road. Ms. Meyer said that the proposed treatment of the windows may allow too much interior light to be visible from within the park, while the fenestration could be carefully designed to decrease the light spill. Ms. Griffin emphasized that the Commission should avoid implying opposition to the use of modern architectural styles and should instead clearly define the elements that would be disruptive to the setting.
Mr. Dunson said that a broad design issue is to address the transition between the sylvan character of the park and the suburban character of the neighborhood. The Commission members expressed concern that the two large houses would be placed too close together, and that their combined footprint may be too large for the overall site; the result may be to give the appearance of one very long structure and to obstruct the sense of the forest extending up the slope. They also commented that the proposal to build two separate driveways instead of a single shared driveway may require an excessive amount of paving.
Mr. Luebke said that the staff will ask the project team to provide supplemental information and to make a request that this concept submission be held open. The discussion concluded without a formal action.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 2:04 p.m.
Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA