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 10:03 a.m.
Hon. Earl A. Powell, Chairman
Hon. Elizabeth Meyer, Vice Chairman
Hon. Edward Dunson
Hon. Alex Krieger
Thomas E. Luebke, Secretary
Frederick J. Lindstrom, Assistant Secretary
A. Approval of the minutes of the 18 May meeting. Secretary Luebke reported that the minutes of the May 2017 meeting were circulated to the Commission members in advance. He said that the staff has made minor corrections but has not received any requests for substantial changes. Chairman Powell suggested approval of the minutes; upon a second by Mr. Krieger, the Commission adopted this action.
B. Dates of next meetings. Mr. Luebke presented the dates for upcoming Commission meetings, as previously published: 20 July, 20 September, and 19 October 2017. He noted that the September date is on a Wednesday to avoid conflict with a religious holiday on Thursday, 21 September; he also noted that no meeting is scheduled in August.
C. Reappointment of Richard Williams, FAIA, to the Old Georgetown Board. Mr. Luebke asked the Commission to approve the reappointment of Richard Williams to the Old Georgetown Board for a second three-year term from September 2017 through July 2020. He summarized Mr. Williams' background as founder of a design practice with institutional and residential projects; the firm's past clients include the Center for Hellenic Studies, Dumbarton Oaks, St. Albans School, and the Washington National Cathedral. He noted that the firm's work has been featured in architectural publications and has won professional awards in architecture and landscape architecture. Upon a motion by Mr. Powell with second by Mr. Krieger, the Commission approved an additional three-year term for Mr. Williams.
D. Elect three Commission members to serve on the design competition jury for the 2019 Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Obverse Design Competition. Mr. Luebke asked the Commission to select three participants in the design competition jury for the single common obverse of the Apollo 11 commemorative coin series. The first phase of judging for all entries will occur in July, and the selected finalists will move forward to a second phase of judging on 20 October, the day following the Commission's October meeting. The jury is to include three Commission members—with the option of substituting one staff member—and three members of the Mint's Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee. He noted that Mr. Dunson has expressed interest in serving on this jury, and Mr. Lindstrom could serve as the staff representative; he asked if Ms. Gilbert could be considered for the remaining jury position, although she is not present at today's meeting. Chairman Powell said that she has expressed interest and could be named as the third juror from the Commission. Mr. Luebke suggested designating an alternate in case Ms. Gilbert is unable to serve; Chairman Powell agreed to be the alternate. Upon his motion, with second by Ms. Meyer, the Commission elected Mr. Dunson and Ms. Gilbert, along with Mr. Lindstrom from the staff, to serve on the Mint's jury, with Chairman Powell to be available as an alternate if needed. (See agenda item II.F.3 for the selection of the common reverse for this coin series.)
E. Report on the approval of objects proposed for acquisition by the Freer Gallery of Art. Mr. Luebke reported Chairman Powell's approval earlier in the morning of the Smithsonian Institution's purchase of a set of four Japanese bottles for the permanent collection of the Freer Gallery of Art. He said that these wine bottles with lids date from the late seventeenth century, during Japan's Edo period; they are made of porcelain with floral-motif colored enamels over clear glaze. Chairman Powell emphasized the beauty of these bottles and said that the reopening of the Freer Gallery, anticipated for fall 2017, will provide the opportunity to see them.
F. Report on the pre-meeting site inspection. Mr. Luebke noted the Commission's inspection earlier in the morning of an on-site mockup of masonry alternatives for the recladding of the Smithsonian's National Air & Space Museum, as a follow-up to the Commission's previous review of the renovation in June 2016 and inspection of materials in April 2017. Chairman Powell said that the mockup inspection was interesting and productive; he suggested providing the Commission's comments in conjunction with the review later on the agenda (item II.C).
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. One action previously delegated to the staff has been added as an attachment: approval of the final design documentation and materials for access ramps at the Mall entrance to the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. He said that this submission responds to the Commission's recommendations from the previous review in March 2017. Upon a motion by Mr. Powell with second by Mr. Krieger, the Commission approved the Government Submissions Consent Calendar.
Appendix II – Shipstead-Luce Act Submissions: Ms. Batcheler reported that one project has been removed from the draft appendix and will be considered in a future month. Other changes are limited to minor wording adjustments and noting the receipt of supplemental materials. Upon a motion by Ms. Meyer, the Commission approved the revised Shipstead-Luce Act appendix.
Appendix III – Old Georgetown Act Submissions: Mr. Mellon reported that one project has been removed from the draft appendix for consideration in a future month. This change reduces the number of cases on the appendix from 26 to 25. Upon a motion by Mr. Krieger, the Commission approved the revised Old Georgetown Act appendix.
B. National Park Service
1. CFA 15/JUN/17-1, World War II Memorial, West Potomac Park, 17th Street and Independence Avenue, SW. Install plaque with President Franklin D. Roosevelt's D-Day prayer. Revised concept. (Previous: CFA 17/NOV/16-2.) Secretary Luebke introduced the revised concept design for the proposed Franklin D. Roosevelt D-Day prayer plaque at the World War II Memorial in West Potomac Park, submitted by the National Park Service (NPS) in cooperation with the Friends of the National World War II Memorial. He summarized the Commission's previous review in November 2016, when two concept options for the plaque were presented, both of which included reconfiguration of the memorial's existing Circle of Remembrance. The Commission had supported the option that treated the plaque as an extension of the site's circular geometry and had recommended that the design should reconceive the circle while reinforcing its contemplative purpose. He said that the current submission again includes two options: in the first, the bronze prayer plaque is treated as a freestanding element within the site's outer circle; in the second, the plaque would be an extension of a spiraling perimeter wall in a more integrated configuration. New plantings are proposed in both options. He asked Peter May, the NPS's associate regional director for lands and planning, to begin the presentation; Mr. May introduced landscape architect Sheila Brady of Oehme, van Sweden & Associates to present the design.
Ms. Brady described in more detail the Commission's comments from the previous review. The Commission had recommended greater flexibility in the treatment of the circle's design elements, such as an asymmetrical configuration of the entrance paths; inserting gaps within the perimeter stone bench or sculpting the shape of this bench; further study of the bronze panels of the plaque in relation to the circle; and designing details to relate to the World War II Memorial rather than to Constitution Gardens.
Ms. Brady said that both of the currently proposed options would maintain a view of the memorial's central area from the Circle of Remembrance. In Scheme A—developed in response to a request from the NPS—the prayer plaque would be treated as a freestanding element, supported by stone piers and integrated with the stone perimeter wall. Low plantings beneath the plaque would make the installation appear lighter than the original design's low granite slab. Gaps in the perimeter wall and bench would make these elements also appear lighter and more sculptural. Both the circle and plaque would have barrier-free access, with the plaque set at a height of 36 inches so that its text could be easily read by visitors either standing or sitting in a wheelchair. The symmetrical layout of the circle would be similar to its existing configuration.
Ms. Brady said that Scheme B was developed in response to a study of the likely circulation pattern within the circle resulting from the addition of the plaque, which identified a potential conflict between visitors entering the circle and visitors standing in front of the plaque. Scheme B therefore proposes moving the plaque slightly to one side while maintaining its central location within the viewshed; this shift would allow visitors the choice of walking within the circle, sitting on the perimeter benches, or reading the prayer. She said that Scheme B integrates the bronze plaque with the stone wall by sculpting the plaque as a sweeping shape that would mimic the form of the cantilevered seat wall; the forms of both wall and plaque are based on the image of raindrops falling into a pool of water. The wall would rise from 18 to 36 inches in height, and views would still be oriented to the center of the World War II Memorial. The paving of the ground plane would be textured in a pattern inspired by the textures of sand on a beach in order to break up the granite field and to indicate different areas of use. She said that the plaque's design is still in its early stages; the project team has discussed the proposed warped bronze form with metal fabricators, who have expressed confidence that it would be feasible.
Ms. Brady described the proposed materials and plantings, which would be similar for both schemes. Proposed materials include the warm gray granite used in the existing circle; the bench may use stone of a different color or be finished in a different texture. Both options would use bronze for the plaque, a reference to the bronze used elsewhere at the World War II Memorial. For the planting, existing trees would remain, and multi-stemmed trees such as Amelanchier would be planted around the circle. A low groundcover is proposed, along with white-flowering seasonal bulbs and perhaps additional shrubs.
Chairman Powell thanked Ms. Brady and invited comments from the Commission members. Mr. Krieger asked if the design team prefers one of the schemes, observing that the presentation suggested a preference for Scheme B. Ms. Brady responded that the project has two clients, the NPS and the Friends of the National World War II Memorial, which has required preparation of two viable design ideas; she acknowledged that the design team prefers Scheme B.
Mr. Dunson commented favorably on the configuration of Scheme A, which clearly organizes the location of the plaque, where visitors can sit, and where visitors can see the view of the memorial. He observed that such clarity is absent from Scheme B, which nonetheless is more innovative and distinct from the symmetrical design of the World War II Memorial. Ms. Brady responded that both schemes would be the same size as the existing Circle of Remembrance, would use materials similar to those used elsewhere in the memorial, and would place the prayer in the same location to reinforce views to the memorial. She noted the Commission's previous comment that the new design does not have to replicate the existing Circle of Remembrance.
Mr. Dunson said that on balance, he prefers Scheme B because it would resolve the circulation conflict between people entering the circle and people standing near the entrance path to read the plaque and look at the view. The rotated and repositioned Circle of Remembrance in Scheme B would place the prayer to one side of the view, reducing the circulation conflict among visitors by allowing for both a clear entrance and a quiet viewing space. He observed that the two entrance points in Scheme A would constrict the viewing area for the plaque, while Scheme B would allow a more separate viewing area.
Ms. Meyer suggested focusing on an area plan illustrating the options in the spatial context of both the World War II Memorial and Constitution Gardens. She commented that the space within the Circle of Remembrance appears more compelling in Scheme B than in Scheme A, which seems simply to mimic the memorial's main space by using an axial layout. However, the Circle of Remembrance does not lie on the Mall's central axis, and she said that its symmetry would therefore not have the same significance as that of the memorial's main space. She added that Scheme B would resolve the conflicts between circulation and viewing the plaque, and she recommended approval of Scheme B. She observed that its design of the circle's ground plane has not been as fully developed as the designs for the wall, bench, and plaque, commenting that the paving's linear field pattern may not be appropriate. She also commented that the entrance walk seems excessively wide—the same width as the main walk even though it was not likely to have the same number of people—and she said that a narrower entrance walk would be better for the design's hierarchy.
Mr. Krieger commented that he finds the absence of openings in the seat wall of Scheme B to be problematic; he recommended including gaps to break up the continuous wall. He observed that Scheme B is the less obvious and more interesting solution, although he asked whether the unusual form of the plaque would be more prominent than the inscription. He described the plaque in Scheme A as a simple shape that simply presents the prayer, in contrast to the contrived and eccentric form on which the text is placed in Scheme B. Secretary Luebke noted that the staff has raised the potential for problems in Scheme B with the plaque design, conceived as a seamless metal form with converging warped surfaces. Mr. Krieger observed that much of the shaped surface would not have any text. Ms. Brady reiterated that the metal fabricators have said the shape could be produced. She added that the shape is an attempt to integrate the prayer into the larger form of the wall so it would be a constituent part of the contemplative experience of the circle instead of a separate focus.
Ms. Meyer observed that Scheme B would display the prayer text in four rectangular sections, which have no relation to the curving gesture of the plaque's form. She advised working closely with a graphic designer to select the font and to ensure that the shape and text work together. Mr. Krieger commented that Scheme B would likely make the prayer more conspicuous; while expressing a preference for Scheme A, he said that he could support either option. Mr. Powell agreed that he, too, prefers Scheme A but would be willing to support Scheme B. He noted that the plaque form in Scheme B would have sharp and hazardous corners; Ms. Brady said that any sharp corners would be made smooth. Mr. Krieger observed that the thin metal support pole in Scheme B appears awkward and flimsy; Mr. Powell agreed, and Mr. Krieger suggested cantilevering the bronze plane instead.
Mr. May explained the position of the NPS that the plaque should relate to the architecture of the World War II Memorial. He said the Friends group and others had expressed concern that the Circle of Remembrance is frequently disregarded in favor of the memorial's main space, and the plaque presents an opportunity to establish a stronger architectural relationship between the two parts of the memorial. He added that when walks are placed at a more or less right angle to each other, visitors typically tend to cut the corner; to restrict this movement, the NPS typically installs post-and-chain barriers, but the intent is to avoid the problem at this location by providing visitor circulation at both sides of the plaque. He indicated other potential challenges with Scheme B, particularly regarding accessibility and the inclusion of companion seating and armrests for the bench. He said that the NPS would work to develop Scheme B if it is the Commission's preference, but he emphasized that this alternative would require additional refinement to make it operate successfully. He added that the geometry of Scheme A is similar to that of the original design for the circle, and it is also responsive to the Commission's previous recommendations to break up the circle and make it more sculptural; he said that the NPS prefers Scheme A.
Mr. Krieger asked if there is any concern with Scheme B that someone might climb over the seat wall; Mr. May responded that the greater concern is how groups would enter and move around the circle. Mr. Krieger said he is not convinced that Scheme B would be less congested than Scheme A; he suggested that Scheme B may result in even more near the plaque. Mr. May agreed with this concern; he said that the NPS expects the addition of the prayer plaque will make the circle a more popular destination for some large groups, and having two points of access into the circle would facilitate the flow of groups in and out. Mr. Krieger commented that any option would likely create congestion if everyone enters the circle at a single place adjacent to the prayer text; he suggested that gaps in the wall might help with this issue, as well as providing additional accessibility. Ms. Brady reiterated the goal of satisfying two clients, the NPS and the Friends of the National World War II Memorial; the Friends group prefers Scheme B, which is why the design team had to develop both schemes. Mr. Krieger and Mr. Powell agreed that the design team has accomplished this well.
Ms. Meyer expressed concern that in Scheme A, the two entrance walks connecting the memorial's primary walk with the Circle of Remembrance would have as much pavement as within the circle itself. She recommended designing the entrance walks so they would be sufficient but not overly wide, adding that they should be scaled for the number of people entering and exiting rather than for the number of people inside the circle. She emphasized that part of the experience of entering a space is passing across a narrower threshold. She expressed support for Scheme B with the recommendation to resolve the design of the threshold so that it does not compete with the space of the circle itself. Mr. May agreed that the walks leading to the circle in Scheme A could be narrowed, allowing for a wider space in front of the plaque that could accommodate a standing group without interference with people entering and leaving the circle.
Mr. Dunson suggested that either scheme could be improved by giving it some of the beneficial characteristics of the other scheme, although such changes could create additional problems. He observed that the separate placement of the plaque in Scheme A gives it a floating appearance, and it would be seen more clearly from outside the circle. In Scheme B, the plaque and the bench would closely resemble each other, making the plaque less distinctive, confusing the hierarchy between the two and leading to ambiguity over the relative importance of reading the text and sitting within the circle. He suggested incorporating some of the successful gestures of Scheme A into Scheme B: shifting the entrance location, or altering the design of the surface inscribed with the text so that it is distinct from the bench. Ms. Brady responded that the design team has tried this solution so that both options would provide the same view of the central space of the World War II Memorial, whether a person is reading or sitting. When the circle is shifted, that central view is lost, but the viewshed in Scheme B would be the same as in the existing Circle of Remembrance. She added that because the prayer is explicitly religious, the design intent is that it would not dominate the circle, which is meant for quiet contemplation; the designs try to unify these goals.
Ms. Meyer asked if consideration was given to placing the bench directly in front of the plaque so visitors could sit instead of stand while reading the prayer; she said that some visitors might have difficulty praying in a crowd. Referring to Scheme B, she commented that if visitors could sit while reading the text on the sculpted plaque, it would create a different, more intimate relationship between text and reader; Mr. Dunson agreed.
Ms. Meyer offered a motion to approve Scheme B, requesting resolution of the threshold design to accommodate the clients' concerns and needs, and asking for collaboration with a metal fabricator or a graphic designer to resolve the issues of how many visitors could read the plaque at one time and from what distance. She added that the project team should also consider whether the plaque should be cantilevered or supported by a post, and the Commission should see the design again as a concept before it is submitted as a final design. Upon a second by Mr. Krieger, the Commission adopted this action.
Following the approval, a member of the audience asked to address the Commission. Chairman Powell recognized Chris Long, the president of the Ohio Christian Alliance, the group that first suggested the idea for the prayer plaque to Congress. Mr. Long said that, in a recent conversation with Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, the senator had expressed concern over the plaque's long review process and its proposed cost of over a million dollars. Mr. Long said he had also received a telephone call from an Ohio World War II veteran asking the same questions. Mr. Long expressed his preference for Scheme A, emphasizing that the legislation simply directed adding the prayer to the World War II Memorial. Noting that President Roosevelt had delivered his prayer on D-Day to a radio audience estimated at 100 million people, he emphasized that the idea behind the legislation was to make the prayer available to the public in order to further understanding of the memorial and of why Americans fought and died in World War II.
The Commission members thanked Mr. Long for his comments; Mr. Dunson noted that the Commission does not determine the process. Mr. Krieger added that Mr. Long's comments have helped clarify his own preference for Scheme A—because it presents the prayer as the most important thing in the composition—and he questions why it has been made less important in Scheme B; however, he concluded that the Commission has made its decision. Mr. Dunson said that Scheme B attempts to balance reading the prayer with the original contemplative purpose of the circle, goals that could be accomplished with either option.
Mr. Krieger reiterated his initial comment that if the goal is a design that is about the prayer, this is expressed most directly in Scheme A; in Scheme B, this goal becomes part of a more complex design. He added that the other participants in the approval process should now consider the relative importance of these goals. Mr. Dunson and Mr. Krieger emphasized the Commission's overall support for the addition of the prayer to the Circle of Remembrance.
2. CFA 15/JUN/17-2, Smithsonian Institution—Anacostia Community Museum, Fort Stanton Park (1901 Fort Place, SE). Site and security improvements. Concept. Ms. Batcheler introduced a concept submission from the National Park Service, on behalf of the Smithsonian Institution, for modifications to the site of the Anacostia Community Museum, which is located on a portion of Fort Stanton Park. The project proposes improvements to pedestrian and vehicular circulation, plantings, and site amenities to support the museum's outdoor programming and visitor experience. She asked Peter May of the National Park Service to begin the presentation.
Mr. May said that a longstanding agreement allows for this Smithsonian museum to be sited on National Park Service land; the Smithsonian will eventually control the site when a transfer of jurisdiction is completed. He introduced Ann Trowbridge of the Smithsonian to begin the presentation.
Ms. Trowbridge said that the Anacostia Museum serves a diverse community and wide audience with programs that address urban life; its distinguished archive of African-American history in the District of Columbia also attracts many researchers. She provided an overview of the proposed changes: alterations to vehicular circulation on the museum grounds would allow for larger buses to drop off passengers at the front entrance; leveling the site's grading would provide more space for pedestrians and special events; and stormwater management would be improved with the addition of several rain gardens. She asked architect Roland Michelman of Cox Graae + Spack Architects and landscape architect Kevin Fisher of Rhodeside & Harwell to present the design.
Mr. Michelman said that the museum was founded as the Anacostia Neighborhood Museum in 1967 and was the first museum affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution to be located off of the National Mall. It operated out of a renovated theater in the neighborhood until 1974, when its exhibit branch moved into a new facility in Fort Stanton Park. This building serves as the core for the larger current museum building, which was completed in 1987 and last renovated in 2002. He indicated the general boundaries of the museum site within Fort Stanton Park: the northern boundary is Fort Place, SE (a segment of Erie Street, SE), and the southern boundary is Suitland Parkway, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and contains a limited-access roadway that is maintained by the National Park Service. He said that the proposed alterations to the site, which include additional illumination, would not impact the parkway.
Mr. Michelman described the three functional issues addressed by the project: accessibility, enhancement of the museum's programming, and security. He said that the design is informed by an understanding of the contemporary urban experience, including the traditions and everyday life of the local and broader community, and the intent is to enhance the museum's existing positive features. He indicated the circular drop-off drive at the entrance to the museum, noting that its tight turning radius prevents large tour buses—the means of arrival for many visitors—from successfully navigating the driveway. The proposal is to remove the circle and alter the driveway to allow bus drop-off directly alongside an enlarged entrance plaza, resulting in a better visitor experience. The plaza could be used for museum events such as speakers or performers. Primary entrance signage, currently in the center of the circle, would be moved closer to Fort Drive. In addition, many aspects of the site do not meet barrier-free accessibility standards, including the main entrance stairs and the steep slope of the driveway and associated parking lot. The proposal would reduce the site slopes to aid pedestrian and automobile movement; with this alteration, the parking lot could be used as an outdoor teaching space and venue for community events and other museum programming. In addition, the main stairs would be reconstructed with a shallower rise. Mr. Krieger asked where visitors would park when events are held in the parking lot; Mr. Michelman said that the events would not occur every day, and on these occasions the visitors could park on the street or take public transportation.
Mr. Michelman described the landscape and walkway proposals, emphasizing that the plantings would create quieter spaces for learning and gathering within the grounds. The irregular triangular lawn that exists between Fort Place and the museum's driveway and parking lot would be augmented with trees along its street frontage. Other plantings would include bioretention areas and shrubs such as roses and inkberry; the space is intended to have a pastoral quality. A new path from Fort Place would cut through this area to provide additional pedestrian access to the parking lot and museum. A rain garden would also be planted adjacent to the entrance plaza and would be used as a component of an educational curriculum about stormwater management. This garden would be bordered by a new sidewalk from Fort Place leading to the entrance plaza, intended to increase access for visitors arriving by foot or public transportation. Also bordering the garden would be a seating area composed of curved benches facing the plaza. He said that this plaza is conceived of as an "outdoor room" for gatherings; it would be accessible to the community, and its character would be sympathetic to the museum building and landscape. He added that several new LED lighting fixtures would be installed throughout the museum's perimeter and grounds to improve nighttime security; these fixtures would operate on timers and would be specified to minimize light pollution. The museum building itself would also be altered slightly under the proposal by widening two secondary doors on the east facade.
Chairman Powell invited comments from the Commission members. Ms. Meyer emphasized that the design of the site's earthwork and topography may be more important to the success of the project than the planting and site furnishings. She asked for clarification of the site grading, including the magnitude of the cut required to reduce the slope of the driveway and parking lot; Mr. Krieger observed that the existing slope appears to be quite steep. Mr. Fisher and Mr. Michelman responded that the maximum existing slope is approximately fourteen percent; the proposal is to cut thirty feet further into the parking lot to allow for the reduction of its slope to less than two percent, making it more accessible for pedestrians, and the driveway slope would be reduced to ten percent in the steepest area. Ms. Meyer asked about the slope of the driveway where buses would drop of visitors, as well as the slope of the entry plaza. Mr. Fisher said that although it is not apparent in the rendering, the topography would be nearly level in the vehicular drop-off area, and the slope across the entrance plaza would be 1.5 percent. Ms. Meyer asked how the main entrance stairs would be altered. Mr. Michelman responded that the basic design would be retained to be consistent with the architectural elements and language of the building, but the stairs would be made shallower by widening the treads and lowering the risers.
While expressing support for the intentions of the project, Ms. Meyer described an apparent disconnect between these intentions and the depicted design, which merely distributes functional program elements across the site. She recommended developing a strong conceptual basis to guide design decisions, derived from both the spatial qualities of the site and the museum's mission. As an example, she suggested that the rain garden areas be better integrated with their surrounding sidewalks and public space—rather than just planted on the site—if they will be used as demonstration spaces. She also suggested widening the sidewalk on the northeast side of the building, adjacent to the rain garden, to provide adequate space for gathering and instruction; she said that the design as proposed would be substandard, with visitors essentially squeezed between automobile bumpers and the wet rain garden. She encouraged the design team to conceive of the seemingly unrelated entrance plaza and rain garden as a hybrid typology of plaza and rain garden, creating a welcoming outdoor environment that would better support the stated educational goals. She recommended that the curved benches be moved slightly away from the rain garden, widened, and designed as double-sided or backless to encourage visitor engagement with both the plaza and rain garden.
Mr. Krieger suggested that the walkway leading from Fort Place to the entrance plaza is another element that could be better integrated with the adjacent rain garden area; Ms. Meyer agreed. Mr. Michelman said that earlier concepts for this walkway included more seating and opportunities for outdoor activities, but concerns had been raised that the walkway's proximity to Fort Place created a danger for children wandering away from the museum's walkway; he acknowledged that this area presents an opportunity for a more contemplative and secluded experience. Mr. Krieger expressed hope that the Commission's comments would be incorporated into the final design submission.
Mr. Powell commented that the design is heading in a good direction; he offered a motion to approve the concept with the comments provided. Upon a second by Mr. Krieger, the Commission adopted this action.
C. Smithsonian Institution
CFA 15/JUN/17-3, National Air and Space Museum, Independence Avenue at 6th Street, SW. Envelope and HVAC Revitalization Project—Replacement of building terraces and new entrance vestibules with canopies. Revised concept. (Previous: CFA 16/JUN/16-5 and CFA 20/APR/17-Admin. C, site inspection report.) Ms. Batcheler introduced the presentation of options for the replacement of the exterior stone cladding of the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum (NASM), part of a larger project to rehabilitate and revitalize the museum building and its site. She summarized the Commission's previous review of elements of the project in June 2016, approving the concept design for new entrance pavilions and reconfigured terraces. She noted that before the April 2017 meeting and again earlier today, the Commission visited the museum terrace and inspected mockups of several material samples for the replacement cladding. She asked Gen. (ret.) John Dailey, director of the NASM, to begin the presentation.
Mr. Dailey said that the project, which has been under consideration for almost fifteen years as part of the Smithsonian's master plan, is likely the most complicated the Smithsonian has ever undertaken. The facade replacement is necessary because evaluations have revealed that the existing cladding is failing, and he noted the intention to keep the museum open during the renovation because it is a prime tourist destination in Washington. He asked Ann Trowbridge of the Smithsonian Institution to continue the presentation.
Ms. Trowbridge said that Quinn Evans Architects and an independent team of engineering firms have performed a comprehensive risk study for the project that included evaluation of approximately eighty replacement options for the cladding. These were winnowed down to four options, based on criteria including technical performance, aesthetics, risk, and procurement considerations; these four were then studied further with exterior wall mockups. She said that each option has positive and negative aspects, with "Tennessee Pink" limestone presenting the most challenges. She said that the Smithsonian's preferred option is "Colonial Rose" granite, also known as "Lac du Bonnet" granite. Its warm pinkish tone would be compatible with the interior walls of the museum, which will remain clad in Tennessee Pink. In addition, the durable granite is expected to last on the facade for 100 years. She said that if the material is approved by the Commission, then the next step would be a performance mockup, while the other elements of the project would be submitted for final review in the fall of this year; construction is expected to begin in 2018. She introduced architect Larry Barr of Quinn Evans Architects to present the cladding options.
Mr. Barr thanked the Commission for its patience in reviewing the multiple components of the project. He said that the existing cladding system, with Tennessee Pink limestone panels backed by a steel frame, was innovative for its time but has failed prematurely because of errors in design, construction, and maintenance. Cost considerations and the required completion by July 1976—intended to coincide with the nation's Bicentennial celebrations—resulted in a faulty building envelope constructed without proper quality control: the 1.25-inch-thick limestone panels are too thin, causing cracks and hysteresis, or warping, that renders them unsalvageable. Subsequent interventions, including spray insulation that prohibits air circulation, have worsened the process of hysteresis. He said that the darker stones on the existing facade tend to be the ones with the least structural integrity; if proper quality control had been exercised during construction, then some of current failures may have been avoided. He presented a photo of the building to illustrate the undesirable rippling effect that this warping creates across the facade.
Mr. Barr said that the design team has investigated why the Tennessee Pink limestone that clads both the East and West Buildings of the National Gallery of Art has lasted longer. One factor is that these buildings have masonry backup rather than steel, and replacing the NASM building's backup system accordingly was therefore discussed. However, this was dismissed early in the evaluation process because it would require cost-prohibitive alterations to the building's structural underpinnings; the basic steel backup system will therefore remain. More significantly, the stone panels on the National Gallery buildings are approximately three inches thick, more than twice as thick as the existing stone on the NASM building.
Mr. Barr described the various criteria used to select the cladding material. A durable, dense stone with structural integrity is needed; he reiterated that the new cladding system is intended to last for at least 100 years. He said the project team has considered using either igneous or sedimentary stone for the cladding. Igneous stone, such as the preferred Colonial Rose granite, is dense and hard as a result of its volcanic formation process. Sedimentary stone, such as the existing Tennessee Pink limestone, has desirable horizontal veining due to the layering of sediment during its formation; however, sedimentary stone is more susceptible to weathering than igneous stone.
Mr. Barr said that the potential aesthetic impact of each option was also studied. This evaluation was based on three categories: tone, tonal variety, and pattern. The color tone of each stone considered was evaluated at a close visual range and in simulated renderings depicting long-distance views toward the building when clad in each option. He said that a uniformity of color and monumental presence are important when evaluating the long-distance views, while the tonal variety of the stones would be important when viewed at close range, with more variety giving the building visual interest and human scale. He said that the design would seek to achieve a facade with random patterning and a variety of tones, avoiding the grouping of similarly toned stones that is currently seen on the building.
Mr. Barr then described the issues of procurement and risk. He said that the geographic area from which stone can be obtained is limited to North America. In addition, the selected quarry would need to have an adequate supply of high-quality stone for both the current project and future maintenance, as well as the ability to provide a certain tonal variety during construction precisely when needed—a critical issue due to the project's tight schedule. The fabricator's facility would have to accommodate the flat layout of 85- by 85-foot elevation mockups to facilitate quality control. He emphasized the importance of being able to control the quality of stone, both at the quarry and at the fabricator; cost is an additional consideration.
Mr. Barr said that this evaluation resulted in four potential options: the previously discussed Tennessee Pink limestone and Colonial Rose granite, as well as "St. Clair" limestone and "Echo Lake" granite. He noted that representatives of the design team have visited each of the quarries under consideration. He said that the Tennessee Pink is quarried in Friendsville, TN, by the Tennessee Marble Company, which has owned many of the historic quarries in this area since 1993. The majority of the stone for the project would be extracted from the Endsley Quarry, where a new section is being opened for quarrying that contains light-toned pink limestone. He said that the museum is currently clad with six different shades of Tennessee Pink; however, the design team's assessment is that both the lightest and darkest stones provide too great a contrast on the facade, and therefore only the four mid-range shades would be used if Tennessee Pink is selected for the replacement project. He said that Tennessee Pink has positive qualities, including a desirable uniqueness found in individual stones, as well as the fact that it would be an in-kind material replacement. However, it is a sedimentary stone that is susceptible to weathering, and even a three-inch-thick panel may not last longer than sixty years, making it difficult to recommend as the replacement material.
Mr. Barr next described St. Clair limestone, which is quarried in Marble City, OK, by the company Polycor. This high-density limestone has horizontal veining with unique characteristics found in each stone. However, he said that its gray color would not be appropriate for cladding the entire building because it would not convey the color, monumentality, and tonal variety required for this project. He added that with either limestone option—Tennessee Pink or St. Clair—a three-inch-thick panel would be needed; this would not necessitate structural modifications to the building.
Mr. Barr described Echo Lake granite, which he noted was the first alternative stone considered to be an appropriate replacement for the existing Tennessee Pink. It is quarried in Ely, MN, by the company Coldspring. Its positive qualities include a general visual character that is similar to the existing facade; he noted that some Echo Lake panels have already been used as replacements for failing Tennessee Pink stones. However, while the overall color would be appropriate when applied to the facade, its wide tonal variety and pronounced fleuri pattern would require extensive quality control.
Mr. Barr then described the Smithsonian's preferred option, Colonial Rose granite, which is quarried in Lac du Bonnet, Manitoba, Canada, by Coldspring, the American company that would also supply Echo Lake granite if selected; the stone would be finished in Minnesota. He noted several advantages of selecting Colonial Rose: this large quarry has been in operation for many decades; the location of each tonal variety in the quarry is well known and would result in a smoother quarrying and selection process; the facility has space available for on-site dry layout of the facade; and Coldspring was very responsive when given stringent specifications for the samples inspected by the Commission—all factors that instill confidence in the project team that this company would be a reliable partner in the project. He said that Colonial Rose has been used in several other projects in Washington, D.C., including the Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism During World War II and the new roof terrace at the National Gallery of Art's East Building, which offers a precedent for using this granite as an appropriate companion or replacement for Tennessee Pink. The stone would be available in four satisfactory mid-range pink tones in a similar but somewhat narrower range than Tennessee Pink; it also features the desired horizontal veining. While he acknowledged that this stone is not the best when evaluated separately for tone, tonal variety, and pattern, he said that it offers a favorable combination of all three categories.
Mr. Barr noted that panels made from either of the igneous granite alternatives—Echo Lake or Colonial Rose—could be much thinner than the required three-inch-thick limestone panels, making the choice of granite advantageous because of less load on the structural system. Mr. Krieger asked what thickness is intended for granite panels. Mr. Barr responded that two inches would be an acceptable thickness, while three inches would be excessive; he added that if this were a private-sector project, a thinner panel would be satisfactory. He cited the failure of the 1.25- to 1.5-inch-thick Carrara marble panels of the 1970s Amoco Building in Chicago as the prime example of the hazard of specifying thin stone panels for exterior cladding. Mr. Krieger asked if Mr. Barr is confident that two-inch-thick panels of granite would last for the intended hundred years, and if the museum's original designers had the same level of confidence in their facade system. Mr. Barr confirmed his confidence in the durability of two-inch-thick granite panels, and he noted that the thinness of the existing limestone panels is most likely due to cost cutting after the museum's cladding system was initially designed. He added that because the existing design was advanced for its era, its likelihood of failure was higher than with a more traditional cladding system.
Chairman Powell expressed appreciation for the opportunity to inspect the mockups and stone samples at the museum site. He commented that the project team has made a straightforward case for the Colonial Rose granite with a sandblasted finish, as shown at the on-site mockup; he also commented favorably on its appearance when wet. Mr. Krieger expressed regret that a more innovative or technologically advanced material would not be used; however, he complimented the comprehensive analysis and agreed in supporting Colonial Rose granite with a sandblasted finish, with the provision that more than half of the stones selected would have pronounced horizontal veining. He also commented favorably on the stone's visual compatibility with the National Gallery of Art across the Mall. Mr. Dunson joined in supporting Colonial Rose granite with a sandblasted finish, citing its use in conjunction with Tennessee Pink at the National Gallery's East Building. Ms. Meyer characterized the Smithsonian's decision not to use a more contemporary material as a "missed opportunity," commenting that the current practice of historic preservation is preventing bolder and more lively projects from being brought forward. She said that those evaluating this work in several generations will most likely consider the proposed design too restrained. Recalling past renovation work at the University of Virginia rotunda, another cheaply constructed project that was rushed to completion for the Bicentennial, she suggested that architectural historians should study this issue in similar projects from this time. She supported the Colonial Rose granite with a sandblasted finish but commented that this stone is usually used in paving projects because of its predominantly uniform pattern and flat appearance; she recommended that careful consideration be given to the selection of stone with varied tonal qualities and pronounced horizontal veining to ensure a suitable level of visual modulation on the museum exterior. She also asked that the Commission be provided with the results of the architectural and technical performance mockups.
Mr. Powell offered a motion to approve the Smithsonian's preferred choice of Colonial Rose granite in a sandblasted finish, with the comments provided. Upon a second by Mr. Dunson, the Commission adopted this action.
D. DC Water
CFA 15/JUN/17-4, Reservations #541and #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. (Previous: CFA 16/MAR/17-2.) Mr. Lindstrom introduced the proposal from DC Water to redesign two small triangular parks in the Brightwood neighborhood, part of the DC Clean Rivers Project to mitigate the effect of stormwater overflow into the city's combined sewer system. These two parks are the initial phase of a larger program of open space designs for capturing and filtering stormwater on the site, to reduce water flow into the combined sewer system. He noted the Commission's review of an initial concept submission in March 2017, which was not approved. He asked Bethany Bezak, the green infrastructure manager with DC Water, to begin the presentation.
Ms. Bezak summarized the ongoing consultation with the staff as well as the March 2017 review with the Commission. The project team now includes Wallace Roberts & Todd (WRT) as the design consultant. She noted that these parks are part of a consent decree involving D.C. and federal government agencies to reduce the occurrences of combined sewer overflows by 96 percent; she requested clear guidance from the Commission so that this project can move forward successfully. Another measure to address the overflows is a system of large tunnels for water storage and conveyance; she emphasized that the surface parks will be the visible component of the infrastructure work and will provide additional benefits to the community, including neighborhood amenities, a showcase of green infrastructure, and local employment opportunities. She introduced urban designer Andrew Dobshinsky of WRT to present the proposal.
Mr. Dobshinsky said that DC Water selected these two parks from the hundreds of small parks in Washington, many of them triangle parks. He acknowledged that the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) is also studying the potential for the city's triangle parks, and the primary focus of DC Water is on how the parks can contribute to stormwater management; the goals of the two agencies have some overlap in the design of the parks. He said that DPR has identified the area north of Missouri Avenue—including Reservation 541, the northern of the two parks in this project—as needing more active recreation facilities; the area south of Missouri Avenue, including Reservation 577, is categorized as having a high need for more passive parkland. He noted that these two reservations are among 35 similar parks within the Rock Creek watershed area that DC Water has targeted for green infrastructure. A goal of the project is to explore the potential for transforming these spaces, with a design logic that can be applied to other parks while not intending to replicate the exact design. The context of each site has been examined, including adjacent land uses—often mostly residential, and some with nearby schools, civic, and commercial areas. The size of the park is also a consideration: while all of the triangle parks are small, the smallest of them may be suitable only for passive use rather than active recreation. Community desires for the parks, as well as topography, are additional design considerations. He presented a map diagramming the park sizes and contexts throughout the watershed area, indicating the two parks that are addressed in the current submission. He said that both parks are in a primarily residential context of row houses, suggesting an emphasis on plantings rather than paved areas. A block to the north of Reservation 541 is Fort Slocum Park, a passive park that is managed by the National Park Service; immediately to the southeast of Reservation 577 is the Washington Latin Public Charter School, suggesting the opportunity for designing this park with a strong educational component. He introduced landscape architect Keiko Cramer to present the overall strategy and the design for each park.
Ms. Cramer described five principles that have emerged from the public engagement process and the Commission's previous review. These include topography; the "sponge" or catchment area for capturing stormwater, extending to the surrounding streets and beyond; natural context such as existing trees; urban context; and program. She emphasized the primary goal of stormwater management, which is closely linked to topography. Other programmatic ideas have emerged from the community outreach: simple play space away from the surrounding streets, without the need for recreational equipment; seating areas where local residents could have lunch; and opportunities to learn about the park's green infrastructure mission. She presented diagrams of various configurations for combining stormwater infrastructure areas and other programmatic areas within a triangle park.
Ms. Cramer presented the proposed concept for Reservation 541. The existing condition includes sidewalks and street trees along all three edges of the park. A short, straight path across the center of the park, running approximately east-west, would provide a convenient connection for neighborhood residents. A meandering path along a north-south route would provide a more whimsical contrasting element that brings people closer to the planted stormwater infrastructure; this path would widen in some areas to accommodate seating. She indicated the play areas that would be defined by the paths and the perimeter sidewalks; these small areas could be suitable for small children riding tricycles while parents are seated nearby, or for picnics. These recreational areas would have the themes of "creative play, "nature play," and "recreation link." She said that the proposed paths are intended to invite passersby to walk into the park. She acknowledged that the diagram of the spatial organization may appear crowded, but she said that it adequately emphasizes the rain garden areas while providing other recreational green spaces that are flat and accessible. She indicated the locations of the rain gardens: at the park's high point in the northern corner to catch the tributary stormwater drainage; and a larger area at the southwest end of the park, the low point, for bioretention. Additional bioretention areas would be located in the planted zone between the street curbs and sidewalks. She presented the proposed palette of materials, including pervious pavers, porous asphalt, a concrete seat wall, and logs. A portion of the path system would be designed to bridge across the stormwater runnel within the park using a trench drain. Plantings would include native species, with an emphasis on grass; she said that the planting palette would be developed further to achieve more seasonal variety, texture, and color. She presented two perspective renderings of the proposed park in comparison to photographs of the existing conditions.
Ms. Cramer presented the proposed concept for Reservation 577 at Kansas Avenue and 3rd and Ingraham Streets. The design principles are the same, and the topography is similarly oriented with the low point to the southwest. She said that this site is slightly larger than Reservation 541, and the context has more trees; the presence of the charter school to the southeast provides an opportunity for greater emphasis on the park's educational purpose, including a paved outdoor classroom and gathering space in addition to the park's recreation lawn and the necessary stormwater infrastructure. The proposed path within the park would connect to the site's southeast corner, emphasizing the connection to the school; the gathering space would also be located toward the southeast for convenient use by the school. The rain garden would be slightly larger than on Reservation 541 and more continuous; the gathering space would be adjacent to a portion of this infrastructure, and the park's path would cross over the rain garden in the center of the park. The palette of materials and plantings would be the same as at Reservation 541, providing a consistent aesthetic that could be extended to future park designs. She concluded with two perspective renderings of Reservation 577 in comparison to photographs of the existing conditions. She summarized the importance of the overall process and design approach in developing the proposals for these two parks, which can be extended to the designs for many additional small parks in the city.
Chairman Powell commented that the proposal has been developed significantly since the previous review. He noted that the specific submission is the concept design for two parks, but the design could be extended to a larger system of parks.
Ms. Meyer agreed that the project has advanced greatly, and the proposal can now be more readily envisioned as two site-specific designs that are also part of a larger network of open spaces. She offered several suggestions for further development. She noted that the design for Reservation 577 emphasizes the point where the path bridges the rain garden through a change of materials, and she suggested a comparable emphasis at Reservation 541; she said that the intersection of the path with the water flow provides a learning opportunity about the continuous movement of water within a rain garden, at the point where a pedestrian could most sense the presence of water. She observed that the location of this intersection at Reservation 541 may be toward the center of the park where benches would be located. She also recommended further emphasis on shade to improve the quality of the park space, particularly in the summer. She observed that the street trees along Kansas Avenue appear to be spaced forty feet apart, which is excessive; she suggested focusing on large canopy trees with a closer spacing, and not worrying about the understory trees. She added that if the proposed spacing of street trees is determined by D.C. regulations, then these could be supplemented by additional trees within each park. She also recommended that the project anticipate the effects of climate change, including more extreme storms and heat; she said that the goal of reducing combined sewer overflows by 96 percent should be addressed within this long-term context instead of only responding to current standards. She urged a visionary design that anticipates the need for more capacity in the future, and she reiterated her support for this exciting project.
Mr. Dunson expressed appreciation for DC Water's commitment to the overall program of stormwater management, and especially for bringing WRT to the project team as a commendable expression of this commitment. Mr. Krieger agreed with the comments of the other Commission members, while observing that the parks appear to be designed only for younger users without consideration of the needs of adults and especially senior citizens. He emphasized his support for the general design strategy but said that the problem appears to be in the site furnishings, such as seating that does not appear comfortable for older users. Mr. Powell and Ms. Meyer agreed; Mr. Powell recalled that Dupont Circle includes tables and seating where people can set up chess games. Mr. Krieger said that his concern should not be understood as a request for a shuffleboard area; Ms. Meyer commented that a very popular Charlottesville restaurant with a young clientele has a shuffleboard area as its focus.
Ms. Meyer offered a motion to approve the concept for the two parks and to encourage consideration of the Commission's comments as the proposal is developed further. Upon a second by Mr. Krieger, the Commission adopted this action.
E. D.C. Department of General Services
CFA 15/JUN/17-5, NoMa Green, "The Park," 101 Harry Thomas Way, NE (at Q and 3rd Streets, NE). New public park. Concept. Mr. Lindstrom introduced a concept design submission for a new public park in the NoMa, or "north of Massachusetts Avenue," area of Washington, D.C. The project is a collaborative effort of the D.C. government and the NoMa Parks Foundation. He asked Stacie West, director of park projects with the NoMa Parks Foundation, to begin the presentation.
Ms. West said that the NoMa Parks Foundation has been working with the community for several years to build support for new parks in this neighborhood, particularly a park large enough to provide green space for a variety of activities. She introduced Jeff Aten of Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects and John Burke of Studio 27 Architecture to present the design.
Mr. Aten said that the project team also includes soil scientists, lighting and fountain designers, and structural engineers. He summarized the site's history, emphasizing the historic features, such as railroad trestle structures, and activities that have been used as inspiration for the park's design. He said that the roughly rectangular two-and-a-quarter-acre site is located in Eckington Yards, within a larger area formerly known as "Swampoodle" because of its frequently wet conditions. The site was once a freight yard of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad (B&O); freight rail and Metro tracks remain near the east side of the site, and the New York Avenue viaduct across the tracks is a half-block to the south. Immediately south of the site is a Potomac Electric Power Company (Pepco) facility, and on the north is a one-and-a-quarter-acre parcel that is planned for mixed-use retail and residential development. The Metropolitan Branch Trail (MBT), a recreational trail named for the adjacent Metropolitan Branch Line of the B&O, runs through the site along the east; the trail would be realigned to straighten a sharp turn, and a park path would connect the MBT to the street near the site's southwest corner. He noted that after the B&O left the property, Pepco used it as a maintenance and storage yard; stored materials left contaminants in the soil, and the park project will therefore include soil remediation.
Mr. Aten said that the park would include a central quarter-acre lawn, with structures and spaces arranged in linear configurations around its sides. A stage at the south end of the lawn would have a storage and equipment structure; further south, across a circulation spine, would be a cafe pavilion and tables. Other features of the park would include a half-acre playground to the west of the central lawn; a dog park area in an extension of the park site to the northeast; and on the east alongside the MBT would be a soil decontamination zone, using a phytoremediation process, with an adjacent boardwalk that would include interpretive waysides providing information on the remediation process. The MBT, popular with pedestrians as well as cyclists, would be widened from eleven feet to fifteen feet where it enters the park at the north to avoid conflicts among its users. The park features would generally be aligned with the area street grid and adjacent intersections to the west to connect with the urban fabric.
Mr. Aten described how the materials throughout the park would support the goals of safety, accessibility, and ease of maintenance. In the playground, the materials would follow D.C. government standards and would include a synthetic ground surface; the dog park to the northeast would use artificial turf. He said that lighting would be subtle; the park would make use of ambient light, and much new lighting would also be provided. The MBT would be lit in accordance with current standards for the trail, and new downlighting would be installed above a mural on a retaining wall owned by the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority along the railroad area to the east [see CFA 21/APR/16-3]. Materials for the MBT itself would likely include porous pavers, with changes in texture to indicate where it crosses other paths.
Mr. Burke described the three primary proposed structures: the cafe pavilion, the stage support structure, and the utility structure. He said that these small-scale architectural elements are intended to support the overall landscape design vision of Nelson Byrd Woltz, which emphasizes the overall goals of community, connectivity, and resilience. The three buildings or pavilions would be placed at the park's south end, located at strategic points along three parallel linear bands that would extend across the width of the park. The plazas and activity areas within this zone would include the stage pavilion and the adjacent fountain area; the circulation route connecting the MBT on the east with Harry Thomas Way on the west; and the cafe pavilion and its plaza with seating. The stage pavilion would include an armature designed to hold a movie screen; when not in use, this would be stored in a small building with the audio-visual equipment. The armature has been designed in coordination with viewing angles in order to maximize the number of people who could watch movies from the lawn; the goal is to accommodate more than 1,000 viewers. The central circulation route would be treated as a tree-lined allée. The cafe pavilion would have a large exterior trellis or canopy defining its surrounding space. Behind the cafe plaza, the utility structure would be located in a bioretention planting area along the park's southern boundary; this structure would house the pumps and other machinery for the fountain as well as storage space and public restrooms.
Mr. Burke described the treatments proposed for the two primary structural materials, wood and steel, selected because they would refer to the historic railroad yard while also blending with the landscape. The proposed wood is "shou sugi ban," a Japanese pine siding with a charred black finish achieved by pumping hydrogen into the wood; he noted that this material is dimensionally stable and resistant to rot. Steel elements would be painted black and used in two forms: 2.5-inch-diameter rods would be used for the trellis and the movie screen armature; and four-inch-diameter tubes, cut lengthwise at an angle to produce a tapering form, would be used as columns. The trellis, intended to recall the form of a tree, would cast shadows reminiscent of branches. A third, complementary material such as brushed or polished aluminum may be used to help break down the apparent volumes of the structures; the extension or manipulation of rainscreen walls is another technique that may be used to diminish the perception of volume.
Mr. Aten further described the park's four major landscape areas: the lawn, with the adjoining splash park and fountain; the playground; the boardwalk; and an area next to the mixed-use development. The lawn would be used for leisure recreation, including seating for the popular community movie nights. The playground would be located to the west, near Harry Thomas Way to provide good visibility for waiting parents and from the street. It would include a sequence of circular play areas for children of different ages; the wooden play equipment would include climbing structures, bridges, and architectural pieces.
Mr. Aten said that the boardwalk would span the phytoremediation area adjacent to the bike trail. The soil here contains many different contaminants, including lead, arsenic, and volatile organic compounds from oils and gases. The remediation issues are varied: lead can be buried deeply enough so that it does not pose a health hazard; arsenic can be remediated through the microbial activity provided by a diverse plant community; and volatile organic compounds will evaporate out of the soil. Materials within the soil will deteriorate at different rates over time, and care will have to be taken to ensure that soil settlement does not cause structural damage or buckled paving. Some areas of ground would be capped with concrete, securing the material underneath. In some places, the boardwalk through the remediation area would widen to 20 feet, wide enough for group activities.
Mr. Aten discussed the fourth landscape area, extending northeast to R Street between the existing MBT and mural wall on the east, and the future residential development on the west with its shaded plaza. The dog park in the northeast corner would be surrounded by a fence that may pick up the architectural vocabulary of slats used for the structures. An adjoining rain garden would absorb stormwater.
Mr. Aten said that the central lawn's soil structure is being carefully engineered to promote porosity and resist compaction. Denser plantings would be installed along the park's edges and around the playground. Shade trees would be planted throughout; linear allées of trees would be installed along the trail, and trees would be planted to create shelter for the playground and the lawn. Species under consideration include Magnolia virginiana and Nyssa sylvatica, along with standard D.C. street tree species selected for their hardiness in urban conditions. Honey locust and smaller trees such as Eastern redbud or fringetree may be planted in the plaza areas; low flowering shrubs would be located next to the playground, near garden spaces where children would be encouraged to explore the plants.
Thanking Mr. Aten for the presentation, Chairman Powell asked about the project's timeline. Mr. Aten responded that final approval is expected by the end of 2017, and the staging of construction is still under consideration. Mr. Dunson and Ms. Meyer asked how future development might influence some design elements, such as the location of entrances. Mr. Aten said that the anticipated retail and residential development along the park's north edge may include front porches giving residents access to the park. Mr. Krieger asked if this adjacent development would include parking; Mr. Aten responded that it would have underground parking, with access from R Street on the north.
Ms. Meyer commented that the project is exciting and attractive, and she suggested a few minor adjustments. While acknowledging the desirability of placing activity along the street, she questioned whether this is the best location for the playground. She said that the main plaza area does not read as a plaza but instead as several parallel zones of activity, and its busy central circulation route would form a barrier between separated plaza spaces on either side. She suggested shifting the circulation route south to allow a unified plaza space on the north that would integrate the fountain, cafe, stage, and associated activities while avoiding conflict with bicyclists and pedestrians moving through the park.
Ms. Meyer identified another issue concerning adjacency, commenting that a distinctly articulated edge may be desirable between the remediation area and the boardwalk toward the east side of the park; she said that this concern may depend on whether the remediation is intensive or is primarily intended as an educational demonstration. Mr. Aten responded that the lead-contaminated soil in this area would indeed be undergoing phytoremediation, as well as handling stormwater, and access must be limited; interpretation would be provided along the boardwalk.
Mr. Krieger complimented the design's sophistication. He asked if the full cost has been calculated, expressing concern about whether the budget could accommodate all of the complex program. He also commented that parks are often not very crowded except during special events, and the proposed alignment of the allée—centered through the plaza spaces—would feel appropriate at uncrowded times. He asked if the boardwalk would have guardrails along its sides, between the access points at each end; Mr. Aten responded that in most places the boardwalk would be low enough not to require guardrails, and benches would be located along most of its edges. Mr. Krieger questioned the proposal to straighten the MBT, which could encourage cyclists to speed and therefore increase the risk of accidents, and he suggested incorporating design techniques to reduce speeds.
Mr. Dunson indicated several points where the edges of the park intersect with existing circulation routes, and he recommended studying who would use the park and how people would arrive. Observing that the park would augment several recent development projects in the area, he recommended considering how the two sides of Harry Thomas Way could be integrated to form a unified composition.
Ms. Meyer encouraged the project team to meet with the Commission staff and to present again to the Commission at the concept level in order to stay on schedule. Chairman Powell expressed support for the proposal while agreeing that an interim review would be helpful. He suggested approval of the submission with the comments provided; upon a second by Mr. Dunson, the Commission adopted this action.
F. United States Mint
Mr. Simon introduced the multiple submissions from the U.S. Mint for several medals and coins, in addition to the design for a gold coin that was approved earlier in the day as part of the Government Submissions Consent Calendar (agenda item II.A, Appendix I). He noted that the last two submissions are for the 2019 and 2020 issues of the Native American One Dollar Coin, which could be placed in general circulation depending on the future need for a supply of circulating coins; the early issues in this series have been circulating, while the issues in recent years have been produced only for the numismatic market. He asked April Stafford of the Mint to present the design alternatives.
1. CFA 15/JUN/17-6, Congressional Gold Medal honoring the Office of Strategic Services. Designs for a gold medal with bronze duplicates. Final. Ms. Stafford summarized the authorizing legislation for a Congressional Gold Medal to honor those who served in the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) for their contributions during World War II. She described the history of the OSS in intelligence-gathering and special operations, laying the foundation for the multiple U.S. agencies now engaged in these activities. She noted that the OSS had both military and civilian personnel, including many leading scientists and scholars, with women comprising more than one-third of the workforce. The technological achievements of the OSS were also significant, including development of the technology that led to modern scuba equipment.
Ms. Stafford said that the design alternatives for the medal were developed in consultation with Charles Pinck, president of the OSS Society, serving as the Mint's liaison; she noted his presence in the audience, along with Maj. Gen. (ret.) Victor Hugo, Jr. She said the liaison has requested that the designs include the inscription "Act of Congress 2016" along with a spearhead emblem that historically represented the OSS. She presented seventeen alternatives for the obverse design and eighteen alternatives for the reverse (numbered non-consecutively). She said that the liaison's preference for the obverse is alternative #17, featuring a diver, paratrooper, and airplane grouped around the spearhead emblem to symbolize a few of the OSS's many activities. For the reverse, the liaison prefers the alternatives that include a quotation from Maj. Gen. William Donovan, the leader of the OSS; among these alternatives—#17, 19, 20, and 21—the liaison's preference is for #20 as the most compelling composition of the text and pictorial elements.
Ms. Stafford noted that the liaison has requested some modifications to these preferred designs. On obverse #17, the parachute should be adjusted for historical accuracy, the word "the" should be deleted from "the OSS," and the font for this text should more closely match the historical OSS emblem. The diver could be shifted leftward or reduced in size to avoid obscuring part of the spearhead and perhaps to allow for centering the circumferential text, "Office of Strategic Services," at the bottom of the composition. Because obverse #17 includes a spearhead, this emblem should be removed from the selected reverse to avoid duplication. On reverse #20, additional modifications could include using a consistent font size for the quotation, adding a period at the end, and removing the exergue and attribution to Maj. Gen. Donovan at the base.
Ms. Meyer commented that among the professional groups in the OSS were many architects and landscape architects, some of whom became prominent practitioners in the following decades. Mr. Powell supported the liaison's suggested modifications to the preferred alternatives, commenting that the designs would become simpler and more clear. He asked if the background treatment on obverse #17 would differ behind the frogman and the paratrooper on either side of the spearhead; Ms. Stafford confirmed that the textures would differ slightly to suggest a distinction between water and air.
Mr. Krieger questioned the liaison's preference for reverse #20; he commented that this composition is difficult to understand, particularly with a world map placed, illegibly, behind the quotation. He instead suggested reverse #19, a secondary preference of the liaison, as a simpler composition that omits the laurel branches from the left and right sides as well as the exergue at the base. Ms. Meyer and Mr. Powell agreed; Ms. Meyer commented that the quotation text and background map are more legible on reverse #19 due to their larger size. Mr. Luebke asked if the liaison's request to remove Maj. Gen. Donovan's name from reverse #20 would also be applicable to reverse #19. Ms. Stafford responded that the name was associated with the exergue on reverse #20, with the request to remove this entire feature, but this comment is not applicable to reverse #19. She said that the modification to regularize the font size could be applicable to reverse #19; Mr. Powell supported this change.
For the obverse, Mr. Krieger suggested consideration of alternative #15, featuring six OSS workers engaged in various activities. Ms. Meyer observed that alternatives #7 and #15 both feature a larger number of people than obverse #17, the liaison's preference. Mr. Krieger agreed that either #7 or #15 would be more effective than #17 in conveying the wide range of activities conducted by the OSS; he said that #17 focuses only on the OSS's military-type operations and has awkward depictions of the diver and paratrooper. Ms. Meyer clarified that #17 omits the intelligence-gathering role of the OSS, which is better conveyed in #7 and #15. She commented that obverse #7 looks too much like a movie poster, and she offered support for obverse #15; Mr. Krieger agreed. Mr. Powell supported this recommendation, agreeing that the diver on obverse #17 has a peculiar appearance in this design. Mr. Krieger observed that the spearhead is appropriately not included in obverse #15, due to the large number of people in the composition, and this emblem could therefore remain on the selected reverse design.
Ms. Meyer summarized her strong support for obverse #17. Upon a motion by Mr. Krieger with second by Ms. Meyer, the Commission recommended obverse #15 and reverse #19 with the modifications that were discussed.
2. CFA 15/JUN/17-7, Congressional Gold Medal honoring Filipino Veterans of World War II. Designs for a gold medal with bronze duplicates. Final. Ms. Stafford summarized the authorizing legislation for a Congressional Gold Medal to honor the Filipino veterans who served the United States during World War II. She described the difficult wartime campaigns in the Philippines and the varying legal status of benefits for the Filipino veterans in the post-war years. She introduced Maj. Gen. (ret.) Tony Taguba, chairman of the Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project, who served as the Mint's liaison in developing the design alternatives for the medal.
Ms. Stafford said that the design alternatives are intended to depict the breadth of service of Filipino veterans as part of various units of the United States Army Forces in the Far East, including inscriptions listing the locations of five key military campaigns. The liaison also requested a depiction of the U.S. and Filipino flags of the World War II era as an inclusive device for recognizing the combined military units. In developing the designs, the artists were asked to consider the additional inscriptions "Act of Congress 2016," "Filipino Veterans of World War II," a quotation from President Truman, and the key historical years of 1941, 1945, and 1946.
Mr. Krieger welcomed Mr. Taguba and noted the Commission's recent review of a visitor center at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial (June and July 2016); he asked if Filipino soldiers are also interred at this cemetery. Mr. Taguba responded that two U.S. national cemeteries are located in the wider Manila area, both administered by the American Battle Monuments Commission; many Filipino soldiers are buried in the cemeteries and are among the 37,000 missing in action who are commemorated on an obelisk. Mr. Krieger noted his recent visit to the Manila American Cemetery and said that it is a very impressive place.
Ms. Stafford presented 18 alternatives for the obverse design and 23 alternatives for the reverse (numbered non-consecutively). She said that the liaison's preferences are obverse #4, featuring soldiers in the uniforms of various military units, and reverse #1 with several inscriptions and the American and Filipino flags. She noted that the liaison has requested some modifications to the central figure in the preferred obverse: the helmet should be adjusted to include straps, for historical accuracy; the uniform should be revised; and the facial features should have a more Filipino appearance. She said that the liaison has also asked for guidance on whether this central figure should be depicted in the same three-quarter view as the figures to either side, or in a contrasting full profile as depicted by the artist.
Mr. Krieger supported the liaison's preferred alternatives, including the suggested changes. Mr. Dunson asked why the central figure on obverse #4 would be changed to a three-quarter view; Ms. Stafford responded that this change would improve the sense of connectivity among the three figures. Mr. Dunson supported the contrasting pose of the central figure as presented, commenting that it conveys a powerful sense of commitment and strength. Ms. Meyer agreed, commenting that the central figure's pose supplements the different pose of the two adjacent figures. Don Everhart, a sculptor-engraver with the Mint, suggested switching the central figure with the figure on the far right. Mr. Dunson said that placing the figure with the contrasting pose on the right side of the grouping would be acceptable; he reiterated the advantage of including a figure with this contrasting pose. Mr. Taguba noted that the sequence of figures, and particularly their uniforms and equipment, is related to the historical evolution of the Philippine military units during the World War II era. He added that his suggested change to the uniform is that soldiers did not button their jackets to the top in the tropical climate of the Philippines; an additional change is to give a more rounded shape to the steel helmet. He noted that he presented many design alternatives to living veterans, and their advice has helped in narrowing the range of alternatives and selecting the preferred designs.
Mr. Krieger reiterated his support for the preferred alternatives. For the poses of the figures on the obverse, he commented that the central figure appears to be standing at attention, while the flanking figures appear ready to fight; he suggested that all three soldiers should look like they are preparing for battle. Mr. Powell agreed. Upon a motion by Mr. Krieger with second by Ms. Meyer, the Commission recommended obverse #4 and reverse #1, consistent with the liaison's preferences, and with the further modifications suggested by the liaison including an adjusted pose for the central figure on the obverse.
3. CFA 15/JUN/17-8, Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Program. Reverse design for four coins. Final. Ms. Stafford summarized the authorizing legislation for four commemorative coins in recognition of the upcoming 50th anniversary of the first manned moon landing in 1969. The program includes a five-ounce silver proof coin, which the U.S. Mint has not previously produced; she said that this coin will be unusually large, approximately the same size as a bronze medal such as the sample that has been shown to the Commission members. The legislation specifies that all coins in the series will be curved, similar to the 2014 coins commemorating the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and that all of the convex reverses share a common design based on a well-known 1969 photograph of astronaut Buzz Aldrin's helmet and visor with a reflection of Neil Armstrong, the U.S. flag, a solar wind collector, and the lunar lander. The presentation includes three alternative series for the design of the four reverses; within each series, the difference is limited to the varying denomination of each coin, and the optional inclusion of an inscription with the weight and material for the five-ounce silver coin. She noted that the obverse design for the four coins will be determined through an open juried competition, with the Commission's involvement (see agenda item I.D).
Ms. Stafford said that the Mint's liaison for development of the reverse designs has been Bob Jacobs, the deputy associate administrator for communications at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, as designated by the NASA administrator. She presented the three series of reverse designs, noting the liaison's preference for series #3 due to the position of the inscriptions "United States of America" and "E Pluribus Unum."
Ms. Meyer asked why the reverse is being selected before the conclusion of the design competition for the obverse, preventing the selection of a reverse design that is intended to be compatible with the winning obverse; she acknowledged that an advantage of this sequence is that the competition entrants for the obverse will already know what design has been chosen for the reverse. Ms. Stafford responded that this benefit for the competition entrants is an intended advantage, and the early selection of the reverse design will be helpful in allowing a timely start for the considerable technical research that is necessary to finalize the design for a curved coin, particularly for the clad metal composition that will be used for the half-dollar coin in this series and for the unprecedented creation of a curved five-ounce silver coin. Mr. Krieger noted that a sample of the previous curved coins for the National Baseball Hall of Fame would be helpful in evaluating the current submission; Mr. Luebke said that a sample may have been shown to the Commission at a past meeting and could be brought again when the Mint next presents to the Commission.
Mr. Krieger commented that the lunar lander looks highly distorted in the third series of reverse designs; he asked if this distortion is due to the representation of a curved coin on a flat image or is intended as part of the design. Mr. Everhart of the Mint responded that the drawing corresponds to the appearance of the lunar lander's reflection in the helmet visor as seen in the 1969 photograph. Ms. Meyer observed that the depiction of the lander's legs varies among the alternatives, and she asked if the artist for the second series has corrected or altered the appearance of the reflection. Ms. Stafford offered to verify this feature for the selected alternative, in comparison to the historic photograph; she noted that the artist for the third series has chosen a closer cropping of the photograph, resulting in larger design features but perhaps also resulting in the apparent distortion of the lunar lander. Mr. Krieger supported the larger features of the third series, particularly the emphasis on the American flag that was a source of national pride. He commented that the text placement in the second series appears slightly crowded at the top of the composition.
Mr. Luebke said that the staff has encouraged the Mint to spell out each denomination instead of using numerals for some denominations, with the goal of a consistent treatment for each coin in the series. Ms. Meyer offered a motion to recommend the third series of reverse designs, subject to spelling out the denominations and verifying the appropriate alignment of the lunar lander's legs. Upon a second by Mr. Krieger, the Commission adopted this action.
4. CFA 15/JUN/17-9, 2019 Native American One Dollar Coin. Reverse design. Final. (Previous: CFA 15/OCT/15-4, 2017 and 2018 issues.)
5. CFA 15/JUN/17-10, 2020 Native American One Dollar Coin. Reverse design. Final. (Previous: CFA 15/OCT/15-4, 2017 and 2018 issues.)
Ms. Stafford summarized the program of annual reverse designs for the one-dollar coin to honor Native American contributions to the history of the United States; the obverse design would continue to depict Sacagawea. For the early years of the series through the 2016 issue, the selected historical themes were in chronological sequence; the later coins in the series are no longer limited to the historical chronology. She noted that the themes and design alternatives for the coins in this series have been developed in consultation with the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian, and have been reviewed by the Mint's Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) and liaison groups including the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, the Congressional Native American Caucus of the House of Representatives, and the National Congress of American Indians; the presentation includes their multiple preferences and comments. The Mint has also consulted with representatives of the Cherokee Nation and the family of Mary Golda Ross for the 2019 coin, and the Tlingit Nation and the family of Elizabeth Peratrovich for the 2020 coin. She noted that the obverse and edge-incused inscriptions would remain as with previous coins in the series; the required inscriptions on the reverse include "United States of America" and the denomination "$1" rendered with the dollar symbol and numeral.
American Indians in the Space Program (2019)
Ms. Stafford noted the appropriateness of this theme for the 50th-anniversary year of the first manned moon landing. She presented eighteen reverse design alternatives (numbered non-consecutively), noting the preferences of the various liaison groups for alternatives #10 and #1, with #10 as the first or second choice of each group.
Ms. Meyer supported alternative #10, depicting mathematician Mary Golda Ross who worked in the space program, but suggested reducing or eliminating the arrow that points from the writing paper to the nearby mathematical notation. Mr. Dunson commented that alternative #10 does not convey any apparent Native American connection, which is better conveyed in many of the other alternatives. Ms. Stafford responded that the stars in alternative #10 are intended to depict the Pleiades star cluster, which is an important part of the Cherokee Nation lore. Mr. Dunson emphasized the advantage of a broader reference to Native Americans; Mr. Powell and Mr. Krieger noted that the continuing obverse of the series depicts Sacagawea.
Mr. Powell offered overall support for alternative #10 but commented that its composition is complex for such a small coin, possibly resulting in much of the detail not being legible. He observed that alternative #1, the other preferred design, has a simpler and more legible composition. Ms. Meyer agreed, and Mr. Krieger observed that alternative #1 also includes a Native American reference. Mr. Everhart of the Mint responded that alternative #10 could be simplified, such as by eliminating the rocket's launch tower on the left, simplifying the clouds or smoke behind the mathematical notation, and reducing the number of stars in the depiction of the Pleiades. Mr. Krieger asked if the Pleiades would still be recognizable; Mr. Everhart said that its appearance could be conveyed while reducing the number of stars. Mr. Krieger nonetheless questioned whether the grouping of a few stars on this small coin could realistically be legible as the Pleiades. Mr. Everhart responded that the legibility of this iconic star cluster would actually be improved by having fewer stars. Mr. Krieger suggested removing the astronaut from the upper part of the composition, as well as addressing the lack of a clear reference to Native Americans.
Mr. Powell reiterated that either #1 or #10 would be acceptable, while #10 has the advantage of a simpler design and a stronger reference to Native Americans. Ms. Meyer observed that alternative #1 does not have a portrait of a specific person; Mr. Dunson agreed that this is an important concern, observing that #1 shows only a person's hand while #10 has a portrait of Mary Golda Ross.
Ms. Meyer suggested that the Commission support alternative #10, consistent with the prevailing preference of the liaison groups, but with the recommendation to simplify it by removing the clouds and rocket; the portrait could then be shifted toward the upper left, allowing for the addition of an inscription at the bottom of the design—"Native Americans in the Space Program," as seen in some of the other alternatives. Upon a second by Mr. Krieger, the Commission adopted this recommendation.
Elizabeth Peratrovich and Alaska's Anti-Discrimination Act of 1945 (2020)
Ms. Stafford described the historical importance of this Alaska state law, and she noted the appropriateness of this theme for the 75th anniversary of the law in 2020. She said that the renowned testimony of Elizabeth Peratrovich, a member of the Raven moiety of the Tlingit Nation, was important in securing enactment of the law, which prohibited discrimination in access to public accommodations.
Ms. Stafford presented eleven reverse design alternatives, noting the preferences of the various consulted liaison groups for alternatives #6 and #11. She added that members of the Peratrovich family and Tlingit Nation were particularly complimentary of the portrait in alternative #6 and the inclusion of the raven. She said that alternative #11 depicts a dancing Tlingit person with a Chilkat blanket, intended to represent all of the native Alaskan tribes; the dancer's shadow has the form of a raven in flight.
Mr. Dunson commented that a combination of the two preferred designs would be desirable: alternative #6 is a very powerful composition, while the symbolism of alternative #11 encompasses all of the native Alaskans. Ms. Meyer acknowledged the challenge of choosing between these two designs; Mr. Powell offered support for alternative #6. Ms. Stafford clarified that the Chilkat blanket is used by a particular segment of the Tlingit Nation, although the artist may be intending it to serve as a broader symbol. Ms. Meyer said that without any special wide-ranging symbolism for the blanket in alternative #11, the best choice would be alternative #6. Upon a motion by Mr. Powell with second by Mr. Krieger, the Commission recommended alternative #6.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 3:02 p.m.
Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA