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 10:09 a.m.
Hon. Earl A. Powell, Chairman
Hon. Elizabeth Meyer, Vice Chairman
Hon. Edward Dunson
Hon. Liza Gilbert
Hon. Toni Griffin
Hon. Alex Krieger
Hon. Mia Lehrer
Thomas E. Luebke, Secretary
Frederick J. Lindstrom, Assistant Secretary
A. Approval of the minutes of the 20 July meeting. Secretary Luebke reported that the minutes of the July meeting were circulated to the Commission members in advance. Upon a motion by Mr. Powell, the Commission approved the minutes.
B. Dates of next meetings. Mr. Luebke presented the dates for upcoming Commission meetings, as previously published: 19 October 2017, 16 November 2017, and 18 January 2018. He noted that no meeting is scheduled in December.
C. Report on the approval of two objects proposed for acquisition by the Freer Gallery of Art. Mr. Luebke reported the approval earlier in the day by Chairman Powell of the proposed acquisition of two artworks by the Smithsonian Institution for the permanent collection of the Freer Gallery of Art. The first, offered as a donation, is a Japanese album of textile fragments with an accompanying book of identifications; the album dates from the Edo period and includes examples of Japanese and Chinese textiles from the 15th through 19th centuries. The second artwork, offered for private sale, is an Egyptian basin from the mid-14th century; the hammered brass basin is inlaid with silver patterning and calligraphy. (The second item was added subsequent to the publication of the draft agenda.)
D. Report on the pre-meeting inspections for the Eisenhower Memorial. Mr. Luebke noted the Commission's inspection earlier in the morning of an on-site mockup of a portion of the large metal tapestry that is planned as part of the Dwight D. Eisenhower National Memorial. He also noted the Commission's inspection of the display of models and drawings for the memorial in a second-floor room of the National Building Museum. Chairman Powell suggested that comments from the Commission members could be provided in conjunction with the review of design revisions for the memorial (agenda item II.B.1).
II. Submissions and Reviews
Mr. Luebke introduced the three appendices for Commission action. Drafts of the appendices had been circulated to the Commission members in advance of the meeting.
Appendix I – Government Submissions Consent Calendar: Mr. Lindstrom said that no changes have been made to the draft appendix. He noted that the first project on the appendix is a proposal for cellular antennas at the National Gallery of Art, where Mr. Powell serves as director; his recusal is therefore necessary for the vote on this submission. He suggested for simplicity that Mr. Powell be recused from the vote for the entire appendix in lieu of separating the National Gallery of Art submission for a separate action. Upon a motion by Ms. Meyer with second by Mr. Krieger, the Commission approved the Government Submissions Consent Calendar; Mr. Powell recused himself and did not take part in the vote.
Appendix II – Shipstead-Luce Act Submissions: Ms. Batcheler reported that one project for a garden alteration has been added to the draft appendix with a favorable recommendation (case number SL 17-172). Other changes are limited to minor wording adjustments and noting the receipt of supplemental materials. Five recommendations are subject to the anticipated receipt of further supplemental materials, and she requested authorization to finalize these recommendations when the materials are received. Upon a motion by Ms. Griffin, the Commission approved the revised Shipstead-Luce Act appendix.
Appendix III – Old Georgetown Act Submissions: Mr. Mellon said that no changes have been made to the draft appendix, which includes an unusually heavy caseload of 56 projects; he noted that one project has an unfavorable recommendation. Upon a motion by Mr. Powell with second by Ms. Griffin, the Commission approved the Old Georgetown Act appendix.
At this point, the Commission departed from the order of the agenda to consider items II.B.2, II.C, and II.E. Mr. Luebke said that the Commission may wish to act on these submissions without presentations, noting that they do not meet the requirements for inclusion on the Consent Calendar.
B. National Park Service
2. CFA 20/SEP/17-2, Smithsonian Institution—Anacostia Community Museum, Fort Stanton Park (1901 Fort Place, SE). Site and security improvements. Final. (Previous: CFA 15/JUN/17-2.)
C. D.C. Department of General Services
CFA 20/SEP/17-3, Kimball Elementary School, 3375 Minnesota Avenue, SE. Additions and building modernization. Concept.
E. Events DC (Washington Convention and Sports Authority)
CFA 18/SEP/17-4, Saint Elizabeths East Campus, Oak Street, SE. New entertainment and sports arena. Final. (Previous: CFA 20/APR/17-3.)
Chairman Powell suggested the approval of these three submissions, noting the Commission's prior review of two of the projects. Upon a motion by Mr. Krieger with second by Ms. Meyer, the Commission adopted this action. (Mr. Krieger provided an additional comment on an on-site mockup of materials for the entertainment and sports arena, at the introduction to agenda item II.F.1.)
The Commission returned to the order of the agenda with item II.B.1.
B. National Park Service
1. CFA 20/SEP/17-1, Dwight D. Eisenhower National Memorial, Reservation #5, Maryland Avenue, and front plaza of the Dept. of Education Building. Intersection of Maryland and Independence Avenues, between 4th and 6th Streets, SW. Revised final design. (Previous: CFA 18/MAY/17-1.) Secretary Luebke introduced the proposal for additional modifications to the approved final design for the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial. The proposal is submitted by the National Park Service on behalf of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission. He noted that in May 2017, a mockup of a small section of the tapestry was set up in the parking lot of the National Building Museum for viewing by members of the Commission of Fine Arts, followed by the Commission's review of proposed final design revisions at its monthly meeting. In that review, the Commission reaffirmed its support for the project team's proposal to substitute an image of the Normandy beaches for a depiction of Abilene, Kansas, that had been approved as part of the memorial's original final design in June 2015. However, he said that the Commission did not take further action in May 2017 because of its continuing concerns about the proposed revisions, including the tapestry's fabrication method, the suitability of the photographic image used as a source, the location of the statue of the young Eisenhower, and the proposed removal of four large trees from the approved planting plan. The Commission also requested mockups of a larger portion of the proposed tapestry screen at the memorial site.
Mr. Luebke said that the current submission includes the requested mockups, which were viewed by the Commission members earlier in the day. The new design proposal for the tapestry image re-envisions it as an abstracted, artistic drawing of the Normandy coastline, the site of the D-Day invasion. In addition, the statue of the young Eisenhower is now proposed to be located within the northwest entry plaza, in the foreground of the memorial landscape. He noted that drawings and a model of the revised tapestry design are on display on the second floor of the National Building Museum; the Commission viewed this display prior to the meeting, and it will remain available for public viewing for several hours. He asked Peter May, the associate regional director for lands and planning at the National Capital Region of the National Park Service, to begin the presentation; Mr. May introduced architect Craig Webb of Gehry Partners to present the revised final design.
Mr. Webb discussed three items that were left unresolved at the Commission's May 2017 meeting: the trees, the statue of the young Eisenhower, and the tapestry. He said that the project team has followed the Commission's recommendation to retain the four trees that were previously proposed for removal from the plan. At the request of Frank Gehry, the lead architect for the memorial, the species of the central tree would be changed from a London plane to a bur oak, which would have a more stately presence. He said that the project team would try to find a particularly impressive specimen for this prominently located tree.
Mr. Webb said that after considering many different locations for the seated statue of the young Eisenhower, the proposed location is now at the northwest entry plaza near the corner of Independence Avenue and 6th Street. The sculpture would sit on a thirty-inch-high cubic block of stone at the north side of the plaza. The lower height of this pedestal would bring the life-size statue into a closer relation with the viewer; the statue would also be visible from all sides and would present a welcoming feature for visitors approaching from this direction. The text of Eisenhower's "Homecoming Speech" would be inscribed on a separate six-foot-high stone block on the plaza's south side; Mr. Webb said that separating these two elements on the plaza would give each a greater impact, compared to the previous proposal to inscribe the text on the statue's pedestal. The lettering used for the speech would be similar in size and design to that used for the memorial's other inscriptions. A light pole would be added near the Eisenhower sculpture to provide nighttime lighting; to avoid casting shadows over the text, the inscription of the speech would be lit from below by a strip of LEDs, the same technique proposed for other inscriptions. He said that the revised composition would create an intimate grove around this entrance, similar to the smaller spaces at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial. He also provided an update on the work of the sculptor Sergey Eylanbekov and lettering carver Nick Benson.
Mr. Webb said that previous mockups have highlighted the issue of creating sufficient contrast between the background mesh and the compositional elements of the tapestry image. To study the tapestry's appearance, the earlier mockups depicting a Kansas tree were placed against both glass and solid areas of the exterior wall of the Gehry Partners studio building to simulate the conditions in front of the Department of Education building. This study revealed that linework similar to the wire technique used to depict the tree trunk would provide the most legible contrast between foreground and background.
Mr. Webb said that many members of the project team, including Frank Gehry and artist Tomas Osinski, have recently been engaged in developing sketches for the revised tapestry image. The Normandy coast feature of Pointe du Hoc, still proposed for the center of the composition, would provide a focus for the drawing's energy. He said that the artistic, hand-rendered quality of the drawing appears to produce a much greater emotional impact than the previous photograph image, and further design development will try to emphasize this quality. The cloud-filled sky has been eliminated from the composition; the focus instead will be on the cliffs and the foreground sea. Shading will emphasize the cliff faces, and the drawing will float on the tapestry instead of bleeding off to the sides, an approach that should provide a better sense of place. He said that in areas without linework, the tapestry's background mesh will appear very transparent; he presented a photograph of a model that includes a tapestry with this floating image.
Mr. Webb said that the tapestry would be comprised of a grid of 600 panels, each three feet wide and fifteen feet high; many panels toward the periphery would have only the background mesh, without any linework. The mockup and the temporary exhibit, as viewed by the Commission earlier in the day, include one panel with denser and thus darker linework and another in which the linework is more open and delicate; he said that the technique is still being developed. The proposed night lighting of the tapestry would remain the same as previously proposed, with light cast from a continuous LED strip that would project eighteen inches from the tapestry's bottom edge; the lighting would fade as the tapestry ascends.
Chairman Powell thanked Mr. Webb for the presentation and expressed the Commission's appreciation for the new on-site mockups. Mr. Luebke noted that comments have been provided by a letter from Susan Eisenhower, granddaughter of President Eisenhower, and by a video presentation from Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, which was played for the Commission. Secretary DeVos said that Dwight D. Eisenhower will continue to be a towering figure in the public conscience of America, and his strength of character should serve as an example for facing today's challenges. She emphasized that as a military leader, Eisenhower's courageous plan for the D-Day invasion had led to the liberation of millions in western Europe, while as President he led the desegregation of America's schools—in short, Eisenhower liberated people from Nazism abroad and from racism at home. She welcomed the memorial to the Department of Education neighborhood.
Mr. Luebke noted that the concerns of the Eisenhower family had instigated the change from the tapestry image of Kansas to the new image of the Normandy coast. He read to the Commission the letter from Susan Eisenhower, in which she conveys the family's support for the currently proposed design modifications. She wrote that the artistic rendering of the Normandy coast will serve as a meaningful memorial to Eisenhower's leadership in the liberation of Europe, and to the sacrifices made by Allied forces; it will also be a reminder of the peace secured during Eisenhower's presidency. With these modifications, she hopes that the project can proceed to construction. She thanked the Commission of Fine Arts for its efforts.
Chairman Powell recognized Alfred Geduldig, a member of the Eisenhower Memorial Commission. Mr. Geduldig noted that he has served on the memorial commission since it was established in 1999 with bipartisan support. He said that we owe the remaining veterans of the war, and succeeding generations, the completion of this memorial to one of the country's greatest presidents. He added that memorial construction should begin while final design details are being worked out, and he pledged the continued cooperation of the Eisenhower Commission.
Ms. Lehrer expressed great enthusiasm and support for the project, particularly the tapestry; she said that she appreciates the project team's willingness to respond to the Commission's concern about basing the image on a photograph. She acknowledged the difficulty of having to redesign the image but said that the result is unexpectedly good, and the gestural nature of the drawing is beautiful. She observed that the mockup panels also looked good when seen from the windows of the Department of Education building during the site inspection. She commented that the proposed statue of the young Eisenhower is respectful and would give the figure presence, and she also supported the careful design of the lighting.
Mr. Krieger said that he agrees in supporting the revised design, including the substitution of a bur oak tree and the withdrawal of the previous proposal to remove four trees. He said that locating the Eisenhower statue in the northwest plaza would balance the information center on the east side of the site. However, he observed that the pose of the figure, with its legs drawn up on top of the cubic pedestal, appears unnatural; he recalled that the original proposal had depicted Eisenhower sitting on the wall of the promenade along the Department of Education building, with one leg hanging over the wall's edge, and he suggested changing the current proposal to resemble this.
Mr. Krieger commented that each redesign of the tapestry has surprised him. He said that the image of the trees in the Kansas landscape had provided the best balance between realism and abstraction, while the previously proposed image based on the Normandy photograph had been the worst, neither real nor abstract enough; he concluded that the revised tapestry image is probably the right solution. He endorsed its delicacy, but he said that this quality would make the supporting columns even more prominent, and he asked that this condition be considered as the image is refined. He noted that the mockup had included one panel with a dense pattern and a second with a lighter pattern; he commented that the more delicate panel appeared almost invisible, while the denser image seemed too stark, and he recommended seeking a middle ground. Mr. Webb responded that the design direction has not yet been decided, but additional sample panels would be made to further address questions of scale, space, density, line, and shading. Tomas Osinksi, the artist for the tapestry, said that the exploration will include both the denser and lighter patterns.
Ms. Griffin said that she too supports approval of the revised final design. She expressed appreciation for the project team's responsiveness to the Commission's comments and thoughtfulness in addressing the challenges of realizing the design's potential. She commented that the mockup is much more helpful when seen on site, while the presentation booklet alone cannot adequately convey the intent, scale, and technology of the proposal. She said that studying the panels from different vantage points around the large site has convinced her that the final tapestry design would be comprehensible, and she now believes that it can be successful.
Ms. Griffin observed that the drawing for the tapestry image, although subtle, appears almost uniform; she suggested adding more contrast to clarify the image, playing with the rendition of contrast and density in order to distinguish, for example, between the waves of the ocean and the shadows of the cliffs. She said that the polish of the wires could be adjusted to create effects ranging from dull to glimmering, and such contrasts will be vital in creating the impression that visitors are actually approaching the beaches of Normandy. She also commented that the use of a line drawing for the image would eliminate the strong contrast between the tapestry's front and back; she had been concerned that the back of the tapestry would negatively affect the experience of the promenade along the Department of Education building, but she is now confident that it will be an interesting space.
Ms. Griffin recommended refining the location of individual trees in relation to the overall pattern and density of the tapestry, in order to ensure that as the trees grow they will not hide the tapestry and obscure its meaning. She said that the tapestry would be the most important element in the memorial design, and the location proposed for the prominent oak tree would likely block some views of the tapestry. She commented that the more random and dense patterning of the tapestry has greater visual interest than the lighter version, although it will need refinement. She recalled that the previously approved memorial design had a strong relationship between the Kansas image, the statue of the young Eisenhower, and the inscription of the Homecoming Speech, and experiencing these elements together would have provided a way to understand the tapestry's meaning. While the sculpture ensemble in the current proposal will still refer to the notion of home, the tapestry image will now signify Normandy and World War II, resulting in a disconnection between the messages conveyed by the elements; she suggested further consideration of how the design could help the visitor understand the relationship among the components of the memorial.
Ms. Meyer supported the comments of the other Commission members, and she thanked the project team for the opportunity to see the mockups on site and for strengthening the concept through the technical development process. She acknowledged that the line drawings resulted from the search for a technique to create contrast with linework instead of tones, in order to translate a photographic image more effectively to the tapestry. But she observed that the technique of line drawing also resolves the problem of content and meaning, because a drawing of a battle site in peacetime conveys emotion that a photograph cannot. She emphasized that emotion, although invisible, fills landscapes, and the tapestry would now be able to convey emotion through the gestural quality of its lines. She encouraged the artist and the design team to remember the importance of this as the drawing is further refined. She said that this image would remind people of the significance of the D-Day landing, known through facts but also known through the emotions evoked by memories of the invasion. She also commented that the experience of viewing the panels on site had been greatly moving in a way that reviewing the design in the project booklet had not; the site visit allowed the Commission members to understand the scale of the panels, reminding them of the difference between the representation of a place and the actual experience.
Mr. Dunson said that he joins in supporting the comments provided and was pleased to see the new mockups on site, an experience which has improved his opinion of the design. He agreed with Mr. Krieger that one leg of the seated Eisenhower statue should dangle over the side of its pedestal. He commented that the memorial is more complex than the sum of its parts, and he also observed that as the trees mature, the perception of the memorial will change. Mr. Powell agreed that the design has improved and that the site visit was important.
Mr. Krieger offered a motion to accept the three proposed changes to the final design of the Eisenhower Memorial and to approve the final submission, with the stipulation that the Commission should have the opportunity to review details of the tapestry as the design is developed. Upon a second by Ms. Lehrer, the Commission adopted this action.
2. CFA 20/SEP/17-2, Smithsonian Institution—Anacostia Community Museum, Fort Stanton Park (1901 Fort Place, SE). Site and security improvements. Final. (Previous: CFA 15/JUN/17-2.) The Commission acted on the submission earlier in the meeting without a presentation, following agenda item II.A.
C. D.C. Department of General Services
CFA 20/SEP/17-3, Kimball Elementary School, 3375 Minnesota Avenue, SE. Additions and building modernization. Concept. The Commission acted on the submission earlier in the meeting without a presentation, following agenda item II.A.
D. D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs—Old Georgetown Act
OG 17-317, West Heating Plant, 1051 29th Street, NW. New replacement multi-unit residential building and garden. Revised concept. (Previous: OG 17-146, May 2017.) Secretary Luebke introduced the revised concept submission for redevelopment of the West Heating Plant, a former federal government facility along Rock Creek at the eastern edge of Georgetown. The previous concept was reviewed by the Old Georgetown Board (OGB) and then by the Commission in May 2017; the Commission did not adopt the OGB's recommendation against the proposal, instead approving the concept with recommendations to develop a revised landscape design and further develop the residential building's facades. The Commission also recommended a less rigid interpretation of the existing heating plant's architecture, suggesting that a drawing of sliding metal screens from a 2012 concept study could serve as inspiration.
Mr. Luebke said that, in response to these recommendations, the design team has developed a new concept for the exterior that draws upon the history of its truss bracing system and industrial materials. The new design retains the general layout of the previous submission, using similar plans and preserving the historic west facade and site walls while reinterpreting the other three monumental facades. The new concept envisions a glass box enclosed by moveable metal screens on the north and south; the east facade would be a glass wall recessed behind an array of projecting balconies. The landscape plan for the site's public park retains the basic layout of the initial design, refined to reflect more of the site's industrial heritage. He introduced Richard Levy of the Levy Group, part of the project's development team, to begin the presentation.
Mr. Levy expressed appreciation for the Commission's insightful questions and recommendations at the May meeting. He asked architect David Adjaye of Adjaye Associates and landscape architect Laurie Olin of OLIN to present the design.
Mr. Olin summarized the history of the site and context, from the eighteenth-century tobacco port of Georgetown through the early nineteenth-century construction of the Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) Canal and towpath connecting to Rock Creek at the northeast corner of the site. Commercial use of the canal declined by the early twentieth century, and much of the Georgetown waterfront has been restored or redeveloped in recent decades. The existing West Heating Plant was constructed between 1942 and 1948, and its grounds were used as an industrial yard.
Mr. Olin said that a park would be built on the roof deck above a new parking garage at the site of the building's coal yard. His initial studies for this triangular site were explorations of how to organize elements that are considered desirable in a public park, such as sun and shade, water features, and topographic variation; other desirable components include borders, a lawn, trees, a pergola, multiple entrances, and connections to the canal towpath and a walkway along Rock Creek. He said that in working out the spatial composition, he began to consider how to incorporate the industrial artifacts of the heating plant's coal yard, which include remnant coal elevators and cylindrical fuel tanks. He then envisioned the site with an underlying orthogonal order that recalls the structural grid of the heating plant. To avoid being constrained by a conventional classical symmetry, the proposal is to break up this underlying framework by using partial frames and industrial shapes. The material palette would include metal and concrete, along with the wood block pavement and cobbles that were presented in the previous submission.
Mr. Olin presented the revisions made to particular design elements. The spatial organization of the site plan is the same as previously presented, based on the notion of pieces of lawn pulled out like carpets from the park's north side. The topography would be tilted downward toward the west, with stepping derived from the pattern of the coal yard; this configuration would take advantage of afternoon sun, and the raised area would provide enough soil depth to plant native shade trees including the American chestnut. Visitors would be able to walk throughout the park, through seating areas with chairs and tables, under shade trees, and past moving water. Instead of a single basin, the water feature is now proposed as three connected basins, staggered in plan, creating an echelon formation alongside the pergola on the park's west side. Water would be recirculated through these stepped basins, similar to his design for the landscape of the forestry building at Yale University; water would flow down from one basin to the next by means of a structure resembling an elevator or lift. A steel or aluminum structure would be folded around the perimeter of the top basin to form seating, eighteen inches high with a higher back; this feature is inspired by a basin in Paris's Place Igor Stravinsky. The water in the top basin would be mostly still; it would be deep enough to grow water lilies or lotuses, plantings that would help purify the water. The water in the two lower basins would be more active. The pergola would be built of Cor-ten steel instead of the wood previously proposed; steel would have a visual relation to the new building and would be strong enough to support wisteria vines. He said that providing a way for pedestrians to cross the basins was considered, but he does not want to encourage a pedestrian circulation pattern that would wear a social trail across the small lawn.
Mr. Olin said that the revised site plan now provides three clear means of entry to the park: a grand stairway at the south corner at 29th and K Streets; stair and elevator access at the northwest corner along 29th Street; and a stairway along the stone site wall on the park's southeast edge, connecting to a walkway along Rock Creek. This stairway on the southeast would be designed to evoke the industrial shape of a historic coal escalator, and the walk along Rock Creek would have low-maintenance riparian plantings of wildflowers and native grasses as well as clumps of native trees.
Mr. Olin said that his attempts to incorporate the cylindrical forms of the large industrial tanks resulted in shapes that were boldly sculptural but forbidding, creating awkward interruptions of the space. Instead, the current proposal is to evoke the tanks by setting rings of small photovoltaic lights within the ground or the basins. Absorbing sunlight during the day, these fixtures would emit light at night, recalling the outlines of the tanks without retaining their cumbersome forms. He characterized this feature as another way to work with the geometries of the site's past use.
Mr. Olin said that spaces in the park would be demarcated by rows or groupings of flowering shrubs, including a row of shrubs separating the public park space from the private space associated with the residential building. Benches embedded within this row of shrubs would provide seating with views south into the park. The project's private spaces would include walled yards adjacent to some apartments, and shared outdoor areas adjoining the building's amenity rooms. Located behind the heating plant's historic flood wall, these shady areas would require hardy plantings. He noted that the narrow area adjacent to the canal on the north side of the building would not be accessible.
Mr. Adjaye then presented the revised concept for the building. He said that he had carefully studied the existing structure and eventually recognized that adapting it for residential use would preclude maintaining much of the historic fabric. However, he said that he has carefully analyzed the building's inherent order and how its structure responded to environmental and functional needs. He described the existing structure's truss system that creates a frame around the large central boiler room, with a penthouse extending over the entire space. Each facade is different; the east and west facades create gateways, and the north and south facades have a rhythm established by pilasters and vertical slot windows. The south side has fewer bays of slot windows than the north, reducing the solar heat gain on the interior; the east side has a single large aperture.
Mr. Adjaye said that the new building would be constructed on the heating plant's footprint. Some historic elements would be retained, including the foundations, the west facade along 29th Street, and the perimeter site walls. The existing corroded steel structure would be recalled through the use of Cor-ten steel. He said that the main organizing idea for the reinterpreted building is the image of building and landscape folding into each other, with the geometries of the building pulled into the landscape to form one system. The building is proposed to be reconstructed using a steel truss system that would act both as a brace for the exterior skin as a whole and as a frame supporting the inserted residential structure. He said that industrial components, such as steel I-beams, would be configured in different scales and woven together to create a system of screens across the apartment windows, resulting in a densely textured facade when the screens are closed and transparency when they are opened. He noted that the historic structure was not static but was articulated with many moving mechanical parts; similarly, he is trying to devise a hydraulic mechanical system that would operate the screens—a present-day expression of the historic mid-twentieth-century building systems. He added that the truss system would be cantilevered on the east face to create the equivalent of a portico, with the T-sections of beams forming balustrades.
Mr. Adjaye presented the proposed elevations, noting that each facade would be slightly different as in the original heating plant. The west facade would be retained as an artifact. It would be elevated above new windows along the street level that would reveal the steel frame of the historic structure, along with the base of the historic brick façade supported on I-beams; as a result, people walking along 29th Street would be able to perceive the entire structure of the building. Along the south elevation, a new exposed beam would create a datum that defines the juncture between the historic stone base below and the new metal-frame structure above. Narrow vertical apertures in the south facade would recall the verticality of the historic building, while providing a more appropriate distribution of windows for the new residential use. When all the windows are open, the facade would appear porous. The north facade would look more open, with wider windows and fewer bays. The east facade would be designed as a large glass bay to emphasize the idea of a portal, recalling the idea of the single historic opening that revealed the heating plant's central open space; it would be very open, revealing the steel frame, with long balconies looking out over Rock Creek. Mr. Krieger asked how the window shading systems would be controlled on the north and south facades; Mr. Adjaye confirmed that each apartment would have control of the operation of its own screens, introducing a randomness to the overall appearance of the exterior.
Mr. Adjaye described the relationship between the building and the site design, indicating a long I-beam would act as a datum for the structure, extending horizontally along 29th Street and across the entire park; the building would be horizontally linked to its park, rather than being an object sitting in a landscape. The top of the pergola would be cantilevered out from this beam; another canopy would be cantilevered over 29th Street, and the street frontage would be activated through the openness of the new building's west facade. Activity along the Rock Creek waterfront would be visible from the park, encouraging people to use the area's recreational paths; conversely, from these paths visitors would be able to see the building and park.
Chairman Powell commented on how much the concept has improved from the previous version. Secretary Luebke noted the letters of support from the local Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) and the Citizens Association of Georgetown, as well as the presence of interested members of the public in the audience.
Chairman Powell recognized Lisa Palmer, the elected representative for ANC 2E05, whose area includes the West Heating Plant. Ms. Palmer said that the neighboring residents believe the proposed building will improve the neighborhood. She read a letter stating the ANC's resolution that it does not take a position on whether demolition of the West Heating Plant is appropriate, but if demolition is approved, the ANC continues to support the latest concept design.
Next to speak was Robert vom Eigen, president of the Citizens Association of Georgetown. He said that his organization supports the conversion of the West Heating Plant into a residential property with a publicly accessible park, and endorses the revised design, which it finds consistent with the direction given by the Commission of Fine Arts in May 2017.
Ms. Griffin commended the project team's responsiveness to the Commission's previous advice to think more creatively about preservation, looking to technology for clues on how to reveal the site's heritage through a new design. She said that her comments on the current proposal are relatively minor. She spoke favorably about the west facade design concept of revealing the interior structure through long horizontal windows, but she observed that the horizontal beam above does not look substantial enough to support the facade. She encouraged further consideration of how to use the remnant piece of the industrial coal elevator, citing its scale, shape, and evocation of the site's heritage; she suggested using its exuberant sculptural form as inspiration for the new stair and bridge providing access to the park, or incorporating it as a freestanding sculpture. Mr. Olin responded that the design team would like to keep it, but its condition has to be evaluated; he added that it is located in the wrong place to be used as a stair. Mr. Adjaye said that he hopes to keep this artifact, perhaps as a sculpture.
Ms. Lehrer suggested also using the remnant fuel tanks as sculptural pieces. She commented that the proposed landscape has a beautiful scale; she commended the design team for creating more access, observing that access and permeability will bring people to the park, and she said that adding sculptural elements would also be a draw. Mr. Olin responded that he has explored site designs with circular elements based on the tanks, but he had difficulty superimposing the circles over the orthogonal grid while maintaining the readings of both shapes; this became particularly difficult if the circles were envisioned as three-dimensional volumes. The proposal is therefore to use lights to recall the circles, but he offered to revisit the issue.
Mr. Krieger said that the revision of the design has exceeded his expectations. However, he cautioned that the design approach should be to interpret rather than to sentimentalize history, commenting that this is where many preservation projects go astray. He said that in the current revised concept, the idea of the heating plant remains, but it is more beautiful and better suited for residential use. He advised a similar treatment for the park's smaller elements, which could easily become clichéd; he encouraged a more robust treatment of the park's elements. He anticipated that the final design would be spectacular and said that he looks forward to seeing the details; he added that the design team should be careful that the proposal does not become compromised by value engineering. Ms. Griffin agreed that the bold scale of the elements should be retained and not made small, even trivial.
Mr. Krieger asked for clarification of the uses proposed for the zone between the building and the park. Mr. Olin responded that this area would serve as a gap between the public park and the private uses of the building; it would include a porte cochere with a driveway leading to the parking garage, as well as private gardens for residential units on this level and a portion of the terrace area adjacent to the building's lower-level fitness center. He noted that the previous design had included a bridge between the public and private areas, which led to concern that the park's public space would be privatized. Mr. Krieger commented that in some drawings, the design for this area seems fussier than necessary, although he acknowledged that it appears less busy in plan. Mr. Olin said that the continuous shrub border along the north edge of the park is intended to be a long, simple form.
Mr. Dunson agreed with Ms. Griffin's concern regarding the visual support provided by the horizontal beam along 29th Street. He said that how the building meets the beam and then the ground should express an idea about the organization of landscape, building, and street; further detail would strengthen the design for the entire wall, which could be a great addition to the streetscape. Mr. Adjaye responded that he had wanted this beam to appear as if it were floating, but this intent was constrained by cost.
Ms. Meyer recalled the earlier question of whether so much of the building should be demolished. She said that she finds the separation between design and preservation on the East Coast—and especially in Washington, D.C.—to be problematic. What she admires in this project is the willingness to explore modes of preservation other than the simulation of material culture—such as the evocation of structure, movability, heritage associations, mass, and volume. She commented that many qualities of the existing building would be better retained through a new design such as this, which would still preserve the historic west facade and site wall. She applauded this design sensibility and expressed the hope that its value would be acknowledged.
Ms. Meyer commented that the metal proposed for the benches might be comfortable in the winter, as they would retain heat, but in Washington's summers they would become hot enough to repel use. She suggested developing additional information about the park's microclimates and its projected seasonal use, and she said that she looks forward to seeing the refinement of details in the next submission.
Ms. Gilbert commented that the proposed building would be a wonderful project; she observed that it would be composed of moving parts, and asked if this treatment could be extended into the landscape. She suggested designing a trellis for the pergola that could be activated in warm weather, in a manner similar to the proposed window screens, to protect areas beneath it from the sun. She suggested devising some means for visitors to cross the series of water basins. She also advised further exploration of how the park design relates to the parking garage below, perhaps by inserting the water basins into the garage's roof structure.
Chairman Powell summarized the consensus to approve the revised concept with enthusiasm and with the extensive comments provided. Upon a second by Ms. Meyer, the Commission adopted this action.
E. Events DC (Washington Convention and Sports Authority)
CFA 18/SEP/17-4, Saint Elizabeths East Campus, Oak Street, SE. New entertainment and sports arena. Final. (Previous: CFA 20/APR/17-3.) The Commission acted on the submission earlier in the meeting without a presentation, following agenda item II.A. (See additional comment on an on-site mockup of materials, at the introduction to agenda item II.F.1.)
F. D.C. Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development
1. CFA 20/SEP/17-5, Continuing Treatment Complex, St. Elizabeths East Campus, Sycamore Drive (formally Dogwood Street) and Oak Street, SE. Renovation and adaptive reuse of buildings #107, 108, 109, 110, 111, 112, & 113. Concept. Mr. Lindstrom introduced a concept design for the adaptive reuse of seven historic buildings that comprise the former Continuing Treatment (CT) complex, a part of the larger St. Elizabeths East Campus in the Congress Heights neighborhood. The project proposes renovations and additions to the existing buildings to rehabilitate them as rental apartments. He reminded the Commission members that they had approved earlier in the meeting the final design for a new Entertainment and Sports Arena (agenda item II.E), which would be located across the street from this complex; he confirmed for Mr. Krieger that the approval of this proposal would include the request for preparation of an on-site mockup of the arena's exterior materials for inspection by the staff. He introduced historic preservation consultant Laura Hughes of EHT Traceries, who asked Ed Fisher, executive director of St. Elizabeths East for the D.C. Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, to introduce the proposal.
Mr. Fisher described the first phase of development intended for the East Campus, which was outlined in a 2012 master plan: the arena, as previously approved; the CT complex, which would accommodate 252 units of housing, many of which would have three bedrooms to accommodate larger families in the Congress Heights community; and development of the land surrounding the CT campus for between 60 and 100 townhouses and approximately 200,000 square feet of office space with ground-floor retail. He emphasized that the creation of affordable housing is a priority for this mayoral administration. He asked the project's developers—Stan Jackson of the Anacostia Economic Development Center and Dwayne Miller of Flaherty & Collins Properties—to continue the presentation.
Mr. Jackson expressed his enthusiasm for the redevelopment potential of the CT complex and the impact it would have on the Congress Heights neighborhood, which he said is economically challenged and historically disadvantaged. He emphasized that community engagement is important to the development team, especially since the community members expressed great concern that the new arena could lead to displacement in the nearby neighborhood. He said that the approach to community engagement includes education about the value of the CT buildings as historic resources and their potential to be transformed into inclusive housing. The design includes sustainable features, which would introduce new technologies to the community. Finally, he noted that the proposal responds to a citywide demand for housing, especially east of the Anacostia River. Mr. Miller added that eighty percent of the apartments would be priced as affordable housing units, while the remaining twenty percent would be priced at a market rate; historic preservation tax credits would help fund the project, along with private financing and bonds from the D.C. Housing Finance Agency. He introduced architect Maria Casarella of Cunningham Quill Architects and landscape architect Sheila Brady of Oehme, van Sweden & Associates to present the design.
Ms. Casarella said that the original 19th-century St. Elizabeths Campus—now known as the West Campus—was designed to provide a therapeutic environment for hospital patients. During the 20th century, the hospital's design changed to incorporate new treatments for the mentally ill. The CT complex, developed on the East Campus, was designed to restrict the free movement of the patients through the buildings and campus, resulting in its penitentiary-like, institutional character. She said that the design seeks to restore the buildings and landscape while mitigating this institutional quality to create a welcoming residential environment. She described the composition of the complex with six H-shaped buildings surrounding a center building. Four 100-foot-long exterior circulation corridors, which range in width from seven to twelve feet, connect the outer buildings to this center building and divide the complex's central area into four courtyards; shorter corridors connect the pairs of northern and southern buildings. The oval-shaped site is surrounded by streets and penetrated by four entry drives that lead into the courtyards; a new perimeter street would be constructed around the site, altering its historic oval shape.
Ms. Hughes provided an overview of the history of the complex. The early development of the East Campus included laboratories and autopsy suites where scientific research was performed. When the West Campus became too crowded, the East Campus was developed with additional hospital buildings. She indicated on a historic photo of the East Campus a complex of large hospital buildings that were constructed to treat patients on a short-term basis; the CT complex was constructed separately to provide long-term or permanent care. The CT complex was developed in phases, beginning in 1933 with the central kitchen and cafeteria building and two of the H-shaped buildings; the other four H-shaped buildings were constructed between 1938 and 1940. She described the architectural style as Italian Renaissance, with articulated window heads and red clay tile roofs; the buildings were intended to have a residential character and were based on a cottage plan, with substantial sleeping porches and generous access to light and air for patients. She noted that the buildings are in good condition; several non-historic structures have been added to the building and site over time, including additions for elevators from the mid-1980s.
Ms. Hughes said that the character-defining features of the site include its oval shape; the formal entry paths to the buildings and internal courtyards; the internal courtyards themselves; and the entry courts at the building entrances facing the perimeter streets. She described the development of the landscape: perimeter trees were first planted to provide privacy for the site; by 1941, the plantings were more formalized, trees were planted in the courtyards, and benches were installed; by the 1960s, the landscape appeared in a mature state; more shrubbery and additional benches installed at the entry courts in the 1970s. She noted that historic photographs show flowering trees and large maples on the site that mitigated some of the complex's institutional character. She described the landscape as being in poor condition.
Mr. Krieger asked about the nearby buildings shown in a photograph of the site, apparently now cleared for the new arena project. Ms. Hughes responded that these were temporary tuberculosis cottages that were replaced with larger hospital buildings in the 1950s, which were recently demolished for the arena development. Ms. Griffin asked how the CT buildings' outward-facing entrances were used historically; Ms. Hughes responded that they were always used as entrances to the individual buildings, and patients occasionally spent time in these entry courts along the streets, but the more secluded internal courtyards were used more frequently.
Ms. Casarella said that because of the intended use of historic preservation tax credits, the work performed on the buildings and landscape must comply with the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties. The scope of the restoration is being coordinated with the National Park Service; the expectation is that that exterior wall materials, plaster work, the existing stairs, and other elements will be retained. She said that the exterior masonry and roofs are in good condition, but the windows would require extensive restoration work, and many deteriorating exterior building elements would be removed and replaced. Non-contributing elements on the buildings and in the landscape would be removed, while new additions would be designed to minimize visual impacts. These additions, which include new entries and mechanical system dormers, are inspired by the defining characteristics of the historic structures, including a sense of architectural restraint.
Ms. Casarella described the proposed barrier-free entrance pavilions that would be added to the existing exterior circulation corridors. These pavilions are intended to be visually transparent; their design is informed by the buildings' prominent sleeping porches, and they are intended to resemble welcoming living room spaces. The pavilions would meet the existing corridors below the existing eaves. The new entrance pavilion between the two northern buildings is designed to be the main public entrance to the complex; this pavilion's scale would be large enough to relate to the arena building across Oak Street and but would also be compatible in scale with the adjacent buildings. The other entrance pavilions would provide access only for residents and would be more modest in scale. The open and glassy design of the pavilions is intended to be an inversion of the existing masonry security entrances, which she said resemble security towers. Vertical metal fins patterned with sycamore or oak leaves, perhaps corresponding with the name of the facing street, would provide character to the pavilions' glass facades and serve to identify individual entrances; the position of each screen would also be adjusted according to the solar orientation. She summarized that the entry pavilions and plazas are intended to define the character of the complex by providing visual interest against the sameness of the brick buildings.
Ms. Brady presented the landscape design, which she said is intended to bring new life and activity to a landscape that is now bleak and abandoned. The existing large trees would be preserved in consultation with arborists, and new trees would be added. The historic oval perimeter of the site would be preserved by a new walkway that would replicate the original street configuration. The characteristic lawn condition along the outer edge of the site would be retained. The flowering trees and plantings that are proposed for the buildings' entrance courts are intended to introduce a smaller scale to these intimate spaces in relation to the larger trees at the perimeter of the site; bicycle racks and benches would also be installed in these entry plazas. She said that 85 parking spaces would be distributed across the four courtyards. Amenities proposed for the courtyards include playgrounds for children, recreation spaces for adults, community dining areas, and open space, all shaded by canopy trees. Ms. Casarella concluded by noting that the project is on an accelerated schedule, and she said that the project team looks forward to working with the staff to refine the design based on the Commission's comments.
Chairman Powell thanked the project team for its presentation, citing the importance of the project. Ms. Lehrer asked if recreation and amenity spaces would be provided for teenagers, such as basketball courts or skateboarding areas. Ms. Brady responded that teenagers would be accommodated by the large areas of open space that are proposed; Ms. Lehrer said that amenities for teenagers should be better integrated into the landscape plan. Ms. Griffin asked how the ratio between parking and amenity areas in the courtyards was determined, and she requested clarification of whether the courtyard configuration is an existing condition or a new intervention; Ms. Meyer asked for further information about the overall parking strategy for the site. Ms. Brady responded that the D.C. Government requires 85 parking spaces for the project, and the strategy is to distribute the spaces across each of the existing four courtyards to allow for some amenity space in each without overwhelming one or two courtyards with parking. Ms. Casarella said that the number of parking spaces is determined by a ratio set by zoning.
Ms. Griffin asked for more information on the existing conditions of the courtyards. Ms. Casarella said that the northern courtyards currently have extensive paved surfaces, which were installed to accommodate functions such as truck loading; the southern courtyards have more green space. She said the proposed landscape design takes into account these existing conditions in its disposition of the program. Ms. Griffin asked if the parking has to be accommodated within the courtyards; Ms. Casarella responded that the parking would be distributed among the courtyards because the character of the landscape between the buildings and streets has to be maintained. Mr. Fisher confirmed that parking could only be accommodated within the courtyards, adding that street parking would be permitted on the new perimeter street that will encircle the site, which is also the boundary of the project. Other parking options would be available in other parts of the campus. He added that the configuration of the courtyards is affected by the heritage trees within them. Ms. Meyer and Ms. Gilbert asked if parking could be accommodated anywhere on the outer portions of the site, such as toward the streets. Mr. Fisher responded that this is intended as green space and cannot be allocated for parking; Ms. Casarella said that this limitation results from the project's reliance on historic preservation tax credits. She confirmed that National Park Service staff has advised the project team that only limited opportunities are available to alter the exterior setting of the buildings if the project is to be eligible for tax credits. She added that some new mechanical equipment may be located on the exterior in certain places. Ms. Meyer asked about the scale of the courtyards within the site; Ms. Casarella responded that each courtyard is approximately 200 feet long, and the entire site is 10 acres.
Ms. Griffin expressed appreciation for this additional information and said that it would help inform a constructive evaluation of the project. She welcomed the proposal, noting that she had worked on a project to reuse the St. Elizabeths East Campus earlier in her career. She acknowledged the difficulty of transforming the institutional campus into a neighborhood of buildings, and she commented that the design is not yet effectively mitigating the predominant institutional character of the CT complex. She cited the exterior connecting corridors as examples of this character, describing them as reminiscent of mid-century public housing developments; she questioned who would use them and how they would be used. She recommended transitioning away from the concept of a single complex to a concept that considers each building as a distinct villa with its own address. She said that simply appending entry boxes to the connecting corridors would not diminish their institutional quality, and she suggested consideration of demolishing the corridors to allow each building to stand on its own as a residence. The landscape could then be used as a place where residents leave their apartments and meet each other; this activity could then inform the land planning and configuration of the courtyards. She also suggested, as an alternative to complete demolition of the corridors, creating openings through them to allow pedestrian circulation between the four internal courtyards. While acknowledging the constraints that historic preservation regulations place on the development, she encouraged thinking creatively about the role of the corridors in the programming and circulation plan for the development. This could result in each courtyard providing a different amenity for the community—for instance, a public and event oriented place, or quiet and passive place—creating a unique identity for each courtyard space and allowing for more mixing of residents.
Ms. Meyer expressed strong support for the project, while agreeing that the design of the courtyards appears homogeneous. She said that the design should take a stronger position on the qualities and differentiated character of each courtyard; otherwise, the result will be a pervasive sameness that is common in large townhouse and apartment building complexes, such as where color is used as a visual identifier for individual buildings or units. She offered several suggestions to improve the design. The parking lots could be treated as plazas that are occasionally occupied by cars; this could include removing the lines that delineate each space, and configuring the lots to be usable as play spaces. She also suggested that the parking spaces could be distributed entirely among the two westerns courtyards, eliminating the small number of spaces that are compromising the two eastern courtyards; their design could emphasize a garden vocabulary. She also commented that the proposed trees are spaced too far apart; she suggested that they be massed in bosques or groves to create a better sense of place, allowing for pockets of activity below a dense and shady canopy. Finally, she commented on the difficulty of distinguishing between the fronts and backs of the buildings. She said that the proposed exterior entrance plazas at the historic outward-facing entrances could bring a lot of activity to these areas, and she suggested consideration of a more muted design in order to concentrate activity in the courtyards. She recommended further study of the likely pedestrian movements of walkers, bikers, drivers, and Metro riders in and around the buildings to inform the arrival and entry sequences into the buildings and the planning of the courtyards.
Ms. Gilbert expressed appreciation for the generous green spaces and gardens proposed near the historic outward-facing entrances to the building, suggesting that additional benches be installed in these areas. She also added that perforating the exterior corridors could allow for configuring a new walkway to recall the historic oval road around the site while encouraging more interaction among the residents.
Mr. Krieger expressed support for the project and agreed with the comments of the other Commission members. He said that historic preservation regulations are constraining the design and not allowing for the buildings to be appropriately reused; a bolder challenge to preservation rules would create a much better environment. He supported the idea of demolishing the corridors and creating individual lobbies for each building, agreeing with Ms. Griffin that retaining them would give the new residential community an undesirable institutional character. He also suggested shifting the parking to the entry drives or the lawn areas near the streets, instead of locating the parking in the courtyards. He suggested that the typology of a porch, which is seen in the buildings' historic sleeping porches, could be extended to the new entry pavilions; he suggested that the small pavilions be reconceived as generous porches with occupiable spaces to encourage social interaction. He added that the corridors, if retained, could also be adapted into porch-like spaces.
Ms. Casarella responded that the corridors must be retained in the design, and they would provide common spaces for the residents. For example, exercise equipment space would be located along the south corridor, and rooms for mail, packages, and bike storage would be located along the corridors, encouraging residents to circulate throughout the campus. Mr. Krieger reiterated that preservation regulations are making the design too timid; Ms. Casarella agreed, acknowledging that complying with preservation regulations has been frustrating. She said that the new entry pavilions that would be added to the corridors are intended to allow circulation between some of the courtyards. Although these pavilions were originally conceived of as large living rooms with places to sit and enjoy the landscape, they were reduced in size for budget reasons to be simple entry porches, resembling airlocks. Mr. Krieger commented that if the entries are to be considered porches, then they would at least need to contain a place to sit. Ms. Casarella agreed that complying with preservation regulations to maintain the project's eligibility for tax credits is hampering the adaptive reuse of the building, and she said that the project team would consider how to incorporate the Commission's comments into the design.
Ms. Meyer reiterated Mr. Krieger's suggestion to shift the majority of the parking spaces to the radial entry drives; she said that allowing parking along at least one side of the drives would open more possibilities for the courtyards. Mr. Miller responded that the D.C. Office of the Fire Marshal would not allow parking on the drives as they exist now, but perhaps they could be widened. He said that the development team had originally sought to demolish the corridors but was asked by the National Park Service to retain them because they contribute to the significance of the central kitchen building. He said that the space utilization rate is important for the economic success of the project, and the corridors are therefore proposed to be used for functions such as the developer's own offices and a gym; with common spaces located along the corridors, the basement level could be used for more residential units. He added that the northern entrance would be large enough to relate to the scale of the arena across the street, and it would lead to 14,000 square feet of shared space on the main level.
Chairman Powell summarized that the Commission is enthusiastic about the project and is interested in seeing it move forward; he encouraged the project team to consider the Commission's comments. Secretary Luebke noted the apparent consensus to broadly support the project on a conceptual level, but with many details of the design still needing to be resolved. He said that the staff could work further with the applicant, and he asked if the Commission would prefer to review a further concept submission. Ms. Meyer said she does not want to approve the current concept design, commenting that the appropriate components of the design are present but are not yet satisfactorily configured. She suggested instead that the applicant incorporate the Commission's comments into a new concept submission for the next meeting; she added that a final design could likely be approved within several months. Chairman Powell agreed with this approach. Mr. Krieger expressed concern about delaying the project by not providing an approval; he suggested that the Commission could approve the general concept of adaptively reusing the campus for housing, while conveying the extensive doubts of the Commission members about the site plan, the parking, the absence of porches, and the intended use of the corridors, among other issues. Mr. Luebke said that the Commission could give the project a general concept approval with the stipulation that it be resubmitted as a revised concept; Ms. Meyer agreed that an approval motion should include this stipulation. Chairman Powell suggested that Mr. Krieger's summary and Ms. Meyer's request could serve as a motion to approve the general concept, and the Commission adopted this action. Afterward, Ms. Casarella confirmed for Mr. Krieger that the planned townhouses to the south and west of the CT complex, across Sycamore Drive, will be a separate future project.
District Wharf – Introduction (agenda items II.F.2 and II.G.1 through II.G.3)
Ms. Batcheler introduced a set of concept submissions for portions of the second phase of the Southwest Waterfront redevelopment, a project named "District Wharf" (previously known as "The Wharf"). She noted the Commission's review of the other components of the second phase in July 2017. The current submissions include the designs for three buildings, several public spaces adjacent to these buildings, and the extension of the first-phase public space designs for the waterfront edge and the Maine Avenue streetscape in the area of these projects. The overall District Wharf project is a complex public-private partnership that is being coordinated by the private-sector development team of Hoffman-Madison Waterfront; due to the property configuration of the project, the public spaces and streetscapes are listed as D.C. Government submissions from the D.C. Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, while the proposals for buildings are submitted as private-sector referrals in accordance with the Shipstead-Luce Act. She noted that one of the proposed buildings would occupy a site formed by combining Parcel 6 and Parcel 7 of the District Wharf's master plan. She asked Matthew Steenhoek of PN Hoffman, part of the Hoffman-Madison Waterfront development team, to begin the presentation.
Mr. Steenhoek noted that the first phase of the District Wharf is scheduled to open on 12 October 2017, and he encouraged the Commission members to visit the development. The designers of the various project components that will be presented today include: Hilary Bertsch of EE&K/Perkins Eastman; Paul Josey of Wolf/Josey Landscape Architects; Faye Harwell of Rhodeside & Harwell; Todd Shapiro of Hollwich Kushner Architecture; William Sharples of SHoP Architects; and Christian Bailey of ODA New York. Ms. Meyer noted that the submissions are all part of a single development project, and she requested that each presentation address the relationship of the component to the adjacent buildings and open spaces.
2. CFA 20/SEP/17-6, Southwest Waterfront Development, "District Wharf." Phase II, Maine Avenue, SW, between 6th and 7th Streets. Public space elements: The Wharf Promenade, Maine Avenue, The Grove, and The Mews. Concept. The public space proposals were introduced by Ms. Bertsch of EE&K/Perkins Eastman, the firm that led the master planning process and is coordinating the designs for all of the public spaces. Ms. Bertsch said that the overall design approach for these spaces in the District Wharf's second phase is to continue the design character of the first phase. She also clarified that the public space between Parcel 6 and Parcel 7, called the Oculus, will be presented later on the agenda in conjunction with the single building that is proposed for the combined parcels.
Ms. Bertsch presented an overall site plan of the District Wharf, indicating the 7th Street Park as the transition between the first phase to the northwest and the second phase to the southeast; she also indicated the areas further to the southeast that were presented at the Commission's July 2017 meeting. She noted that Marina Way, the narrow street between Parcels 8 and 9, was presented in July and forms an edge of the proposal for Parcel 8 that is being presented today. She characterized the street pattern generally as somewhat narrow, with loading docks and parking entrances located along the minor streets or "mews," while the Wharf Promenade would serve as the primary pedestrian circulation for the project. She indicated the two levels of below-grade parking that would extend under the parcels and streets; the garage is configured as two separate structures that are separated by a water line located beneath Marina Way. She noted that the configuration of the marina piers is slightly different than was shown in earlier drawings. She concluded with several views along Maine Avenue, the Wharf Promenade, and an overall aerial perspective to convey the scope of the project.
Mr. Josey of Wolf/Josey Landscape Architects noted his previous position as a project manager at Nelson Byrd Woltz during that firm's design work for the first phase of the District Wharf. He presented the design for extending the sixty-foot-wide Wharf Promenade, which includes a twenty-foot-wide zone for cafes along the adjacent buildings, then a shared-use zone in the middle that accommodates vehicles and pedestrians, and a pedestrian zone at the water's edge that has soil below to support tree growth and capture rainwater. The materials would be continued from the promenade in the first phase, including cobbles and dark gray granite pavers with either a smooth or textured finish. Accent bands of darker or lighter granite would define the edges of the various zones along the promenade. Open joints and porous slabs would be used above the areas of below-grade soil. The 'Columbia' hybrid of the London plane tree, suitable along the water's edge and tolerant of varied urban planting conditions, would be used along the promenade.
Mr. Josey presented the design for the Grove, a rectangular open space extending inward from the promenade between Parcel 7 and Parcel 8. The design intent is to provide a concentrated area of shade in the middle of the District Wharf, and to provide a location for enjoying the open views across the Washington Channel through a gap in the marina piers. The park area would be slightly elevated to enhance the views and increase the soil volume for trees. Benches would be provided within the grove of trees, and the low retaining wall around the elevated park would also provide seating. He noted that the several steps leading up to this elevated park would echo the complex stepped form of the adjacent building proposed for Parcel 8; the steps on the northeast side, away from the Wharf Promenade, would be configured to include ramped circulation on a diagonal that would relate to the hotel lobby entrance on Parcel 8. The surface materials would include a light-colored Mount Airy granite, matching the paving material of the Yacht Club Plaza in the District Wharf's first phase, and decomposed granite on a porous slab above areas of soil.
Mr. Josey said that the trees in the Grove would be Kentucky coffeetrees, which would be successful within the available soil volume and would reach a maximum height that is within the available forty-foot height. Secretary Luebke clarified that the height constraint is due to the overhanging upper floors of the building on Parcel 8, which may not be clear from the site plan. Mr. Josey said that the design team has studied the effect of this overhang on the growing conditions to ensure that the trees will be successful. He said that the tree selection is intended to provide a sufficiently high canopy to allow views through the Grove to the water, while being low enough to define an intimately scaled space. He added that this tree is also tolerant of varying temperature and water conditions, and it has an attractive fall color and winter form. He concluded with a perspective view of the Grove and the adjacent Wharf Promenade, indicating the two-sided benches on the outer edge of the promenade that would allow people to face outward to the Washington Channel or inward to the pedestrian activity along the promenade.
Mr. Josey presented the proposal for the mews, two short and narrow street segments in the vicinity of the Grove. A 25-foot-wide segment named Water Street would cross Parcel 8, interrupting the building's first floor and a portion of the second floor; it would be a one-way street that provides access to the residential lobby for Parcel 8 and, at its northwest end alongside the Grove, provides access to the hotel lobby for Parcel 8. A 35-foot-wide street, named the Alley, would connect Maine Avenue with the Wharf Promenade between Parcel 7 and Parcel 8, passing along the northwest edge of the Grove; it would provide access to loading docks for the adjacent buildings and to the below-grade parking. Each of these streets would have a pedestrian-only zone at each side and a shared-use zone in the middle.
Mr. Josey described the continuation of the Maine Avenue streetscape along the northeast edge of the District Wharf's second phase. A ten-foot-wide bicycle path, protected from traffic lanes, would be extended between the sidewalk and a seven-foot-wide planting strip that is positioned to contain several large existing street trees. The specification for new street trees, as well as for the understory trees between the sidewalk and the bicycle path, includes a mix of willow oaks, Shumard oaks, and river birches. Beneath the bicycle path and much of the sidewalk, a Silva Cell support system would accommodate additional soil volume for the trees. He noted the design team's consultation with tree experts and the study of design techniques to protect the roots of the existing trees, including the type of soil and the grading of the bicycle path.
Mr. Luebke clarified that the edges of the area covered in today's presentation of public spaces are abutting the public spaces to the southeast that the Commission reviewed in July 2017, and the spaces to the northwest from the District Wharf's first phase. He also noted that the position of Water Building #2, across the Wharf Promenade from Parcel 8, has recently been adjusted.
Ms. Gilbert asked what trees were specified along the Maine Avenue frontage of the District Wharf's first phase. Mr. Josey responded that the trees include willow oaks, Shumard oaks and Chinese elms. Ms. Gilbert asked how they would be configured; Mr. Josey said that the elms would be grouped to provide a consistent understory, and the oak types would be mixed. Ms. Gilbert asked for clarification of the tree specifications where the Wharf Promenade passes alongside the Grove. Mr. Josey confirmed that most trees at the water's edge along the promenade would be London plane trees; however, at the water's edge directly across from the Grove, Kentucky coffeetrees would be used.
Chairman Powell commented that the proposal appears to be fairly straightforward, and he suggested approval of the concept submission. Upon a second by Mr. Krieger, the Commission adopted this action.
(The Commission provided additional comments on the public spaces, including the extension of the Wharf Promenade and Maine Avenue, during its review of the building proposals at the District Wharf. See agenda items II.G.1 through II.G.3 below.)
(Ms. Lehrer departed the meeting during the discussion of the building proposals at the District Wharf.)
G. D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs—Shipstead-Luce Act
1. SL 17-167, Southwest Waterfront Development, "District Wharf." Phase II, Water Building 1, 670 Maine Avenue, SW. New marina services and retail building. Concept.
2. SL 17-169, Southwest Waterfront Development, "District Wharf." Phase II, Parcel 6/7, 660 and 680 Maine Avenue, SW. New office and retail building. Concept.
3. SL 17-168, Southwest Waterfront Development, "District Wharf." Phase II, Parcel 8, 640 Maine Avenue, SW. New apartment, hotel, and retail building. Concept.
The Commission decided to jointly consider all three of the building proposals for the District Wharf.
Water Building 1
Mr. Shapiro of Hollwich Kushner Architecture presented the design for Water Building 1, located across the Wharf Promenade from Parcel 7. He said that the program totals approximately 12,000 square feet, primarily restaurant and retail space; 850 square feet would be used for a marina services facility. He indicated the site's central position along the length of the promenade, and its proximity to the Grove that was presented earlier in the meeting as one of the District Wharf's public spaces. The site extends approximately 110 feet along the promenade, with its edge aligned with the promenade's bulkhead, and extends 70 feet into the Washington Channel; the southeast edge of the site is aligned with the southeast edge of Parcel 7 across the promenade. The proposed exterior enclosure would be set back from the edges of the platform, leaving an eight-foot-wide occupiable strip of exterior space along the northwest and southeast edges and a three-foot setback along the southwest and northeast edges; the building's structural frame would be exposed within these setback areas, which would also accommodate emergency egress and back-of-house service access.
Mr. Shapiro described the design goals of creating a building that would be iconic, playful, and inspired by the context of the wharf. The resulting concept is to extend the design vocabulary of the District Wharf's continuous bulkhead along the promenade—defined by large vertical timbers—to form the edges of the platform for the building. The height of the bulkhead would be split horizontally into two layers: the lower layer would be aligned with the promenade to form the building's floor plane, and the upper layer would be raised two stories to form the roof plane. The glass-enclosed two-story volume of the building would extend between these two planes; a two-story-high diagonal truss structure at the perimeter, exposed to the exterior within the building setbacks, would support the roof plane. He said that the exposed asymmetrical structure would provide the iconic and playful design character that is desired.
Mr. Shapiro presented several perspective views of the proposal, indicating the use of wood for the bulkhead vocabulary of the building platform and the roof structure; wood is also proposed for the deep soffits. The Wharf Promenade's line of waterfront trees would continue in front of this building. The lower story would be 14 feet high, and the upper story would be 16 feet high; the vertical circulation core would rise to a small mechanical penthouse that is deeply set back from the building edges, providing access to a roof terrace that could be used seasonally in conjunction with the second-story tenant space. He said that the total height of the building, including the penthouse structure, would be 45.5 feet above the Wharf Promenade. He indicated the space at the east corner of the lower story for marina services—including lounge spaces and kitchen, bathroom, and laundry facilities; this area would have its own entrance from the promenade. The remainder of the lower level, and the entirety of the upper level, could be leased as one or two tenant spaces; he indicated the two primary entrance points that allow for flexibility.
Mr. Shapiro presented a perspective view of the roof terrace, illustrating the extensive views across the Washington Channel and East Potomac Park. He said that the required safety railings at the roof terrace and the occupiable wharf-level pedestrian spaces would be made of glass to minimize the obstruction of views from the occupied spaces. The surface of the exposed structural truss would be metal panel or painted steel with a metallic finish; the penthouse exterior would be metal panels; and the wood for the building platform and roof structure would primarily be pressure-treated pine, matching the bulkhead materials along the length of the Wharf Promenade. Low-iron glass would be used for the facades to maximize transparency, and a simple band of spandrel glass would separate the upper and lower stories. He noted that many of the facade's glass panels, particularly along the Washington Channel, could be opened during good weather to enjoy natural ventilation and blur the boundary between interior and exterior; the location and detailing of these operable panels is intended to introduce an additional element of playfulness to the design. He added that the mullion spacing of 10.5 feet is aligned with the building's structural grid; the mullions would be 6 inches thick at operable panels, and 2.5 inches thick at fixed panels. He presented conceptual detail drawings of the truss system, which would not be clad in a finish material but left exposed. He concluded with a distant perspective view of the proposed building within the broad context of the District Wharf.
Ms. Meyer reiterated her request that each presentation address the relationship of the project to its context, which was not done satisfactorily for this building. As examples, she asked about the relationship of this proposal with the arbor to the northwest and with Water Building 2 to the southeast. She expressed frustration that the project appears to have been designed in isolation, and that the relationship among the projects seems incomprehensible. Mr. Shapiro offered to describe the many iterations of developing the design for Water Building 1; Ms. Meyer emphasized that her interest is not simply in the design of this building but instead its relationship to the context. Mr. Shapiro acknowledged that further coordination may be needed for the materials of the various buildings to achieve a more cohesive appearance. He said that Water Building 1 is deliberately designed with materials that are already being used along the wharf, including wood matching the promenade's bulkhead and white steel that is consistent with the material of a nearby building. Ms. Meyer asked about a more conceptual relationship of this building to its context; Mr. Shapiro responded that the design intent is to design a simple building that allows the other buildings to be prominent. He said that the platform and roof plane are merely using the wood bulkhead design vocabulary that is already being used along the wharf, and the steel truss system is a playful interpretation of the steel bridges that are part of the wider context. He summarized that Water Building 1 is intended to reinterpret the existing context rather than introduce a new design language.
Ms. Meyer acknowledged that Mr. Shapiro's project may simply have the misfortune of being the first building to be presented today; she cautioned that even after just one building presentation, the aggregation of designs already appears to be heading toward chaos. She noted that in the July 2017 review, the Commission had raised this concern and requested that it be addressed in the forthcoming presentations. She observed that Water Building 1 is part of a series of smaller buildings on the water side of the Wharf Promenade; she suggested a series of sectional perspective drawings that would illustrate the experience of walking along the promenade and convey the relationship among these buildings. She summarized her concern that the District Wharf is being designed by too many people and with a lack of clarity about the overall design experience; she likened the result to people talking to themselves instead of having a conversation.
Mr. Dunson observed that a relationship is established between Water Building 1 and the building on Parcel 6/7 due to the alignment of the southeast edges of their sites, as seen in the alignment of the walkways alongside each of these buildings. Ms. Meyer said that this comment identifies an additional context relationship that should be considered; Mr. Dunson clarified that the relationship may already be successful but is not illustrated well in the presentation drawings. Mr. Shapiro responded an interesting feature of the Water Building 1 site is its diagonal relationship with the open space of the Grove, allowing for this building to be seen from a distance; he indicated the perspective drawing that approximates the view from the Grove. He said that people walking along the Alley from Maine Avenue on the southeast side of the Parcel 6/7 building would not have a significant view of Water Building 1 due to the alignment of the site edges; the truss and the edge of the roof structure would be slightly visible at first, raising the interest of the pedestrian, and then the full building would come into view upon reaching the promenade.
Ms. Gilbert questioned why the bulkhead vocabulary is used for the roof structure; she commented that this design element should be used along the water's edge, in keeping with its purpose as a bulkhead wall, and its continuity is important. Mr. Shapiro responded that the goal is to give the building a sense of fitting in by deriving its design from the surrounding elements of the wharf, instead of introducing a completely foreign design vocabulary. He noted that the building's platform would appear to be a continuation of the bulkhead when seen from the water; the proposal to raise a portion of the bulkhead vocabulary to the roof level is intended as a playful gesture, with the geometry of the building readily understandable to the viewer. He said that the relationship between the lower and upper planes would be lost if a different material were used for the roof structure. Ms. Gilbert disagreed; citing the stated desire to make this building playful and fun, she said that the building's wonderful location at the water's edge, projecting into the Washington Channel, already gives it a special character. She said that many of the design gestures seem somewhat heavy-handed, and a much simpler design—with less emphasis on wit and whimsy—could allow the building to shine within its special location. Mr. Shapiro asked if the thickness of the roof and truss structures is causing the perception of excessive heaviness. Ms. Gilbert said that too much is going on with the combination of the truss system and the roof-level use of the bulkhead vocabulary that should be confined to the water level; she suggested a design approach of a simple, jewel-like glass box instead of the overwrought proposal with heavy detailing.
Ms. Griffin agreed that the design may have too many playful elements, as seemingly described with each presented image; she said that these design gestures may be competing with each other. She recommended a more careful choice of playful features, with less emphasis on other elements of the design. She said that the truss is particularly heavy and foreign-looking as proposed; she also questioned the desirability of splitting the bulkhead height into two equal parts to form the platform and roof structure, suggesting instead that the roof could be thinner. She said that the bulkhead could be the source of inspiration for a wood structure that has the appearance of simultaneously being anchored to the land and floating across the water. She observed that the building volume is a simple glass cube extending into the water, and one would expect it to have an open character of being exposed to the breeze, but the heavy truss and roof structures give a sense of being in a tightly enclosed space. She suggested focusing on the experience of the visitor coming to enjoy this building without feeling caged in by it, in order to take better advantage of the quality of the site and the simplicity of the building volume. She also noted that being so close to the water is a rare opportunity in Washington.
Mr. Krieger recalled his criticisms of earlier submissions for the District Wharf as being generic and banal, and he questioned why the Commission members are being so critical of the intention to design Water Building 1 as a folly pavilion on the water. He said that he doesn't particularly like the proposed design, as a subjective judgment, but its siting and design intent appear to be reasonable. He identified such favorable attributes as the building's diagonal relationship with the Grove and the uninterrupted continuity of the Wharf Promenade; he acknowledged that its effect on waterfront views and on boat traffic routes may need further discussion. He said that the design is a reasonable response to the goal of creating a folly-like building, and it does not damage the overall coherence of the public realm; he therefore discouraged rejecting the design based simply on not liking some of the design gestures.
Ms. Meyer noted that Mr. Krieger is offering a concept for the development that she has been searching for: a coherent promenade with a consistent edge, animated by eccentric follies extending out across the water. She said that such a vision, if established as the broad goal, would provide the Commission with a basis for evaluating the individual projects. Instead, the Commission has been seeing a succession of designers bringing a separate vocabulary for each project. As an example, she said that a priority on consistent design along the length of the promenade would be contradicted by the proposal to substitute Kentucky coffeetrees for London plane trees as the promenade passes alongside the Grove. Similarly, the placement of trees along the promenade in front of Water Building 1 appears to be inconsistent with the planting pattern along the promenade's length. She expressed frustration that the overall development has too many exceptions and not enough consistency of important datum elements such as the London plane trees. She emphasized that the Commission is searching for a few guiding principles to use in evaluating the designs; it is the lack of such principles, rather than a reliance on personal preferences and opinions, that is causing the problem for this development. She agreed that the principle for the water buildings could be that they are idiosyncratic, whimsical pavilions that are seen in relationship to a consistent context; the Commission's response could then be that the consistency must be maintained more rigorously in the context in order to support the eccentricity of the pavilions.
Mr. Dunson suggested that the heavy appearance of Water Building 1 could be addressed through design refinements. The appearance of a substantial structural span would not even be needed if the emphasis is on a simple glass cube; a truss could be introduced merely as a playful element, perhaps limited to the two shorter sides of the building. He agreed that its appearance is too heavy as presented, and it should be either more structurally honest or more playful. Mr. Shapiro responded that the current design of the truss results from both functional and aesthetic reasons. Placing the structure outside the building is intended to maximize the usable interior space on this relatively small site: the interior would be column-free, and the upper floor would be suspended by cables from the roof structure.
Mr. Krieger said that part of the Commission's skepticism of the design approach for Water Building 1 may be that the nearby building on Parcel 8, to be presented shortly, is very bizarre; the resulting impression is that there are too many whimsical gestures concentrated in a small area. He described the design character of the context as "cacophonous," with one building's whimsy negating the next building's whimsy. He said that the problem may therefore be the combination of buildings rather than the particular design for Water Building 1; the desire for an oversized truss may be a reasonable choice, and the description of the building as having the appearance of a folly is not intended as a criticism. Mr. Shapiro responded that many design variations were studied, including a thinner structure for the roof or truss, but the resulting appearance was too delicate and gave an insufficient sense of identity for the building; these studies have resulted in the proportions of the proposed design. Mr. Krieger said that the problems with the design and context may be akin to too much icing on the cake; he suggested that the concept of an exceptional or iconic building would be more successful when it is seen within a tamer context. He reiterated the suggestion for treating the building as a simple cube, observing that it could provide an interesting architectural counterpoint to the cubic space formed by the trees of the Grove nearby. He summarized that he may be able to support a whimsical character for the small-scale Water Building 1 but would be skeptical of extending that character to the large building on Parcel 8; he observed that the District Wharf's second phase appears to be designed as an overreaction to the dull character of the first phase.
Ms. Griffin commented that many of the concerns being discussed are master plan issues, not necessarily problems with the design of Water Building 1. She said that the overall project team may need to provide a response to the bigger concerns, even as the Commission struggles to evaluate the individual submissions that are being presented with little context. She observed that the primary influence of the master plan at this stage appears to be merely the subdivision of the area into project sites. She acknowledged that the Commission may end up unfairly directing its comments at a particular project, while the problem stems from the master plan's guidance. She said that Mr. Shapiro is simply the first of the architects to be presenting today, and he is therefore receiving extensive criticism; Mr. Dunson added that Water Building 1 is also the smallest of the buildings being presented, and it is plausibly related to its context. Ms. Griffin emphasized that the Commission is searching for a way to achieve a good overall development, which may involve working with the entire development team to address the broader master planning issues.
Mr. Krieger observed that Water Building 1 could be a powerful element when seen by visitors who are walking the great length of the Wharf Promenade, a sense that would be heightened by the promenade's consistent plantings, paving, and other elements. He said that the problem may be related to overall coordination rather than the design of the individual buildings. Ms. Meyer suggested that the Commission see the presentations of the remaining two buildings in order to continue the evaluation of the project's broader issues.
Mr. Sharples of SHoP Architects and Ms. Harwell of Rhodeside & Harwell presented the proposal for Parcel 6/7. He noted the large size of the combined site; the proposed building is slightly more than 500,000 square feet, primarily intended as commercial office space with approximately 35,000 square feet of retail space at the base. He indicated the building's frontage at the prominent corner of 7th Street and Maine Avenue, approximately at the center of the District Wharf; he said that this building will serve as a threshold and gateway to the development. He said that the design challenges include the building's large size; its prominent location with distant views toward the site; the experience of the pedestrian walking close to the building; and the relationship to adjacent open spaces. He said that the design responses include an iconic building form and the design for an open space, named the Oculus, at the center of the building. The base of the building addresses the street grid and the pedestrian; the middle portion would have a softer monumentality; and the top of the building would be a crown that can be seen from a distance on land or by boat. The design team has also considered the relationship of this building's office program to the around-the-clock activity of the District Wharf.
Mr. Sharples indicated the open space context of the development site. The 7th Street Park is to the northwest; the Wharf Promenade is to the southwest; the Alley and the Grove are to the southeast; and Maine Avenue is to the northeast. The Oculus is at the center of the site, with pedestrian connections proposed between the Oculus and all four of the site's edges; some of these connections would also be used by vehicles. The intent is to break down the scale of the building and to minimize the impact of vehicles, notwithstanding the location of some of the loading dock access along the site's internal circulation; he said that use of this loading dock would be during the early morning or late at night. He indicated how most of the vehicular circulation would be limited to drop-off access, with the pedestrian realm defined by the typical paving materials of the District Wharf.
Mr. Sharples presented ground-level perspectives to illustrate the pedestrian-oriented experience of approaching the building for work or meetings. The architecture is intended to be relatively simple, becoming a background element for views toward the Washington Channel; ornament would be carefully used to articulate the building's volumes and break down its scale. Light reflection, materiality, and shadow have also been considered in developing the design, with emphasis on accentuating the building's base, crown, and a curving second-story "belt" that unifies the complex massing. He said that the retail, although not extensive in area, would be a wide-ranging mix of approximately five to seven different spaces with tall ceilings. Terraces on the lower stories would help to enliven the building, particularly when seen from the water and when moving around and through the building.
Mr. Sharples acknowledged the problem of the varied and uncontrolled appearance behind the windows of a typical office building, resulting in visual noise. The design addresses this through a glazing system of slightly tilted planes on a five-foot module; he added that the avoidance of a taut glass facade also addresses the goal of breaking down the building's scale. He said that the proposed glazing system would reduce heat gain and provide improved daylighting conditions for the office space, while also providing an interesting pattern of light and shadow that will enhance the visual experience of pedestrians. He indicated how the materials of glass, stainless steel, bronze, and wood are designed to come together to animate the public realm, modulated with scale, ornamentation, and careful organization of the building volumes.
Mr. Sharples presented the floor plans. The second story would have extensive terrace space; it could be used as an extension of the ground-level retail space or as office space. From the third story upward, the building would be split into two office towers with separate vertical cores. The first-story height would be 20.5 feet; the second-story height would be slightly more than 13 feet; the upper office stories would be nearly 12 feet high; and the penthouse crown on each tower would be 16 feet high. He presented a perspective view from the interior of a large penthouse room, with extensive views across the Potomac River; mechanical systems would also be located within the penthouses. He emphasized the importance of the second story, with its curving plan and extensive setbacks, in activating the public realm and attracting visitors to walk through the building's open passageways. He said that signage, although not depicted in the current drawings, is being carefully studied and could become a part of the architecture.
Ms. Harwell said that the challenge in designing the landscape for the Oculus is its modest scale and intimacy in comparison to most other spaces of the District Wharf; the design approach has been to emphasize this contrast by creating a special space within the middle of this building. She noted that the site design also includes the passageways leading to the Oculus, which have standard details that help to integrate this site with the context; the special emphasis is on the Oculus itself. Elongated planters to the northeast and southwest would draw pedestrians toward the Oculus, which would have a slightly offset garden with simple plantings. Other areas would not be planted, in order to allow for pedestrian circulation, emergency vehicle access, and vehicular access to the loading and drop-off areas. The standard details of the District Wharf would become different at the Oculus to create a special character; the specific design elements are still being developed, but an example would be a paving edge that dissolves into the central garden. She showed photographs of precedents that are being studied in developing this site design. She said that the Oculus would be a mostly shady space with some direct light, and the plant palette will be chosen accordingly; native plants or easily naturalized cultivars will be used. Single-stem river birch trees are being considered for the center of the Oculus, providing a high canopy with delicate foliage; these trees would be tightly planted, with consideration of views through the space to the Washington Channel. The central planting area would be mounded to provide additional soil depth for the tree roots. The plantings beneath the birch trees would include a range of ferns, sweet woodruff, and foamflower; she said that these selections would be tolerant of shade and drought, allowing for limited water consumption in the irrigation system. The plantings in the passageways, still being studied, may include zoysia grass, which changes color during the year and requires little mowing and watering. Slender, simple bollards would be used to define the edges of the vehicular areas.
Ms. Harwell said that the outdoor spaces above the ground level would be designed for occupancy, including tables and chairs; small areas of green roof would be created with mounded soil to support groundcover plantings. She described these upper-level outdoor spaces as relatively small but important for the people who step out from the office spaces for fresh air, sunlight, conversation, or small meetings outside the confines of a conference room. Trees would be in planters, and the overall landscape approach would be very simple and contemporary. Green roof areas around the penthouses would be planted with sedum mixes, with some areas having a slightly wilder character with the addition of perennials. Portions of the penthouse level would be terraces with wood decking and moveable furniture.
Mr. Sharples described additional features of the floor plans and materials. The two office lobbies would have entrances facing each other on opposite sides of the passageway between Maine Avenue and the Oculus, establishing a relationship between the components of this large project. He expressed regret that the loading docks could not be placed below grade within the parking structure; they have been placed along the Alley and the northwestern passageway—deliberately apart from Maine Avenue, which is intended as a place of arrival rather than a back edge of the site. He said that the loading dock doors would be specially designed to be consistent with the aesthetic of the pedestrian experience instead of being merely large garage doors. He noted that all of the building's many corners are occupied by retail space, a configuration that was coordinated with Hoffman-Madison Waterfront. He noted the special flexibility of the second story, with access from both vertical cores. The towers above would have differing floor areas—28,000 square feet on the northwest and 23,000 square feet on the southeast—with open and flexible floor plates. He said that the screening of the mechanical equipment at the penthouse level has been carefully designed as part of the building architecture; the penthouse roofs would have photovoltaic panels. Mr. Krieger asked about the building's structural system. Mr. Sharples responded that most of the structure would be concrete, while the second story would be steel; he emphasized that the overall appearance of this level would be a seamless curved glass form that is very transparent. The color palette would range from warmer materials at the ground level to cooler tones at the penthouse, which may include an ornamental mesh as screening for the mechanical equipment. Bronze would be used for selected details. Glass for the upper portion of the building would be reflective, providing a relationship with the sky and the ground plane; glass toward the base of the building would be selected for transparency. He said that the northwest facade would be designed in relation to the adjacent 7th Street Park. He concluding by emphasizing the importance of providing a special experience for pedestrians moving along and through this building as part of their experience of the District Wharf, achieved through the careful use of materials, ornament, shape, texture, and scale.
Mr. Krieger asked for clarification of the proposed curtainwall geometry. Mr. Sharples confirmed that the glass panes would be tilted; spandrels would be minimized by setting back the ceiling assembly from the exterior wall. He emphasized that the reflectivity of the glass would help to counterbalance the visual noise that typically results from spandrels, partitions, and other factors. He offered to provide further information about the curtainwall details as they are developed.
Mr. Bailey of ODA New York presented the proposal for Parcel 8, which would be a 12-story, 379,000-square-foot building with three distinct programs: a retail base; a hotel with 117 rooms; and a residential project with 235 rental apartments. He indicated the location across Maine Avenue from the Arena Stage building; he recalled his visits to the theater as a child and welcomed the opportunity to be working on a project in this neighborhood.
Mr. Bailey described the analysis of the site and the disposition of the program. Five design priorities were established: views to the Washington Channel; maximizing the building's outdoor spaces; relating to the Grove; bringing light into the building; and respecting the adjacent buildings and the view corridors through the site, such as from Arena Stage. The design response is to organize the building around a central three-sided courtyard that would be open to the views toward the water on the southwest, resulting in a U-shaped building. The long bar of the U would help to define the street wall along Maine Avenue on the northeast. The apartments would be placed in the wing at the southeast, appropriately adjacent to the residential building that is planned for Parcel 9; the hotel would be placed in the wing at the northwest, adjacent to the office building that is planned for Parcel 6/7. This overall concept was then refined by eroding a portion of the southeastern wing to allow more daylight to reach deep into the courtyard; this gesture also provided terraces and improved views for some of the apartments, while clearing a sightline for sunset views from more of the apartments in the building on Parcel 9. The area subtracted from the southeastern wing is added to the northwestern wing by cantilevering its upper floors forward, which has the effect of framing the landscape of the Grove adjacent to the building's base.
Mr. Bailey acknowledged the assistance of the Commission staff in assuring a human scale for the building and simplifying the response to some of the design challenges. He said that the articulation of the building's residential portion would emphasize the apartment terraces, including perforated screens between terraces as well as landscaping that extends up the height of the building. The articulation of the hotel portion is based on providing a sense of privacy from the nearby office building along with views toward the water; this would be achieved with a sawtooth pattern on the side facades with windows oriented toward the waterfront and solid walls angled toward the unwanted views. He said that the relationship of the building to the Grove is being coordinated with the landscape architect; the cantilevered stepping of the hotel floors begins above the thirty-foot level, and the hotel lobby at the base of the cantilever serves to activate the portion of the building facing the Grove. The design theme of stepped massing is extended to the long bar of the building along Maine Avenue, with a varied form that provides a sense of human scale. He said that the private terraces and balconies create a dialogue between the upper floors and the street-level pedestrian experience, and he noted that some of the outdoor spaces would have views of the U.S. Capitol. The loading dock for the entire building would be placed along the Alley on the northwest, a short distance from Maine Avenue, and a ramp to the below-grade parking structure would have access from Marina Way on the southeast.
Mr. Bailey presented aerial perspective views of the proposal in relation to the Wharf Promenade and the Grove, along with several ground-level views; he noted the view from Arena Stage toward the waterfront along Marina Way, which he envisioned as an important retail street. He described the building as a catalyst for activity, engaging with pedestrians and the street. The building's largest retail space, at the corner of Maine Avenue and the Alley, could be suitable for a grocery store. He indicated the placement of Water Street through the building's grade level, creating a separate cluster of retail spaces toward the Wharf Promenade; he said that the street cavity is sufficiently tall to provide adequate daylight, and the space would be activated by the retail frontage. The residential amenity space spans Water Street, including a small indoor stage and performance area that would be visible from nearby public space. A second-story ornamental pool spanning Water Street would have an acrylic basin that allows daylight to extend down to the street. The simple material palette for the building includes metal and glass as well as wood for the soffits; the apartments would have nine-foot-tall windows with metal details. He concluded with a diagram of green roof areas, as required by local regulations, and a perspective view toward the waterfront from the second-story courtyard.
Commission Discussion and Action
Chairman Powell invited comments from the Commission members on all three of the building proposals. Ms. Griffin offered support for some of the design intentions of the buildings. She noted the prevalence of background buildings in this city and the challenge of creating an interesting massing within the regulatory design envelope. She observed that the designers of each of the proposed buildings have tried in different ways to sculpt an interesting form out of the typical D.C. box, most notably with the proposal for Parcel 8. She observed that the carved massing of this building was attributed to both aesthetics and the relationship to the neighboring buildings. She acknowledged the reasoning behind the proposal for the projecting upper floors, although she said that she is generally not convinced that this type of massing is successful. She also supported the effort to develop varied facade planes instead of simple boxy edges, and she commended the effort in developing the design proposal.
Ms. Griffin described the proposal for Parcel 6/7 as a very handsome building, a unique design for the city and the waterfront; she particularly cited its use of materials, the sense of authenticity and compatibility with the District Wharf, and the relationship of transparency and paving. She said that some of the implied relationships among the buildings and public spaces may not be accurate, which can be difficult to determine from the drawings. She agreed with Mr. Krieger in questioning whether the spandrel condition is adequately resolved in the design, and she also suggested consideration of more variety in the angling of the window panes. Mr. Shapiro responded that a unitized facade system is envisioned, with a depth of approximately eighteen inches; the design effect is achieved within this dimension, relying on details such as the slab connection, framing, and the orientation and reflectivity of the glass panes.
For both of the larger buildings, Ms. Griffin questioned the viability of the retail spaces, particularly along the mews, and she asked if the ground-level plans have been shown to retailers. Mr. Steenhoek responded that Madison Marquette, a partner in the Hoffman-Madison Waterfront development team, is involved globally in retail space and has been actively engaged in looking at the proposed retail spaces and developing an overall merchandising plan. He noted that the first phase of the District Wharf includes some retail spaces of comparable size and unusual geometry, and these spaces have been leased successfully. Although the retail areas being presented today have not yet been leased, he expressed confidence that they would be marketable. Ms. Griffin asked if the unusual spaces in the first phase include frontages on narrow mews such as those presented today; Mr. Steenhoek said that such spaces are included in the first phase, attracting unique tenants such as a chocolatier and more utilitarian services such as a dry cleaner.
Ms. Gilbert commended the articulation of the pedestrian experience in both of the larger buildings, with multiple thresholds as people move along the streets and passageways. She said that today's presentations, more than previous presentations for the District Wharf, has conveyed a sense of being on the ground, moving through a building, and experiencing the connection between the architecture and landscape. She noted that this success may address the Commission's concern with conveying the principles of the master plan. She anticipated that this area of the District Wharf would have many beautiful moments, even for a person who does not work or live in one of these buildings but is simply walking around the area.
Mr. Dunson said that he most likes the buildings for being atypical of D.C. architecture. He also supported the emphasis on orienting the buildings and views toward the Washington Channel and Potomac River; he noted that the presentation includes the building facades, but the actual emphasis will be on looking toward the water rather than the buildings. He said that despite any concern with the configuration of terraces, they will likely be successful because such amenities are rarely available to D.C. residents. He said that the overall area will also be successful due to the activity envisioned for the streets connecting Maine Avenue to the waterfront, as well as the sheer density of the development. He said that the small retail spaces tucked into unexpected corners would be welcome in this environment as a more sequestered alternative to the more exposed locations. He summarized that the design proposals include many great moments.
Ms. Meyer expressed appreciation for the clear explanations of the design basis for the complexity of the two larger buildings, including the response to the context and the special design challenges; she said that this clarity was lacking in the presentation of Water Building 1, but she now has an understanding of how the two larger buildings relate to their locations. She also expressed appreciation for the emphasis on the design of the lower two stories as contributors to the public realm, with a recognition of the potential deadness that can result from an office building at night. She offered additional comments on the relationship of the lower stories to the public realm. She observed that the consistent definition of the Wharf Promenade is eroded considerably in this segment of the District Wharf, with variation in the placement and type of trees. She described the treatment of the cross-streets as powerful, particularly relating to the Oculus and the various mews; she said that the presentations demonstrated careful consideration of materials and the ceiling treatment, which are important factors in the quality of the public realm. She supported the design approach of using a slightly different palette of materials for these smaller streets and passageways. She cited the consideration of the texture and quality of the ground plane and ceiling for the Parcel 6/7 proposals as especially exciting, while encouraging consideration of a closer spacing of the birch trees. She compared the proposed spacing of 10 to 25 feet with the much tighter spacing of 1.5 to 5 feet that is seen at the Tate Modern in London; she acknowledged that not all of the trees would necessarily survive at the tighter spacing, but the effect of the density is impressive. She summarized her guidance as pushing the projects to be more strange in some ways, while being extremely consistent in other areas such as along the water's edge. She criticized the tendency of each designer to eat away at this edge, which should be clean, consistent, and powerful; clear guidance on this issue should come from the overall development team rather than being addressed independently by each designer. As an example, she said that the relationship of each water building to the Wharf Promenade could be treated consistently—perhaps by changing from a double row to a single row of trees alongside each water building—but this would require that guidance be given to each of the designers. Instead, each project eats away from the promenade in its own way, resulting in a loss of coherence. She said that perhaps just a few additional lines of trees could provide sufficient spatial volume to achieve the needed consistency that would allow for each project to have its own character.
Mr. Steenhoek responded that Ms. Bertsch and Mr. Josey have been pushing for such consistency, although perhaps without strong support from the District Wharf's development team. He agreed that the design vocabulary of the long Wharf Promenade could be the glue that holds together the larger development; this has always been the intent, although he acknowledged that it may need to be carried out more rigorously. He said that this principle could be studied more closely at special locations such as where the promenade passes alongside the Grove. Ms. Meyer suggested that the Grove be designed with a mix of trees that includes London planes and Kentucky coffeetrees, in order to improve its compatibility with the promenade. She summarized that a solution could be developed, but at the moment the effect is to erode the sense of continuity. Mr. Steenhoek said that Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates has been looking at such transitions, and the approach that has been developed is to allow some integration of tree and paver types to create softer edges. He said that even with these variations, the viewer would perceive the continuity of the design treatment. He offered to look further at how these principles are applied to this area of the development. He added that one of the piers in the first phase provides an example of the material palette that is being used at Water Buildings 1 and 2, while Water Building 3 is conceived as primarily a wood building. He summarized that the consistency of the palettes is already present in the design proposals, but the degree of similarity between neighboring buildings could be considered further. Ms. Bertsch agreed, emphasizing that the water buildings in the second phase should be understood in relation to the comparable buildings along the water's edge in the first phase; she suggested that the entire sequence of these buildings should be seen as a collection of jewel boxes. Ms. Gilbert supported this conceptual framework.
Ms. Griffin asked if vehicular traffic is restricted within the District Wharf, particularly along the promenade. Mr. Steenhoek responded that the wharf is curbless but is designed to suggest a twenty-foot-wide shared-use zone in the middle of its sixty-foot width, allowing for a single lane of traffic. He said that the design also allows for the promenade to be closed traffic at times, making it entirely a pedestrian space. He confirmed that it would generally be open to vehicles for a portion of each day, except during special events; he described the goals of vibrancy and flexibility for the promenade. Ms. Griffin asked if the cartway is differentiated in accordance with D.C. regulatory standards. Mr. Steenhoek responded that the promenade would not be a typical city street that is managed by the D.C. Department of Transportation, and its design is therefore more flexible; the cartway would be defined by differentiation of materials and textures.
Mr. Krieger acknowledged the talent of the designers and the effort by each to create a distinctive design, perhaps with the goal of making more marketable buildings. He said that this approach is not objectionable, and he cited the beneficial results such as the beautiful curtainwall that is proposed for the office building on Parcel 6/7. He said that the ziggurat form on Parcel 8 is inherently attractive, and an upside-down ziggurat—or the over-scaled truss of Water Building 1—could be even more compelling. However, he cautioned against a resulting ensemble that resembles an "architectural zoo," as can be seen in Boston's Innovation District that is being developed with comparably prominent architects and at an even more attractive waterfront location. He said that the Boston development area has a dead feeling: the office space does not generate much activity, and much of the housing belongs to wealthy people who are not often there. He acknowledged that the District Wharf may turn out to be successful, but he reiterated his past concern that the drawings should be presented without showing an unrealistic profusion of people. He recalled the Commission's past advice that the designers should put more effort into coordinating their designs; the response was that they have been sharing their work with each other, but he observed that the result of that effort is not yet evident. He cited the overall perspective view of this area of the waterfront, commenting that no great city would have such an odd collection of buildings in such close proximity. While acknowledging the marketing concerns, he encouraged some greater degree of consistency, whether it is in the materials or color, instead of creating buildings that are so conspicuously different. He clarified that the qualities of making a good city may be at odds with the pressures that are shaping each building. He said that each building proposal is admirable—even Water Building 1—but the problem is with the oddity of the ensemble. He concluded that he would be willing to support a concept approval but with the repeated request for further collaboration among the design teams.
Ms. Griffin said that Mr. Krieger's comments about Boston have reminded her of the Canary Wharf district in London, which is a successful collection of very different buildings organized along a wharf. She said that the continuity at Canary Wharf is created by the ground plane, which is much simpler than is being created at the District Wharf; she said that the problem here may be the excessive complexity of the public space. She observed that the Southwest neighborhood has always had a distinctive character, different from the rest of Washington, and the concept of a distinctive identity for the District Wharf may be appropriate. She therefore questioned whether a relentless consistency would be beneficial for this project, and she said that the staid character of the District Wharf's first phase is of greater concern than the emerging exuberance that is intended for the second phase. She said that these concerns would need to be considered if the master plan is reopened for discussion.
Ms. Gilbert asked if the overall relationship of the many small park spaces along the length of the District Wharf has been adequately studied, including the relationship of the smaller spaces to the larger parks to better understand how they knit together. Mr. Steenhoek responded that Mr. Josey has studied the tree species along the length of the District Wharf, and the new trees of the first phase have already been planted. He added that several of the landscape architects have been studying various sequences of spaces and the extent of the tree canopy.
Ms. Meyer observed that the Commission had relatively little to say about the presentation of the public spaces; she said that this was due to the quality of the design for the promenade's ground plane, which appears to be applied with some consistency. The tree canopy has perhaps not been studied as carefully, and she recommended the preparation of a tree canopy plan. She commented that the idiosyncratic character of the buildings, resulting in the sense of an architectural zoo, could be mitigated by the tree canopy. A possible result of the study could be to space the trees more closely on the side of the promenade along the buildings, instead of using different tree species. She emphasized that the space that people would actually occupy is defined by the ground plane below and the tree canopy that is perhaps thirty feet above; the craziness of the adjacent building may be a lesser concern if the space is understood in this way. Mr. Krieger noted that the design of the building's ground level would still be important in defining the space below the tree canopy; Ms. Meyer agreed that coordination of the ground-floor designs would be important. Ms. Gilbert observed that the issue for the public space is not just the alignments of trees along the promenade but also the effect of their canopies in forming a green ceiling as people move along it.
Mr. Powell expressed general support for all of the concept proposals, while agreeing that the design for Water Building 1 appears somewhat heavy-handed; he suggested further study of its roof and truss structures. He said that the transparency of the proposed buildings could be very beautiful.
Mr. Krieger acknowledged the enormous difficulty of creating a great pedestrian street, particularly when the drawings give the misleading impression that the spaces will always be filled with people. He suggested greater focus on areas of special interest, with less intense design effort for other areas. He offered a motion to approve each of the concept submissions, with the request for further coordination among the design teams as the project details are developed in the coming months. Ms. Griffin noted the more specific comments of the Commission members concerning Water Building 1, and she suggested voting separately on each submission. Secretary Luebke said that even with a single action for approval of the submissions, the staff would relay the specific comments provided for each project. Ms. Griffin said that a single action may be sufficient if the understanding is that Water Building 1 may come back with a substantially different design. Mr. Luebke clarified that a concept approval would convey support for the major design elements, such as the diagonal truss system. Ms. Griffin said that she would therefore prefer not to vote for the concept of Water Building 1, but would also prefer to be able to support the concepts for the other buildings. Mr. Krieger questioned why the Commission would consider voting against the concept for the smallest of the submitted buildings, which seems to have been unfairly singled out for criticism; he said that this building, due to its position on the water, is the most appropriate for having a quirky design. Ms. Griffin recalled that Mr. Krieger had criticized the design for Water Building 1; Mr. Krieger clarified that even though he personally dislikes the design, he doesn't see that as a reason to vote against the proposal. Ms. Griffin noted that more specific criticisms have been offered for Water Building 1. Mr. Krieger said that the concept for this building—a glass pavilion with an exposed perimeter structural system and a concealed roof structural system—is unlikely to change and could be approved; he noted that all of the proposals would be submitted for further review as final designs.
Ms. Griffin reiterated her preference for a separate vote on each submission, even if she is outvoted on a particular project. Ms. Meyer suggested that a single vote on the two larger buildings may be sufficient, due to the apparent support for these designs. Chairman Powell therefore suggested a motion to approve the concepts for the buildings on Parcel 6/7 and Parcel 8; upon a second by Ms. Griffin, the Commission adopted this action. Chairman Powell then suggested a motion to approve the concept for Water Building 1, which was seconded by Mr. Krieger. The Commission voted 3-3 on this motion, which therefore failed (Chairman Powell, Mr. Krieger, and Mr. Dunson in favor; Ms. Meyer, Ms. Gilbert, and Ms. Griffin opposed).
Mr. Steenhoek said that the second phase of the District Wharf is about to enter the D.C. Zoning Commission's review process for a Planned Unit Development (PUD). He offered to consider the Commission's concerns for Water Building 1, in conjunction with the design team for that project, but he said that the sequence of federal and local approvals may be difficult to coordinate due to the Commission's unwillingness to approve the concept for this building. He said that he would continue to consult with the Commission staff on possible design adjustments, even as the PUD moves forward in the local zoning process. He noted that the flexibility to revise the design becomes much more limited after the PUD is approved. He acknowledged the Commission's helpful advice over the seven years of submissions for this large-scale development, and he emphasized the shared goal of improving the designs.
Secretary Luebke summarized the status of Water Building 1 with the Commission: no action on the submission, with extensive comments on the design, and an expectation of further staff consultation and a subsequent submission. Chairman Powell said that this is an appropriate response to the proposal; Mr. Dunson added that the extensive comments of the Commission members should be helpful in developing the design. Mr. Luebke noted that these comments would be included in the Commission's letter on the submissions, which will be provided to the D.C. Zoning Commission as part of its record as it reviews the PUD.
(Chairman Powell and Vice Chairman Meyer departed at this point, and Mr. Dunson presided for the remainder of the meeting.)
H. Department of the Treasury / U.S. Mint
Mr. Simon introduced the two submissions from the U.S. Mint. He noted that the Congressional Gold Medal honoring the Office of Strategic Services was previously reviewed by the Commission in June 2017; revised design alternatives are now submitted. In addition to the single gold medal, the Mint will produce bronze duplicates for sale to the public; he provided samples of past bronze duplicates. The second submission is alternatives for the reverse design for five more issues in the America the Beautiful series of circulating quarters; the obverse, featuring a portrait of George Washington, will remain unchanged. He provided samples of past circulating quarters in the series, as well as a larger silver bullion version that is produced for each of these coins. He introduced April Stafford of the Mint to present the design alternatives.
1. CFA 20/SEP/17-7, Congressional Gold Medal honoring the Office of Strategic Services. Revised designs for a gold medal with bronze duplicates. Final. (Previous: CFA 15/JUN/17-6.) Ms. Stafford acknowledged the helpful comments provided by the Commission, as well as by the Mint's Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC), when design alternatives for this medal were first presented in June 2017. She said that this Congressional Gold Medal would honor the superior service and contributions of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) during World War II; the OSS was America's first strategic intelligence system and the basis for modern American intelligence and special operations services. She introduced Charles Pinck and Major Gen. (ret.) Victor Hugo, Jr., from the OSS Society, which has served as the Mint's liaison in developing the design alternatives for the medal. She said that the OSS Society, after considering the previous comments of the Commission and the CCAC, had withdrawn its initial preferences for the medal's obverse and reverse designs because these initial preferences did not adequately depict the diversity of the OSS, which included both men and women, and civilians as well as soldiers. In response, the Mint has prepared a revised set of design alternatives.
Ms. Stafford presented nine alternatives for the obverse design and eight alternatives for the reverse. She said that the preference of the liaison and the CCAC is for obverse alternative #1, an inscription of the abbreviation "OSS" that reveals three figures within the outlines of the letters—a civilian woman, a male paratrooper, and a civilian man in a suit—representing the broad range of work undertaken by the OSS. Each figure is rendered as an outline shape to indicate that OSS agents operated anonymously; the design also features the operational dates of the OSS, 1942 to 1945. She noted that the CCAC recommended repositioning the letters "OSS" to avoid having the "O" intersect the medal's border, which currently creates an ambiguity with the letter "D." For the reverse, she said that the preference of the OSS Society and the CCAC is alternative #3, featuring the spearhead symbol of the OSS within a field of code words related to important missions and agents.
Mr. Krieger commented that the obverse and reverse preferences of the OSS Society and the CCAC are strong designs, and he suggested supporting their preferences. For obverse #1, he said that the representation of the woman and the man in the suit are acceptable, but within the central "S" the outline of the paratrooper's right leg is separated from the rest of the figure, and the result is not easily legible; he suggested adjusting the depiction of this figure. Ms. Gilbert suggested simplifying the letter outline from a double line to only a single line, which would help to make the paratrooper figure more distinct. Ms. Griffin suggested that the leg would be more easily understood as belonging to the paratrooper figure if it were shifted slightly to the right. Ms. Gilbert commented that the figure of the woman is depicted wearing high heels and with one heel raised, which she called a "come hither" pose; she commented that the figure would look more professional if both feet were on the ground, adding that the figure is clearly a woman and does not need to be shown wearing high heels. Mr. Dunson said that her crossed arms are also provocative, and he agreed that she should look more professional. Upon a motion by Ms. Griffin with a second by Mr. Krieger, the Commission recommended obverse #1 and reverse #3, with the recommendations provided for their further development.
2. CFA 20/SEP/17-8, 2019 America the Beautiful Quarter Dollar Program. Designs for: Massachusetts, Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, Texas, and Idaho. Final. (Previous: CFA 16/JUN/16-10.) Ms. Stafford summarized the authorizing legislation from 2008 for this ongoing series of coins. The continuing obverse design features the familiar portrait of George Washington from 1932; the reverse features a national park or other national site chosen from each state or territory. The current design alternatives, for issue in 2019, have already been reviewed by the liaison to the Mint from the featured site and by the Mint's Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC).
Lowell National Historical Park (Massachusetts)
Ms. Stafford described Lowell National Historical Park, which was established in 1978 to preserve and interpret the role of the city of Lowell, Massachusetts, as the site of a major industry of water-powered textile mills. Young women known as "mill girls" were hired to work in the mills and lived in company-owned boardinghouses. She presented eighteen alternative reverse designs, noting the preference of the site liaison for alternatives #4, #16, and #17A because they highlight both the workforce and the technology, and the preference of the CCAC for alternative #11, one of a series of three designs depicting a mill girl spinning thread stylized to look like water, symbolizing the importance of water power for the mills. She said that the liaison agreed that alternative #11 is the best of the three designs using this theme. She noted that several designs, including alternatives #16 and #17A, include a view of Lowell's clock tower, which governed the working day.
Mr. Krieger said that Lowell National Historical Park was the first designated urban national park in the National Park System. He noted that another nickname for the young women was the "ladies of the loom"; he expressed his preference for alternative #4 because it clearly emphasizes that these women used looms in their work. He said that the background image of Lowell in alternatives #16 and #17A is strikingly familiar; Mr. Dunson agreed that an image of Lowell should be recognizable. Mr. Krieger shifted his supported to alternatives #16, #17, and #17A, which show the characteristics of the place; he particularly cited #17A because its background includes the clock tower, a smokestack, and the top floor of a mill building. Ms. Griffin supported alternative #16 for its composition of machinery, a woman, and the view through a window; she expressed concern that the loom in #17 and 17A may appear too flat. She questioned the CCAC prefernce for alternative #11 because it does not include any representation of Lowell, and the wheel in this design looks like a ship's wheel rather than a factory's water wheel. She also commented that the concept of spinning the water into thread is not graphically clear in alternative #11; Mr. Krieger added that the symbolism is also not clear. He observed that the woman in alternative #16 appears as if she were about to lose her fingers in the loom; Ms. Griffin suggested the drawing should show her entire hand.
Upon a motion by Mr. Dunson with second by Ms. Gilbert, the Commission recommended reverse alternative #16 for Lowell National Historical Park, with the recommendation to show the textile worker's entire right hand.
American Memorial Park (Northern Mariana Islands)
Ms. Stafford said that the American Memorial Park honors the thousands of American and indigenous Chamorro people of the Northern Mariana Islands who gave their lives serving in the Mariana campaign of World War II. The park has three distinct commemorative sites: the Memorial Court of Honor and Flag Circle, the Marianas Memorial, and the Carillon Bell Tower. She presented ten reverse designs, noting that alternative #1—a Chamorro boy sitting on a soldier's shoulder and saluting the American flag at the Memorial Court and Flag Circle—is the preferred design of the site liaison and the CCAC; the CCAC asked for additional versions to be prepared, enlarging the foreground figures and pushing the flag circle further into the background.
Mr. Dunson said that alternative #1 is clearly the best; Mr. Krieger observed that including people in the image is a desirable feature. Ms. Griffin suggested enlarging the figures and perhaps not having the flags set so far back; she added that the depiction of the flags should be improved. She said that the large stone cut off by the left border is confusing and could be deleted from the composition; the large stone in the foreground would be sufficient. Mr. Dunson commented that the other designs have emblems of military branches on the flags; Ms. Stafford and Ron Harrigal of the Mint responded that, although these details would be visible on the five-ounce silver coin, they would not be legible on the smaller circulating quarter. Ms. Griffin said that this clarification provides a further reason to bring the flags forward in the composition.
Mr. Dunson summarized the consensus to support alternative #1 with the comments provided; the Commission adopted this recommendation.
Pacific National Historical Park (Guam)
Ms. Stafford said that the Pacific National Historical Park in Guam was established in 1978 to commemorate the courage and sacrifice of those who participated in the Pacific theater campaigns in World War II. The park tells the story of how the United States forces won the campaign island by island, and it includes former battlefields, gun emplacements, trenches, and other historic military structures. She presented 10 alternatives for the coin reverse. The preference of the site liaison is for alternative #2, depicting the historical event of a U.S. Marine planting the American flag on the Guam beach on the day American forces arrived, juxtaposed with a background showing the modern Memorial Day display of the U.S. and Guam flags at Asan Beach. Alternative #3, portraying American forces coming ashore at Asan Bay, is the liaison’s second choice and the CCAC’s first choice, with the suggestion that the standing figure in the midground should have a more alert pose.
Mr. Krieger suggested adding a few more soldiers to alternative #3. Ms. Gilbert cited the strength of the composition in alternative #3, while commenting that the depiction of the amphibious vehicles in the background should be clarified. She recommended enlarging the figure of the man in the background and using a more active pose for the man sprawled on the beach in the foreground. Mr. Krieger commented that the image of a soldier planting the flag in alternative #2 is powerful; Ms. Gilbert agreed. Ms. Griffin said that alternative #2 seems more victorious and powerful than #3; she suggested that the horizon line and beach in alternative #2 could extend all the way across instead of stopping at the soldier’s backpack. Ms. Stafford responded that the discontinuity is due to the composition’s juxtaposition of the past in the left foreground with the present in the right background. Mr. Dunson suggested that the background image should also be depicted in the space between the soldier’s legs; his body would then be the element bridging the gap between past and present. Ms. Gilbert observed that the multiple flags in the background of alternative #2 look stiff, as if they were made of paper, and they would be more realistic if they appeared to billow.
Mr. Krieger recommended combining the soldier planting the flag in alternative #2 with the more developed background scene of alternative #3. He supported the comment to make the background soldier in alternative #3 appear more alert. Mr. Dunson observed that if the large flag of alternative #2 is in the foreground of a combined composition, then the sense of the beach in alternative #3 would be lost. Mr. Krieger suggested trying to combine these two designs, and if it does not work, then the preference should be for alternative #2.
Upon a motion by Mr. Dunson with second by Ms. Griffin, the Commission recommended alternative #2, with the suggestion to explore combining the image in its foreground with the background of #3, with changes to the pose of the background soldier.
San Antonio Missions National Historical Park (Texas)
Ms. Stafford said that the establishment of the San Antonio missions led to the foundation of the city of San Antonio, and they represent the strength of the city’s communities. The missions were built as adjacent walled compounds near the San Antonio River; construction of aqueducts and irrigation canals brought water to the missions for farming.
Ms. Stafford presented fifteen reverse design alternatives, noting that a series of three related alternatives—#3, #3A, and #3B—are based on the Spanish Colonial real de plata coin and use design elements of the historic coin to commemorate the missions. Each of the three depicts a cross separating the image into quadrants, and each quadrant contains a symbol of the missions: wheat to represent farming, arches and a bell to symbolize community, a lion to indicate the cultural heritage of Spain, and stylized waves to symbolize the San Antonio River and irrigation. She said that the series of three was the site liaison’s general recommendation; alternative #3B was the recommendation of the CCAC. She added that alternatives #1 and #2 are also based on elements of the Spanish Colonial real.
Mr. Krieger asked if the difference between the three versions is simply the detailing of the cross separating the image into quadrants; Ms. Stafford said that the alternatives also have subtle variations in the representation and location of the other elements. Ms. Gilbert noted that the cross in alternative #3B does not touch the edge of the coin. Mr. Krieger asked if all three images would be represented on coins if the series were chosen; Ms. Stafford responded that the three are variations on the same idea, and only one would be selected for production. Ms. Griffin and Ms. Gilbert expressed a preference for alternative #3B. Ms. Gilbert added that the lower three lines of the water resemble moustaches and should be developed to better depict water, perhaps through the addition of another line of cresting waves.
By consensus, the Commission recommended alternative #3B with the request for further refinement in the depiction of the water.
Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness (Idaho)
Ms. Stafford said that the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness in Idaho comprises rugged mountains, deep canyons, and whitewater rivers; few places in America provide such a remote wilderness experience. She presented 22 reverse design alternatives, noting that the preference of the site liaison is alternative #4 and the preference of the CCAC is alternative #5A. She said that the site liaison had also identified alternative #14 as a strong design, and this was the second choice of the CCAC, but the question of including wolves in the design is still being debated. Alternative #4 depicts a pack of wolves, while alternative #5A represents a romanticized and stereotypical image of a howling wolf against tall conifers and a starry sky. Mr. Krieger asked why it would not be appropriate to include wolves. Ms. Stafford responded that their inclusion is questioned because wolves prey on local animals; the Mint also initially requested that artists depict them in their natural habitat, which is why alternative #4 was the liaison’s preference.
Mr. Krieger observed that the focus of this image is how humans become part of the wilderness—not on the wilderness itself or how humans overcome it, which would be better illustrated by a composition with fishermen or boats, not the modern canoe. He added that wilderness can also be harsh and frightening. He said that despite the concern about representing wolves, he prefers the wolf pack image in alternative #4. Ms. Gilbert commented that the lead wolf in #4 appears oddly tentative, but the image includes water, trees, and an expansive view; Mr. Krieger added that it looks like a wilderness landscape.
Upon a motion by Mr. Dunson with second by Ms. Gilbert, the Commission recommended alternative #4 with the comments provided.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 4:53 p.m.
Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA