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 10:08 a.m.
Hon. Earl A. Powell, Chairman
Hon. Elizabeth Meyer, Vice Chairman
Hon. Edward Dunson
Hon. Liza Gilbert
Hon. Alex Krieger
Hon. Mia Lehrer
Thomas E. Luebke, Secretary
A .Approval of the minutes of the 16 November meeting. Secretary Luebke reported that the minutes of the November meeting were circulated to the Commission members in advance. Upon a motion by Mr. Powell with second by Mr. Dunson, the Commission approved the minutes. Mr. Luebke said that the minutes will be made available on the Commission’s website.
B. Dates of next meetings. Mr. Luebke presented the regularly scheduled dates for upcoming Commission meetings, as previously published: 15 February, 15 March, and 19 April 2018.
C. Confirmation of the approval of the recommendations for the December 2017 Old Georgetown Act submissions. Mr. Luebke asked the Commission to take a formal vote to confirm the Old Georgetown Board recommendations that were circulated and endorsed in December, when no Commission meeting was held. Upon a motion by Mr. Powell, the Commission confirmed its approval. (See Appendix III under agenda item II.A for the January 2018 appendix of Old Georgetown Act submissions, and the last item under II.F for an additional Georgetown submission.)
D. Report on the pre-meeting site inspections. Mr. Luebke reported the Commission’s inspection earlier in the morning of several sites related to projects on the agenda: the Smithsonian Institution’s South Mall complex, and the Metro vent shafts near the Smithsonian Metro station. Chairman Powell suggested that comments from the Commission members could be provided in conjunction with the reviews on the agenda (see items II.C, II.D, and II.F.2).
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. Fox said that no changes have been made to the draft appendix. Upon a motion by Ms. Meyer, the Commission approved the Government Submissions Consent Calendar.
Appendix II – Shipstead-Luce Act Submissions: Ms. Batcheler reported that two projects on the draft appendix have been removed: a project at the American Red Cross headquarters (case number SL 18-039), which will be re-submitted as a federal government submission; and a window replacement proposal at 4721 Colorado Avenue, NW (SL 18-041), which will likely be on the February appendix. The recommendations for several projects are subject to the anticipated receipt of supplemental materials or further consultation with the applicants, and she requested authorization to finalize these recommendations when the remaining issues are resolved. Changes for other projects are limited to minor wording adjustments and noting the receipt of supplemental materials. Upon a motion by Mr. Krieger, the Commission approved the revised Shipstead-Luce Act appendix. (See agenda item II.F for additional Shipstead-Luce Act submissions.)
Appendix III – Old Georgetown Act Submissions: Mr. Mellon said that no changes have been made to the draft appendix, which includes 13 projects. He noted that one project is listed with a negative recommendation (case number OG 18-001). Upon a motion by Mr. Powell with second by Mr. Krieger, the Commission approved the Old Georgetown Act appendix.
At this point, the Commission departed from the order of the agenda to consider the pair of related Shipstead-Luce Act cases listed as item II.F.1. Mr. Luebke said that the Commission may wish to act on these submissions without a presentation, noting that they do not meet the requirements for inclusion on the Consent Calendar.
F. District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
1. SL 18-037 & SL 18-038, 7076-7080 Oregon Avenue, NW. Two new houses. Concept.
Mr. Luebke confirmed that no members of the audience intend to present comments on these projects. Chairman Powell suggested that the Commission support the advice of the staff to approve the concepts for these houses; the Commission adopted this action.
The Commission returned to the order of the agenda with item II.B.
B . Department of the Army / Institute of Heraldry
CFA 18/JAN/18-1, Medal of Honor Memorial Medallion for the Department of Veterans Affairs. Six design options. Final. (Previous: CFA/19/JUN/08-3.) Mr. Simon introduced the proposal for a gravesite medallion honoring recipients of the Medal of Honor. He noted that the Commission has not recently seen a submission from the Institute of Heraldry, and he summarized the institute’s role in providing heraldic services to the Department of Defense and other parts of the government, extending to production of the presidential seal that is frequently seen at public events. The Commission reviews designs that the institute considers to be of national-level significance. He asked Charles Mugno, director of the Institute of Heraldry, to present the current proposal that is being prepared on behalf of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Mr. Mugno provided additional background on the Institute of Heraldry for the benefit of the Commission members who have not previously seen one of its submissions. The institute was established in 1918 with a focus on overseeing military insignia for the U.S. Army; the role has subsequently expanded to encompass all branches of the military and, since 1957, to civilian agencies as well. He provided several samples of the Presidential seal at different sizes; these are individually cast and hand-painted at the institute. He emphasized the skill of the institute’s staff in ensuring carefully detailed work, both for in-house craftsmanship and from outside manufacturers, in a range of materials that includes metal, textiles, and plaster.
Mr. Mugno summarized an earlier memorial medallion that was presented to the Commission in June 2008, developed for the Department of Veterans Affairs for use at the gravesites of veterans at non-military cemeteries; this medallion, currently in production, is installed on vertical gravestones, horizontal grave markers, and columbarium niche enclosures. He provided a display mounting of three of these medallions at varying sizes for the three types of installation. The current proposal, resulting from legislation enacted in 2016, is for a new specialized medallion that would mark the gravesites of Medal of Honor recipients, for use at national cemeteries as well as in non-military settings.
Mr. Mugno noted that the design of the previous medallion was selected through consultation with veterans’ organizations as well as with the Commission of Fine Arts; one of the presented design alternatives, supported by only a minority of the Commission members, emerged as the final design after an additional modification to provide space for text identifying the service affiliation of the veteran, as requested by the veterans’ organizations. He also presented background information on the Medal of Honor, which provided inspiration for the development of design alternatives for the new medallion. Three different designs are used for the Medal of Honor, corresponding to its issuance by the Department of the Army, Navy, or Air Force. He provided samples of the Medal of Honor, noting some features that are common to all three versions: the inverted five-pointed star as part of the medal design dating back to its origins in 1861, and the grouping of thirteen stars as part of the medal’s suspension ribbon. Additionally, a flag has been developed for Medal of Honor recipients, in accordance with legislation from 2004; this flag was designed by the institute for the Department of Defense, and it features the grouping of thirteen stars that is common to all three versions of the medal.
Mr. Mugno presented six design options for the Medal of Honor memorial medallion, ranging from a very simple design to a more complex, pedestal-like composition. All six options for the medallion include the grouping of thirteen stars as seen on the medal’s suspension ribbon, as well as a space for inscribing the recipient’s branch of service as previously requested by veterans’ organizations. Options 4, 5, and 6 also include five tines protruding from the medal’s perimeter, each terminating in a trefoil, as a reference to the five-pointed star in the various versions of the Medal of Honor.
Ms. Gilbert observed that none of the presented options has an opening punched through the metal. Mr. Mugno confirmed that this technique of “piercing” is not shown on any of the designs, but it was used on the earlier medallion presented in 2008, sometimes resulting in a successful effect of a light-colored stone being visible through the piercings in the medallion. Ms. Gilbert asked about the size of the medallion; Mr. Mugno responded that it would be produced in the same three sizes as the earlier veterans’ medallion, as shown in the samples provided, with a diameter of two, four, or six inches.
Ms. Meyer asked if the gravesite of a Medal of Honor recipient would include both this specialized medallion and the general-purpose veterans’ medallion. Mr. Mugno responded that this issue was raised with the Department of Veterans Affairs, which has not established a policy; he added that the Medal of Honor medallion alone would provide sufficient identification of the gravesite, because all Medal of Honor recipients are military veterans.
Ms. Meyer suggested Option 5, citing its association with the 1861 design for the Medal of Honor. Chairman Powell agreed, and the Commission adopted this recommendation. Mr. Mugno expressed appreciation for the Commission’s advice, noting that he has brought several of the newer members of his staff to see the process of the Commission’s review.
C .Smithsonian Institution
CFA 18/JAN/18-2, Smithsonian facilities south side of the National Mall (South Campus). Independence Avenue, SW. Draft master plan. Concept. (Previous: CFA 22/JAN/15-1.) Secretary Luebke introduced the concept submission for the Smithsonian South Campus Master Plan; the Commission had initially seen this project three years earlier, in January 2015, as an information presentation. He said that the proposal addresses the primary goals of improving visitor services and education venues; providing entrances and connections between the museums and gardens; improving seismic resistance, building services such as deliveries, and older mechanical systems; and preserving and protecting the historic resources of the south campus. He emphasized the project’s massive scope, which would involve extensive infrastructure investments in a series of interconnected elements carried out over many years; it would affect multiple properties, including the Smithsonian Castle, the Arts and Industries Building, and the two underground museums, the Museum of African Art and the Sackler Gallery, among others. He said the project team had returned with more developed proposals following years of consultation through the historic preservation and environmental regulation processes. This consultation has revealed several key issues: the future character of the Quadrangle and the Enid A. Haupt Garden; the future use of the Arts and Industries Building; the impact on the Castle; and the extent of alterations to the Hirshhorn Museum. He asked Albert Horvath, the Smithsonian’s Deputy Under Secretary for Finance and Administration, to begin the presentation.
Mr. Horvath said that the changes made to the plan since the 2015 information presentation are responsive to comments from the Commission, and from others in subsequent discussions with consulting parties, stakeholders, and the public. While it has retained its ambitious vision, the plan has been altered to reduce the amount of excavation, particularly below the Castle; to expand the Haupt Garden; and to revise the proposal for altering the Hirshhorn Museum’s site boundary wall. He introduced architect Bjarke Ingels of the Bjarke Ingels Group and landscape architect James Lord of Surface Design to present the master plan.
Mr. Ingels described the challenges facing the numerous historic buildings of the south campus. He emphasized the need to improve the Castle’s seismic stability, revealed by a 2011 earthquake; to allow for the future use of the Arts and Industries Building; to renovate the envelope of the Hirshhorn Museum; and to improve barrier-free access to the Freer Gallery by creating an entrance from the Haupt Garden. He said that within the Quadrangle south of the Castle, the underground facilities beneath the Haupt Garden comprise a series of spaces that have limited visibility, daylight, and access from the outside. In addition, the roof membrane covering these spaces is deteriorating and needs to be replaced.
Mr. Ingels reiterated the project’s original goals, which he said had been expanded following interviews with Smithsonian museum directors and curators to include the following objectives: create entrances near the Mall so that visitors clearly understand where to go; improve the spaces of the underground museums to attract more visitors; expand opportunities for after-hours events such as concerts and lectures, and for educational activities in the gardens; provide better connections within the campus; and create collaborative spaces for the larger neighborhood, from the Mall to the Southwest Ecodistrict. He said the master plan also proposes to consolidate loading dock areas, preserve the character of the Haupt Garden, restore the Castle, and renovate the Hirshhorn. He cited the widespread support for the proposal to transform the Quadrangle with new permanent entrances and visible connections into the underground spaces. The planning team has explored a series of alternatives, presenting Alternative D in 2015; the current preferred version is Alternative F. The primary design idea is to improve access to the underground museums by creating a “moat of light” using skylights surrounding a central parterre that would be lifted up at its corners; these skylights would also allow direct views from the garden into the underground spaces.
Mr. Ingels said that Alternative F responds to several comments made by the Commission on Alternative D in 2015: the new design for the Haupt Garden appeared too much like a park; the slope down to a lower-level entrance would give the impression that the Castle is sitting on a glass plinth; and too much excavation was proposed beneath the Castle. In developing the master plan, the designers took inspiration from the intimate characteristics of the existing garden and also from features of historic garden plans, particularly the 1852 plan for the Mall by Andrew Jackson Downing and the 1980s Quadrangle landscape plan by Lester Collins with the firm of Sasaki. The current proposal is to preserve the historic setting of the Castle, maintaining the ground plane of the garden to eliminate the appearance of a plinth, and to reduce the excavation beneath the Castle by half; the overall proposed excavation would be reduced by twenty percent. Many functions first proposed to have been located under the Castle would be consolidated elsewhere: for example, mechanical systems would be brought together in the area between the Quadrangle and the Arts and Industries Building, and the new consolidated loading dock and service tunnel would be placed primarily south of the Castle, two levels below grade. The Castle itself would be restored to its appearance in 1910, a date within its period of historic significance. A new below-grade visitor center would be located south of the Castle at the first level below grade; access to it would be via a pair of stairways descending from grade, previously proposed closer to the Castle, but now shifted to a location within the garden.
Mr. Ingels said that Alternative F still proposes moving the entrances of the two underground museums closer to the Mall for improved visibility. Alternative F also emphasizes improving visual connections between the Castle and the Southwest Ecodistrict, and between the Castle, the Capitol, and Washington Monument: the Castle would act as a centerpiece between a series of significant urban elements. Similar visual connections would be created in the Haupt Garden by moving the entrances to the north side of the garden from the south. The garden design would reconstruct the existing parterre and create intimate gardens closer to Independence Avenue, along with new terraced gardens. The garden’s existing Independence Avenue fence and gate, designed by the nineteenth-century architect James Renwick, would remain.
Mr. Lord provided further information about the garden planning; he said that the new design approach is to elaborate upon the existing garden rather than redesign it entirely. Visitors approaching from the south would see a lush, more intimate space, a garden of respite within the city. Views to the Washington Monument would be emphasized. The garden would have carefully defined paths and edges, with security barriers integrated within edges and layered plantings. Mr. Ingels said that the reconstructed garden’s fundamental character would remain the same, and the changes to its design would be discovered gradually as visitors move through it.
Mr. Ingels summarized the major changes proposed for the museum interiors. Creating the underground visitor center would allow visitor facilities to be removed from the Castle’s Great Hall, which would be restored to its historic appearance. Similar restoration is proposed for the Castle’s Upper Hall and basement, which historically held research laboratories. Consolidation of mechanical systems in the area between the Castle’s foundation and the proposed base pad isolation would allow exposure of the brick foundation walls.
Mr. Ingels noted that the new visitor center and other education areas would be directly connected to the underground museums. The two outdoor stairways descending to the entrance for the underground spaces would follow the contour of the parterre’s lifted edge at the north; visitors would descend directly to the museum galleries, the visitor center, and the exhibition space. Extending south from the Castle, the visitor center would continue the Castle basement’s vaulted ceilings, though constructed in a different material to distinguish new from old. From within the visitor center, it would be possible to see into the underground galleries as well as into the garden.
Mr. Ingels said that the Quadrangle museums would have the same general configuration as previously shown in Alternative D; the concrete perimeter wall would be retained. The first below-grade level would have a flexible event space directly accessible from the outdoor stairways. Other spaces would include offices, galleries on the lower levels, and back-of-house areas for the two museums. He emphasized that even the lowest level would have direct visual access to the outside via the skylights. Mr. Krieger asked for clarification of the extent of the at-grade perimeter skylights above the underground space; Mr. Ingels said that horizontal skylights would be located on three sides, and on the north the skylights would warp to form a vertical facade that would suggest a clerestory window.
Mr. Ingels described the planning for the Arts and Industries Building and for the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. The Arts and Industries Building would be connected to the new central loading area and the improved campus mechanical systems at the basement level. The building’s future use has not been decided, but he suggested that it could function as an “indoor street” connecting to the Hirshhorn. He noted the earlier proposal that the Hirshhorn’s perimeter wall could be lowered, but it has since been determined that the wall is an integral part of the Gordon Bunshaft design. However, the creation of a direct at-grade path between the Hirshhorn and the Arts and Industries Building is desirable, and the current proposal is to introduce a single narrow opening in the wall on the Hirshhorn’s west side. The Sculpture Garden needs renovation, which provides an opportunity to improve exhibition spaces in the garden itself, and also in spaces adjacent to and beneath it, for the display of larger sculptures.
The Commission members inspected the large site model, including the sectional representation revealed by separating the halves of the model. Ms. Meyer asked if the entire underground museum space would be gutted and rebuilt, observing the apparent lack of similarity between the existing and proposed underground spaces. Aran Coakley of the Bjarke Ingels Group responded that the existing floor levels would be retained, and substantial spatial reconfiguration would result from the relocation of the entrance pavilions. He added that the drawings are intended to show the character of the proposed underground spaces, not their exact layout. Mr. Krieger asked if elevators would be included for barrier-free access; Mr. Coakley responded that elevators would be provided in the new entrance pavilions and in the existing elevator shaft in the Castle’s tower; the new circulation would provide universal access.
Chairman Powell invited public testimony. The first speaker was De Teel Patterson Tiller, a trustee of the Committee of 100 on the Federal City. Mr. Tiller said that the Committee of 100 supports some aspects of the proposed plan, particularly the restoration of the Castle and the Hirshhorn Museum, but finds other elements problematic. He discussed three general issues: the destruction of the above-grade Quadrangle Historic District, comprising the Haupt Garden and its buildings; the possible diminution or destruction of the Hirshhorn Museum plaza walls; and the Smithsonian’s refusal to make better and more cost-effective use of the 1884 Arts and Industries Building.
Mr. Tiller said that every alternative proposes the demolition of all above-grade elements of the historic district—the Haupt Garden, the museum entrance pavilions, and the Ripley Center entrance pavilion. The Quadrangle area was listed as a D.C. historic landmark district in April 2017, and listed in the National Register of Historic Places as part of the National Mall historic district. He noted that architectural historians from several prominent universities have testified to the significance of this district, as have the Garden Club of America, the Garden Conservancy, the families of former Smithsonian Secretary S. Dillon Ripley and of Enid A. Haupt, and thousands of American citizens who signed an on-line petition calling for the preservation of the Haupt Garden. In short, he said, there is a broad, popular consensus that the Quadrangle Historic District and the Haupt Garden form a significant late-twentieth-century chapter in the history of the Smithsonian and of its presence on the Mall, comprising a physical manifestation of Secretary Ripley’s vision and of the gift to the nation from the American philanthropist and garden advocate Enid A. Haupt.
Mr. Tiller said that, based on review of documents obtained through a recent Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, the Committee of 100 maintains that the plan for the renovation of the garden is also in violation of Mrs. Haupt’s $3 million endowment to preserve and maintain the garden in perpetuity, and is in violation of the Smithsonian’s clear fiduciary responsibility. He said the reason given for the destruction of the garden is to repair leaks in the roof above the museums. While recognizing that the roof needs repair, the Committee of 100 argues that this could be done less expensively and with less destruction if approached from below; Mr. Tiller offered as examples the technology used to repair ceiling leaks in Washington’s Metrorail system and at archeological sites in Europe.
Mr. Tiller addressed the second issue regarding the proposal to reduce or demolish the Hirshhorn Museum’s perimeter wall. He said that proposing the demolition of such a large and integral element of the Bunshaft design evidences an arrogant disregard for one of America’s most prominent twentieth-century architects at a world-class museum and should not be considered. Finally, he said that the Arts and Industries Building should be evaluated as a location for visitor services; the proposal to place this program in new construction under the Quadrangle would squander the opportunity to use this National Historic Landmark despite the millions of public dollars recently spent on its exterior restoration.
In closing, Mr. Tiller pointed out that the Smithsonian itself admits that implementation of the South Campus Master Plan is many years in the future, and to date there is no funding. Because of the importance of the project and its historic resources, he said, it is vital to ensure that the master plan is correct from the beginning.
The second speaker was Judy Scott Feldman, founder and chair of the National Mall Coalition, a non-profit organization advocating planning to support the Mall as a stage for American democracy. She said the proposed master plan treats the project area in isolation from the rest of the Mall, threatening the integrity of the Mall as a unified design and an active public space; she emphasized that such piecemeal planning has a destructive effect on the Mall and the public interest.
Dr. Feldman said that the Mall’s central grass panels have traditionally been a place for public activities, such as the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, but because the National Park Service has installed new turf and imposed restrictions on the lawn’s public use, the Smithsonian now proposes to shift its public activities to the redesigned Haupt Garden. She said that both institutions are planning only for their own needs and goals. She drew a comparison with the Mall in the nineteenth century, when a range of public and private interests vied for its public space. As a result, the Senate Park Commission, or McMillan Commission, proposed a comprehensive plan for the entire Mall in 1901–02.
Dr. Feldman noted that eight entities currently manage and plan parts of Mall, including the Smithsonian, the National Park Service, and the Architect of the Capitol, with additional review by the Commission of Fine Arts and the National Capital Planning Commission. But there is no clear overall vision guiding these groups, nor a plan for solving such modern needs as visitor amenities, security, new development, and environmental threats. She asked the Commission members to recognize that uncoordinated planning undermines the historic vision, design, and function of the Mall’s symbolic landscape. She briefly discussed two projects that illustrate the need for a new plan. She said that the sponsoring foundation for the recent Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial had pledged that it would have no bookstore or restroom, but these were built. Also, for decades in the twentieth century temporary buildings were a blight on the Mall, with the last not removed until the 1970s, but eight years ago the National Park Service built a new temporary building to house its own offices. She said that both projects would have benefitted from a comprehensive vision for the Mall.
The final speaker was Anne Neal Petri, president of the Garden Club of America (GCA). She said that the GCA has provided important support to the Smithsonian, including the donation of the original collections for the Archives of American Gardens and funds to support the Smithsonian pollinator garden. The GCA has joined with many other individuals and organizations to raise concerns about the proposed $2 billion master plan for the south campus, especially the removal of the Haupt Garden.
Ms. Petri observed that, while this presentation had focused on Alternative F, all alternatives offer a broad but vague array of new promises and plans. Although the Smithsonian claims that the Haupt Garden would be retained and expanded, she said that it would actually be demolished and then rebuilt with a different design. She noted the comment by Mr. Ingels that the garden’s character and many of its features would be “sort of” preserved; however, this is not preservation. She said Alternative F does not account for the historical significance of the Haupt Garden, especially its importance as the signature project of Secretary Ripley; the proposed master plan ignores the clear intent to create a garden for the ages, including Mrs. Haupt’s endowment to maintain the garden in perpetuity. She said that the FOIA request by the GCA yielded correspondence between Mrs. Haupt and her lawyers about how to realize their vision. Allowing the Smithsonian to continue developing a master plan without the firm assurance that the Haupt Garden would be preserved would permit the Smithsonian to shirk its clear fiduciary responsibility to Enid Haupt, diminish the work of Secretary Ripley, and violate the trust of Smithsonian donors.
Ms. Petri noted that when the Smithsonian made its first presentation to the Commission of Fine Arts, members had asked the project team to reflect on the Smithsonian’s scientific work in the landscape design; to study the site conditions and the interaction of the proposed landscape with surrounding buildings; and to incorporate the Arts and Industries Building into the planning, but the Smithsonian has failed to address these concerns. She said that the proposed budget is excessive, and the Smithsonian should consider more affordable and environmentally friendly alternatives that would retain the garden and reuse the Arts and Industries Building.
Mr. Dunson opened the Commission’s discussion by commenting that, while the proposed master plan proposes major changes, he does not see it as a piecemeal plan that fails to respect the Mall. He noted that the project would clarify access to the underground museums for visitors approaching from the Mall. He asked for further explanation of three issues: how much change is proposed to the Hirshhorn Museum site wall; what would be done with the Renwick-designed fence and gate along Independence Avenue; and what determines the historic significance of the Haupt Garden.
Mr. Coakley responded that the wall of the Hirshhorn would be maintained as is, except for the creation of a single passage between the Hirshhorn Museum site and the Arts and Industries Building. The Renwick gates and fence on Independence Avenue would remain in place to maintain the existing framed view into the Haupt Garden, including its central parterre. He noted that currently the circulation route to the African Art and Sackler museums is confusing, and the entrances are hard to identify; the proposed new connection to the Mall is intended to improve the relation of the Mall to the south campus.
Chairman Powell expressed support for the proposed treatment of the Hirshhorn Museum site, calling it admirable; he commented that the new passage in the wall would be useful. He noted that Gordon Bunshaft had originally intended to clad the Hirshhorn in travertine, which would have given the building a very different appearance from the concrete panels that were used. He asked what material is proposed for the renovation and whether travertine panels might be installed in some future restoration. Mr. Coakley responded that the restoration of the Hirshhorn’s cladding is under consideration, but the details have not yet been worked out. Ms. Trowbridge added that the Smithsonian, with the engineering firm of Simpson Gumpertz & Heger, is undertaking a study of the stone attachments, and the current intent is to reuse the precast concrete panels for any recladding.
Mr. Krieger described his conflicting responses to the proposal. He supported the intent to create an opening in the Hirshhorn wall but he questioned the conceptual approach to historic preservation as requiring the retention of every element of a site; he said that this principle has never characterized preservation in the U.S. He expressed puzzlement at using this preservation approach for the Quadrangle. He said the proposal includes innovative, even brilliant ideas, many of which are necessary, particularly the restoration of the Castle; however, the proposed master plan raises the question of how to determine when something becomes historic. If preservation is the primary goal, he observed that this would conflict with the plan to build an expensive new underground visitor center at the base of the Castle—right next to the enormous, empty, historic Arts and Industries Building. If the proposed underground location is necessary, he said that the previous design illustrated in Alternative D would be much better because the entrance to the visitor center would be clearly visible to approaching visitors, unlike the design in Alternative F. However, he recommended further consideration of the Arts and Industries Building, which is begging for a productive use such as a visitor center.
Mr. Krieger expressed appreciation for the spectacular model and for the presentation, which had clarified several points. He commented that the proposed design would be an improvement on the existing campus, but the question remains whether there is a legitimate reason to consider a literal reconstruction of the Haupt Garden. He asked what determines the need to preserve a site or a design intact rather than treating it as something with historic value, some of whose elements could be partly changed over time; he called this a major question for modern culture.
Ms. Meyer commented that the morning’s site visit had clarified the value of the existing elements of the south campus, as well as the problems facing the site. She identified two pressing urban design issues. First, she said that she could not imagine why a visitor center would be built underground—when the National Park Service, the National Mall, and the Smithsonian all need visitor facilities, and there is already a huge building available that occupies a highly visible central location. A visitor center in the Arts and Industries Building could connect the Mall with the Southwest Ecodistrict. Referring to the unpleasant character of the descending approach to the recently built underground visitor center at the U.S. Capitol, she supported the intention to reduce the amount of excavation, but found the idea of an underground center to be incomprehensible: it would be a bad experience and a failure as an urban place.
Ms. Meyer said that a second issue is the appropriate location for the entry pavilions. She commented that the existing Postmodern pavilions, by Shepley Bulfinch with Jean Paul Carlhian, are too large but are located in the right places, where they define the southern edge of the campus. She said that the entrances could be this large or smaller, and perhaps the proposed site design with lifted corners could be oriented in the opposite direction, as long as the entrances are to the south where they would hold the street and create a sense of enclosure for the garden, rather than jamming the entrances up against the Castle’s south facade. She said that the proposal to place tilted entrances toward the Mall is unconvincing, because it assumes that visitors cannot find their way from one side of the Castle to the other. In sum, she said that the proposal for the tilted entrance pavilions would not be a successful urban solution.
Ms. Meyer then addressed the issue of the preservation or redesign of the landscape. She commented that the existing garden is not a great one; she recalled the statement of the renowned landscape designer Beatrix Farrand, to the effect that a collection of plants does not a great garden make. However, she emphasized that a collection of plants at the Smithsonian Institution—whose history is closely tied to the history of botanical exploration, collection, discovery, and research—is clearly important. She urged the project team to think more deeply about the garden’s intention instead of relying on the facile formal overlay of the Downing plan onto the Collins/Sasaki plan, because this overlay has nothing to do with preservation and is also not a good redesign; it relies on a superficial attention to history without actually engaging with the role that botany and plants have played in the history of the Smithsonian and the Mall. She referred the project team to a recent book, Founding Gardeners, for a better understanding of the importance of botanic gardens and plant collections in the early years of the U.S. She concluded that the project is flawed in its understanding of the existing garden, and in its understanding of the relation of the Quadrangle to the city. She said that another alternative is needed.
Ms. Lehrer endorsed the issues raised by the other Commission members. She supported the goal of creating visual and physical connections among the different spaces of the south campus, which she described as a series of gardens extending from the Quadrangle to the Hirshhorn, different from the larger, unified space of the Mall; she commented that the need for these connections indicates the broader issue of the increasing number of people living in and traveling to cities.
Ms. Lehrer said that because gardens are composed of living things and do not achieve their intended appearance for many decades, maintenance plays a vital role in their evolution. She emphasized the importance of identifying the project team’s landscape architects in presentation materials submitted to the Commission so that members can better understand how the project will be carried out. She said that the garden’s original intention should be acknowledged; in the case of the south campus, this includes the pioneering role played by the Smithsonian in collecting plants. She recommended studying how plants would grow above the new underground roof. Finally, she agreed with the pressing need to incorporate the Arts and Industries Building into the south campus planning.
Mr. Lord, the project’s landscape architect, stressed that the team is working closely with Smithsonian gardeners and horticulturalists. He acknowledged the difficulty of conveying the emotional quality of this garden in a presentation. Ms. Gilbert asked if the plan involves making regular garden maintenance tasks visible and part of public interpretation. Mr. Lord responded that the expansion of the maintenance area would facilitate the engagement of visitors with gardeners.
Ms. Gilbert challenged the statement by Mr. Ingels that everything would seem the same in the rebuilt garden. She emphasized that it would not be the same garden—in fact, the proposal is to completely remove the existing garden and create a new landscape. She advised the project team should embrace this reality, although she agreed with Ms. Meyer that the proposed design is an odd overlay of two different plans.
Ms. Gilbert commented that the huge amount of new development occurring in Southwest D.C. means that a much larger number of visitors can be expected to approach the garden from the south; she therefore recommended replacing the proposed center parterre with a capacious walkway. Mr. Lord responded that previous alternatives had omitted the parterre, but public feedback has indicated a strong desire to maintain the photogenic view of the Castle with a popular, Victorian-style lawn panel in the foreground. He said that the proposal tries to balance a new design with the features that visitors have previously enjoyed. Ms. Gilbert suggested referring to maintenance and design guidelines developed for campus landscapes since these would address many relevant issues.
Ms. Lehrer asked Mr. Lord for his opinion of the Haupt Garden’s historic value. Mr. Lord responded that the garden has the inherent contradiction of recalling a period of time other than when it was built. The garden has an emotional appeal for him, and he appreciates its seasonality and its intimate spaces. He said that the new design would allow the gardeners to make better use of the space, and their skill, their attention to plant selection, and their understanding of the museum programs will improve it. In essence, he said that the garden will retain its character because it will be managed by the same people.
Ms. Lehrer questioned whether the two lifted corners of the new parterre should be at the north, as proposed, or at the south; and whether the daylighting should be achieved through some other configuration. She said that she does not share the concern of the other Commission members about locating a new visitor center underground; she commented that the proposed design does not look like an underground space but suggests a cleaving of the earth, although she acknowledged that the model may be misleading. She expressed support for Dr. Feldman’s testimony about the need for a master plan addressing the Mall as a whole, although this recommendation may be beyond the Commission’s purview; she commented that she does not think the proposed South Campus Master Plan would be contrary to the aims of this larger scope.
Ms. Meyer emphasized that when the Commission members provide comments, they are making decisions about values. She expressed her respect for Mr. Tiller’s discussion of the Haupt Garden’s significance. She acknowledged that Washington is not dealing well with designs from the mid- to late-twentieth century, and many are being lost; she gave the example of Pershing Park, currently being redesigned as a World War I memorial. However, she described the major difference between the Quadrangle’s architecture and the garden design: the architecture is a good example of a Postmodern architect working within this context, but the 1980s ersatz reconstruction of a nineteenth-century garden is not.
Ms. Meyer said that the designers should be much more clear about what they are doing and should not claim that the design would preserve the character of the existing Haupt Garden. Instead, they should acknowledge that this would be a different kind of garden, even though it may retain certain generic qualities like intimacy, engagement, and change over time. She commented that the garden’s real potential is as a place to express the legacy of the Gardenesque, the nineteenth-century vogue for collecting exotic plants to see if they can grow in different climates. Due to climate change, she said that novel ecologies will be the only way to have sustainable landscapes in the twenty-first century. She emphasized that the new Quadrangle garden could be an amazing place, creating a new type of garden that uses a mix of hardy exotics and the few native plants that will be able to survive the climate change. She urged the project team to embrace this character and to forget the apologies about preservation.
Mr. Krieger and Mr. Dunson expressed their strong support for this advice. Mr. Krieger commented that the proposed master plan has positive qualities that suggest the potential for creating a much better garden than the existing one: the new garden would be larger and more open to the city, and the ungainly existing pavilions would be removed. He said that he would not personally regret the loss of the existing garden. He questioned the proposal to move the entrances to the two underground museums toward the Mall; while the existing pavilions are too large and unattractive to be worth saving, the best solution may be to place new entrance pavilions in the current location near Independence Avenue because the museums themselves are much closer to this edge than to the Mall. He suggested that the project team study how this change would affect the design and location of the raised parterre corners.
Mr. Krieger observed that implementation may extend over years or decades, and he emphasized that the Arts and Industries Building must have a prominent place in the South Campus Master Plan. Mr. Horvath responded that all the buildings on the south campus will need work over the next several years; the Smithsonian’s priority is to finish the work at the Air and Space Museum and then begin rehabilitation of the Castle, probably followed by rehabilitation of the Hirshhorn. He noted that the south campus is a highly regulated property, and of all its sites, the fate of the Arts and Industries Building generates the greatest amount of interest. He added that several years ago the Smithsonian invested a large amount of money to reinforce and preserve the building’s shell; today, the interior is largely empty, and it lacks mechanical systems, although the Smithsonian finds its flexible, open space valuable for programs that cannot operate in other buildings. However, a new consolidated mechanical plant for the south campus has to be built, and a program needs to be determined for the Arts and Industries Building before funds can be allocated to complete it.
Ms. Meyer endorsed Mr. Krieger’s summary of the Commission members’ major concerns—the desire to see alternative entrance locations, and to explore whether a visitor center could be located in the Arts and Industries Building. She suggested a consensus that the Commission members are not ready to approve the proposed master plan. She recommended that the Smithsonian pursue a cooperative agreement with the National Park Service to work on the visitor center project together, and she asked the Smithsonian to address the concern raised by Ms. Petri about the terms of Enid Haupt’s gift of the Quadrangle garden. Mr. Horvath clarified that when the Smithsonian accepted the gift from Ms. Haupt, it committed simply to maintain in perpetuity a garden bearing her name.
Chairman Powell agreed that the Commission members are not ready to approve the master plan, although it has good proposals and includes parts that could be treated separately, such as the rehabilitation of the Castle. He expressed appreciation to the Smithsonian for the ambitious project, and he suggested that another alternative plan be developed that addresses the Commission’s comments in a new submission. The discussion concluded without a formal action.
D .Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
CFA 18/JAN/18-3, Flood protection project, various locations on and near the National Mall. Modifications to vent shafts for flood protection. Final. (Previous: CFA 20/APR/17-2.) Secretary Luebke introduced the proposed modifications to several vent shafts of the Metro system in the vicinity of the National Mall in order to provide adequate height above anticipated floods. He noted that the Commission previously reviewed a proposed final design in April 2017 and did not take an action, requesting additional presentation materials and better coordination among the government agencies having jurisdiction over the landscapes around the vent shafts. The current submission has been reduced in scope, eliminating the alterations to the vent shafts that are located in the Federal Triangle; the proposal is now limited to the two shafts along 7th Street near the centerline of the Mall, several vents along the Mall walk near the Smithsonian Metro station’s north entrance, and one location at 12th Street and Independence Avenue, SW. He said that the current proposal results from a collaboration with the National Park Service and further coordination with the General Services Administration and the D.C. Historic Preservation Office. He asked Ivo Karadimov, manager of architecture for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, to present the proposal.
Mr. Karadimov said that the Metro tunnels rely on ventilation shafts for fresh air. These shafts are designed to accommodate water from ordinary weather conditions, but cannot handle the water inundation from flooding, which can result in a shutdown of the system due to the risk of immersing the electric rail of the subway tracks. The proposal is intended to raise the height of the vent shaft intakes in order to reduce their vulnerability to flooding. He presented a context map indicating the location of the shafts that would be modified; he noted that the Federal Triangle shafts, removed from the current proposal, would be submitted again in the future.
Mr. Karadimov presented photographs of the two 7th Street vent shafts, indicating the current flood protection provided by sandbags that are unsightly, problematic to maintain, and potentially a tripping hazard for pedestrians. The proposal is a more permanent design that would relate aesthetically to the Mall context and the Metro system’s standard palette of materials. A twelve-inch-high curb of Mount Airy granite would be installed, raising the vent to the desired height of six inches above the 500-year flood height to protect against localized pooling and splashing as well as an area-wide flood. He noted that the proposed modification would not affect the adjacent areas of grass nor the width of the sidewalk; the proposal is simply to raise the vent shaft within its existing footprint.
Mr. Karadimov described the proposal for the four vent shafts of varying size near the Smithsonian Metro station’s north entrance along the east-west Mall path, where a similar installation of sandbags provides the current protection. An additional problem at this location is loose gravel from the paths that enters the vent shafts and clogs the drains. The proposal is to raise these vent shafts by four inches, using a tapered apron with a shallow slope; the material would be the same exposed-aggregate concrete that is used by the National Park Service for the paved paths on the Mall, intended to appear similar to the Mall’s loose gravel paths. The tapered edges would blend in with the existing Mall path on three sides, and would end at the grass panel on the south side; water runoff would be accommodated by the Mall’s drainage system.
Mr. Karadimov presented the proposed modification to the vent shaft in the sidewalk at the southwest corner of 12th Street and Independence Avenue, near the south entrance to the Smithsonian Metro station. Similar to the 7th Street shafts, this vent shaft would be raised by installing a twelve-inch-high curb of Mount Airy granite, with no impact on the sidewalk width; he indicated the proposed bullnose edging of the granite.
Mr. Karadimov summarized the importance of the proposal in providing better and safer service for Metro riders, and he noted the extensive consultation with government agencies as part of the historic preservation review process.
Ms. Meyer noted the Commission’s site inspection of the vent shafts earlier in the day. She asked about the vertical protrusions, resembling periscopes, that rise from some of the vent shafts. Mr. Karadimov responded that some of these are standpipes for firefighting equipment, and they would remain in place; he offered to verify the function of other protruding pipes. Ms. Meyer suggested minimizing the appearance of these protrusions where possible.
Ms. Meyer expressed support for the proposed treatment of the 7th Street vent shafts. She suggested that the four vent shafts along the Mall path be treated as a unified grouping and coordinated with the paved paths nearby; she noted that this exposed-aggregate paving was installed by the National Park Service to ensure barrier-free access on the Mall. She recommended working with the National Park Service to design a paved path that would encompass the four vent shafts and would connect to the existing paved paths nearby, including the area at the top of the Metro station’s escalators. She said that this solution would be preferable to the proposed design, which would leave small gaps between paved areas; the goal should be a deliberately designed path that has the four vent shafts within it. She acknowledged the apparent irony of recommending additional paving to make the paved areas appear less conspicuous, but she said that the result would be a single, simple band of concrete instead of four disjointed areas of paving that intrude on the path. She said that a single paved path would also provide better drainage and would contribute to the provision of barrier-free access on the Mall. Mr. Luebke confirmed that the suggested paved path would extend westward from the Metro entrance to the north–south path that connects the center entrances of the Department of Agriculture and the National Museum of American History; he noted that the paved path could also encompass the adjacent benches along the Mall. Ms. Meyer said that a single paved path would also provide better drainage and would contribute to the provision of barrier-free access on the Mall.
Ms. Meyer offered a motion to approve the submission, subject to the suggested revision for the four vent shafts on the Mall, and with the request to minimize the height of the vertically protruding pipes. Upon a second by Mr. Powell, the Commission adopted this action. Mr. Karadimov agreed to work further with the National Park Service.
E. District of Columbia Department of Parks and Recreation
CFA 18/JAN/18-4, Stead Park Community Recreation Center, 1625 P Street, NW. Playground renovation and building additions. Concept. (Previous: CFA 16/NOV/17-4.) Mr. Fox introduced the second concept submission for renovations and additions to Stead Park Community Recreation Center submitted in cooperation with the Friends of Stead Park and the D.C. Department of General Services. The 1.5-acre park is located at 1625 P Street, NW, a few blocks east of Dupont Circle. The proposal calls for the historic carriage and stable structure near the center of the park to be renovated and enlarged with a new addition, as well as for changes to the landscape, basketball court, and the playground on the southern portion of the site. He noted that the Commission reviewed an initial proposal for this project in November 2017, providing comments for further development of the design including recommendations for the site planning, the treatment of the carriage house, and the massing of the new addition. Secretary Luebke summarized the comments from several letters submitted to the Commission by community members, which include support from the local Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) and the Parent Teacher Association of nearby Ross Elementary School; other correspondents raised concerns about the design of the landscape and the architecture and massing of the addition, consistent with some of the issues raised by the Commission during its previous review. Mr. Fox asked Brent Sisco of the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation to begin the presentation.
Mr. Sisco said that the project scope includes renovating and reconfiguring the landscape and the historic carriage house, the centerpiece of the park. A small addition on the carriage house’s north side, constructed in 1999, would be demolished. He noted that extensive community outreach and consultation has resulted in several important components of the project, including the flexible gathering, meeting, and indoor recreational spaces proposed for people of all ages and abilities. He asked architect Outerbridge Horsey of Outerbridge Horsey Associates to present the design.
Mr. Horsey said that Stead Park was named in honor of Mary Force Stead, the wife of prominent Washington architect Robert Stead. Mr. Stead left a legacy to maintain a playground in perpetuity for the children of Washington, D.C., and the park was racially integrated upon its opening in 1953. He indicated the boundaries of the park: P Street to the south and the alleys parallel to 16th, 17th, and Q Streets; the park’s main entrance, comprised of stairs and a ramp, is near the center of the 1600 block of P Street. He described the existing conditions of the site: on the southern half is a central lawn leading to the carriage house, a basketball court in the southwest corner, and a playground in the southeast corner, with a splash park immediately to its north; a large, recently refurbished playing field of artificial turf occupies the site’s northern half. He said that the existing two-story carriage house was built in the late nineteenth century by streetcar executive Henry Hurt as a dependency to his house, which was demolished in 1953 for the development of the park; he described the carriage house as being unusually elegant and highly detailed for a utilitarian structure from this time period. The proposed addition to the carriage house would have two parts: a two-story block attached to the northern side of the historic structure, matching its modest height; and extending west from the northern addition, a taller two-story block with more generous ceiling heights and an occupiable basement. He presented a schedule illustrating how the facility could be programmed with activities throughout a typical week; regular recreational activities would be accompanied by community events and programming for Ross Elementary School, which lacks a large assembly space. He said the wide variety of activities planned for the facility is driving the size and configuration of the expansion of the carriage house.
Mr. Horsey presented the proposed site design, which is intended to relate to the park’s more formal original plan. He said that rationalizing the existing site plan would give the carriage house a more noble presence by establishing framed views and paths toward the building. Most of the trees near the park entrance, including street trees, would be retained, preserving views toward the carriage house under the mature canopy. He said that although the D.C. government has a moratorium on using artificial turf, the open lawn area in front of the carriage house would most likely end up being this material. The open-air basketball court would be retained, and a sinusoidal canopy topped with solar panels would be constructed above it; he noted that this proposal has general support from the community and basketball court users. The canopy would also benefit the groups of children that use the court for general, non-basketball play activities. At the playground, trees would be added along the western edge to provide shade instead of the previously proposed solar array canopy; a revised canopy proposal remains for the playground’s southern edge, installed above the swing set and over the narrow, vertical “Wallholla” play structure. At both the basketball court and the playground, the canopies would be accented with color to give them a whimsical appearance; yellow is under consideration. The design team is also studying whether translucent solar panels would be feasible. He emphasized that the playground is small—approximately 60 by 100 feet—and intensely used, limiting the shading opportunities and size of the play equipment. Each piece of equipment also has a specified safety zone, further restricting the layout. He said that the Wallholla would accommodate 40 children, consistent with the strategy to maximize the use of play equipment by many children at once. A carousel accessible for all children would be another prominent feature of the playground.
Mr. Horsey introduced landscape architect Dan Dove of Studio 39 to present additional details of the site design. Mr. Dove said that at the new entrance stairs on P Street, the central portion would be dimensioned to provide amphitheater-type seating; the existing entrance ramp would be retained. A “sensory garden” along P Street is intended to acknowledge Mr. and Mrs. Hurt’s endowment of a home for the blind; it would be raised slightly above the sidewalk level behind a low seat wall along the sidewalk, in response to the Commission’s previous concern that a grade-level garden along the sidewalk would merely attract dogs. A water feature near the entrance is also being considered. The walk that connects the front and rear portions of the park would be framed by an allée of trees, consistent with the Commission’s previous recommendation; he indicated the existing and new trees proposed to compose the allée. The western portion of the building addition would have a twelve-foot-deep areaway providing exposure for the basement level; this sunken area has been developed with a terraced planter and vegetation to soften the view of the site wall when seen from the basement.
Mr. Dove described additional details of the playground proposal. The existing 42-inch-tall climbing wall at the northern boundary of the playground would be removed, opening views toward the splash park and playing field to the north. He said that the design of the playground balances the goals of providing many pieces of equipment and of including shade structures and trees, noting that community input led to the specification of play equipment that would facilitate climbing. Addressing the Commission’s recommendation to provide additional shade in the playground, he said that the design team has explored planting more trees but found that regulations requiring a buffer of 84 inches between individual trees and play equipment would constrain planting opportunities. He said he believes that the trees along the western and eastern boundaries of the playground, along with the two playground canopy structures, would provide sufficient shade.
Mr. Horsey addressed the Commission’s suggestion to create a more immersive landscape environment in the playground without using an excessive amount of play equipment. He said that this strategy could work in a larger space that does not have existing physical constraints; he cited the J.J. Byrne Playground in Brooklyn, NY, noting that this park had existing mature trees with a high canopy. He said that trees planted within the play space would be obstacles for running children, and splitting the small park into multiple levels would not be possible because of the requirement for barrier-free access. For these reasons, the proposed diagram is similar to the previous design presented: a flat playground with trees around the perimeter.
Mr. Horsey then described the configuration and plan of the proposed carriage house complex. The addition abuts the north side of the existing building and extends westward in order to preserve the carriage house’s primary southern facade; to avoid conflict with the existing basketball court, splash park, and playing fields; and to screen the park from the commercial Dumpsters and service functions in the alley to the west. The interior east–west circulation spine between the eastern and western parts of the addition is intended to recall the alley that used to exist in this location. He presented the proposed floor plans of the complex. The basement would contain a multipurpose athletic space, along with support space and mechanical and storage rooms. The ground level would contain two major rooms: a multipurpose room in the western part of the addition and a large community room in the eastern part rising to a circular oculus with clerestory windows. A kitchen and office would be located on the ground level within the original carriage house. The second floor of the complex would be subdivided into smaller rooms for meetings and activities. He noted that the addition would have roofs at different levels due to the varying ceiling heights. The western roof would be planted with an agricultural green roof, while the eastern part would have a more typical roof deck for general gatherings; additional egress from this deck would be provided by a circular stair tower sited east of the building. Railings would be placed three feet back from the roof perimeter as required by code. He added that the facility’s one off-street parking space would be eliminated, and trash and storage bays would be added in the alley. He presented interior views of the design, indicating the clerestory windows of the atrium oculus that would bring light into the community and second floor-rooms. He also presented north–south and east–west sections through the building, illustrating how the levels of the old and new buildings meet.
Mr. Horsey then presented multiple rendered exterior views of the proposed design, noting the visual presence of the Cairo, the 164-foot-tall residential building north of the park across Q Street. He said that most of the new addition would be clad in a red brick-colored fiber cement board or metal panel; the eastern facade may be clad in brick. The original openings would be restored on the historic south facade, and the enclosed central bay of the ground floor of the carriage house, which was originally an open-air passage, would continue to be enclosed to serve as an entrance vestibule. Based on community input, the design intends for the northern entrance through the addition to be as functional as the southern entrance through the historic facade. He also presented an alternative design in which the depth of the addition would be slightly increased to the north; a different fenestration configuration for the rear of the addition would emphasize its verticality; a vestibule would protrude from the northern entrance; and the exterior materials would be slightly reconfigured.
Chairman Powell thanked the team for its presentation and invited comments from the Commission members. Ms. Meyer expressed regret that the presentation did not include a side-by-side comparison of the two options, and she asked if the project team has a preferred alternative. Mr. Horsey responded that the second option is preferred. Ms. Lehrer asked if the treatment of the southern facade of the building is consistent across both options; Mr. Horsey confirmed that only the northern and eastern facades differ between the alternatives. Ms. Lehrer commented that the fenestration of the western and northern blocks of the new addition appears to be misaligned, and she recommended further refinement of the junctures between the old and new buildings. Mr. Horsey responded that the facade setback and offset window configuration also vary in the two alternatives.
Ms. Lehrer expressed appreciation for the detailed presentation of the proposed interiors of the buildings but noted that the Commission has limited purview over this aspect of most designs; she suggested that future presentations provide this information only as background to explain the exterior massing and articulation of a building. She expressed general support for the revisions to the design, noting that the facility will likely be very popular and require a skilled events staff. She commented favorably on the revised roof treatment, particularly the urban agriculture component, which she said would attract welcome community participation. She also expressed support for the shade structure for the basketball court and its solar energy component. She concluded that the playground would accommodate a wide range of ages, but that its design would benefit from additional study. She observed that the playground would have many pieces of equipment, and she suggested including shaded, informal spaces with boulders and other objects to climb, creating a more memorable experience for park users.
Ms. Gilbert said that the design of the landscape is much improved, citing the eastern allée as a new, emphatic design element that creates an important seam between the central plaza and the playground that is missing in both the existing and previously proposed designs. She suggested creating an additional threshold near the middle of the site by continuing the allée, perhaps by moving one of the three trees planted between the playground and the splash park closer to the proposed stair tower. Mr. Horsey responded that the three trees are existing ginkgos planted in 2014, and he recommended against their replanting. Ms. Gilbert asked if direct circulation between the playground and splash park is proposed; Mr. Horsey said that a fence would separate the two spaces. Ms. Gilbert suggested that if visibility is not a concern, controlled and manicured vines could be grown up the lattice work of the stair tower; Mr. Horsey said this would be possible if a secondary trellis structure were built. Ms. Gilbert noted the Commission’s previous concerns regarding the desirability of the canopy over the basketball court, but she acknowledged the community’s support for this feature. Mr. Horsey said that a thorough study of court usage would provide more information, but he expressed confidence in the current facility manager’s opinion that the roof would be welcome. Ms. Gilbert also expressed support for the refinements to the roof treatment, noting that more useable space has been created.
Mr. Dunson said that the revised design is more ordered and clear. He commented that the proposed setback of the main entrance facade successfully references the carriage house’s historic open-air central passage. He also voiced general support for the canopy over the basketball court.
Ms. Meyer expressed support for the overall disposition of the program across the site, but she advised that the seams between the individual landscape spaces would benefit from further study. For example, because sunlight would hit the site at an angle, the basketball court canopy should extend over adjacent areas to provide more adequate shade for the court; she also questioned whether the solar array on top of the Wallholla is correctly oriented in relation to the sun. She suggested studying the dimensions of the front stairs along P Street, finding that they appear to be scaled for a building interior and not a landscape. Finally, she suggested eliminating the separate planters at the front of the site and instead integrating plantings into the stairway area. She commented that refining these and other small details in the design development stage would bring delight to a landscape concept that currently provides only order.
Chairman Powell invited comments from members of the public. The first speaker was Randy Downs, a nearby resident and user of the park, who said he is attending on behalf of the Dupont Circle ANC and is the elected commissioner for the district that encompasses Stead Park. He reported that the ANC voted unanimously to support the project, and he read the resolution passed by the ANC. The resolution noted support for the massing and conceptual design of the facility, and encouraged revisions to the large open area between the building and the playing field, as well as to the programming of the rooftop event space; the resolution also requested that DPR and the project team continue to engage and consult the ANC, park users, and community stakeholders as the project is developed and constructed.
The second speaker was Robin Diener, president of the Dupont Circle Citizens Association. She acknowledged the challenge of incorporating into the design the wide-ranging community input that has been provided. She reiterated her support for the proposed design, citing in particular the special treatment of the carriage house in the composition of the park, as well the project’s environmental goals. She emphasized several criticisms of the design: the northern facade of the new addition should be as well detailed as the southern facade; the basketball court canopy, while providing welcome shade and solar power along with playful yellow detailing, appears to overwhelm the site and should be studied further, particularly its height; the playground would benefit from a larger shade structure; and the shapes of the vertical elements in the design—the triangular carriage house gable, circular skylight, and “scalloped” canopy—unfavorably contrast with one another, although this contrast may be considered whimsical or playful.
The final speaker was Nick DelleDonne, a local ANC member whose district is located immediately north of Stead Park. He said that the park renovation project offers the potential to create a jewel that will inspire future generations citywide. While noting his vote of support for the ANC resolution read by Mr. Downs, he relayed the comments of some constituents regarding the latest proposal. First, he said that at a public meeting, the design team commented that the north entrance to the building complex would not be able to accommodate as many people as the south entrance, contrary to the wishes of some regular users of the playing fields. Expressing disappointment in this outcome, he speculated that the intended infrequent use of this north entrance is why the northern elevation of the addition appears severe and the western portion overwhelms the carriage house. He added that the disappointing massing of the design highlights miscommunication between the community and the project team. Second, he said that a barrier-free entrance should be added near the western entrance to the park, at the dead-end stub of Church Street. He suggested that an alcove in this area could serve as a food market and, in time, could become the main entrance to the park. He added that frequent use of an entrance in this location would further expose the addition’s north facade and the massing problems that he has noted. Third, he cited the examples of Cady’s Alley in Georgetown and Blagden Alley in Shaw as inspirational and more visionary models to be followed for redeveloping the alleys that frame the park. He reasoned that such redevelopment would draw more attention to the northern facade; thus, its detailing should be further developed. Finally, he addressed several aspects of the design that he believes have not been revised according to the advice of the Commission. He said that there is still a disconnect between the program and the architecture; the addition continues to overwhelm the carriage house; the quite large western portion of the addition still towers above everything; and the basketball court’s canopy continues to result in the unbalanced composition at the front of the park as previously described by the Commission.
Chairman Powell thanked the people providing testimony and noted that their comments would be included as a part of the public record of the meeting. Mr. Krieger expressed strong support for the revisions to the project, noting its many functions, interior accommodations, and special characteristics. He said that the extensive programming proposed would not allow for a smaller addition, and he expressed a preference for masonry cladding. He offered a motion to approve the project with the recommendations provided for the development of the design’s details. Upon a second by Ms. Gilbert, the Commission adopted this action.
F. District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
1. SL 18-037 & SL 18-038, 7076-7080 Oregon Avenue, NW. Two new houses. Concept. The Commission acted on the submission earlier in the meeting without a presentation, following agenda item II.A.
2. SL 18-043, 704 3rd Street, NW. Redevelopment of the Harrison Apartments site. Concept. Ms. Batcheler introduced the proposed redevelopment of an L-shaped site on the north side of G Street between 3rd and 4th Streets, NW, on the block to the northeast of the Commission’s offices in Judiciary Square. One of the existing buildings, along the 3rd Street frontage, on the site would be preserved: the Harrison Flats, a designated D.C. landmark completed in the late nineteenth century and the city’s oldest remaining purpose-built apartment building. The proposal is to renovate this five-story building for hotel use and to construct a twelve-story addition that would include hotel and residential uses. She noted that the project would form part of the visual frame of Judiciary Square, along with the government and private-sector buildings in the vicinity. She also noted the ongoing construction of the Capitol Crossing commercial project to the east, a large component of the ongoing redevelopment of this area of the city. She asked architect Phil Esocoff of Gensler to present the proposal.
Mr. Esocoff summarized his extensive experience with Washington residential buildings and additions to historic buildings, including several in the downtown area. He indicated the site on a context map, noting its position between the sports arena several blocks to the west and Union Station several blocks to the east. A block east of the site, G Street will soon be reopened for pedestrians as part of the Capitol Crossing project. He emphasized that the Harrison Flats project will be important not only in framing Judiciary Square, but also for defining the setting of the General Accountability Office across 4th Street to the west and the neighborhood of sizeable residential apartment buildings to the north. The project would strengthen the visual continuity along 4th Street and G Street, contributing to the restoration of the urban fabric. He indicated additional notable buildings in the vicinity, including the National Building Museum to the southwest, the D.C. court buildings beyond, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation building to the south. He said that in deference to the building’s role in the context, the design approach is largely to blend in with other buildings that create the area’s visual frame; the intention is to balance the expression of the individual building with the collective definition of urban space.
Mr. Esocoff described the site in greater detail. The project occupies most of the southern third of the block but excludes the Fraternal Order of Police building located mid-block along 4th Street; this private club would remain, and the L-shaped site wraps around it. While the Harrison Flats building and its historic addition would be incorporated into the proposed development, the other buildings on the site would be demolished. He noted that the site was recently extended to include the parcels fronting on 4th Street, which allows for adequate below-grade parking to be constructed on two levels without requiring excavation beneath the Harrison Flats building; the existing basement in this area would be rebuilt for use as hotel support space. The ground floor of the Harrison Flats building would have shared-use hotel spaces such as the hotel lobby and meeting rooms; the hotel entrance would be along G Street; and a restaurant would be located at the corner of 4th and G Streets, providing an active use that would enliven the corner closest to the Judiciary Square Metro station. The residential lobby would be located further north along 4th Street. He emphasized that the street frontage would be active throughout the day and week, accommodating area workers, residents, hotel guests, and museum-goers. Access to the covered loading dock and below-grade parking would be from the existing alley extending along the north side of the site. He showed photographs of other projects that he has designed, working with landscape architects to create gardens on the roof above enclosed loading docks; a similar approach would be used for this project.
Mr. Esocoff described several of the design details that are being developed. The historic building’s brick-walled lightwell, along with some of the interior brick vaults, would be preserved. Salvaged brick would be used to construct some of the interior spaces within the Harrison Flats. Paving and canopy designs will be developed further. The second floor would have a terrace above the loading dock, adjacent to the fitness center. An additional terrace would be located on the roof of the Harrison Flats as the building volume steps back to the proposed addition at the sixth floor. He noted that the program of hotel rooms and apartments involves similar space configurations as the historic residential use of the Harrison Flats; this configuration will be apparent from the exterior at night, providing a historically appropriate sense of individually lit rooms rather than a large expanse of open office space within a historic shell. The apartments on the upper floors have been carefully laid out in relation to the hotel rooms below to accommodate the alignment of vertical structure and exhaust shafts; all of the exhaust vents will be located on the roof rather than on the facades. Bay windows, similar to those of the Harrison Flats, are proposed for the addition up to the 10th floor; the apartments on the 11th and 12th floors would have inset terraces, with the detailed layouts of these units still to be resolved. The set-back penthouse level would have a roof terrace, outdoor pool, mechanical space, and lounges for residents and hotel guests, with views of the Washington Monument. The penthouse mezzanine would have additional mechanical space, and it would have a green roof. He noted that the cooling towers would be set within the penthouse and would not be visible from public space.
Mr. Esocoff presented the proposed elevations. The emphasis on the building entrances would be expressed on the first and second floors, which he said would be legible from a distance while not overwhelming the pedestrian scale along the sidewalk. In keeping with design details that he has seen in the Dupont Circle neighborhood, the second-floor elevation would be used to unify the facade elements, and the bay windows at the street level would have a modest scale. On the east, the upper floors of the addition would be set back thirty feet westward behind the facade plane of the Harrison Flats. Along the alley, all of the vehicular access would use a single large portal within the addition, avoiding the need for creating a large vehicular opening within the north wall of the Harrison Flats. He concluded with several perspective views of the building, including views when approaching the site from a block away in various directions; he indicated the proposed material palette of stone, brick, and precast concrete.
Ms. Lehrer asked for clarification of the intended color for the addition, observing that the rendered views show it as either yellow or beige. Mr. Esocoff responded that beige brick is intended, similar to the warm limestone color used on the residential building that he designed for the Chinese embassy [reviewed by the Commission in November 2010]; he said that the color of this material appears to change over the course of the day and the seasons, and it is difficult to capture well in renderings.
Ms. Lehrer questioned the battered fin walls framing the inset balconies of the two uppermost residential floors, commenting that they would constrain the residents’ outward views, which should instead be maximized. Mr. Esocoff responded that the design of this part of the building is still being studied. Ms. Lehrer asked about the varied configuration of projecting bays and inset balconies in relation to any regulatory requirements. Mr. Esocoff clarified that the bays are allowable projections into public space; the inset balconies are intended to provide residents the option to choose a unit with some exterior space or additional interior space; he said that the balconies are provided on the uppermost floors because the attractive views at this height would be especially enjoyable from outdoor space. He said that the interior layouts on the top two floors are still being determined, and two-level apartments could be proposed; the configuration of the balconies will be refined as the apartment layouts are developed. He emphasized that with residential buildings, more than with typical office buildings, the interior layout has a significant effect on the exterior design.
Ms. Lehrer asked about the view eastward above the roof of the Harrison Flats. Mr. Esocoff responded that the view would extend to the office buildings of the Capitol Crossing development. Ms. Lehrer clarified her concern with the appearance of the Harrison Flats roof; Mr. Esocoff responded that this would be a terrace with low ornamental plantings along the perimeter, perhaps including small trees. Ms. Lehrer agreed with this treatment and offered overall support for the project, citing the positive relationship between the historic building and the proposed addition.
Mr. Krieger joined in supporting the proposal as a concept, commenting that the design seems competent. He agreed that from a distance, a viewer might not be able to tell the age of the different parts of the project, although he questioned whether this is a desirable result. He described the design as being a background building that is typical of Washington. He recommended reconsideration of the design for the upper two floors, agreeing with Ms. Lehrer that the desirable views would suggest a design with larger windows rather than inset balconies. He also suggested further consideration of details, including the color which is proposed as a simple binary juxtaposition of the historic red building and the new yellow addition. He suggested careful study of the historic building’s brickwork to serve as inspiration for the proposed addition—such as corbelling, sills, headers, and corners—and perhaps some overlap of the brick colors to relate the two parts of the project. Mr. Esocoff agreed, responding that his projects typically include careful consideration of modern details in relation to historic precedents, such as the detailing of a brick wall supported on steel shelves in comparison to a traditional solid brick wall. He said that a design goal is to give the appearance of an older building when seen from a distance, along with the delight of discovering modern details on close inspection. Mr. Krieger added that even the variation in the thickness of the mortar joint can convey the distinction between parts of a project from different eras; he reiterated his recommendation for creative exploration of learning from the old and incorporating the lessons into the new.
Ms. Gilbert observed that many of the balconies appear to be shallow “Juliet balconies,” while others would be occupiable inset balconies. She commented that the Juliet balconies could be annoying to the residents, with their railings blocking the desirable views of the cityscape. She suggested that some of these Juliet balconies be eliminated as the apartment layouts are refined, resulting in simplification of the design.
Mr. Dunson commented that the design is consistent with Washington projects involving historic preservation in recent decades. He noted his familiarity with past projects designed by Mr. Esocoff, and he expressed confidence that the detailing would convey a thoughtful and respectful distinction between the old and the new. He said that the lower floors of the design have an appropriate scale and give a sense of attachment to the ground. However, the upper portion has a sense of heaviness, and he suggested an alternative design approach that would give a lighter appearance to the top of the building, perhaps through a change in material. He encouraged the two-story-high grouping of windows as a design gesture that helps to lighten the building’s appearance. He emphasized his overall support for the project, especially the distinct design character for each part of the enlarged building. He added that the design appears to fit the scale of the street and the broader scale of the context.
Chairman Powell summarized the consensus to approve the concept subject to the comments provided for its further refinement. Upon a second by Mr. Krieger, the Commission adopted this action.
Old Georgetown Act
OG 18-072, 3800 Reservoir Road, NW. New hospital building and site work. Revised concept. (Previous: OG 16-110, September 2016.) Mr. Mellon introduced the proposal for a new surgical pavilion and underground parking garage at the MedStar Georgetown University Hospital on the northern portion of the Georgetown University campus. He noted the Commission’s previous approval of the concept in September 2016 with a request for further development of the landscape design. The current submission was reviewed favorably by the Commission’s Old Georgetown Board earlier in the month, with comments concerning further study of the traffic circulation, arcade lighting, and the landscape design for the space fronting Darnall Hall, a residential building to the east of the project site. He said that the proposal is being presented at an intermediate stage of development in accordance with the Commission’s request; if the project is satisfactory, the Commission may choose to delegate completion of the review process to the Old Georgetown Board. He added that the project is part of a larger master plan that calls for improving pedestrian connections between Reservoir Road to the north and the central part of the campus to the south. The surgical pavilion is a significant project that would be one of the largest buildings on the campus, nearly 600 feet in length. He asked architect Shalom Baranes of Shalom Baranes Associates to present the design; Mr. Baranes said that he will present the architecture, and Rick Parisi of M. Paul Friedberg & Partners will present the landscape design, which has been developed more extensively since the previous presentation.
Mr. Baranes presented an overview of the site and context, indicating the placement of the proposed building alongside several wings of the existing hospital complex to form a continuous eastern edge. Several partially defined existing courtyards, used for hospital servicing, would become fully enclosed within the hospital complex. The below-grade parking would extend further east beyond the building footprint, beneath a new landscaped pedestrian walk connecting Reservoir Road to the center of the campus.
Mr. Baranes described the architectural revisions subsequent to the previous presentation. The penthouse level has been pulled further away from the north end of the proposed building; the mechanical equipment previously planned for this area would be moved to a different location within the penthouse, which would be increased in height. He presented several views that he said demonstrate the resulting significant improvement in the building’s appearance; he indicated the general alignment of the penthouse edge with the existing adjacent building. He noted that one roof protrusion would remain toward the north to accommodate an egress stair. He presented enlarged details to show the relief and the various materials of the proposed facades. On the north facade, some of the colors have been changed, and minor changes have been made to the windows. Similar changes have been made to the long east facade; at the suggestion of the Old Georgetown Board, the fritting pattern now includes a terra cotta color to relate better to the rest of the building. On the south facade, additional louvers have been added for the mechanical systems, and the windows have been slightly reconfigured. Other facades would face the internal courtyards and would be seen by relatively few people. He concluded with a presentation of the proposed palette of materials, generally similar to what was previously presented.
Mr. Parisi presented the relevant concepts from the master plan, prepared by another firm, as well as the landscape design that he has developed. The project would transform a 400-space parking lot into a green campus landscape. This linear space would be organized as four “outdoor rooms” that relate to the existing buildings; the grades would be adjusted to provide settings for the buildings and a continuous pedestrian experience. On the north, the academic facility of St. Mary’s Hall would be given an improved setting on a plinth, with a focus on a new main entrance that has been lowered by five feet to eliminate the need for stairs. The other three rooms would relate to Darnall Hall, Henle Village, and the Leavey Center. Along Reservoir Road on the north, standard brick paving would be used, and the parking, service, and pedestrian routes have been clearly separated. He noted that the locations of the Reservoir Road bus stop and crosswalks shown on the drawings have recently been revised. The grading has been studied carefully to avoid the need for ramps and railings; where the new grading exposes a foundation wall, the proposal is to add plantings and a low seating wall. Benches, as well as moveable tables and chairs, would be provided in each room of the landscape. A cafe would open onto the outdoor space along Darnall Hall. In an area of potential future building expansion near the Leavey Center, the tree planting would be designed to be moveable when necessary.
Mr. Parisi said that the site furnishings and materials would generally follow the university’s standard palette; some different features would be introduced toward the north end of the site. Paving would include three tones of gray pavers, asphalt and brick walks, decomposed granite, and concrete pavement for vehicular areas. The outdoor rooms would have different trees to avoid excessive repetition: willow oaks, closely spaced honey locusts, and two rooms with London planes, possibly using multi-stem specimens that can now be obtained in an adequate size. He illustrated the landscape at the time of installation using relatively large trees, and also when the landscape has matured. He added that the soil depth above the garage would be at least 4.5 feet, and sometimes as much as seven feet, to facilitate the tree growth. He indicated the possible locations for flowering trees such as crape myrtles or magnolias; they would be placed sufficiently away from truck routes to avoid damage. He said that much of the remaining ground surface would be lawn; the steeper slopes would have evergreen groundcovers with junipers and other foliage plants. He described the extensive proposal for re-grading the site, which results in a relatively flat central space with a two-percent slope.
Mr. Baranes concluded by presenting the proposed signage. One monument sign, ten feet tall, would be located at the main vehicular entrance. Additional signage would be placed on the building and the vehicular ramp, indicating the routes for pedestrians, parking, service, and emergency vehicles. Smaller signs would be consistent with the design vocabulary of the campus, and a signs with a campus map would also be provided.
Secretary Luebke emphasized the unusual stage of review for this project, between a concept and final design submission; recommendations from the Commission could still be incorporated as the design is being developed. He noted the Old Georgetown Board’s overall support, with some concern about the wide east-west band crossing the north-south open space. The Board also suggested further study of lighting and placemaking along the long arcade of the new surgical pavilion. The Board has been carefully reviewing the potential for pedestrian-vehicle conflicts at the circular drive near Reservoir Road, which now appears to be reasonably well resolved.
Ms. Meyer said that the development of the landscape design has been impressive; she said that the broad shaping of the topography has resulted in a successful concept for the outdoor rooms and the circulation flow. She said that the east-west band across the landscape at Darnall Hall appears to be effective in defining the room with a landscape boundary, and she disagreed with the Board’s concern that this gesture is arbitrary. She summarized that the concept and the site plan are strong, and she supported delegation of further review to the Board.
Ms. Gilbert commented that she finds the palette of smaller plantings to be fairly ordinary, and she suggested consideration of medicinal plants and other more interesting plantings; she also noted that some of the proposed species are invasive. Mr. Parisi said that the choice of plantings has not yet been fully developed, and some of what is shown is simply a leftover placeholder; he emphasized the need to select species that would stabilize the areas of steep slopes. Ms. Gilbert suggested a fresh start in specifying the plantings; Mr. Parisi offered assurance that the result will be very interesting. He said that juniper would be effective on slopes, and the goal is to avoid ivy; Ms. Gilbert agreed.
Ms. Lehrer expressed appreciation to Mr. Baranes for his continued success with the creation of pleasing designs and understandable presentations. She observed that the planted roofs on the surgical pavilion do not have paths, and she asked if adequate consideration has been given to their maintenance; she especially cited a small area of green roof on a lower floor. She said that in addition to the medicinal plants suggested by Ms. Gilbert, consideration should also be given to raising bees on the roof areas, particularly because these will not be occupiable spaces.
Ms. Lehrer commented that the facades are beautiful but appear to have great variety in the types of openings and louvers; she asked if this results from programmatic needs of the interior. Ms. Meyer said that the vast length of the main facade is sufficient reason for the variety; Mr. Baranes agreed. He added that only one type of fin is proposed for the entire building, but it is proposed to be rotated in different ways to create variety for the pedestrian experience. Ms. Lehrer cautioned that the great variety of openings can increase the building cost dramatically.
Mr. Dunson expressed strong support for the landscape design and its integration with the surgical pavilion’s long facade. He particularly cited the creation of a sequence of outdoor rooms, which is successful not only for the new building, but also in bringing the existing buildings into a wonderful ensemble.
Chairman Powell summarized the consensus of the Commission to approve the revised concept and refer further review to the Old Georgetown Board. Upon a second by Ms. Meyer, the Commission adopted this action.
G. Department of the Treasury / U.S. Mint
CFA 18/JAN/18-5, 2019 America the Beautiful Quarter Dollar Program. Revised design for Northern Mariana Islands. Final. (Previous: CFA 20/SEP/17-8.) Mr. Simon introduced the revised submission of design alternatives for the reverse of one of the circulating quarters in the ongoing “America the Beautiful” series. The designs are for the Northern Mariana Islands, which was part of the 2019 set that the Commission reviewed in September 2017. He asked April Stafford of the U.S. Mint to present the alternatives.
Ms. Stafford said that the previously selected design was later withdrawn during the Mint’s internal legal review, due to concerns about the originality of the artwork. The new alternatives have been developed with consideration of the guidance previously provided by the Commission, by the Mint’s Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC), and by the Mint’s liaison at the selected site, the American Memorial Park in the Northern Mariana Islands. She noted that this park honors the thousands of Americans and indigenous islanders who lost their lives during the Marianas campaign of World War II.
Ms. Stafford presented thirteen alternative designs for the reverse of the coin. She noted the preference of the site liaison for alternatives #3, 4, 5, and 6, which share the theme of a young Chamorro woman looking at the park’s broad staircase and flagpoles. Further review by the CCAC, in cooperation with the liaison, has focused on alternative #4 as the preferred design. She said that the liaison has suggested deleting the phrase “Court of Honor,” shown toward the top of alternative #4, as an unnecessary design element, but this was not discussed by the CCAC; she requested the Commission’s advice if this design is supported.
Ms. Lehrer questioned the territory’s abbreviated name, shown as “Nor. Mariana Isl.” along the lower left portion of the coin’s face. Ms. Stafford said that the designs for the quarters in this series are based on a template that was established at the start, and several unusually long names for jurisdictions need to be abbreviated in order to fit the template. She said that the abbreviation is chosen in consultation with the site liaison as well as the Mint’s legal department and the engravers at the Philadelphia Mint to determine an acceptable and technically feasible solution. Ms. Lehrer observed that “N.” would be a more typical abbreviation for “North” or “Northern,” and she suggested that this shorter abbreviation might allow sufficient room to spell out the word “Islands.” Ms. Stafford responded that this was considered, and the abbreviation remains under study. She added that another option is to use the term “Marianas,” which is frequently used; Ms. Lehrer encouraged this further exploration of how to abbreviate the territory’s name.
Ms. Gilbert commented that alternative #4 has an odd relationship between the foreground plaque and the background staircase due to the frontal view. She suggested further consideration of alternative #3, which has an angled view toward the stairs that provides a clearer perspective; she said the resulting configuration of lines is more interesting than in alternative #4. She added that the plaque is also occupying an undue amount of space in the composition of alternative #4, even as its linework merges with the stairs. Ms. Stafford responded that the preference of the liaison and the CCAC for alternative #4 was based primarily on the pose of the woman, with more of her face visible in comparison to the other alternatives. Ms. Gilbert suggested that the pose of alternative #4 could be used in combination with the angled composition of alternative #3; another option could be to place the plaque at an angle within the composition of alternative #4. Ms. Myer discouraged these alterations, commenting that the flattened perspective of alternative #4 is an intentional feature that makes it a superior design, compared to the complex angularity of alternative #3. She suggested that the distinction between the plaque and the staircase could be achieved through relief, texture, or line thickness. Ms. Gilbert agreed that some technique of differentiating the design elements would be beneficial. Ron Harrigal, the Mint’s chief engraver, responded that such techniques are feasible, but he emphasized the small scale of the coin. He offered to introduce additional depth as part of the sculpting process.
Ms. Gilbert commented that the gesture of the woman offering flowers is a beautiful feature that is seen clearly in alternative #3 but is not legible in alternative #4; Mr. Dunson agreed. Ms. Meyer commented that the “Court of Honor” text should be removed from alternative #4, resulting in a more elegant design. Ms. Gilbert agreed to support alternative #4 subject to some adjustment to the depiction of the plaque, perhaps reducing its size slightly and differentiating it from the staircase; she emphasized her support for the profile pose in this composition.
Upon a motion by Ms. Gilbert with second by Mr. Dunson, the Commission recommended alternative #4 with the comments provided.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 3:33 p.m.
Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA