The meeting was convened in the Commission of Fine Arts offices in the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20001, at 9:11 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
Frederick J. Lindstrom, Assistant Secretary
A. Approval of the minutes of the 17 May meeting. Secretary Luebke reported that the minutes of the May meeting were circulated to the Commission members in advance. Upon a motion by Mr. Powell with second by Mr. Krieger, 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: 19 July, 20 September, and 18 October 2018. He noted that no meeting is scheduled in August.
C. Reappointment of Mary Katherine Lanzillotta, FAIA, to the Old Georgetown Board. Mr. Luebke asked the Commission to approve the reappointment of Mary Katherine Lanzillotta to the Old Georgetown Board for a three-year term from September 2018 through July 2021. He summarized Ms. Lanzillotta's background as preservation architect and partner of Hartman-Cox Architects, with responsibility for complex institutional and historic projects in Washington and nation-wide. Her past projects have included the renovation and restoration of the Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, the National Gallery of Art's East Building and West Building, and the Old Patent Office Building. He noted that she has been a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects since 2008. Chairman Powell recused himself from the vote due to his role at the National Gallery of Art, which continues to work with Ms. Lanzillotta's firm. Upon a motion by Ms. Meyer with second by Mr. Krieger, the Commission approved the reappointment of Ms. Lanzillotta. Mr. Luebke said that the three current members of the Old Georgetown Board bring a strong combination of expertise to the review process, including technical and design skills.
D. Report on the 2018 National Capital Arts and Cultural Affairs grant program. Mr. Luebke reported on the federal grants program administered by the Commission to support Washington, D.C.-based arts organizations. The applications for 2018 have been processed, and the funds have been disbursed. All 22 of this year's participating organizations had also been grant recipients in 2017. He said that the appropriated funding for the program was higher this year— $2.75 million, compared to $2 million previously—resulting in an average grant of over $100,000, which constitutes an average of approximately two percent of the operating income of the organizations.
II. Submissions and Reviews
Mr. Luebke introduced the three appendices for Commission action. Drafts of the appendices had been circulated to the Commission members in advance of the meeting.
Appendix I – Government Submissions Consent Calendar: Mr. Lindstrom reported that only minor corrections have been made to the draft appendix, not affecting the substance of the recommendations. Upon a motion by Mr. Powell with second by Mr. Krieger, the Commission approved the revised Government Submissions Consent Calendar.
Appendix II – Shipstead-Luce Act Submissions: Ms. Batcheler reported that four projects on the draft appendix have been removed (case numbers SL 18-012, 18-070, 18-125, and 18-132); these projects will likely be included on the appendix in July. Another project has been withdrawn to allow for coordination between the tenant and the building owner (SL 18-146). Two projects have been added to the appendix: 500 North Capitol Street, NW, held open from the March 2018 appendix and now satisfactorily resolved (SL 18-059); and 1963 Biltmore Street, NW, which was inadvertently delayed in the D.C. government's transmission of cases to the Commission (SL 18-148). Two recommendations from the draft appendix have been changed: a provisional favorable recommendation has been changed to unfavorable due to lack of responsiveness by the applicant (SL 18-121); and an unfavorable recommendation has been changed to favorable due to a revised design and scope of work (SL 18-138). She noted that the favorable recommendations for eight projects are subject to the anticipated receipt of supplemental materials, and she requested authorization to finalize these recommendations when the materials are received. Upon a motion by Ms. Meyer with second by Mr. Krieger, the Commission approved the revised Shipstead-Luce Act appendix. Mr. Luebke noted that the extensive work of reviewing these projects—a large number of submissions at some times of the year—must be completed in a short period of time, resulting in the need to hold open some of the recommendations for further resolution. (See agenda item II.H for an additional Shipstead-Luce Act submission.)
Appendix III – Old Georgetown Act Submissions: Ms. Stevenson reported that the only change to the draft appendix is to note the receipt date for the revised drawings for one project. She said that the appendix includes 26 projects; Mr. Luebke noted the large number of projects submitted for the Old Georgetown jurisdiction, and the anticipated arrival of a new staff member to work with Ms. Stevenson in handling this caseload. Upon a motion by Mr. Powell with second by Ms. Meyer, the Commission approved the revised Old Georgetown Act appendix. (See agenda item II.H for an additional Old Georgetown Act submission.)
At this point, the Commission departed from the order of the agenda to consider items II.C, II.G.1, and II.G.2. Mr. Luebke said that the Commission may wish to act on these submissions without presentations, noting that they do not meet the requirements for inclusion on the Consent Calendar.
C. U.S. Department of Defense / Department of the Navy
CFA 21/JUN/18-2, United States Naval Observatory, Observatory Circle, NW. New master time clocks and operations facility. Concept. Ms. Meyer expressed appreciation for the research and analysis of the historic landscape that led to the proposed siting for the new building. She suggested that in developing the stormwater management plan for the site, consideration be given to the impact of this new building's footprint on the hydrology of the stream in Dumbarton Oaks Park to the south, running between the Naval Observatory and the northern edge of Georgetown. She said that this stream is currently degraded, and the National Park Service is trying to work with neighboring property owners to repair it. She requested the staff to work with the Navy to address this issue. Upon a motion by Mr. Powell with second by Mr. Dunson, the Commission approved the concept submission with this comment. Mr. Luebke added that the Commission may also choose to delegate review of the final design to the staff; Ms. Meyer requested that the Commission have the opportunity to see the final design submission.
G. District of Columbia Department of General Services
1. CFA 21/JUN/18-6, Charles H. Houston Elementary School, 1100 50th Place, NE. Building modernization and expansion. Concept. Ms. Gilbert commented that the site design includes options for specialized garden areas—such as a kitchen garden, pollinator garden, and butterfly garden—that would be welcome features for the school but could be combined to simplify the design. Upon a motion by Ms. Meyer with second by Mr. Krieger, the Commission approved the concept submission with this comment, and delegated the review of the final design to the staff.
2. CFA 21/JUN/18-7, Duke Ellington School of the Arts, 3500 R Street, NW. Four public art installations. Final. Mr. Krieger commented that the project is exemplary; upon his motion, with second by Ms. Meyer, the Commission approved the proposed art installations.
The Commission returned to the order of the agenda with item II.B.
B. National Park Service
CFA 21/JUN/18-1, National Desert Storm and Desert Shield Memorial. Site selection for new memorial. (Previous: CFA 15/MAR/18-1.) Secretary Luebke introduced the submission from the National Park Service (NPS) on behalf of the National Desert Storm War Memorial Association: a revised site selection study, including additional design and site analysis, for a new National Desert Storm and Desert Shield Memorial. He summarized the Commission's review of several potential sites over the past year, and its approval on 15 March 2018 of the Belvedere site along the Potomac River at the historic western terminus of Constitution Avenue. However, the Memorial Association strongly prefers an alternative site on the National Mall at the southwest corner of 23rd Street and Constitution Avenue, NW, also supported by the Department of the Interior and approved by the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) at its May 2018 meeting. The NPS is therefore requesting the opportunity for the Memorial Association to describe the challenges of the Belvedere site and to demonstrate how an appropriate design could be built on the 23rd Street site. He added that the Commission has received many emails and other communications supporting the Memorial Association's preferred site, and people in the audience may want to address the Commission. He asked Peter May, deputy regional director for lands and planning for the NPS National Capital Region, to begin the presentation.
Mr. May began by recognizing the service of Glenn DeMarr, the memorials program manager for the NPS National Capital Region, who will retire at the end of August. He said that during 42 years with the NPS, Mr. DeMarr has been involved with the establishment of more than 35 memorials in Washington, in addition to many other projects. Mr. May praised Mr. DeMarr for his hard work, dedication, and many contributions to commemoration in Washington. The audience applauded Mr. DeMarr's service, and Mr. Luebke agreed that he will be missed.
Mr. May then described the unusual circumstances of this site selection. The Commission of Fine Arts has approved the Belvedere site for this memorial, while the NCPC has approved the site on the Mall; but in accordance with the Commemorative Works Act, both the site and design must be approved by both commissions. He acknowledged that the Belvedere site has great potential as a memorial site, but he agreed with the NCPC conclusion that it is not right for this memorial. He said that during his decade as deputy regional director, he has encouraged several memorial sponsors to consider the Belvedere; he has also tried to reconnect the memorial design process with site selection, and believes this has led to a better understanding of both the potential and the limitations of the Belvedere and the Mall sites. He expressed the hope that the Commission will agree that the Mall location is the better site. He asked Scott Stump, president of the National Desert Storm War Memorial Association, to continue the presentation.
Before Mr. Stump spoke, Ms. Meyer asked to respond on behalf of the Commission to the letters it has received. She emphasized that the Commission does not oppose the memorial, and all of the Commission members respect both those who serve in the military and the effort to build this memorial; Mr. Dunson agreed. Ms. Meyer said that the reputation of the Commission and its members was challenged by unwarranted assumptions; as the daughter and sister of career military officers, she said that she found this very upsetting. She asked speakers to please limit their remarks to the matter of the site selection. In response, Mr. Stump assured the Commission that the Memorial Association had not encouraged nor been aware of any such communications; instead, they have recognized that the site design is a more complex matter than the general public may realize. He introduced Congressman Phil Roe of Tennessee to address the Commission.
Congressman Roe expressed support for the 23rd Street site on the National Mall for this Memorial. He said that the Belvedere site, because it is remote from other war memorials, could not express the historical importance of the Desert Storm conflict. He summarized his military service in the 1970s, his work as chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, and his visits to American military cemeteries overseas. He said that Desert Storm was the first time an American military operation or war was fought by an all-volunteer force; he recalled the shameful reception faced by servicemembers returning from Vietnam, in contrast with the welcome given to troops returning from Desert Storm. He said that the men and women who served in Desert Shield and Desert Storm deserve to be commemorated next to memorials honoring those who served in Vietnam, Korea, and World War II. He noted that Congress had voted unanimously allowing the memorial to be located in Area I, and he strongly encouraged the Commission to approve this as the most appropriate site.
Mr. Stump recognized several others who were present to offer their support, including the Defense Attaché and Assistant Defense Attaché from the Hungarian Embassy, and staff members from the OLIN landscape architecture firm who had worked on the presentation.
Mr. Stump recounted that the Memorial Association had begun its site selection process in January 2015; throughout, in collaborating with stakeholders, they have strived to work with professionalism, humility, and respect for the open space in Washington. He noted that all of the stakeholder comments have been incorporated into the site selection studies. He acknowledged the current difference of opinions on the better site, and he asked the Commission members to approach this review with objectivity. He introduced planner Alan Harwood of AECOM and landscape architect Skip Graffam of OLIN to present the site analysis.
Mr. Harwood said that the project team has developed an initial design study to help resolve the site issue and reconcile comments from different agencies. He summarized the review process to date and the winnowing of dozens of sites to three that were studied more closely: the Memorial Circle area at the southwest end of Arlington Memorial Bridge; 23rd Street at Constitution Avenue, NW; and Whitman Park on E Street between 19th and 20th Streets, NW. While NCPC had initially favored Memorial Circle, the Commission of Fine Arts had expressed concerns about the effect of a new memorial on this area's cultural landscape. The project team then focused on the sites at E Street, 23rd Street, and—at the request of the Commission of Fine Arts—the Belvedere. The recent outcome has been approval of the Belvedere site by the Commission of Fine Arts, and of the 23rd Street site by NCPC.
Mr. Harwood said that in preparation for the current review, the team reexamined various master plans and studies of Constitution Avenue and the Mall, in particular two plans produced jointly by the Commission of Fine Arts and NCPC: the Memorials and Museums Master Plan of 2001, which identified several memorial sites along the Potomac River; and the Monumental Core Framework Plan of 2009, which proposed reestablishing Constitution Avenue to the riverfront and connecting the Lincoln Memorial and the Kennedy Center through road improvements. He illustrated how memorials are regularly dispersed along Constitution Avenue from the Ellipse westward to the Belvedere. He described how Constitution Avenue and the Belvedere site link to themes of diplomacy and ceremony represented by the Lincoln Memorial, the State Department, and the Institute of Peace. He added that Constitution Avenue had been the route of the parade celebrating the end of Desert Storm.
Mr. Harwood outlined the steps necessary to make the Belvedere work as a memorial site, which include solving the tangle of roadways, and restoring the tree allée and sidewalk along the historic Constitution Avenue alignment. He described the points on which the Commission of Fine Arts and NCPC agree: the historic significance of Desert Storm; a preference for a landscape approach instead of a wall or vertical object; and the protection of the design character of open space, as well as the recreational use of open space.
Mr. Harwood asked Mr. Graffam to provide a more detailed presentation on the two sites under consideration. Mr. Graffam described the challenges and potential of both sites, and he presented an initial design study prepared for the 23rd Street site. He noted the Commission's past comment that the Belvedere site presents the best opportunity to express the historic importance of the Desert Storm conflict on an important memorial site through a striking and highly visible vertical element. The less favorable comments of NCPC were that the Belvedere lies adjacent to the Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway, along a recreational trail, and close to the flight path followed by airplanes approaching and departing Reagan National Airport; the existing street network makes access difficult, and the traffic and airplane noise would detract from a contemplative experience. The evaluation of the National Park Service was that both pedestrian and vehicular access to the Belvedere would be challenging and possibly unsafe, and placing a memorial here would make traffic worse unless roadway improvements are made.
Mr. Graffam then described how the Belvedere site would work with the currently planned realignment of the roadways and the nearby intersection. The site would still be close to the roadway and trail; reaching the Belvedere would be particularly difficult during the morning and afternoon rush hours when traffic changes direction, and drivers often make dangerous U-turns at the intersection. He noted the difficulties of pedestrian access, particularly from the Mall: the Belvedere is located six-tenths of a mile from the Vietnam Memorial, and even following a direct route, people must cross 18 lanes of traffic at both controlled and uncontrolled intersections. Other routes are longer and pose similar difficulties.
Mr. Graffam enumerated the more positive aspects of the Belvedere site. It is appropriate for a destination memorial designed as an object; it has strong thematic connections with the Potomac River and views to Arlington National Cemetery. However, a design would need to be compatible with the historic balustrade, which creates a hard edge along the river overlooking the water, and a successful memorial would need to be designed in elevation as well as in plan. He concluded that the site's negative qualities outweigh its positive attributes: it is not suited to becoming a meditative or sacred space; it is not part of the normal pedestrian flow along the Mall; and pedestrian access from the Mall would involve a dangerous route for visitors.
Mr. Graffam described the Memorial Association's preferred site at 23rd Street and Constitution Avenue. It is located a quarter-mile from both the Vietnam and the Lincoln Memorials, with controlled intersections from both directions. It lies six-tenths of a mile from the Foggy Bottom Metro station, a quarter-mile from the State Department, and less than a quarter-mile from the bus staging areas near the Lincoln Memorial. He noted the Commission's past comment that a memorial here would require a minimal visual presence to avoid detracting from the Lincoln Memorial's setting, and so would need to be low and unobtrusive, relying on a shaping of the landscape rather than on tall vertical elements. He said that the NCPC has asked to see alternative commemoration strategies for this location; the NPS has said that grouping 20th-century war memorials on the Mall's west end will help visitor circulation, reducing conflicts between vehicles and pedestrians, and has also advocated a landscape-based design approach.
Mr. Graffam said that the Memorial Association seeks a design that will create a rich and meaningful experience for visitors, and maintains that this can be best achieved with low forms in a landscape scaled to the human figure. The initial design study focuses on views out from the memorial, which would function as a celebratory as well as a commemorative space. He said that a memorial on this site could be thematically linked to adjacent memorials and institutions, as well as to the larger Mall; its circulation system could improve pedestrian flow along the Constitution Avenue axis west of 23rd Street. As depicted, the memorial's siting would preserve the existing adjacent recreation space, and the memorial would not intrude on views to the Lincoln Memorial. It could inspire additional plantings of trees in the historic allées on 23rd Street and Constitution Avenue, and completion of the historic rings of trees intended to circle the Lincoln Memorial, which he described as "aspirational" tree plantings.
Mr. Graffam addressed the relationship of the 23rd Street site to the flood protection levee and DC Water project planned for this area. The site is the northeast corner of an existing lawn panel; a planned segment of the levee would be built across the northwest corner of the lawn panel, connecting the 20.6 foot contour and maintaining a slope of 2 percent or less to the west. An alternate alignment for the levee would move it to the south, creating a flatter site. The DC Water tunnel project will require a drop shaft and access hatch in this area. He noted that construction of the protective levee would allow for a flat hatch, flush with the ground; if the hatch were located outside the area protected by the levee, a structure would be needed to raise the hatch above the floodplain level. He presented sections through the Mall site, extending from the Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway through the levee and the Desert Storm Memorial, indicating how the grade would rise from the level of the roadways up to the levee and memorial and back down again.
Mr. Graffam presented additional details of the initial design study for the 23rd Street site. The memorial would occupy a quarter of an acre; in plan, it would take the shape of a parabola filling the corner of 23rd Street and Constitution Avenue. He described the parabola as a dynamic, directional form that would emphasize views along the lawn panel toward the river. This form would also recall the geography of the battle movement in the Iraqi and Kuwaiti desert, a strong association for Desert Storm veterans. The parabola would be defined by a berm along the southern and western edges of the site, rising from ground level to a height of six feet at its center point; with an average height of three feet, visitors could easily see over most of the berm. Crossing the space defined by the parabola, a curving memorial walk would connect the sidewalks of the two adjoining roadways; along with the walk, an allée of trees would separate primary and secondary spaces, and commemorative sculptures could be placed within these areas. He presented three-dimensional renderings to illustrate the design's topography and space. He said that essentially the memorial would be embedded in the levee, and the levee would create a continuous green line above the memorial.
In summary, Mr. Graffam said that the Mall site presents significant advantages. It would be clearly visible from Constitution Avenue; it would improve pedestrian circulation along the roadways; through incorporation of the levee, it would be consistent with the effort to improve the site's resiliency; it would provide flexible space that could be used for gatherings or recreation; and it would reestablish Constitution Avenue as a pedestrian route to the river. Perhaps most importantly, a location near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial would highlight the historic significance of the conflict as the closing action of the Cold War. He concluded that the sponsoring organization strongly believes a fitting memorial can be designed for this site—an elegant, low, landscape memorial that is meaningful, thematically connected, and safely accessible from the National Mall.
Mr. Stump introduced Senator Joe Donnelly of Indiana, who arrived during Mr. Graffam's presentation. Sen. Donnelly urged the Commission to support the 23rd Street site. He said that the nation's monuments share the story of the United States, a story which cannot be fully told without a memorial to the heroic actions of the men and women who served in Desert Storm, whose service helped create a stronger sense of pride and gratitude for all American soldiers. A memorial would honor the nearly 400 soldiers killed in the conflict and those who fought alongside them. He noted the memorial's strong bipartisan support in Congress, and the approval of an Area 1 location by Congress and President Trump. He said it is vital that the Commission quickly approve the 23rd Street site so that the memorial can be built soon for Desert Storm veterans and their families. He concluded by thanking the Commission members for their service to the country.
Mr. Stump then introduced the final speaker, Joe Davis, the communications director for the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). Mr. Davis said that, as a veteran of Desert Storm and Desert Shield, he agrees that the 23rd Street alternative is the better site. He cited the lack of public support for the Vietnam War, in contrast to the support shown for the men and women who fought in Desert Storm, and commented that the poor treatment of Vietnam veterans taught Americans to disassociate the politics of a war from its soldiers. He acknowledged the Commission's past concern about proliferation of military memorials on the Mall's west end, but he said that this connection had begun with the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. He added that the VFW has pledged $500,000 towards construction of the memorial to honor the 700,000 veterans of Desert Storm, and they deserve recognition on the Mall.
Mr. Stump said the presentation has shown that a memorial on the 23rd Street site could improve the entire area and become the impetus to connect the Mall to the Potomac River waterfront. He thanked the Commission for its previous approval of the prominent location at the Belvedere, which confirmed the importance of the Desert Storm / Desert Shield conflict. However, he said that while visibility is an important criterion, ease of access is far more important to the memorial's sponsor and its future visitors: the goal is the creation of a memorial that can be experienced rather than just seen from a distance. He asked the Commission to reconsider its previous recommendation and approve the 23rd Street site.
Chairman Powell commended the project team for its clear presentation and opened the review for questions and comments from the Commission members.
Mr. Dunson expressed appreciation for the context provided by Mr. May, and for the presentation's even-handed analysis of the Belvedere site that the Commission has supported. He said that the presented analysis has made the benefits of the Mall site clear. He commented that locating the proposed memorial on the Mall would not contribute to militarization of the Mall's west end; instead, it would strengthen the urban design of the Mall as it approaches the river. He noted that the traffic and roadway problems would need to be solved for the Belvedere to become a successful memorial site; the problem is the lack of connection, rather than the distance between the Belvedere and other memorials. He emphasized that, while the Belvedere site is promising, the 23rd Street site is better.
Mr. May agreed that the existing spaghetti of roadways at the west end of the Mall presents a difficult situation and is one that the NPS wants to fix, with poor visibility in this area for both drivers and pedestrians when negotiating curves. In the current road configuration, pedestrian crossings cannot be added safely; further studies will be made to see if normal intersections can be created to slow down traffic, but such improvements will not happen quickly enough to accommodate this memorial. He added that the NPS has sought unsuccessfully to work with the D.C. government to improve this area as part of the recent project for improvements to the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge.
Ms. Gilbert asked how a design for the 23rd Street site would address the historic alignments of trees along Constitution Avenue and around the Lincoln Memorial; she also questioned how the extension of the levee through the site's lawn panel would affect existing trees. Mr. Graffam responded that the intended tree plantings to complete the historic planting plans were referred to in the presentation as "aspirational," because this would be beyond the scope of the memorial project. Concerning the levee, he said that the current datum height at the corner of 23rd Street and Constitution Avenue is 17.5 feet; to close the gap in flood protection, the elevation must be raised to 20.6 feet. Completing the levee would entail the loss of some existing trees, regardless of whether the memorial is built here, because trees cannot be planted for a distance of approximately 20 to 25 feet from the center line of the levee; this open space is necessary to protect the levee's structural integrity. The siting and contouring of the levee will therefore need careful study in relation to the existing landscape.
Ms. Gilbert commended the opportunity to add trees and continue the historic plantings. She suggested reinforcing the regular spacing of trees when additions are made. Mr. May responded that the NPS always consults historic planting plans when it plants trees, although trees are not planted where they would interfere with roads or historic structures. He noted that unlike the trees on the east side of the panel, the trees on the west are not particularly mature and they are not planted in a historically significant configuration. He added that the NPS expects to implement mitigation measures as a result of the DC Water construction project.
Ms. Lehrer expressed appreciation for the close analysis of the walkability and ease of access affecting memorial locations along Constitution Avenue. She expressed the hope that someday there will be no need for more war memorials; Mr. Krieger agreed.
Ms. Meyer said that she still does not support the site on the Mall but understands the need for thematic associations. She said that her reluctance to support the site results from her desire to see a longer-term vision defined for the Mall, and for an understanding of the key role played by the 23rd Street site within the larger context of the convergence of Constitution Avenue and the Mall with the Potomac River. She said that she continues to wonder whether the Desert Storm memorial is appropriate for this location. She reiterated her concern about the proliferation of war memorials on the National Mall, commenting that the Mall has historically been a public space symbolizing the collective national identity of Americans, and America means more than wars and the commemoration of the dead. She said that at some point, the National Park Service will have to determine the threshold when the Mall will become essentially a cemetery and a zone for war memorials, with no space remaining for any other pursuit—celebrations, protests, or daily activities—through which Americans construct a shared national identity. She added that she appreciates the effort to pair the siting and design of memorials during the review process.
Ms. Meyer provided comments about the initial design study presented for the 23rd Street site. She said that a landscape memorial should be able to express its commemorative purpose through its landscape elements; the presented renderings have convinced her that the proposed sculpture within the small memorial precinct would not be successful, because placing a large figural object in the center of the proposed space would destroy the sense of scale. Instead, she advised incorporating sculptural elements within the walls, perhaps as bas-reliefs or emerging forms. She emphasized that much of the experience of a memorial results from the perceived scale relationship between the human body and the place; when a large object is added in the middle of that place, the perceived scale is altered, even though the size of the memorial is unchanged. She said that the proposed sculptural object and flagpoles would detract from the design's elegance and intrinsic experience, she emphasized that she could not consider this particular site and design unless the sculptures are eliminated. She expressed support for the intent to replace historic trees and complete the circle of trees around the Lincoln Memorial to ensure that a spatial filter is created between the Lincoln Memorial and this new memorial.
Mr. Krieger expressed appreciation for the complete and thorough presentation, and for its fair assessment of the Belvedere site. He commented that the presentation has demonstrated that this may ultimately be a much better memorial as a result of the Commission's insistence on consideration of the Belvedere. He added that if this presentation had been made earlier, he might have supported the Mall site to begin with. He recalled that the initial presentations had suggested visual prominence as the memorial's most important quality; he noted that much of the commentary had suggested insecurity about the significance of Desert Storm, which had led him to consider how the Belvedere could succeed as a memorial site. He said that war memorials in an urban context have two obligations: to memorialize an event and its participants, and to make the city better as a result of the memorial's presence. He emphasized the opportunity for this project, if sited at the Belvedere, to spur improvements to that area, which would be an important contribution to the city and, to a lesser extent, to the country. However, he acknowledged the Belvedere site's many constraints, agreeing that if they could not be solved by the time of the memorial's completion, the site would be too difficult. He added that he is very impressed with the promising site design study shown for the Mall location, and he expressed enthusiasm for its development. He agreed with Ms. Meyer that the sculpture does not appear to be appropriate.
Mr. Krieger observed that that the project team has maintained that Desert Storm marked the end of the Cold War, but he noted that future historians will have to determine the accuracy of this assessment; Desert Storm could also be considered the beginning of a series of other conflicts that are still underway. He emphasized that the big issue remains the likelihood of future requests for memorials having a relationship to the Desert Storm memorial, just as the Desert Storm memorial has a relationship to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Ms. Meyer added that future memorials might be even more closely related to Desert Storm; Mr. Krieger agreed. He summarized that following Desert Storm and Desert Shield, many other men and women have died in wars, and at some point they also will be memorialized; he agreed that the issue of whether only wars will be memorialized on the Mall is an important one, and he urged the NPS to consider it more seriously. Mr. May responded that he shares the Commission's serious concerns about future proposals for more war memorials on the Mall's west end.
Ms. Gilbert commented on the tension inherent in the proposed memorial design between keeping the memorial small and restricted to its corner, compared to the need for consideration of the entire lawn panel. She agreed with Ms. Meyer about the benefit of having new trees planted, but said that the landscape as a whole needs more consideration. She observed that the lawn panel's west side is scruffy, and the troublesome tangle of roadways at the Mall's west end would remain. She stressed that the design needs to include the panel's west side and all its edges, as well as the grading that will result from construction of the levee, and beyond that the connection of this area with the Belvedere and river.
Chairman Powell commented that he had previously been undecided about which location is best, but this presentation has convinced him that the Belvedere site would not be feasible unless the entire road infrastructure is reconfigured, which is not likely to happen soon. He therefore expressed his support for the site on the Mall. Upon a second by Mr. Dunson, the Commission approved the 23rd Street and Constitution Avenue site for the Desert Storm and Desert Shield Memorial, with Ms. Meyer voting against, and Ms. Gilbert abstaining.
Chairman Powell departed at this point, and Vice Chairman Meyer subsequently presided.
C. U.S. Department of Defense / Department of the Navy
CFA 21/JUN/18-2, United States Naval Observatory, Observatory Circle, NW. New master time clocks and operations facility. Concept. The Commission acted on the submission earlier in the meeting without a presentation, following agenda item II.A.
D. District of Columbia Department of Transportation
CFA 21/JUN/18-3, Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge and South Capitol Street corridor from I-295/Suitland Parkway interchange to P Street. South Capitol Street at the Anacostia River. Replacement bridge and redesign of the approaches—Landscape design. Revised concept. (Previous: CFA 16/NOV/17-6.) Mr. Lindstrom introduced the submission for the landscape components of the larger project to replace the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge, which received concept approval from the Commission in November 2017. He said that the presentation includes development of the oval spaces within the approach roads at each end of the bridge, the open space along the Anacostia River, and other related park reservations and streetscapes associated with the project. He asked Delmar Lytle, the D.C. Department of Transportation's program manager for the bridge project, to begin the presentation.
Mr. Lytle described the project as the largest ever undertaken by his agency, with an estimated cost of over $900 million. In addition to replacing obsolete infrastructure, the project is intended to spur economic development on both sides of the Anacostia River and to make the river a destination for the local population, fulfilling the goals of the Anacostia Waterfront Initiative. The landscape proposals in the current submission are part of the project's first phase of implementation. He noted the project's lengthy history, beginning with initial studies in 1997 and an environmental review process that began in 2009. Representatives from many agencies, including the Commission, established visual quality guidelines in 2014 that became part of the design-build procurement process in 2016; each of the bid submissions included information concerning visual quality, which was evaluated by an Aesthetic Review Committee that was established as a result of the historic preservation review process. Subsequent to the award of the design-build contract in July 2017, design work has been continuing on the landscape components, informed by additional meetings with multiple government agencies—including the past reviews by the Commission—as well as neighborhood and civic associations and other interested parties. He introduced planner Alan Harwood and landscape architect Ignacio Bunster of AECOM, the firm serving as engineer of record on the design-build team, to present the proposal.
Mr. Harwood described his role as mediating between the different perspectives of the engineers, landscape architects, and other designers involved in the project. He provided an overview of the urban design context, to be followed by Mr. Bunster's more detailed presentation of the landscape design. At the northwest end of the bridge, the L'Enfant Plan's street grid and diagonal avenues establish the context, leading to the identification of specific nodes at key intersections as seen in many places throughout the L'Enfant city. He said that the particular geometry near the bridge landing converges on two nodes that might suggest the opportunity to establish two traditional traffic circles in close proximity, but this would be infeasible for traffic circulation; the design therefore encompasses the two nodes within an elongated oval space. Another oval of similar size would be established at the southeast end of the new bridge, within a context that is currently less urbanized; some of the highways and institutional uses in this Poplar Point area, as well as areas of soil contamination, form a barrier between the Anacostia neighborhood and the riverfront.
Mr. Harwood said that the presentation drawings show different adjoining areas with different levels of clarity and detail, corresponding to the degree of certainty for their future design. Much of the area near the northwest landing has been recently redeveloped, such as the baseball stadium, or is currently under construction or planned for development; this area includes Buzzard Point to the west, and Capitol Riverfront to the east. In contrast, the area around the southeast bridge landing is characterized by extensive open space; future development is planned in the Poplar Point area, but its form is not yet known. The adjacent Anacostia-Bolling military base is closed to public access, and the nearby neighborhood of Barry Farm is currently being redeveloped. He said that the northwest oval would likely serve as the primary open space for the densely developed neighborhood around it; the southeast oval would bring a natural landscape design to a part of the city whose institutional and recreation spaces generally don't have this character.
Mr. Harwood presented a conceptual diagram for the landscape planning, with the project area at the convergence of the Anacostia River and the landscape corridor of Suitland Parkway, which runs southeast from the bridge to Andrews Air Force Base. The proposed landscape design is intended to address both the planted and aquatic contexts, with consideration of sustainability, bioretention, native species, and microclimate. He said that the project's two oval spaces will be important pieces of the project's larger open space network, which itself ties in to the overall open space system of the riverfront and the adjacent neighborhoods. The project's path system is intended to tie together these various open space amenities; he emphasized the importance of these connections, even though much of the presentation will focus on the design of the two ovals.
Mr. Bunster said that the area encompassed by this project's landscape proposal is equivalent to a fifty-acre park, most of it designed as softscape that performs important ecological, environmental, and thematic functions. He said that the ovals play a key role in expressing their contexts and the relationship between the two sides of the river.
Mr. Bunster said that the landscape design within the northwest oval is derived from the traditional open spaces of the L'Enfant City, defined by the surrounding buildings and the intersecting roadways. The oval would have a flexible landscape that allows for different types of gathering; it would also provide pedestrian connectivity and visual continuity for the street corridors, particularly the diagonal of Potomac Avenue and the north–south alignment of South Capitol Street. A key feature of this oval would be the carefully defined views north to the U.S. Capitol. The central space of the oval would be designed as a place of special use, with the future potential for interpretive or commemorative. He indicated the numerous locations around the oval where signalized intersections would include crosswalks between the oval and the surrounding neighborhood, offering pedestrians safe access into and across the oval. Mr. Harwood added that the design for this northwest oval may appear straightforward, but it resolves a very difficult geometry. Mr. Bunster said that such complexity is revealed in some details such as the offset crosswalks that connect the oval to the baseball stadium on the east and the soccer stadium, currently under construction, on the west; the design is intended to maintain visual continuity and overall simplicity, notwithstanding such subtle shifts in alignment. He said that pedestrian wayfinding has been considered, and the alignment of trees would support the intended continuity, such as along the diagonal of Potomac Avenue. Seating elements, made of precast concrete, would further reinforce the sense of geometry and formality within the space, in addition to serving as an amenity for visitors. The design is intended to provide a variety of opportunities for sunlight or shade, and for more populated or quieter areas; he said that the overall capacity within the oval is 2,000 to 3,000 people. The paving design would also support the overall design goals for the space. He said that the oval would support both passive and active recreation; the central lawn would be a meadow within the larger open space, suggesting a broader continuity to the U.S. Capitol and the National Mall.
Mr. Bunster said that the topography within the northwest oval rises toward the south end, providing a slightly elevated view toward the Capitol on the north and toward the bridge, the Anacostia River, and the opposite bank; he added that the raised area would provide a better view of the bridge than looking at it from the level of its landing. He presented diagrams of different types of activities that could occur within the oval, including festivals, markets, or art fairs. He said that the special plaza area toward the north end of the oval would have a distinctive design treatment, possibly including water; its size is comparable to the central plaza within Dupont Circle, and it could be programmed with special events such as movies. He presented perspective views of the oval, indicating the walks and landscaped spaces, the benches with rain gardens behind, the combination of larger and smaller trees, and the overall visual focus on the Capitol to the north.
Mr. Bunster presented the proposed design for Reservation #245, a small triangular park across from the west side of the northwest oval. He said that this reservation would have a very simple landscape that maintains the formal alignment of trees that provide shade and visual continuity. He presented a perspective view of this reservation, looking toward the larger oval and the new bridge.
Mr. Bunster described the proposed treatment of the area south of the oval, including the north–south axis of South Capitol Street and the setting of the bridge landing, which he called the project's west esplanade. Trees would frame the axis and the bridge landing; the area would be further defined by anticipated future buildings on adjacent privately owned land: a building facing the oval to the west of the axis, a building further south to the east of the axis, and another building to the northeast of the bridge landing. The topography would be shaped to strengthen the effect of a gateway at the bridge landing and to provide a transition between the landscape and the abutments of the bridge arches, intended to give a sense that the bridge is emerging from the landscape. Some of the forms, colors, and materials of the bridge would be expressed in the landscape. He noted that the broader purpose of the west esplanade's design is to strengthen the perception of a pivot between the diagonal alignment of the bridge and the north-south axis of the Capitol. Mr. Krieger asked why the building footprints have such an unusual pattern in this area, resulting in apparent leftover spaces that are addressed in the landscape design. Mr. Lytle responded that the band of open space northeast of the bridge landing corresponds to the alignment of the existing bridge, which will be demolished after the new bridge is completed; this area will be needed as open space to support the drainage and bioretention needs of the overall project. Mr. Bunster said that the open space on the southward extension of the South Capitol Street axis would be used as a bioretention area, helping to meet the project's D.C. regulatory requirements for stormwater management, and he referred to the species of plants and animals that would enrich the ecology of this area.
Mr. Bunster presented the proposed widths of paths in this area, noting that the width of the bridge sidewalks would be continued for the connecting paths, transitioning to narrower paths branching toward the riverfront. Continuous circulation would be provided along the riverfront for pedestrians and bicyclists, allowing them to avoid crossing the bridge traffic. The riverfront path would widen with a "bump-out" as it passes beneath the bridge, providing increased headroom as the bridge rises. This area could also accommodate programming and special uses, such as for music or refreshments or access to barges on the river; he noted that this area beneath the bridge would actually be quieter than the open spaces alongside the bridge. Ms. Meyer asked if this path would link to the long-distance bicycle path system that is being developed along this side of the Anacostia River. Mr. Bunster responded that within the project boundaries, this path would be designed as part of the larger system; some of the connections beyond the project boundaries are anticipated but do not yet exist. He added that the completed system will connect both sides of the river, including a loop that crosses this new bridge and the upstream 11th Street Bridge; he acknowledged Mr. Krieger's past work in developing the framework for this path system, which is moving closer to implementation.
Mr. Bunster presented the design proposed design for the southeast oval, which would be formally related to the northwest oval but would have a more naturalistic rather than urbanized character. Both ovals would serve the broad purpose of providing connections through the landscape and bringing people to the river. The southeast oval would relate to the landscape of Suitland Parkway and the nearby wetlands and forests around the Anacostia River; paths would provide connections to the historic Anacostia neighborhood, the nearby Metro station, and the Barry Farm neighborhood. Mirroring the topographic shaping of the northwest oval, the southeast oval would be higher at its north end by approximately ten feet; the topography would establish a diagonal shift across the oval, echoing the nearby hillside of the historic Frederick Douglass home, Cedar Hill. A wide north–south utility easement passes through the length of the oval, constraining the allowable construction and the placement of trees. Much of the oval would therefore be designed as a meadow, ecologically diverse but with low maintenance requirements; trees and bioswales would be located toward the oval's western and eastern edges. Ms. Gilbert asked whether the topography could be raised above the utility easement. Mr. Lytle responded that two 96-inch-diameter sewer pipes are located beneath the oval, and DC Water describes these pipes as very fragile. Within the easement, the depth for digging is limited to one foot, and any raising of the topography would require a geotechnical solution that does not add any weight above the pipes.
Mr. Bunster said that the historic shoreline of the river passes through the southern part of the southeast oval, and this alignment would be marked in the landscape; he contrasted this emphasis on the site's natural history to the constructed geometry that is emphasized in the northwest oval. Ms. Gilbert questioned the need for marking the historic shoreline; Mr. Bunster said that this feature is intended to add interest and increase public awareness, and it may take the form of a sign or a landscape gesture such as a line of rocks. He indicated the primary concrete-paved path that would curve through the southeast oval, along with narrower secondary paths having a more natural character and winding through the topography. Opportunities would be provided for visitors to pause in shaded areas beneath the trees, and the site walls would be related to those proposed for the northwest oval. He presented diagrams of the proposed informal configuration for the vegetation, the shifting views and landscape settings for the paths, and the varied types of meadow landscape that would be established.
Mr. Bunster presented the landscape proposal for the east esplanade, the open space area around the bridge's southeast abutment. The area immediately beneath the bridge would be paved with stone salvaged from the abutments of the existing bridge. The grading on this side of the river is complicated by the need to accommodate an existing flood protection levee, but the path system is designed to provide shallow ramped access through the topography. Anacostia Drive passes beneath the bridge along the riverfront, and a parallel path would be provided along the crest of the levee. He described the treatment along the riverfront as a "stacked landscape" of terraces that would accommodate seating with a view toward the river, which could be used to watch rowing races. He noted that the nearby landscape is greatly affected by the planned reconstruction of the interchange between Interstate 295 and the Suitland Parkway. Mr. Lytle emphasized that the new design for the interchange and bridge approaches is intended to extend Suitland Parkway's landscape character to the new oval and the riverfront.
Mr. Bunster summarized that the landscape proposal includes planting more than 2,000 trees, encompassing a fifty-acre addition to Washington's open space system.
Secretary Luebke noted that the requested action is approval of the revised concept for the landscape. The Commission's previous review encompassed the entire bridge and landscape project, and many of the Commission's previous comments had concerned the bridge itself, which is not part of the current submission; he said that the D.C. government has not submitted the bridge design for further review.
Mr. Dunson and Ms. Meyer asked for clarification of how the size of the ovals compares to the familiar Washington landscape of Dupont Circle. Mr. Harwood responded that the area of each oval is approximately three acres, which is larger than Dupont Circle; the comparison in the presentation was between the plaza at the center of Dupont Circle and the plaza toward the north end of the northwest oval, each approximately 8,000 square feet.
Ms. Lehrer noted the extensive planning work for the area along the Anacostia River, and she asked how this project relates to nearby proposals such as at the 11th Street Bridge. Mr. Lytle responded that this project and others in the area are guided by the Anacostia Waterfront Initiative, developed in recent decades to provide a framework for the waterfront area. The vision includes a riverfront path system, which will be partially implemented by this project. On the northwest side of the river, additional connections would occur on private property as part of planned unit developments. On the southeast side, the path runs through the existing parkland alongside Anacostia Drive, and it will continue downstream along South Capitol Street; the secure perimeter of the Anacostia-Bolling military base prevents extending the path directly along the riverfront. He added that the broader system of paths extends into Maryland, helping to fulfill the Anacostia Waterfront Initiative's vision of celebrating the river and providing multi-modal connections among the nearby communities.
Ms. Gilbert commended the project team on its responsiveness to the Commission's previous comments, and particularly for the development of the east oval's design. She observed that the ovals would be large spaces, and the proposal does not adequately take advantage of the opportunity to provide an embracing landscape with earthen edges; she suggested consideration of further sculpting the topography in both ovals. While acknowledging the constraint of the utility easement for the southeast oval, she said that the sculpting could occur along the western edge. At the northwest oval, she suggested that the high point toward its south end could be even higher to provide a more interesting view. She also commented that the design for the northwest oval seems dominated by the overly wide paths and large plaza. Mr. Bunster clarified that within the twenty-foot width of this oval's primary paths, only twelve feet would be a concrete walkway; the remainder would be a softer surface such as gravel. He said that the design is based on precedents of paths that can accommodate tents, such as for craft fairs, while still allowing for people to circulate. Mr. Harwood added that this oval is located between two sports stadiums, and a recent trend is to have related events—concerts or other gatherings—before or after sports events. This oval is intended to accommodate such gatherings, and it would serve as the primary open space for the neighborhood.
Ms. Lehrer emphasized the importance of effective management for urban spaces such as the proposed ovals; this includes programming of activities and maintenance of the vegetation. She said that this management would not normally be provided by either a transportation or a parks department, which would likely not promote the intense programming that was illustrated in the presentation. She recommended a strategy of "defensive design" so that the landscape does not look completely deteriorated after ten years. She cited the example of a central park in Los Angeles that is so overwhelmed with heavy use that the trees are not thriving, resulting in insufficient shade. She suggested that the project team consider the need for adequate funding to assure careful management, as well as careful consideration of the proposed design in relation to maintenance needs. Mr. Lytle said that the existing business improvement district for the neighborhood has expressed interest in managing and maintaining the northwest oval; this group already maintains the nearby Yards Park and Canal Park, and is currently in discussions with the D.C. Department of Transportation to establish a memorandum of agreement for maintaining this oval.
Mr. Krieger expressed enthusiasm for the project, which does well in advancing the planning work that has been underway for many years. He questioned the conceptual framework underlying the design of the northwest oval, describing the lack of a clear typology as problematic: they would be neither European-style urban plazas nor pastoral parkways in the Olmsted tradition. He said that the proximity of sports stadiums will not be sufficient to define the character of the northwest oval; Washington's recent Stanley Cup victory did generate large crowds around the hockey stadium, but this was a rare type of event that may not recur for years. He observed that the oval is surrounded by four lanes of traffic, and he questioned the overly optimistic assumption that many people would choose to visit it under everyday circumstances—particularly with the competing intention of drawing people to other nearby areas along the riverfront trail system. He said that this oval shares the weakness of many of Washington's open spaces in being somewhat too big and not well defined. He observed that the presented renderings tend to disguise the width of the surrounding roadway, implying a beautiful appearance for a space that will actually feel somewhat empty and oversized. He acknowledged that his concern cannot be easily addressed, and he reiterated his overall support for the project. He commended the design for the southeast oval as becoming more clearly associated with the pastoral parkway tradition, while also encouraging people to occupy it.
Ms. Meyer said that she also has conceptual concerns with the proposal that are related to questions raised by Mr. Krieger. She commented that the important feature of the U.S. Capitol's south axis would be weakly terminated at the west esplanade, where a greater sense of enclosure is needed. She agreed with Mr. Krieger's suggestion that the area east of the axis, immediately south of the oval, would best be occupied by a building instead of being an open space that allows the perception of the axis to bleed away. She said that another solution at this location could be a thick bosque of trees, perhaps including a bioswale, instead of a building. Another helpful gesture would be to further elevate the small hill toward the south end of the oval, as suggested by Ms. Gilbert. She said that further development of this hill could suggest a solution to the questions raised about the size of the plaza toward the oval's north end—treating it either as a weighty counterpoint to the hill, or as a smaller element; she said that the problem with the current design is that it does not clearly choose one of these strategies. She encouraged further use of topography for place-making, commenting that people may not want to occupy flat lawns during the hottest months; she said that a better attraction during the summer months would be a shaded area that is elevated to capture the breeze. Mr. Krieger agreed, commenting that the more general problem may be that the spaces are designed to be too conventional, and a more imaginative approach is needed. He reiterated that a conventional open space may be less successful than the designers anticipate, particularly due to the constraint of heavy traffic surrounding it.
Ms. Gilbert questioned the use of smaller trees as decorative elements at the edge of the landscape, as well as the strategy of using trees simply to line the edges of paths; she suggested creating groves of trees that could help to define spaces, with seating provided at these groves instead of simply on benches along the paths. She also questioned the shaping of the plaza toward the north end of the northwest oval, describing it as an amorphous "blob" that results from the convergence of paths from multiple directions. She suggested a more defined shape for the plaza, perhaps extending southward, that would absorb all of the approach paths; the oval's other major design feature would be the knoll to the south. She said that the oval shape itself may be overly constraining the design of the landscape.
Ms. Lehrer encouraged providing more areas for stormwater collection and wildlife habitat. She cited the evolving understanding of the nuances of urban ecology, which is improved by having more water percolation, trees, and animals. She acknowledged the careful attention given to these issues in the presented design, and she suggested that the shaping of hills could be tied to the shaping of bowl-like spaces. She encouraged the direction of the design's development as demonstrated in this submission.
Mr. Dunson agreed that the design has improved. He cited precedents from other historic cities of streets that either go through green spaces or go around them. The solution here is to route the bridge's approach roads around the ovals, but the result is a heavy barrier of traffic between the green spaces and the nearby areas, which may discourage occupancy of the ovals. He said that placing the traffic in the center would allow the green spaces to be more usefully located alongside the buildings, and he asked why the ovals are proposed instead of bringing the approach roads more directly to the bridge landings. Mr. Lytle responded that the idea for the ovals arose during the environmental review process as an attempt to relate the project to the L'Enfant Plan, particularly at the northwest landing. He said that the environmental review also included consideration of an alternative such as Mr. Dunson is describing, with the approach roads leading directly to the bridge; this was not selected as the preferred alternative, due to the desire for slower traffic on South Capitol Street so that it would have the character of a grand boulevard rather than a busy thoroughfare. Mr. Dunson agreed that slowing traffic would be desirable to allow the pedestrian crossings to be successful; he anticipated that the signalization and crosswalks will be a major issue in developing the proposed design. He observed that the central lawn in the northwest oval is quite large—approximately the size of a soccer field—but access by pedestrians will depend on slowing the traffic. Mr. Lytle said that the design speed for the road around this oval is only 25 miles per hour, and the many signals at crosswalks will also slow the traffic.
Ms. Lehrer asked about the frequency of events at the two sports stadiums. Mr. Lytle responded that the typical annual schedule is 81 baseball games and 30 soccer games; in the near future, these schedules coincide on approximately ten days each year, and therefore more than 100 days each year will have a sports event in the neighborhood. Ms. Lehrer acknowledged that this is a significant frequency; she asked if the game days are typically on weekends. Ms. Meyer and Mr. Krieger said that baseball games can occur on any day of the week; soccer games are typically on weekends. Mr. Krieger said that notwithstanding the frequency of stadium events, many of the games will have modest attendance; the recent large crowds for the Stanley Cup games were a rare occurrence.
Mr. Krieger suggested giving more thought to how this proposal could merge various historical trends to create a 21st-century landscape: the design spirit of the L'Enfant era and Versailles could be adapted to our democracy, in combination with the more naturalistic Olmsted tradition and 19th-century planning for open space. He suggested applying this thinking to the termination of the Capitol's south axis, perhaps developing a modern solution that emphasizes concerns with the environment and stormwater management; he contrasted this with the simplistic presented solution of a large lawn. Ms. Meyer and Ms. Lehrer agreed. Mr. Krieger emphasized the need for further imagination in the design, and he discouraged Mr. Dunson's suggestion of a straight approach to the bridge because the result would be too much like a highway, as currently seen along South Capitol Street. Ms. Meyer recalled that the 1901–02 McMillan Plan for Washington included extensive consideration of open spaces beyond the Mall and monumental areas. Mr. Krieger noted that this plan, as suggested by its title, was intended to address Washington's overall system of parks, not just the monumental center of the city.
Vice Chairman Meyer summarized that this proposal should be more imaginative in establishing incredible thresholds to the Anacostia River, with more consideration of how trees and topography can shape space and views. She encouraged development of the northwest oval with a stronger hill that provides an effective termination to the south axis of the U.S. Capitol, with trees to provide shade; she also encouraged the ecological performance that reflects the 21st century. She noted the existence of other conventional gathering places and services in the vicinity, allowing the new landscape to be a more remarkable design that marks the juncture with the river. Noting the overall support for the concept, she asked if the project team has sufficient guidance to proceed toward a final design; Mr. Bunster and Mr. Lytle responded that the guidance has been clear. Upon a motion by Ms. Meyer with second by Mr. Dunson, the Commission approved the concept proposal with the comments provided.
E. Smithsonian Institution
CFA 21/JUN/18-4, National Zoological Park, 3001 Connecticut Avenue, NW. Visitor control and security checkpoints, Phase I: supplemental perimeter fencing. Final. Ms. Batcheler introduced the proposal for supplemental perimeter fencing at the National Zoological Park, prepared by Michael Vergason Landscape Architects and the architecture firm Ayers Saint Gross. The proposal would extend and modify the existing perimeter fencing, approved by the Commission in June 2012, as the first phase of a larger new security project. The second phase, with new visitor control checkpoints at the zoo's public entrances, will be submitted later this year; illustrative designs for these checkpoints are shown in the current presentation for reference. She asked Michelle Spofford of the Smithsonian Institution to begin the presentation.
Ms. Spofford said that the project approved in 2012 was secondary animal containment fencing, installed to keep zoo animals inside the zoo and to keep out predators. The current proposal is to provide perimeter security fencing and consolidate pedestrian entrances. She noted that zoo attendance varies greatly throughout the year; the zoo staff works to manage crowds with several security agencies, including the Smithsonian Office of Protection Services, the U.S. Park Police, and the D.C. police department. The new fencing and consolidated entrances are considered the best way to control access, to ensure safety on crowded days, and to secure the zoo when it is closed to the public. She introduced Doug Hays of Michael Vergason Landscape Architects to present the design.
Mr. Hays said that the zoo's relatively porous boundary causes concerns about security and safety on days with a very large number of visitors. He noted that the master plan for the zoo had focused on parking and circulation, including a proposal to reduce the number of entrances to four. After the currently proposed supplemental fencing is installed, the second phase would be to create visitor checkpoints at the Connecticut Avenue entrance on the west, the bus drop-off entrance on the north, and the lower zoo entrance on the east. The third phase would include a central parking structure that would replace the existing surface parking lots along the north edge of the zoo, along with a new fourth public entrance from this parking structure. He added that the Connecticut Avenue pedestrian entrance is expected to be the busiest, and its checkpoint would have four magnetometers; this checkpoint would be set back into the zoo grounds approximately 125 feet from Connecticut Avenue to allow space for queuing.
Mr. Hays presented photographs of the existing eight-foot-high ornamental fencing that was approved in 2012 for the Children's Farm and other areas in the lower zoo, as well as the sliding gate at the lower zoo entrance. He said that in 2014 and 2015, the Commission had reviewed a design for the lower zoo area that included a new entrance sequence, a pavilion, and a bandshell; however, the current study has reconsidered this plan and determined that the need for security screening will require moving or reconfiguring the planned vehicular turnaround.
Mr. Hays said that Commission is now being asked to approve three types of fencing—ornamental, vehicular, and chain link—as well as sliding and swinging gates. A crash-resistant version of the existing ornamental fence is now proposed for installation in areas where vehicles and pedestrians pass near each other; this stronger fence has larger posts and footings, with cables running between these elements to restrain vehicles. The ornamental fencing would be used wherever it would be visible to pedestrians, while less expensive twelve-foot-high black vinyl-coated chain-link fencing would be used in areas where it would be hidden in vegetation or only seen from a distance. He said that most of the new gates would be for staff and service vehicles, and the sliding gate is proposed only for use along North Road. He added that the D.C. Historic Preservation Office has determined that the proposed fencing would have little impact on potential archeology, and the fence alignment would have no major impact on trees or other vegetation. He described the proposed type of fencing and gates along each segment of the zoo perimeter, noting that a portion of the fence on the north would be temporary until the planned removal of surface parking lots will allow for a new fence alignment.
Ms. Meyer noted her familiarity with the zoo through her work on its primary circulation path, the Olmsted Walk, in the early 1980s. She said that the zoo had been designed as a zoological park, with a porous boundary to the parkland of the Rock Creek valley. While acknowledging that the edges can no longer be so porous, she questioned the assumption that the existing historically styled fencing should be the model for the new fence intended to meet the 21st-century need for increased security. She said that the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties offer appropriate ways to add to historic landscapes and buildings, including a clear contrast between old and new. She described the proposed zoo fencing as slightly fussy and historicist, but she emphasized that it does not need to be, because the zoo did not have much fencing in the early 20th century. Mr. Hays responded that the existing fencing in the lower zoo had been approved by the Commission in 2012; he said that his project team had assumed that the 2012 fence design established a new standard for fencing at the zoo, and therefore decided to select a very similar crash-resistant fence to be compatible with the existing ornamental fence.
Ms. Gilbert asked how the 2012 fence design was developed. Kim Workman of the Smithsonian's Office of Protection Services said that much of the 2012 fencing was chain link since it was located in wooded areas, but the decision was that segments visible to the public should be a more attractive fence type. The design options were limited for fencing that met security and anti-climb standards; the project review panel concluded that the selected ornamental fence would blend in with the existing zoo materials palette of wrought iron and stone.
Ms. Meyer commented that "blending in" and "attractive" are not included among the criteria in the Secretary of the Interior's Standards. She questioned the proposal to use only the top half of the ornamental fence above the existing stone flood wall in the lower zoo. She said that the analysis of its proposed location seems sound, but this ornamental fence was designed for relatively flat sites, and it looks strange when used on slopes or on top of embankments instead of being located at eye level; she suggested that a much simpler fence design be used for these conditions. Ms. Lehrer agreed, and Ms. Gilbert recommended using the chain-link fencing in such areas.
Ms. Meyer observed that most of the zoo's circulation appears to be roads without sidewalks, and she asked if a crash-resistant fence is actually needed. Mr. Hays responded that a pedestrian walk is located along a segment of North Road, and the vehicular-rated fence was chosen for safety in this area. Ms. Meyer observed that this fence segment would be located uphill from the road rather than along it; Mr. Hays said that the fencing could be chain link on the slope. He clarified that the project team's criteria were that if a fence would be visible, it should be the ornamental pedestrian fence type; however, chain-link fencing in these areas would be acceptable if preferred by the Commission.
Mr. Krieger said that he appreciates the project team's dilemma. He emphasized that fencing at the zoo should not look like a hodgepodge of a dozen different varieties simply because of different decisions made over the years. Although the proposed crash-resistant fence could perhaps be simplified, he said that it does not look fussy; because so much of it has been installed recently, the best solution might be to continue using this type, while substituting the chain-link fence where possible to save money. He discouraged developing a new fence design when in several years yet another design might be found more appropriate. He summarized that he does not object to the proposed ornamental fence but would defer to the opinion of the other Commission members. Ms. Gilbert commented that people routinely associate chain-link fences with animal enclosures, and black chain-link fences appear to recede from view; Mr. Hays said that chain link had been chosen for wooded areas for just this recessive quality.
Ms. Meyer emphasized that she finds the proposed plan chaotic and confusing, and she expressed disappointment in the Commission's earlier approval of zoo fencing in 2012. Mr. Krieger said that the current Commission does not need to worsen the visual confusion. Mr. Luebke clarified that the 2012 action on the Commission's consent calendar related to a 2010 review of a zoo fence concept proposal, when the Commission discussed the question and cost of chain link versus welded wire fencing. At the 2010 review, a Commission member had commented that multiple types of fence are confusing because the existing chain-link perimeter was already visible, and therefore only two types of fence should be used: a highly ornamental fence at the main entrances, and chain link in other locations.
Ms. Meyer asked about any existing crash-resistant fencing at the zoo; Mr. Hays clarified that none is present, adding that even after the addition of crash-resistant fences, the fencing would look very similar to the way it appears now. Ms. Meyer acknowledged the dilemma, but stressed that she believes the fencing proposal would be detrimental to the integrity of the zoological park's cultural landscape, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted to be both a zoo and a park; she said that this proposal would separate the zoo from the park, making the zoo appear to be a corral within the park. She described the proposal as regrettable but said that it likely would not become any better by changing the design of the new crash-resistant ornamental fence. Mr. Hays clarified that the only places that now have the ornamental fence are the lower zoo, where one of the main entrances is located, and areas adjacent to the Connecticut Avenue entrance; most other fences are chain link.
Ms. Meyer suggested that eliminating the spear-points on top of the pickets of the crash-resistant fence, or replacing them with simple spikes, might lessen its historicist appearance. Ms. Gilbert asked if the fence would still be considered anti-climb without these spear-point tips. Ms. Workman responded that it would not, and she said that the proposed design looks better than simple spikes would because they are flat, and would also discourage climbing more effectively. Ms. Meyer suggested further simplifying the spear points so they would not look like an imitation of an early 20th-century fence. Ms. Workman responded that a custom design would double the cost; Mr. Luebke suggested looking into other standard options available from the manufacturer. Ms. Workman responded that an anti-climb option for the pickets is available that is square in section and terminates in a spike; she offered to inquire whether the crash-resistant fence is available with these tips. She added that although the zoo has not previously screened visitors or installed crash-resistant fencing, security needs have now changed due to recent incidents in the U.S. and other countries of people driving through fences and hitting pedestrians. Ms. Meyer clarified that she is not challenging the need for vehicular fencing at the zoo, although she said that the Commission is concerned generally about Washington looking like a "landscape of fear."
Ms. Meyer said that if the Commission approves this proposal, she would like the action to specify that the new crash-resistant fence should not be an imitation of a historic fence, and that the anti-climb spears terminating the pickets should be simpler, less ornamental, and less historicist in their appearance. She said that the new fence line should clearly be a contemporary addition that is not identifying the original edge or boundary of the National Zoo.
Mr. Krieger disagreed, commenting that the proposed crash-resistant fence does not actually look historic because its pieces are much thicker. He expressed support for the zoo's proposal, and said that the slight change to the picket tips is unnecessary and would probably be unnoticeable. He added that the decision on fence types was made by an earlier Commission, and the proposal continues that decision; he suggested that the recommendation could include a preference for more chain-link fence and as little of this ornamental crash-resistant fence as possible. Mr. Dunson suggested asking the Smithsonian to return with options that address the Commission's concerns.
Ms. Meyer offered a motion to approve the concept design for the new zoo fencing, with the request that additional compatible, economical options for picket tips on the ornamental crash-resistant fence be explored, and that chain-link fencing be used where appropriate, such as on slopes, by the flood wall, and in places above eye level. Upon a second by Mr. Dunson, the Commission adopted this motion.
F. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
CFA 21/JUN/18-5, Metrorail Stations. Digital advertising and signs in Metrorail stations—additional signs in six stations. Concept. (Previous: CFA 16/JUN/16-7.) Ms. Batcheler introduced the concept submission for the installation of digital advertising and information screens in six Metrorail stations: Farragut North, Gallery Place, L'Enfant Plaza, Metro Center, Navy Yard, and NoMa. The proposal is to mount both single and arrayed digital displays in several configurations and locations within the stations, including on the granite walls flanking escalators, on internal passageway walls and portals, and on large blank walls. She noted that in June 2016, the Commission reviewed a related submission for digital advertising and information displays intended to replace the traditional static advertising signs along train platforms; the Commission had approved that proposal while expressing concern about the detailing, finishes, and durability of the new cabinetry. She asked two representatives from the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA)—Ivo Karadimov, manager of architecture, and Donna Murray, manager of advertising and market development—to present the proposal.
Mr. Karadimov said that transit agencies across the country are expanding digital advertising displays in their stations. He described several benefits of digital advertising: the incorporation of current technology, the enhancement of the customer experience, and the ability to easily rotate advertisements and marketing materials with less of the labor and waste inherent in the current system of paper and vinyl signage. Citing the Commission's 2016 approval of digital advertising screens in the Metrorail system, he said that more than 100 such screens have been installed across 45 stations, resulting in revenue of approximately $5 million; revenue sources such as digital advertising will allow WMATA to keep fares low and to meet other funding priorities. He added that the digital screens also allow WMATA to display emergency messages.
Mr. Karadimov described the four proposed installation conditions in the submission, using examples primarily from the Gallery Place station. He indicated on a plan of this station the various types of existing advertising media, including vinyl sheets that wrap around columns, static backlit sign boxes, and some digital screens. He said that the proposal for this station calls for the installation of digital screens in six new locations: several on the granite walls of the station's escalator passages; two on the flanking walls of the mezzanine portal leading to the F Street exit, replacing existing signs; and a connected linear sequence of screens on a curving passageway wall at the base of the escalator bank at this exit. He presented a before-and-after photo simulation of the 55-inch digital displays that would be installed on the granite walls of the escalator passages in the Gallery Place station; in total, 130 screens would be installed in escalator passages throughout the six stations in the proposal. Noting the undesirable appearance of existing square speaker boxes and conduits shown in the photograph, Mr. Karadimov said that the surface-mounted conduits for the electric power supply to the screens would be designed to be as unobtrusive as possible, and the installation design would be consistent with the rectilinear pattern of the existing granite panels. He noted that the connected array of screens that would be installed on the curving wall would be frameless, forming a continuous curving display. He concluded by presenting a before-and-after photo simulation of the fourth type of installation, a large screen array proposed for a wall between two elevators in the NoMa station and for an unillustrated location in the Navy Yard station. He said that these walls are blank and serve no purpose for customers, such as being the location for wayfinding signs or fare vending equipment.
Ms. Lehrer commented that transit users, and people in cities generally, are overwhelmed by digital media; she questioned how the amount of advertising within the system would be determined, and what the appropriate amount would be. She suggested comparisons of the proposed number of screens to precedents in other transit systems. Ms. Meyer requested more information regarding the principles and best practices for wayfinding within transit systems, noting the potential for distraction by digital screens; she noted that different categories of people use the Metro system, such as daily commuters and tourists. Mr. Karadimov responded that WMATA has a manual that prescribes the location of wayfinding signage, and the existing advertisements are carefully placed to not obstruct or conflict with these signs; as an example of this careful placement, he cited the existing wayfinding signage above the Gallery Place portal in relation to the proposed flanking screens. Ms. Murray said that surveys indicate a majority of riders support increased advertising in the Metro system when presented with the prospect of raising fares. She said that the proposed advertising screens are a revenue-generating opportunity similar to other WMATA revenue generators, such as parking lots and merchandizing; the challenge is to balance customer and WMATA needs with "advertising infiltration." She cited examples from other cities: Boston's subway system has entered into a 15-year contract to install almost 12,000 screens, and New York City's subway system has executed a 10-year contract for a similar number of screens. Ms. Lehrer asked about the Los Angeles system; Ms. Murray confirmed that Los Angeles will also be installing digital advertising. Ms. Lehrer asked if advertising content would be limited to promotions such as special tickets to performing arts or museums, or if it would be for consumer goods and services; Ms. Murray responded that the screens would feature both types of advertisements.
Mr. Krieger commented that he is not opposed to the screens within Washington's Metro system, acknowledging that their installation is inevitable. He also cited the wastefulness of the current system of physical signs that must be changed periodically. He observed that the photo simulation used to illustrate the proposal for the Gallery Place portal unfavorably shows the proposed flanking screens as brighter than the existing wayfinding signage above the portal; he questioned whether the simulation accurately illustrates the existing and proposed lighting levels in this area. He recalled that the numerous advertisements he sees in his daily experience using Boston's system are located on the platforms, where people have the opportunity to stand and observe the ads—not within circulation corridors, where people are moving and may ignore them. He therefore questioned the proposal to add screens in locations where customers would be more distracted, such as in the passageways, and not on the platforms, where people must stop to wait for trains; Mr. Dunson agreed. Ms. Murray responded that most of the advertising within the Metro system is in its original location; the platforms already accommodate some advertising, which is constrained by considerations for security, public space, and the architectural character of the train halls. Mr. Krieger asked if historic preservation has been a reason for public opposition to placing more advertisements on the platforms; Ms. Murray said her understanding is that the advertisement layout on the platforms is intended to preserve the architectural integrity of the stations. Secretary Luebke added that preserving the integrity of the train halls is consistent with previous advice from the Commission.
Mr. Dunson said that he is impressed by the minimal amount of signs in the system, which are sufficient for proper navigation, and that he likes the clarity of the characteristic concrete of Metro's Brutalist architecture. He commented that the installation of numerous digital screens in stations, in the character of New York's Times Square, would be inconsistent with Metro's iconic and historic design and would detract from its integrity. He added that wayfinding and advertising require different considerations, and he advised placing digital screens in strategic places where they would have the most impact while still preserving the integrity of the stations, such as flanking the Gallery Place portal as proposed.
Mr. Krieger noted that Boston's system is much older than Washington's; he said that the powerful Brutalist architecture of Washington's Metro could accommodate some added elements, but he agreed that the installation of screens should not be overdone and that the appropriate level of advertising is unclear. Mr. Dunson acknowledged that some people may not appreciate the Brutalist architecture of the Metro system, but he emphasized that the proposal should seek to achieve a balance between the architectural integrity of the stations and the installation of additional advertising, along with a clear distinction between advertisements and wayfinding signage.
Mr. Krieger asked if the proposal for the large screen array would be unique to the Navy Yard and NoMa stations, or if arrays would be deployed on similar walls throughout the system. Mr. Karadimov responded that these would be the only two stations for the large arrays; similarly, the sequence of screens on the curving passageway wall is also a unique condition at this specific location in the Gallery Place station. Mr. Krieger asked for more information regarding the general scope of the digital sign program, anticipating that WMATA will be submitting future proposals to install screens in other unique conditions. Ms. Meyer agreed that an overview would be helpful for the review, expressing doubt that the current submission includes all planned screen installations in the Metro system. Mr. Karadimov responded that the submission includes the current scope of the project, and additional specific locations would be presented to the Commission. He added that he agrees with the Commission's advice to balance the installation of advertising with the preservation of the integrity and legibility of the system's Brutalist architecture, which WMATA appreciates, and that the proposal is intended to be sensitive to the system's architecture. Mr. Luebke noted that while some aspects of the proposal may be unique—such as the screens proposed for the curving wall—other installations could set a precedent for the rest of the system, such as the screens along the escalator walls.
Ms. Gilbert commented that the existing digital screens are quite bright, to the point where they are "headache-producing" for some people. She acknowledged that bright screens could be appropriate in some lighting conditions, but she recommended decreasing the brightness to account for the low ambient light level inside the stations. She also commented that the proposed large screen array on the ground-level concourse of the NoMa station is inappropriate for the selected wall, which is washed with natural light from the nearby transparently enclosed elevator shafts that lead to the elevated outdoor platform. Mr. Karadimov responded that the displays have an integrated sensor that automatically adjusts screen brightness in relation to ambient light; this brightness setting can also be manually overridden. Ms. Gilbert agreed with Mr. Krieger that the lighting conditions would be problematic at the passageway portal in the Gallery Place station, because the existing wayfinding signage above the portal would be too dimly lit in comparison to the proposed flanking screens; she recommended rebalancing the lighting in this location to adequately illuminate the wayfinding signage. She also compared the content and placement of the screens to a public art program, recommending careful consideration of light, layout, and visual narrative.
Ms. Meyer expressed general support for the proposal to install the digital screens. However, she commented that the proposal is difficult to evaluate because it does not include the principles and parameters that are needed to guide the installation of screens throughout the system—such as the distance of the screens from wayfinding and other informational signs, their brightness relative to ambient light conditions, and pedestrian densities within different areas of the stations relative to the spacing of advertisements. Ms. Lehrer agreed; citing her own professional experience with the placement of digital screens in the public realm, she commented that more information would be helpful about advertisers' criteria, as well as the criteria that were applied when specifying the screens. She commented that the screens proposed for the passageway portal would be handsome and well-proportioned for the space, but she encouraged minimizing the appearance of surface-mounted conduits.
Vice Chairman Meyer suggested that the Commission finalize its comments and take a vote separately on each of the four installation conditions proposed in the submission. Secretary Luebke clarified that the proposal should be treated as a concept submission, although mistakenly listed on the agenda as a final design. The Commission first considered the proposal for screens on the walls of escalator passages, which would be installed in all six of the stations included in the submission, and would perhaps be the most typical condition throughout the Metro system. Vice Chairman Meyer summarized the comment to minimize the appearance of surface-mounted conduits; Mr. Karadimov responded that surface-mounted conduits would be unavoidable, because cutting into the thick granite walls is infeasible. Vice Chairman Meyer asked if passengers riding the escalators would be able to reach toward the wall and touch the screens or conduits; Mr. Karadimov responded that the distance between the escalators and walls is sufficient to prevent this. Ms. Gilbert asked for more information regarding the profile of the proposed screens; Mr. Karadimov said they would be approximately 1 to 1.5 inches thick. Mr. Dunson offered conceptual support for installing screens along escalators, but he suggested refining the installation detail, perhaps by changing the screen orientation, or having it project a certain distance from the wall. He said that more specific comments would require more documentation of the proposal, such as diagrams depicting typical conditions for the screens in both above- and below-ground stations. Vice Chairman Meyer summarized the consensus to approve the concept for installing screens along the escalator passages, with the comments provided; upon a second by Mr. Krieger, the Commission adopted this action.
The Commission then considered the proposal to install two screens flanking the passageway portal in the Gallery Place station. Mr. Krieger commented that he could support this proposal, subject to rebalancing the lighting at this location—as well as at other locations where this imbalance may exist—to adequately illuminate the existing wayfinding signage. Mr. Lehrer asked if the advertisements along the curving passageway wall beyond the portal, as seen in the presented photograph, would be converted to digital screens as part of this proposal. Ms. Murray responded that these existing static signs would not be replaced with digital displays, because only head-on views are desirable for digital advertisements; she acknowledged that the installations along the escalators are an exception to this rule. Ms. Lehrer asked if the advertisements along the escalators would be an unsafe distraction for riders. Ms. Murray responded that she has not found serious issues with existing similar installations in both public and private facilities throughout the world; Ms. Meyer confirmed that similar installations in London's subway system are not problematic. Mr. Krieger offered a motion to approve the installation of the two flanking screens with the comments provided; upon a second by Mr. Dunson, the Commission adopted this action.
The Commission then considered the proposal to install a connected sequence of screens on the curving wall at the base of the F Street escalator bank in the Gallery Place station. Vice Chairman Meyer said that although this array is configured for this unique location, it could serve as a prototype for other areas in the Metro system. She noted Mr. Krieger's concern that the screens would be installed too close to an existing wayfinding sign, and the proposed location may therefore be inappropriate. Mr. Karadimov clarified that the existing sign provides rules for the station, not wayfinding, and this regulatory sign could be moved to another location. Upon a motion by Mr. Krieger with second by Mr. Dunson, the Commission approved this installation of screens subject to relocation of the adjacent regulatory sign.
The Commission then considered the proposal to install large screen arrays in two locations—on a sunlit wall between two elevators in the NoMa station, and in an unillustrated location in the Navy Yard station. Vice Chairman Meyer noted the concerns of the Commission members about the size of the array, as well as the desirability of keeping the granite walls unadorned. Ms. Gilbert expressed concern that the NoMa installation would detract from the experience of entering the Metro system, although she acknowledged the proposed location's attractiveness for advertising. Ms. Murray clarified that this location is at the center of the NoMa station's concourse, at a substantial distance from the station's two entrances. Ms. Gilbert suggested that uplifting or inspiring art be installed at this location, citing the abundance of natural light. She also requested further study of incorporating art into the rotation of digital advertisements. Mr. Karadimov responded that Metro's public art program does not currently encompass digital art, and that he is unsure if this potential opportunity would be considered; he added that the wall at the NoMa station is a prime location for advertisers. He said that an alternative, such as installing a single 55-inch screen, would appear more awkward; Mr. Krieger agreed, suggested that this would do more damage to the granite wall. Ms. Murray and Mr. Karadimov added that the location of the large array at the Navy Yard station would be to the side of the primary entrance and exit sequence, replacing an existing banner of approximately the same size. Ms. Meyer questioned the desirability of placing advertisements in these locations, since they are described as being not prominent within the station entry sequences; she commented that the location and impact of these arrays remains unclear. She requested an additional submission with diagrams showing more information about the location and context of the screen arrays, and the Commission did not take an action on this component of the submission.
Vice Chairman Meyer summarized the Commission's concept approval for three of the four components of the submission. Mr. Krieger asked if additional review of these three installation conditions would be necessary. Vice Chairman Meyer said that the Commission would still like to review them in conjunction with the system-wide principles and parameters for the digital screen program, to lessen the burden of reviewing individual screens in the future while providing an established review context for future Commission members. She requested that the WMATA project team work with the Commission staff to develop principles and parameters for the Commission's approval, along with an improved submission for the large screen arrays.
G. District of Columbia Department of General Services
1. CFA 21/JUN/18-6, Charles H. Houston Elementary School, 1100 50th Place, NE. Building modernization and expansion. Concept. The Commission acted on the submission earlier in the meeting without a presentation, following agenda item II.A.
2. CFA 21/JUN/18-7, Duke Ellington School of the Arts, 3500 R Street, NW. Four public art installations. Final. The Commission acted on the submission earlier in the meeting without a presentation, following agenda item II.A.
H. District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
SL 18-144, 300 7th Street, SW. New 12-story multifamily residential building (encapsulating structure of existing nine-story building). Concept. Ms. Batcheler introduced the concept design for a twelve-story multifamily residential building at 300 7th Street, SW. The existing nine-story office building on the site would be stripped down to its structure, then reconfigured and enlarged to create a new building with 411 residential units, 3,200 square feet of retail space, and 142 underground parking spaces. She noted that a letter from the local Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) supporting the project has been distributed to the Commission members; the letter also describes a concern about the need for affordable housing, and it reflects the ANC's mistaken understanding that the project has been previously reviewed by the Commission. She asked Vicki Davis of Urban Atlantic, the project's developer, to begin the presentation.
Ms. Davis introduced members of the project team, including the project architect, Jack Boarman of BKV Group, and historic preservation consultant Emily Eig of EHT Traceries. Ms. Davis said that the building will include both rental apartments and condominium units, and the location in the increasingly active Southwest neighborhood is promising for a multifamily building. As examples of how the character of Southwest is changing, she cited the Spy Museum under construction, the recent opening of the Wharf development and the Museum of the Bible, and the expectation of a stronger connection to the Mall. She asked Mr. Boarman to present the design.
Mr. Boarman said that the goal for this project is a redesign that will enable this older building to fit its context and contribute to the revitalization of Southwest. He described the site's location immediately south of elevated railroad tracks. The neighborhood has numerous massive office buildings of varying modern architectural styles; most are brick structures extending to the property line and sharing an office building typology: glass curtainwalls or repetitive facade elements, such as windows, arranged in vertical tiers. Examples include several federal buildings, among them the headquarters of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and of the General Services Administration (GSA), along with the Mary E. Switzer Building and the Constitution Center. The nineteenth-century Smithsonian Castle lies a short distance to the northwest, beyond the railroad tracks. Although the context's typology is different from that of new multi-family housing, the proposed design takes cues from its neighbors, such as the layering of brick seen on the facades of the GSA building.
Mr. Boarman indicated the existing T-shaped building located in the middle of a triangular site between D Street and Virginia Avenue, extending from 7th toward 6th Street. The site is generally flat, sloping upward three to four feet from 6th to 7th Streets; the existing building's footprint covers approximately 40 percent of the site. To the east, at the narrow point of the triangular block, is a small park reservation administered by the National Park Service; improvement of this reservation will likely be included in the streetscape design.
Mr. Boarman said that the existing building's entire facade would be removed; all existing columns and floor plates would be reused, along with the two levels of below-grade parking. The proposed building line would be brought out to the edge of the property, and the massing would be eroded by four courtyards along the building edges: an entrance courtyard along 7th Street to the west, a residential courtyard along Virginia Avenue to the north, and two residential courtyards along D Street to the south. Terraced one- and two-story residential units would face the residential courtyards, and a small retail area would be located adjacent to the park on the east. The proposed building would be 130 feet tall; the facades for the first ten stories would rise 108 feet, and the 11th and 12th stories would step back. The penthouse structure above would be set back from the roof edges; it would be surrounded by amenity deck space for the residents, areas of green roof, and mechanical equipment. He said that protrusions from the facades would be inappropriate for the context, and the residential balconies would therefore be recessed behind the facade planes.
Mr. Boarman provided further details of the proposed streetscape, which is designed to extend into the building courtyards. He said that D Street offers a good opportunity for pedestrian engagement with the building. The relatively generous 25-foot-wide streetscape along this edge would accommodate street trees, a sidewalk, and benches and seating areas—similar to the treatment of the D Street frontage of the Constitution Center immediately to the south. He presented a preliminary landscape plan that focuses on the development of D Street as a boulevard planted with street trees, a planting area along the property line, and entrances to the residential courtyards. The entrance courtyard on 7th Street would include a plaza raised approximately three feet above the sidewalk.
Mr. Boarman presented the proposed facades, which he said would have variety that results from setting the courtyards back from the property line. A subtle play of vertical elements would articulate the elevations, giving the building a softer and more residential appearance in contrast to the more massive expression of the nearby government buildings office buildings. The facades would be layered stone and brick on the first two stories, and all brick for the next eight stories; the 11th and 12th stories would be clad in metal. A series of four different layers comprising a depth of twelve to eighteen inches would be built up between the brick facades and the window plane to create an overall calm and uniform expression. The proportions of the selected brick would emphasize horizontality; double soldier courses would add visual interest.
Mr. Boarman said the exterior articulation would relate to a residential typology and also to the physical character of surrounding buildings. The proposed color palette includes a gray stone for the two-story base; a light, off-white brick to suggest residential use and distinguish this from other nearby buildings; and a zinc- or pewter-toned metal system for spandrels, mullions, and the upper stories, whose terraces would be detailed to emphasize horizontality. Screens would shield the various areas on the roof and extend the expression of horizontal lines.
Ms. Eig summarized the challenges posed by the site and the neighborhood. She said that while the context includes both lively and dull buildings, the site presents a promising opportunity for a new residential building that balances the strength and weakness of its surroundings; the project also provides the opportunity to change the character of the neighborhood and strengthen the connection between the Mall and the Southwest neighborhood. In developing the design, the project team carefully considered Shipstead-Luce Act guidance on relating to the context to avoid detracting from the existing federal buildings; the design would respect the sightlines north to the Mall and to the south.
Vice Chairman Meyer invited questions and comments from the Commission members. Mr. Krieger observed that the proposed apartment units appear deep and narrow in plan, and he asked about their layout. Mr. Boarman responded that many would have a living room at the perimeter and one or two bedrooms at the interior, a configuration permitted by D.C. regulations; some units would have windows for bedrooms as well as for the living room. Ceiling heights would rise to approximately nine and a half feet. Most windows will be the same size, three feet wide by nine feet high, separated by one-foot-wide metal mullions.
Noting the proposed rooftop garden and swimming pool, Ms. Lehrer asked if the rooftop penthouse structure would have residential units or common space. Mr. Boarman responded that the enclosed rooftop structure would contain a club room, and the rest of the roof would be occupied by terraces and gardens. Ms. Davis added that current D.C. regulations only allow non-habitable space in the rooftop penthouse, but this can include a communal area. She added that the top three stories would be condominiums, and the remainder would be rental apartments, with two separate elevator cores; some of the building's amenity spaces would be open to rental and condominium residents, and others would be exclusive to condominium owners.
Mr. Krieger asked for further information on the ground-floor units. Ms. Davis responded that the units would range in size from studios to one or two bedrooms, or two bedrooms and a den. Mr. Boarman said that some ground-floor units would open to the courtyards, and the ground-floor level would be elevated above the street and sidewalk. Mr. Krieger asked for clarification of the extent of commercial space; Mr. Boarman responded that only one retail space is proposed, at the east end with service access from the loading dock on the north. Ms. Davis added that the ground-floor ceiling height would be twelve feet, lower than what is now considered desirable for commercial use. Mr. Krieger acknowledged that street-level retail use may not be possible everywhere. Ms. Davis responded that she is confident this space can be used as retail; Mr. Boarman added that with the large number of people working in this neighborhood, it may be a good location for a restaurant.
Ms. Gilbert asked about the current condition of the National Park Service reservation. Ms. Davis responded that it is planted with grass and some trees; its western edge abuts a ten-foot-high brick wall that screens a small existing parking lot on the project site. She added that the landscape design of this reservation will be discussed with the National Park Service.
Vice Chairman Meyer acknowledged the reference to affordable housing in the letter from the ANC. She said that, while Commission members support affordable housing and a mix of housing types, these matters are not under the Commission's review. Ms. Davis responded that the ANC is aware of this but simply wanted the concern on record.
Mr. Krieger called the proposal a fine project with good programming, and he commended the intent of introducing housing into this area of Southwest. He anticipated that the Commission will have no objection to the project, noting that it would not violate building height regulations or raise any other issue. However, he described the architecture as conservative. He commented that one great feature of modern buildings is the opportunity for corner windows in living rooms, but this building relies on a more traditional use of masonry. He said that he does not oppose the design but feels that it lacks a creative spark, which he called a D.C. affliction—the belief that buildings look better if they are more traditional. He summarized that this is a conservative rather than a beautiful design, and he encouraged more creativity in the treatment of materials, the configuration of windows, and other details.
Mr. Dunson asked if the terrace units would be entered from the street or from an interior corridor; Mr. Boarman responded that all units would have access from interior corridors, but the ground-floor courtyard-facing units would also have direct access to a terrace. Mr. Krieger asked how the edges of the sidewalks would be demarcated; Mr. Boarman said that a rail fence would create a boundary between public and private space while allowing transparency and access to the building. Ms. Gilbert observed that the fence would allow pedestrians walking along the sidewalk to enjoy the trees and plantings in the terrace; Mr. Boarman said that the terrace area would be private but would act as an extension of the continuous ten-foot-wide planting beds along the building edge. He said that the design team is developing a sequential set of outdoor spaces to create the feeling of a residential environment; elements such as benches, lights, and trees will be repeated along the sidewalks, and variation will be introduced in the spaces inside the property line.
Ms. Gilbert expressed her appreciation for the attention given to the streetscape design, and she said she looks forward to seeing how it develops. Mr. Boarman reiterated the design team's interest in layering and detailing to add interest to the facades, with continuing study of the brick texture and overall horizontal patterning, as well as assessing how a monochromatic off-white brick might affect the perception of scale. Mr. Krieger encouraged continued refinement of the design.
Ms. Lehrer asked if the design team includes a landscape architect; Mr. Boarman responded that BKV Group's in-house landscape architects worked on the concept and prepared an analysis of the streetscapes. Ms. Lehrer asked about the proposed elements for stormwater treatment, commenting that these provide another opportunity to make a streetscape appear residential. She said that if permeable paving is used along the street edge, other plantings can be added. Ms. Davis responded that D.C. regulations require it to be managed stormwater management to be handled on private property, not in the public right-of-way. She noted that the below-grade parking garage extends under most of the site, and the underground Metro tunnels are also adjacent. The permeable area is therefore very limited, but the plan includes relatively extensive green roofs as partial mitigation. Stormwater cisterns will also be provided in unused corners of the garage; water from the cisterns may be used to help irrigate the trees and other site plantings. In combination, these measures will help the project meet the D.C. environmental regulatory requirements.
Ms. Meyer questioned the details of the streetscape design, noting that she had recently looked at new streetscapes and stormwater measures at Federal Triangle along 15th Street and at the Wharf. Expressing concern about the proposed wide spacing of the tree boxes along D Street, she encouraged following best practices for urban trees—closer spacing to allow roots to intermingle and to increase available shade. She called these more important considerations than mitigating the limited porosity resulting from the underground parking structure. Ms. Lehrer added that more information should be provided about the plantings on the other side of the street. Mr. Dunson asked how much green space outside the property line would be under the control of this development. Mr. Boarman responded that the proposal extends to the curb; he emphasized that the basis of the concept is creating a variable and engaging streetscape, with a regular sequence of spaces where a pedestrian can sit on a bench or enjoy walking through alternating shade and sun.
Mr. Dunson commented that in the renderings, the ground-floor terrace apartments appear more like two-story commercial units. Mr. Boarman responded that the intent is for the units facing the courtyard to have seven-foot-high windows. Sidewalk elements would include a two-foot-high raised planter incorporating a bench, with the window sills three feet above that, creating a visual buffer between the residents in their apartments and pedestrians on the sidewalk. He added that the proportions of the ground-floor units would be more horizontal than those on the upper stories. He acknowledged that the presented renderings do not show the planters. Mr. Dunson said that the absence of the planters contributes to the commercial appearance, and he recommended carefully illustrating the full condition of the sidewalk zone through to the lower two stories of the facade. He commented that a well-designed streetscape would firmly ground the building on its site.
Ms. Gilbert expressed appreciation for the effort to create syncopation along the street through the use of trees, planters, and courtyards. She recommended using more than one variety of tree, in addition to planting them more tightly, with smaller trees in tighter spaces. She recommended that the discussions with the National Park Service for improving the triangular reservation should have the goal of making it a more appealing public space, such as by adding seating and another tree for more shade. Acknowledging that this may be a temporary improvement, she said that it would still be better than having it remain a dusty patch of lawn. Ms. Meyer added that improved care of the park will help in leasing the restaurant.
Upon a motion by Mr. Krieger with second by Mr. Dunson, the Commission approved the concept, with the comments provided for development of the design. Mr. Dunson added that the quality of design evident in the top floors suggests that the refinement of the base will be as successful, and he therefore said that the project could return as a final design without an interim review.
Old Georgetown Act
OG 18-222, 2715 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW. Construction of new five-story mixed-use building. Revised concept. (Previous: OG 15-239, May 2016.) Ms. Stevenson introduced a revised concept proposal by the firm EastBanc for 2715 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW—a five-story mixed use building being designed by Souto Moura Arquitectos. The site is at the prominent intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue and M Street, a gateway site into the Old Georgetown historic district. She said that the concept was approved by the Commission in May 2016, based on the recommendation of the Old Georgetown Board. The building and site design have subsequently been developed further; at the most recent Old Georgetown Board review on 7 June 2018, the Board supported the architectural and landscape changes, including the addition of a small airlock vestibule on the north and the change in the color of the brick cladding from a red-brown to a medium grey. In addition, she said that the Board requested further refinement of the visible building elements at the balconies and terraces, including the reduction of the extent of guardrails, the location of balcony lighting, and the color and texture of the balcony soffits. For the site design, the Board requested further study of eliminating a railing for a proposed ramp within the plaza space to the west; the specification of canopy trees for their effect of framing vistas; and additional information on signage. She asked Mary Mottershead from EastBanc to begin the presentation.
Ms. Mottershead said that the project is being developed through the District of Columbia's process of a planned unit development, which has resulted in a commitment by EastBanc to renovate and maintain the adjacent federal parklands. She said that since the last review, the gas station on the development site was demolished, and issues regarding the property lines of the parklands have been resolved. She added that the various varying property lines would not be readily apparent in the site design, but one result was a request that the proposed outdoor dining area be demarcated from the adjacent federal land with bollards. She said landscape architect Lisa Delplace of Oehme, van Sweden & Associates will present the site design, and architect Maria Gorodetskaya of Shinberg/Levinas Architectural Design, the local firm working with Souto Moura Arquitectos, will present the building design. Vice Chairman Meyer noted the Board's recommendation for approval with comments for further revision, and she requested that that the presentation focus on subsequent changes in response to the Board's comments.
Ms. Delplace began by describing the existing conditions of the overall site, which is an eastern gateway into Georgetown formed by the confluence of two major streets—M Street on the north, and Pennsylvania Avenue on the south. The trapezoidal building site is bounded on its east and west sides by federal reservations that combine to form a truncated triangle extending west to 28th Street. She said that Reservation #360 on the east, part of the Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway, is pastoral on its western side near the building site, while its eastern portion is overgrown and slopes steeply down toward the park road and Rock Creek; she indicated the social paths and existing exotic plants on this reservation. To the west of the building site, Reservation #691 is overgrown with large hollies and seldom used. She added that the building site and both reservations are partially bounded by sidewalks under the control of the District Department of Transportation (DDOT), which has installed bluestone paving and a bicycle-share rack at Reservation #691; several curb cuts remain from the site's previous use as a gas station.
Ms. Delplace said that the concept for the landscape design considers the building parcel and the two reservations as one unified site, with the goal of maximizing green space by opening the ground plane and increasing the number of canopy trees. She indicated on a site plan the property lines of the reservations and building site; she said that consultations with the National Park Service have resulted in a landscape design that does not strictly follow these property lines. For example, the property line separating Reservation #691 and the building site curves through the middle of a proposed stone-paved walkway that would connect Pennsylvania Avenue and M Street. She said that the Board asked the design team to study the eight percent slope at the northern end of this walkway; as a result, the ramp proposed for this location would now be further elongated to achieve a slope of less than five percent, allowing for the previously proposed handrail to be eliminated from the design. The remainder of Reservation #691 would be an open plaza paved with a bonded aggregate and framed by stone seating walls; a planter would buffer Pennsylvania Avenue traffic at the south, and a bioretention planter would be installed on the north side.
Ms. Delplace presented the proposed planting palette. She said that removal of the existing curb cuts would allow for the addition of street trees within bioretention planters; sand-based structural soil and porous paving would also allow for masses of trees to be planted in a relatively small space. She said that consultation with the DDOT Urban Forestry Division has resulted in the substitution of the southern sweetbay trees (Magnolia virginiana) initially proposed along M Street with a bosque of blackgum trees (Nyssa sylvatica), a hardy urban tree that tolerates both drought conditions and wet conditions. In addition, invasive plant species would be removed from Reservation #360, which would be repopulated with a full matrix of plants, including American beech trees (Fagus grandifolia), that would provide four seasons of color and serve a bioretention function.
Ms. Delplace presented an east–west section through 28th Street, which runs along the west side of Reservation #691; she indicated the cubic blocks of stone that would be installed along this side of the park, as well as the seat walls within the park. She said that the sign wall, approximately seven feet by three feet, would include the National Park Service logo and the still-undetermined name of the park. She also indicated the bioretention planter and plaza within this park, as well as the planted buffer that would separate the interior of the park from the sidewalk and the traffic of Pennsylvania Avenue. On a north–south section, she indicated the sidewalks, the proposed bioretention tree planters along M Street, and the standard street tree planters along Pennsylvania Avenue. She then presented a site plan for Reservation #360 and the eastern side of the building site, indicating the lighted bollards, wayfinding signs, and the paved brick walkway that would formalize an existing social path. Protective bollards would also be installed closer to the building itself to separate vehicles along the driveway. She said that the lighting plan for the landscape includes the lighted bollards and several uplights for the trees within Reservation #691, while retaining the existing streetlights. She concluded by indicating the locations and planting palettes for the multiple levels of intensive green roofs proposed for the building.
Vice Chairman Meyer suggested that the Commission provide comments on the site design before the presentation of the architectural changes to the building. Ms. Lehrer expressed appreciation for the detailed presentation of the landscape, which she said would create an urban forest oasis for the building. She added that the community would also benefit from the seamless connection between the private and public spaces.
Ms. Meyer commended several aspects of the project, including the thoughtful planting palette and the creation of an acoustically comfortable seating area within Reservation #691 that is not occluded from its surroundings. Noting this park's exposure to the west and the low summer sun late in the day, she suggested planting large tree specimens to provide a substantial mass at an early stage for these slow-growing plantings, in order to enhance the experience within the park. She also commented that the planter walls and bollards would benefit from additional refinement, such as to their profile, texture, and materiality, to match the prominence of the site and the level of quality seen in the rest of the landscape and building design.
Ms. Gilbert commented that the landscape design would successfully open the site to the public and create a green gateway to Georgetown. She expressed appreciation for the elegant simplification of the existing site plan through shifts in topography and the reduction of extraneous objects within the streetscape. While questioning the decision to retain the existing ailanthus trees on Reservation #360, she supported the proposal to plant beech trees in this location, observing that the reservation needs care and maintenance.
Regarding the sign wall at the 28th Street entrance to Reservation #691, Ms. Gilbert commented that it appears "clunky" and suggested that it could serve an additional purpose; Ms. Delplace responded that the proposed sign is a placeholder, and the National Park Service is in the process of selecting a name for the park. Mr. Krieger questioned the proposal to install walls and bollards along 28th Street at the threshold of public space, especially in comparison to the private building's unobstructed access to this space. Ms. Delplace clarified that the seat walls would be within the park, and they would have raised armrests to meet accessibility requirements and deter skateboarding; the large stone blocks along 28th Street would be made of the same material as the walls and would function as both seating areas and vehicular bollards. Mr. Krieger commented that the blocks appear to be oversized bollards that may be too short to function as seating. Ms. Meyer asked if the vehicular bollards are required; Ms. Delplace responded that 28th Street carries two-way traffic between Pennsylvania Avenue and M Street, presenting a safety issue for people on the adjacent sidewalk and in the park. Ms. Meyer said that the Commission has previously expressed concern about Washington appearing to be a "landscape of fear," and the openness of the public realm is an important consideration. Ms. Delplace agreed and said that the project team will study the bollards further.
Secretary Luebke noted the imminent loss of a quorum upon the departure of Ms. Lehrer and Ms. Meyer. He suggested that the Commission could vote to adopt the Board's report along with the comments provided during the discussion of the landscape; forthcoming comments regarding the building architecture could also be included as part of the Commission's review. Ms. Meyer offered a motion to adopt the Board report, augmenting the Board's recommendations for further development of the design. Mr. Luebke asked if the Commission wishes to delegate the review of the final design to the Board; the Commission members supported this delegation as part of the motion, which was adopted upon a second by Mr. Krieger.
Vice Chairman Meyer and Ms. Lehrer departed at this point, resulting in the loss of a quorum; Mr. Krieger presided for the remainder of the meeting.
Ms. Gorodetskaya continued the presentation with a summary of the proposed revisions to the building architecture. She said that the major change on the exterior is the color of the brick—the new gray-green color was selected to differentiate the building from the red brick predominant in Georgetown. She said that the granite slab edges are unchanged, and the previously proposed stainless steel copings at the balconies are now proposed as granite. She noted slight changes to the geometry and alignment of some exterior building walls, as well as to the depth of the balconies. She indicated on the ground floor plan the addition of an entry vestibule for the restaurant, as required by energy codes. On the fifth floor and penthouse plans, she indicated changes to the layout of the green roof and terrace area, as well as the reorientation of the chimney. She clarified for Mr. Krieger that only the fifth-floor unit would have access to the terrace on this level; the penthouse above this level would be available to all building residents, with a fitness spa, kitchenette, and small terrace.
Ms. Gorodetskaya said that the lighting plan for the building proposes one downlight fixture, mounted on a pole, for each balcony; the fixtures would not be visible in the balcony soffits when looking up from the street. She concluded with a description of additional details of the balconies and terraces, including the granite coping and slab cladding; the stainless steel guardrails would be set back from the facades to meet zoning requirements. She noted that wood floors inside the unit would be complemented by ipé wood floors on the balconies. She added that in response to comments from the Board, the guardrails on the fifth floor and penthouse would be set back to reduce their extent and make them less visible from the street; this would also have the effect of making the granite detailing more pronounced. Secretary Luebke noted that the Board requested the revision to the guardrail detail to eliminate an unnecessary visual element and emphasize the architectural purity of the cantilevered slabs. Ms. Gorodetskaya added that an onsite mockup of the balcony detail—including the facade, curtainwall system, soffit, and flooring—has been assembled and is available for inspection.
Ms. Gilbert asked for more information about the placement of the balcony lights. Ms. Gorodetskaya responded the fixtures would be in the interior corners of the balconies; she confirmed that they would be downlights, and they may be mounted on adjustable poles. Mr. Krieger asked for clarification of the soffit detail; Ms. Gorodetskaya responded that the soffit would be painted exterior gypsum board. Ms. Gilbert asked how the green roofs would be maintained and whether they would be occupiable; Ms. Gorodetskaya said that the green roofs would not be occupiable, at the Board's request, and that unobtrusive safety anchors for maintenance workers would be provided instead of guardrails.
Mr. Krieger observed that the material palette and detailing—including the facade, slab edge, and guardrail detailing—is consistent throughout the building; however, the sudden change of the guardrail detail on the upper levels introduces a surprising inconsistency. He asked for the opinion of the architect regarding the Board's recommended revision of the guardrail design; Ms. Gorodetskaya responded that the design team appreciates the clean lines and more restrained use of the guardrail in the revised design. She reiterated that the green roof would not be occupiable; the guardrail would therefore not serve a purpose at the edges of the building. Mr. Dunson commented that the crisp railing detail would appropriately top off the building and provide a favorable accent to the design. Mr. Krieger agreed that the railing is a beautiful detail, and he said that the only reason to move it far back from the roof edge might be to reduce costs. Secretary Luebke asked if the Commission members would like to revise the Board's recommendation and instead request the retention of the guardrail at the edge of the upper levels or, alternatively, leave the retention of the railing to the discretion of the project team. Mr. Dunson said that he supports leaving the decision to the project team.
Mr. Krieger commented that his firm uses ipé wood in many projects, and in his experience leaving the ipé unfinished produces a favorably uniform weathering pattern. Ms. Gorodetskaya responded that the ipé floors on the balconies would likely be sealed, although not finished. Mr. Krieger suggested consideration of leaving the ipé unsealed, commenting that sealed ipé would still weather but would weather unevenly, while unsealed ipé weathers with a relatively uniform silver color, similar to the color of the proposed brick.
Ms. Gilbert expressed appreciation for the scale and siting of the building, commenting that its favorable visual interest would invite observation from all directions. Mr. Krieger reiterated his appreciation for the overall design of the building and development of the details, which he said advances many of the underlying concepts of the architecture. Mr. Dunson agreed, commenting that he has always liked the design of the building; he said that the current version would ground the building and successfully integrate the federal reservations into the landscape design. He reiterated his comment that the retention of the guardrails at the roof edges would improve the design, adding that the earlier positioning of the guardrails on the upper floors would be consistent with the "dogged consistency" in the building's detailing. He agreed with the consensus to leave this detail to the discretion of the project team.
Secretary Luebke concluded the review by noting that all of the comments provided will be included in conjunction with the Commission's action to adopt the Old Georgetown Board's report earlier in the discussion.
Because Vice Chairman Meyer and Ms. Lehrer departed during the discussion of the preceding agenda item, resulting in the loss of a quorum, Mr. Luebke noted that the recommendations for the remaining submission will be subject to confirmation by a quorum at the Commission's next meeting. Mr. Krieger presided for the remainder of the meeting.
I. United States Mint
CFA 21/JUN/18-8, 2020 and 2021 America the Beautiful Quarter Dollar Program. Reverse designs for: American Samoa, Connecticut, U.S. Virgin Islands, Vermont, Kansas, and Alabama. Final. (Previous: CFA 18/JAN/18-5, revised design for 2019 Northern Mariana Islands.) Mr. Simon introduced the alternatives for the reverse designs for the six remaining issues in the "America the Beautiful" series of circulating quarters. He provided samples of past circulating quarters in the series, and of the larger silver bullion versions that are produced for each of these coins. He noted that the presentation will highlight the preferences of the Mint's Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC), and of the Mint's liaison from each of the selected sites for the coins; these preferences were not described in the submission materials that were distributed in advance. He introduced April Stafford of the Mint to present the design alternatives.
Ms. Stafford summarized the ongoing coin program: the obverse of the quarters, featuring the familiar portrait of George Washington, remains unchanged; the reverses feature a national park or other national site chosen from each state or territory.
National Park of American Samoa (American Samoa)
Ms. Stafford described the National Park of American Samoa, managed communally by the Samoan people and villages as part of the island environment. She said that this park is unique in the national system as a paleotropical rain forest and as home to the endangered flying fruit bat. She presented ten alternative reverse designs, noting the preference of the site liaison for alternatives #3, #7, and #8, and the preference of the CCAC for alternative #13, with a stylized depiction of a threadfin butterflyfish and a water wave. She said that for alternative #3, the CCAC was concerned that the underwater scene in the lower part of the design would be muddled on a sculpted coin; officials from the Mint had responded that the design could be clarified in the sculpting process.
Ms. Gilbert said that the fruit bat is a compelling subject, particularly alternative #7 with the mother bat hanging upside-down. Mr. Krieger commented that the uniqueness of the fruit bat to this park makes it a good choice, and it would be distinctive for the coin design; in contrast, the depiction of a fish would likely not be perceived as distinctive. Ms. Gilbert suggested that alternative #3, combining an underwater scene and a coastal view, would be improved by shifting the dividing line upward to allow additional space for the more interesting underwater scene with the fish; she reiterated her preference for alternative #7.
Mr. Dunson agreed to join in supporting alternative #7, citing the fruit bat as an unusual subject that is unique to this park. He also offered support for alternative #8, another preference of the site liaison; he said that its depiction of a Samoan man would be consistent with the description that the park is maintained by the local population. Mr. Krieger suggested that the Commission provided a ranked set of recommendations: alternative #7 as the first preference; alternative #8 as the second preference; and alternative #3 as the third preference, with the comments provided. The Commission members present agreed to this consensus.
Weir Farm National Historic Site (Connecticut)
Ms. Stafford described Weir Farm National Historic Site as the finest remaining landscape of the American Impressionism period of painting; present-day artists continue to use the park for outdoor painting, in the tradition of the Impressionists. The farm was the home of Julian Alden Weir, a leading American artist of the late 19th to early 20th century; Secretary Luebke noted that he had been a member of the Commission from 1916 to 1919.
Ms. Stafford said that the CCAC has supported several of the design alternatives but requested further revisions; the Mint is therefore planning to prepare a further submission of alternatives for this coin, and the current request is for the Commission's guidance in preparing the revisions rather than for a specific recommendation. She presented fifteen alternative reverse designs, noting the tentative preferences of the site liaison and the CCAC for alternatives #4, #6, #13, #14, and #17, subject to further revisions; she said that a follow-up submission would likely include new versions of these five designs, along with other designs if requested by the Commission.
Ms. Gilbert observed that the alternatives depicting a landscape painting do not appear to convey the Impressionist style, resulting in disappointing designs for this home of an Impressionist painter; she said that a more interesting and period-specific design would have a realistically depicted landscape in the background, contrasted with an Impressionist-style painting of the landscape in the foreground. She acknowledged that this stylistic distinction may be difficult to convey at the scale of the coin. Ms. Stafford responded that this topic was discussed at length by the CCAC: the technical difficulty was one concern; an additional concern was the desire to emphasize the painting as the primary subject of the coin design, using clear detail, while de-emphasizing the background landscape as a secondary element. Ron Harrigal, the manager of design and production for the Mint, said that the Mint's engravers have carefully considered the sculpting of a painting within a larger design on the small size of the quarter. Using the example of alternative #13, he said that the Mint's intended solution is to treat the painting as a raised plateau on an easel that projects forward from the softer background detail; the elements of the painting itself would be incused into the plateau. He said that the result should convey that the painting is a flat object that is distinct from the background, although the stylistic appearance of the painting would depend on further artistic refinement. Mr. Krieger reiterated that in alternatives #13 and #14, the effect conveyed by the renderings is that the background landscape is more Impressionist than the painting itself—the opposite of the desired artistic effect. Ms. Gilbert added that the design does not need to show a completed painting; the emphasis should instead be on the process of the painters. Mr. Harrigal agreed to convey these comments to the artist working on this coin, and Ms. Gilbert encouraged continuation of the refinement process that is already underway.
Mr. Krieger offered support for alternative #6 because it includes both the painter and a painting. He commented that the background building in alternative #6 has a somewhat ordinary appearance, and he suggested using the more eccentric perspective of the background building in alternative #4; Ms. Gilbert agreed. Mr. Krieger added that the small shed in the foreground of alternative #4 could be eliminated, possibly replaced by a painting and easel or some other signifier of the site's artistic history.
Mr. Dunson suggested further exploration of the designs that depict the painter at work. Ms. Gilbert suggested including the stone site wall that is included in alternative #1, commenting that this is a distinctive feature of the Connecticut landscape and especially of Weir Farm, and it would help to convey the geographic location of this site. She added that the depiction of the background building in alternative #1 is questionable, and she suggested that the design place greater emphasis on the landscape. Mr. Krieger recommended careful study of the scale of the site wall, observing that it appears uncharacteristically tall toward the foreground of the composition; Mr. Luebke noted that the problem may that the scale of the adjacent easel is too small.
Ms. Gilbert discouraged pursuing several of the alternatives that do not include any depiction of the landscape; she said that the landscape is an essential feature for the design subject of Impressionist painters working outdoors. Mr. Krieger summarized the consensus of the Commission members present to encourage further development of alternative #1 along with the alternatives identified by the CCAC and the site liaison, with the comments provided.
Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve (U.S. Virgin Islands)
Ms. Stafford said that the sea and land within the Salt River park includes extensive mangrove forests, coral reefs with global significance, and 27 species that are rare, threatened, or endangered. She presented six alternative reverse designs, noting the preference of both the site liaison and the CCAC for alternative #1 that depicts a red mangrove tree in an early stage of its life cycle.
Mr. Krieger observed that alternative #7 appears to depict a more mature mangrove. Mr. Dunson agreed that its dense root structure below the water line signifies an older tree; he offered support for alternatives #1 and #7. Mr. Krieger questioned whether the mangrove depiction in alternative #1 is realistic; Ms. Gilbert agreed, commenting that it appears too perfect, with its branches resembling a laurel wreath. Mr. Krieger described alternative #1 as cartoonish; Ms. Gilbert suggested extending the roots downward and raising the water line to free up the composition from the centeredness of the mangrove.
Mr. Krieger observed that alternative #7 includes both animal and plant life, with a green sea turtle alongside the mangrove. Ms. Gilbert joined in supporting alternative #7. Mr. Dunson agreed, while commenting that the tangled mangrove in alternative #3 is probably the most realistic of the presented depictions. Mr. Krieger said that the mangrove in alternative #3 is too small and the seashell is too prominent, although the contrast of lighter and darker areas on the rendering is promising. Ms. Gilbert discouraged featuring a seashell in the design; she suggested more careful detailing of the mangrove roots in alternative #7, describing their appearance as resembling noodles. Mr. Dunson observed that alternative #7 has a raised water line, which could serve as a model for revising alternative #1; in alternative #3, the contrasting elements of the composition could be reversed to emphasize the mangrove rather than the shell. He concluded that alternative #7 is a more complete composition, subject to improved detailing; Ms. Gilbert added that the negative spaces in this design need more clarity. Mr. Krieger summarized the consensus to recommend alternative #7 with further refinement.
Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park (Vermont)
Ms. Stafford said that this is the only national park focused on the history of conservation and the evolving nature of land stewardship in the U.S. The site was the boyhood home of George Perkins Marsh, one of the nation's first conservationists, and was later the home of Frederick Billings, a pioneer in reforestation and scientific farm management. The most recent owners, Laurance and Mary Rockefeller, donated the property to the nation. The park has one of the oldest scientifically managed forests in the U.S.; visitors can walk the carriage trails and roads to see examples of reforestation practices dating from the 1870s to modern times. She presented eleven alternative reverse designs, noting the first preference of the site liaison for alternative #8, followed by #1 and #1A; the preference of the CCAC is alternative #1A, depicting a person's hands planting a sugar maple sapling.
Mr. Dunson offered support for the alternative #8, the site liaison's first choice, but he observed that the background mountains in alternative #1A help to establish a sense of place. He said that the coin design would ideally convey both the place and the tree planting to tell the story of this site. Mr. Krieger added that the simple silhouette of the mountains would be sufficient. He commented that the depiction of a child in alternative #8 is endearing; he also offered support for alternative #5, which conveys the use of trees for lumber. Ms. Gilbert supported the refinement of alternative #8 to include a silhouette of the rolling hills; she also supported the inclusion of the phrase "Land Stewardship" in this design. Mr. Krieger summarized the consensus to recommend alternative #8 with the comments provided.
Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve (Kansas)
Ms. Stafford said that Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve is the largest remaining expanse of tallgrass prairie in North America, encompassing nearly 11,000 acres; most areas of tallgrass prairie were converted to cropland during a period of several decades. She described the site's very diverse ecosystem, including grassland birds and a type of grouse known as the greater prairie chicken; she said that the site liaison is especially interested in a design that features this bird. She presented ten alternative reverse designs, noting the preference of the site liaison for alternatives #1, #2, and #3, and the preference of the CCAC for alternative #9 with a butterfly seen alongside the upper tips of tall grasses.
Ms. Gilbert observed that some designs were presented as including a specific type of grass; she said that such specificity would be desirable in the selected design. Ms. Stafford responded that the artists were provided extensive source materials, and all of the depicted grasses are likely based on a specific type. She noted the CCAC's concern with alternative #1 that the grass behind the prairie chicken's head might result in an unclear composition. Mr. Krieger asked if the butterfly in alternative #9 is important to this prairie setting; Ms. Stafford confirmed that it is a very specific type of butterfly for this site.
Mr. Dunson offered support for alternative #5, which was not among the presented preferences; he cited its comprehensive inclusion of grass, a butterfly, and a prairie chicken, while acknowledging that the resulting composition may be too busy. Ms. Gilbert commented that alternative #9 would be more interesting with a greater density of grass; Mr. Dunson suggested that the grass in alternative #10 could provide a model. Mr. Krieger said that without specialized knowledge, a viewer might think that the butterfly in alternative #9 could be from anywhere; Ms. Gilbert agreed. Secretary Luebke noted his familiarity with the tallgrass prairie landscape; he said that a distinctive feature is that the grass is taller than a person, which is best conveyed in the upward perspective of alternative #9. Ms. Stafford responded that the CCAC had also discussed this topic, noting that the grass reaches a height of eight feet or more. Mr. Krieger questioned whether the scale would be conveyed effectively in alternative #9, since butterflies can fly at any height. He offered to support alternative #5 as the best combination of design elements, if the other Commission members are satisfied that it would be legible.
Ms. Gilbert commented that none of the designs capture the sense of being in a prairie, with the grass swaying in the wind. Mr. Krieger said that alternative #5 may come closest; Ms. Gilbert objected that the scale of the prairie chicken in this composition suggests that the grass is only five inches high. Mr. Krieger suggested omitting the prairie chicken to emphasize the butterfly and the grass, perhaps conveying a better sense of the expansive scale. Ms. Gilbert instead suggested adjusting alternative #9 by pulling back the view to show more of the grass landscape; Mr. Krieger supported this suggestion. Mr. Dunson suggested alternative #10 as a viable option, but Ms. Gilbert did not support this. Mr. Krieger summarized the consensus to support alternatives #5 and #9 with comments provided.
Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site (Alabama)
Ms. Stafford said that Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site was established in 1998 to commemorate the achievements of the Tuskegee Airmen in World War II, during which they completed 15,000 sorties and earned many honors. She noted that many of the design alternatives include a double-V motif, which arose from the civil rights movement to signify the airmen's fight for victory over racism in the U.S. as well as fascism abroad. She presented eleven alternative reverse designs, noting the first preference of the site liaison for alternatives #1, followed by #10A, and #13; the preference of the CCAC is alternative #1, depicting an airman in uniform with the control tower behind and two airplanes above. She noted that instead of the double-V motif, these alternatives include the phrases "They Fought Two Wars" on #1, "Double Victory" on #10A, and "Cradle of Black Aviation" on #13.
Ms. Gilbert offered support for alternative #1, commenting that its text is preferable to the obscure reference to "Double Victory." Mr. Krieger and Mr. Dunson joined in supporting alternative #1. Mr. Krieger commented that the double victory still may not have been achieved, which is especially regrettable in reviewing numerous coins with the phrase "E Pluribus Unum." Ms. Stafford responded that the artist for alternative #10B represented this issue by breaking the coin's border with the second "V" adjacent to the phrase "E Pluribus Unum."
Ms. Gilbert asked for further information about the background building in alternative #1. Ms. Stafford responded that it is the control tower for Moton Field, where the Tuskegee Airmen trained. Mr. Krieger summarized the consensus to recommend alternative #1.
Mr. Luebke noted that the recommendations for these coins would be subject to confirmation by a quorum at the Commission's meeting in July 2018.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 4:23 p.m.
Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA