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 9:08 a.m.
Hon. Earl A. Powell, Chairman
Hon. Edward Dunson
Hon. Liza Gilbert
Hon. Alex Krieger
Thomas E. Luebke, Secretary
Frederick J. Lindstrom, Assistant Secretary
Mary Catherine Collins
A. Approval of the minutes of the 20 September meeting. Secretary Luebke reported that the minutes of the September 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.
B. Dates of next meetings. Mr. Luebke presented the regularly scheduled dates for upcoming Commission meetings, as previously published: 15 November 2018, 17 January 2019, and 21 February 2019. He noted that no meeting is scheduled in December.
C. Report on the President’s intent to appoint Justin Shubow to the Commission of Fine Arts. Mr. Luebke reported that President Trump has recently announced that he intends to appoint Justin Shubow to a four-year term as a member of the Commission. He summarized Mr. Shubow’s training as a lawyer, his work as president of the National Civic Art Society, and his past appearances before the Commission to provide comments on the design of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial.
Mr. Luebke noted that this appointment would end the service on the Commission of Mia Lehrer, who has been a member since 2014.
D. Confirmation of the recommendations from the September 2018 meeting after the loss of a quorum. Mr. Luebke said that a formal action is needed to confirm the recommendations concerning five submissions reviewed the previous month without a quorum. He listed the projects requiring action:
CFA 20/SEP/18-3, Small cell infrastructure in public space, throughout the city. Draft guidelines for the installation of low-power antennas for cellular and data communication. Final. (Previous: CFA 19/JUL/18-1, Information presentation.)
SL 18-208, 4101 Arkansas Avenue, NW. Single-family residence, additions to convert to two-family residence. Revised concept. (Previous: SL 18-171, July 2018.)
CFA 20/SEP/18-4, 2018 American Innovation One Dollar Coin Program. Introductory one-dollar coin with a common obverse, unique reverse, and edge-incusing. Final.
CFA 20/SEP/18-5, 2019 American Liberty High Relief One Ounce 24-karat Gold Coin and Silver Medal. Designs for obverse and reverse. Final. (Previous: CFA 17/MAR/16-6, 2017 issue.)
CFA 20/SEP/18-6, 2020 America's Beautiful National Parks Quarter Dollar Program. Reverse designs for Connecticut. Final. (Previous: CFA 21/JUN/18-8.)
Chairman Powell noted the consensus of the Commission to adopt the September recommendations for these five submissions.
II. Submissions and Reviews
Mr. Luebke introduced the three appendices for Commission action. Drafts of the appendices had been circulated to the Commission members in advance of the meeting.
Appendix I – Government Submissions Consent Calendar: Mr. Lindstrom said that no changes have been made to the draft appendix. Upon a motion by Mr. Powell with second by Mr. Dunson, the Commission approved the Government Submissions Consent Calendar.
Appendix II – Shipstead-Luce Act Submissions: Ms. Batcheler reported several substantial changes to the draft appendix, in addition to minor wording adjustments and the notation of dates for receipt of supplemental materials. One case has been added to the appendix (case number SL 18-158); after being held open from a previous month, it is now listed to note that the proposal has been withdrawn. Three cases have been removed from the draft appendix (SL 18-215, 19-011, and 19-021); these projects will likely be included on a future appendix. The recommendations for two projects have been revised to be favorable (case numbers 19-001 and 19-005); she said that the recommendation for SL 19-001, which includes replacement windows for the hotel at 515 15th Street, NW, will be further revised to note the correct number of six large-sized windows on two facades. Chairman Powell noted the large number of review agencies that will see this project; Ms. Batcheler noted that the multi-layer review results in part from its location within the former jurisdiction area of the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation, whose authorities are now shared by several government agencies. She noted that the favorable recommendations for four 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 Mr. Powell with second by Mr. Dunson, the Commission approved the revised Shipstead-Luce Act appendix.
Appendix III – Old Georgetown Act Submissions: Ms. Collins reported that the draft appendix of thirty cases has been revised to document the receipt date for revised drawings. The tentatively favorable recommendation for a residential window replacement project (case number OG 18-299) has been changed to be unfavorable because the anticipated revised drawings have not been submitted. [This proposal was subsequently withdrawn by the applicant.] Upon a motion by Mr. Krieger with second by Mr. Dunson, the Commission approved the revised Old Georgetown Act appendix.
B. National Park Service
1. CFA 18/OCT/18-1, National World War I Memorial. Pershing Park, Pennsylvania Avenue, between 14th and 15th Streets, NW. Revised concept. (Previous: CFA 19/JUL/18-2.) Secretary Luebke introduced the revised concept designs for several components of the National World War I Memorial to be built in Pershing Park, submitted by the National Park Service (NPS) on behalf of the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission. He noted that in the previous review of the concept in July 2018, the Commission requested that subsequent submissions address the components in groups of related topics. Today’s presentation is the first of these submissions, and it addresses refinements to the landscape design; to the treatment of the central commemorative elements, including options for the freestanding sculpture and its relation to the wall, water elements, and inscriptions; and to the secondary commemorative elements, including a belvedere at the kiosk site, planters, and a flagstaff. Future submissions will address the pool and walk, site furnishings, and lighting designs. He asked Peter May of the National Park Service’s National Capital Region to begin the presentation. Mr. May introduced Dr. Libby O’Connell of the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission to provide opening remarks.
Dr. O’Connell expressed appreciation for the Commission’s previous comments and briefly described the overarching vision for the memorial narrative. She said that in the July 2018 presentation, the project team had discussed its intention for the whole site to function as the memorial, rather than simply inserting a memorial within the park. The project team believes that attempting to convey the complete story of a war through a single memorial is futile, and they are therefore trying to define what parts of the story are appropriate for this site and this memorial. Following the announcement of the competition winner in 2015, the primary focus has been on integrating the sculpture, A Soldier’s Journey, within the park, and on establishing a dialogue between this sculpture and the existing statue of Gen. John J. Pershing—between Everyman and the Great Man. While this theme is still of vital importance, it may lack a broader meaning about the war’s significance, and the project team has decided that the missing subject is the idea of peace. This abstract vision for the narrative now serves as the organizing theme for the site—“World War I: Our Nation’s Journey”—conveying the concept that history is defined as change over time, encompassing a process and a journey.
Dr. O’Connell said that the Pershing Memorial area of the site presents Gen. Pershing and the journey of leadership; the new relief sculpture will depict the journeys of the war and the homefront through the diverse narrative voices of the doughboy experience. The west side of the wall, with its cascading water, will represent the search for peace—a journey that never ends but remains the enduring effort to achieve tolerance, justice, and peace. She said that this area will be a place where visitors can contemplate their own lives as well as the issues raised by the World War I Memorial: the impact of the war and the work of the generation that fought it.
Dr. O’Connell introduced landscape architect David Rubin of the David Rubin Land Collective to present the design. Mr. Rubin said that he is seeking direction from the Commission on the concept, character, and materials for the sculpture and fountain; on the treatment of the kiosk site as an overlook; on the planting plan; and on proposed treatments for the flagstaff and the planters along Pennsylvania Avenue on the north. He said that Commission’s previous comments had identified a need for a single powerful element, and for design details to integrate the sculpture with the kiosk site. He emphasized that the project team regards the entire park as the memorial, and the new additions are intended to work within this existing framework. He presented a diagram expressing the relation between the public realm and the increasingly private experience encountered as a visitor moves into the park toward the commemorative elements at its center.
Mr. Rubin identified the primary materials that are existing or proposed for the park: the bronze sculpture; the light granite of the existing stone terraces; the Dakota Mahogany granite of the Pershing Memorial, a dark brown with some rose tones; and the black granite that would be used within the pool. He described the layout of the Pershing Memorial, with a bronze statue of Pershing standing in the middle of a paved plaza facing west, flanked by two mahogany granite walls on the east and south. The wall on the south bears text and maps of the Western Front and the Meuse-Argonne campaign; he noted that the painted highlighting of the inscriptions is being restored to improve legibility. The Pershing statue will face The Soldier’s Journey, and this reciprocal relationship is meant to establish an engagement that will be clear to visitors.
Mr. Rubin said that the presentation includes two options for integrating the sculpture with its supporting masonry wall—the cantilevered and the nested versions—and also two options for treatment of the wall’s stonework, either horizontal or monolithic in character. In the cantilevered option, the background of the bronze sculpture would be set within the stone, sharing the same back plane; the sculpture’s base would sit on a plinth, with water cascading beneath the base and in front of the plinth. In the nested version, the background of the sculpture would be placed in front of the stone wall, and the ends of the stone wall would be scored with horizontal striations; water would also cascade in front of the supporting plinth. He said that in both versions, the wall’s west side would have water cascading from the top. Lettering for the west wall’s inscription would be attached with pins that would extend the letters in front of the cascade, so that the cascade would form a background to the words. He said that no specific quotation has been selected yet, but it is intended to be about the resolution and aftermath of the war.
Mr. Rubin described the two options for the stone coursing and color of the sculpture wall. The two coursing treatments include horizontally laid blocks, approximately six inches high, recalling the horizontal coursing used for the park’s terraces and stairs, or treating the masonry wall as a massive monolith composed of large blocks. The two color options include the light granite already present throughout the park, or the darker Dakota Mahogany granite that is used for some elements of the Pershing Memorial. He clarified that although the presentation images depicts the horizontal treatment with the lighter granite and the monolithic treatment with the darker, either granite color could be used for either coursing option.
Mr. Rubin then presented the proposed secondary interpretive elements—a belvedere near the center of the site, the Pennsylvania Avenue planters to the north, an inscription proposed for an east-facing terrace wall, and the flagpole at the northwest. The belvedere would occupy the circular site of the park’s existing kiosk; it would function as a pivot point in the circulation route leading into the park from the north, and also as a point of prospect from which visitors could view the entire park and understand its narrative theme. Interpretive information at the belvedere would describe the visible features and might include written text. For the benefit of visitors with visual impairments, the belvedere could also include a small bas-relief of the sculpture and, at the center of the belvedere, a relief model of the entire park to aid in understanding its layout.
Mr. Rubin said that for the tree planters along the north Pennsylvania Avenue frontage, the proposal is to change their shape from a stepped configuration to pyramidal, with smooth sloping sides that could carry inscriptions; this design would enable the memorial’s interpretive program to be extended around the site. The flagpole would be located on top of the terrace at the northwest corner of the site, which is proposed to be raised fourteen inches above its existing height. The increased height would improve the visibility prominence of its east-facing retaining wall, which is being considered as the location for the memorial’s primary inscription. This placement would allow the inscription to be visible in relation to the sculpture wall and the contemplative area. The east-facing wall is also a possible location for an access door into a utility space that will be created beneath this terrace; he said that the National Park Service would prefer to have a door instead of a hatch set into the lawn of the terrace, which would require descending a ladder into a dark chamber.
Mr. Rubin described the existing plantings that include elements of the original design by M. Paul Friedberg and the later planting design of Oehme, van Sweden & Associates. In developing a new palette, he consulted with Eric Groft of Oehme, van Sweden; since little of the historic plant material remains, the planting will be rehabilitated with the aim of recalling the former designs. He noted that an arborist has advised removing sixteen trees that are in poor condition. He presented the proposed planting plan, which includes changes in the tree plantings to improve their vigor and longevity. Trees planted on the terraces are arranged on a grid, and the spacing between them would be expanded to between 20 and 22 feet. Existing soils would be rehabilitated or replaced. The proposal would reduce the number of honey locust canopy trees on the terraces from 95 to 61 because the existing soil volume cannot support them all; the number of trees in other areas would also be reduced. Street trees, including willow oak along Pennsylvania Avenue and Northern red oak along 14th and 15th Streets, would be replaced in kind. A specimen copper beech tree once stood just west of the Pershing Memorial; it would be replaced, probably by an American elm because of its high, spreading canopy.
Mr. Rubin said that the new planting plan would feature a white color palette. The existing pink variety of crape myrtle would be replaced with the more vigorous white ‘Natchez’ variety, and white-flowering sweetbay magnolia would take the place of the river birches. Understory plantings would define specific areas. The terraces would be planted with Carex pensylvanica, a sedge with a windblown quality reminiscent of prairie grasses, to introduce an ephemeral quality. Poppies would be planted on the south, with the intent of creating a floral display as iconic as Washington’s Japanese cherry trees. Plantings at the four entrances into the park would be a combination of Carex, white astilbe, and white liriope, with early white snowdrops scattered throughout the site. In summary, Mr. Rubin said that the new plantings would recall the park’s earlier landscape without its cacophony of color: stately fountain grasses would grow beneath white crape myrtle; the planters on the lower plaza would hold sweetbay magnolias underplanted with white liriope; and planters to the north on Pennsylvania Avenue, along with the two chevron-shaped planters, would feature Asian ginger—a robust spreading evergreen—and fall-flowering anemones.
Chairman Powell commended the presentation as comprehensive and informative, and he invited questions and comments from the Commission members. Ms. Gilbert suggested beginning the discussion with the sculpture wall, requesting clarification of the relationship of the sculpted figures to the base. Mr. Rubin confirmed that with either option for the relationship of the sculpture to the supporting wall, the figures would extend forward into space and would engage with the world through their gestures. He said that the end conditions of the sculpture have been resolved so that the end figures would stand on a more substantial base than was previously presented. Ms. Gilbert asked if the design is intended to prevent the bronze from coming into contact with the chemically treated water; Mr. Rubin responded that this is a concern.
Mr. Dunson commented that he finds the model of the alternatives to be very helpful; he had initially preferred the cantilevered option, but the model has convinced him that the nested version would create a firmer ground for the sculpture. He said that in the cantilevered version, the relatively small cascade may detract from the sculpture. Mr. Krieger observed that both alternatives include cascading water beneath the sculpture on the east side; Ms. Gilbert added that in the nested option, the water would not extend around the sides. Mr. Dunson commented that in the cantilevered option, the sculpted figures do not appear to be adequately grounded; he acknowledged that the model may exaggerate this quality more than the actual sculpture would.
Mr. Krieger asked for additional information about the representation of water beneath the sculpture in the model. Mr. Rubin responded that the location of the water beneath the figures is not fixed in either option but could be modified—it could wrap around the base or be removed entirely. He said that in both options, water could be present on the east face; in the cantilevered version, however, it would not need to be there. Ms. Gilbert commented that the model’s use of wood to represent water is confusing; Mr. Krieger agreed that in the cantilevered option it does not resemble water.
Ms. Gilbert observed that a line in the model suggests the presence of a seam between the stone piece below the sculpture and the monumental stone wall behind; Mr. Rubin confirmed that a slight seam would be located between the two stone elements. He added that in the cantilevered option, the supporting stone base beneath the sculpture projects from the stone wall but is recessed slightly behind the base of the sculpture, creating a shadow line. Ms. Gilbert commented that the cantilevered solution is simpler and would highlight the sculpture more effectively by giving it deeper relief, which had always been a goal of the Commission. Mr. Rubin also indicated the treatment of the wall’s west side, noting the slightly differing treatments of the narrow end walls in the two options.
Mr. Krieger said that the model clearly demonstrates that the cantilevered option is superior—he recommended that the cantilever even be increased. He emphasized that the sculpture wall should not resemble a tomb over a burial site; instead, the sculpture should appear almost ethereal, with otherworldly figures floating over the water. In contrast, he said that the west side should look like a tremendous cascade of water pouring over a mountain. He commented that the nested option confuses these images. He urged that the wall not appear too solid, in order to avoid accentuating any resemblance to a tomb; Ms. Gilbert summarized his comment as calling for more bronze, less stone. Mr. Krieger clarified that his recommendation is to exaggerate the difference in style between the two sides: on the west, the wall should be grounded by the cantilever and the waterfall, while on the east, the figures should appear almost like an apparition.
Mr. Rubin summarized the guidance that the supporting plinth in the cantilevered version should be pushed back so that it does not appear to be supporting the cantilever, leaving the expression of water beneath. Mr. Krieger agreed, emphasizing that water is vital to the composition on the wall’s east side. Mr. Rubin expressed concern that this recommended treatment may cause the cascade on the east side to look like merely a shadowed version of the cascade on the west; Mr. Krieger responded that the supporting plinth does not need to be recessed deeply, just far enough to cast a little shadow on the upper part of the waterfall. Chairman Powell and Ms. Gilbert agreed; Ms. Gilbert said that this would give the effect of a veil of water, perhaps suggesting mourning.
Chairman Powell commented that he finds the appearance of the plinth in the cantilevered option to be confusing, because it looks larger than the plinth in the nested option; Mr. Krieger agreed. Mr. Rubin confirmed that the plinth in the cantilevered option would be slightly thicker than in the nested option. Mr. Krieger said that the thinner version would emphasize the floating quality; Mr. Rubin said that the treatment could be adjusted in accordance with the Commission’s preference. Chairman Powell summarized the general consensus of the Commission for the cantilevered option, with a thinner plinth and more cantilever; Ms. Gilbert added that this treatment would reinforce the sense of movement implied in the sculpture.
Mr. Rubin asked the Commission to comment on the preferred type of granite for the sculpture wall: the darker Dakota Mahogany, which would refer to the Pershing Memorial, or the lighter color used for many other elements throughout the park. Ms. Gilbert questioned the legibility of inscriptions on the darker granite; she said that even if the letters for a quotation on the west face of the sculpture wall project in front of the cascade, the issue of whether they would actually be legible with the darker granite behind still needs to be explored. For that reason, she suggested a preference for the lighter granite, while asking the other Commission members to discuss the value of using the darker granite to relate to the Pershing Memorial. Mr. Krieger commented that the supposed visual relationship of the stone to the Pershing Memorial is misleading, because the stone’s treatment and its scale are more important than color. He said that the sculpture wall should have a monolithic appearance, as shown with the darker stone, while the horizontal banding shown in lighter stone would imply human fabrication. Mr. Rubin clarified that either type of granite could be treated in a monolithic way, with large blocks. Mr. Krieger said that either granite color could therefore be acceptable; Ms. Gilbert agreed. Mr. Krieger summarized that the wall’s monumental scale suggests the need for larger stones, and ensuring the quotation’s legibility might suggest the need for the lighter color. Secretary Luebke noted that stone—even lighter stone but particularly a mid-tone or dark color—will always appear darker when it is wet, which would result in only a minor color difference between the lettering and the stone background.
Mr. Rubin said that mockups would be prepared with the proposed stonework printed on paper wrapped around wood forms. Ms. Gilbert noted that the presentation had illustrated two expressions of the cascading water, also called monolithic and horizontal. Mr. Rubin said the choice depends on how the stone of the wall is treated: if it were more monolithic, regardless of stone color, the water would cascade down from the top of the wall; but if the stonework were treated more horizontally, the water might emerge out of different areas of the wall, although water would still cover the wall’s entire face.
Mr. Powell expressed a preference for the Dakota Mahogany granite because of its reference to the Pershing Memorial, and he asked if it would be hewn in large blocks. Mr. Rubin said that this is an option, although not illustrated in the presentation. Mr. Powell said that not seeing the full range of color and scale has made the discussion somewhat confusing; he summarized his preference for the darker stone at the larger scale. Mr. Krieger reiterated that color and scale are somewhat independent issues. Mr. Powell and Mr. Dunson agreed that the darker granite would be more compatible with the bronze sculpture than the lighter stone. Mr. Krieger said that this perception may depend on whether the sculpture can appear to float while the fountain looks grounded; Mr. Powell and Mr. Dunson said they would be open to studying this preference further.
Mr. Rubin asked the Commission for comments on the proposed belvedere at the kiosk site. He clarified that only a limited amount of information would be displayed here on a small number of interpretive panels; the text would direct a visitor’s attention to certain aspects of the memorial and to the more distant views. Ms. Gilbert expressed support for the bas-relief panel to assist people with limited vision, and she asked if the project team is consulting with experts in universal design to ensure consideration of all types of impediments that visitors might have. Mr. Rubin responded that such ongoing consultation has resulted in the introduction of features such as the bas-relief model.
Ms. Gilbert asked if any special treatment for the ground plane is proposed for the belvedere, such as special paving or defining the entire circle. Mr. Rubin said that this had been explored in an earlier version but the design has gradually been simplified, and now the primary idea is the extension of the Pennsylvania Avenue pavers to the belvedere to suggest that circulation continues to the point where visitors are introduced to the entire park. However, he offered to explore demarcating the belvedere with a circle of paving.
Mr. Krieger said that the Commission has previously considered whether too many inscriptions might dissipate the impact of a memorial; for example, he questioned whether visitors read all the quotations on the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. He suggested consideration of how many inscriptions are needed to make a powerful memorial experience, and when they simply become too many words to be remembered. Ms. Gilbert added that another question might be deciding the best location for an inscription to be effective.
Mr. Krieger also questioned the proposal to redesign the Pennsylvania Avenue tree planters as surfaces for inscriptions. Ms. Gilbert commented that if they are changed from a stepped form to a smooth-sided pyramidal shape, they would look like a row of tombs and would detract from the beauty of the stepped terraces on the north. Mr. Krieger questioned whether this change is only being proposed to provide a surface for inscriptions, and he suggested that repairing the existing planters might be a better choice. Ms. Gilbert suggested that the plantings could cascade down the sides of the existing planters, as originally intended.
Mr. Dunson observed that the park design already has enough places for inscriptions, and the tree planters would be an odd location for more; he added that inscriptions here would be discordant with the park’s character as a whole. He emphasized that fewer words would be better, and the existing stepped form is clearly better than the proposed pyramidal form. Mr. Krieger said that he tentatively agrees, but if the project team returns with a program of quotations that includes several to be located on the Pennsylvania Avenue planters, he might reconsider this guidance.
Ms. Gilbert said that the proposed adaptation of the park’s three-part diagram—belvedere, sculpture wall, and Pershing Memorial—impresses her as a good framework for the narrative: standing at the belvedere, a visitor would understand how the site works and where to go. She acknowledged that the project team may have been trying to identify all possible locations for inscriptions, but now the narrative needs to be defined. Mr. Rubin responded that they had been tried to identify the most powerful locations.
Ms. Gilbert commented that the subdued, beautiful memorial planting palette based on white flowers is excellent; she commended the selection of carex in particular. She said that the revised grid of trees would read more clearly, and with healthier trees, while the fact that it is wider will not be noticeable; she also observed that there will not be as much grass to mow. Mr. Powell supported her comments.
Secretary Luebke noted the potential issue of the east-facing retaining wall of the northwest terrace that requires some direction from the Commission. This wall would be slightly higher than the others, and the proposal calls for the park’s primary inscription to be located here; but the National Park Service would like a door to the planned underground utility space, to be located either in this wall or in the adjacent south-facing wall. He said that the staff is concerned that no good location for this door exists on either wall. Mr. Krieger observed that if the east-facing wall will have the most important inscription, then placing a door on this wall would not be desirable, even if it is located as far from the inscription as possible. He added that the success of adding a door would depend on how it is detailed. Ms. Gilbert agreed, recommending that any door should be flush with the stone plane. Mr. Krieger commented that a visitor descending into the park’s central area will not want to see a door in this location. If the utility space cannot be entered from above via a hatch, he said that a door in the south-facing wall to the side of the main inscription wall would be acceptable. Mr. Dunson asked the height of the wall; Mr. Rubin said it would be seven feet high. Mr. Dunson agreed with Mr. Krieger that this is the only location that might work for a door.
Chairman Powell summarized that the presentation was effective, and the Commission has provided helpful guidance. Mr. Krieger noted the Commission’s anticipation of the next iteration of the design. The discussion concluded without a formal action.
2. CFA 18/OCT/18-2, Franklin Park (Reservation 9), bounded by 13th, 14th, I, and K Streets, NW. Rehabilitation of park. Revised concept. (Previous: CFA 17/JUL/14-2.) Mr. Lindstrom introduced the revised concept design for the rehabilitation of Franklin Park, previously reviewed by the Commission in July 2014; he said that the basic design remains generally the same, although many details have changed. He noted that the design team now includes David Rubin Land Collective and Studios Architecture, and he asked Peter May of the National Park Service (NPS) to begin the presentation.
Mr. May said that this complex project is a partnership between the NPS and the D.C. Government. He added that the change in the design team was primarily the result of contracting issues, not of any dissatisfaction with the original designer, and the NPS is pleased to have the new team advancing the design. He introduced Ashton Allan of Studios Architecture and landscape architect David Rubin to present the project.
Mr. Rubin said that the project provides an important opportunity to improve a valuable civic space where a wide variety of people can meet. He noted an existing Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) that has stipulated some requirements for the new plan. He described Franklin Park’s existing conditions as somewhat degraded through heavy use, and he said the submission proposes improvements to make it resilient for the next century. He described the park’s surrounding area as primarily occupied by commercial structures, with hotels and residential uses nearby; the historic Franklin School building, currently under renovation, stands to the east. The park lies several blocks northeast of the White House, and historically it was the site of an open field with springs that supplied water to the White House and other federal buildings. A picturesque landscape was installed on the site in the mid-nineteenth century, inspired by the work of Andrew Jackson Downing, with a circular fountain basin in the center marking the presence of the springs. The park’s current landscape results from a redesign in 1931 as a more formal, symmetrical Beaux-Arts composition; the central focus remains a fountain in a paved plaza.
Mr. Rubin said that the project team is working with the 2014 master plan for Franklin Park, based on ideas of engagement, programming, and economic support; the vision takes a bold approach to improvements for this park that will serve a diverse group of visitors. The heavily used site has greatly compacted soils; improvements will require the rehabilitation of soils and plantings, along with renovation of site furnishings. Existing social trails, which both reflect and influence the movement of people through the park, will be considered in a revised circulation system. Extensive regrading and the elimination of a few short flights of stairs will provide barrier-free access throughout the park. He noted that D.C. regulations for water reclamation require the excavation and redistribution of soils; the regrading will affect much of the park, with water being captured at the park’s low point at the southwest.
Mr. Rubin said that the existing dense tree canopy includes significant mature trees, but because the condition of many trees is poor, as is the overall age distribution, the plan will establish a reinvigorated successional canopy of mixed shade and understory trees. Cutting selected trees and adding new plantings will redistribute the age groups; the intent is to allow for succession so the park will always be composed of both young and mature trees. Street trees will be grouped together to take advantage of the renewed soils.
Mr. Rubin said that the MOA calls for keeping the existing lights and benches, although it recommends considering certain modifications to the benches; the proposal is therefore to redesign the bench backs for greater comfort. The existing lightpoles are a type that is still in production, and the rehabilitation project will explore whether WiFi infrastructure can be integrated into the poles and if a longer-lasting type of lamp is available.
Mr. Rubin described the proposed changes for the park’s southern area along I Street, including a new café pavilion, an adjoining deck extending into a rain garden, and a small plaza for programming. He noted that I Street is a busy traffic corridor with several bus stops along the park; bus shelters and additional benches would be installed, along with new lay-bys for double-length buses. The café pavilion is sited and designed to respect the major views toward the fountain. The deck would extend from its east end, appearing to float among the herbaceous plantings of the rain garden; visitors would be brought to the edge of the park’s stormwater management area. The deck and the pavilion’s green roof would be visible when looking south from the park’s central plaza. A new broad, curving path would be constructed along the park’s southern edge.
Mr. Rubin noted the historic evidence of ponding on the site; a reservoir was apparently located at its low point toward the southwest corner. The project team is working with civil engineers to compartmentalize the water catchments and define the areas to be excavated for collecting stormwater. The topographic profile of the regraded park would allow water to percolate, and major depressions in the ground plane would be planted as rain gardens. The east lawn would be regraded with a two-percent slope rising gradually to the flat elevation of the central plaza. A garden would be created in the northeast part of the park; this was originally intended as a children’s garden, but it has been reimagined as a garden for all ages that provides areas for physical play and exploration.
Mr. Allan presented the architectural design for the café pavilion. He said that the most important visual characteristic of Franklin Park is its tree canopy, and the pavilion is designed to support views of this canopy. He noted the historic precedent for having a building in Franklin Park: a gardener’s lodge was built in 1880 just west of the central plaza and, in 1913, a new lodge was built at the east with restrooms and storage space. The new café pavilion would recall the scale of the 1913 lodge. It would provide indoor and outdoor seating, offering an alternative dining experience to nearby food trucks on 13th Street. The small roof extending over the new pavilion would be relatively simple, intended to evoke the tree canopy. The pavilion’s glazed walls are intended to evoke the site’s hydrological history and the pavilion’s location on the site of the reservoir; they will be 14 feet high at the front and 16 feet high at the entrance, lower than the park’s highest point in its northeast corner. He added that a person standing along the park’s north edge would primarily see the pavilion’s green roof and wooden deck. Other proposed materials also recall the park’s materials palette: stone to suggest the paving of the plaza, and metal supports similar to the cast-iron elements of the park furnishings.
Mr. Allan said that the building’s simple plan would be slightly inflected to reconcile the linearity of I Street with the park’s curvilinear geometries; this union of straight and canted volumes is intended to focus the design’s energy toward the park’s central axis while acknowledging I Street as an important urban corridor. The pavilion’s curved edges suggest its subordinate role, and its asymmetric location respects the axis of the park’s Beaux-Arts spatial organization. The front facade along with the elevated deck and rain garden would create a strong street edge, emphasizing the importance of I Street. A gender-neutral restroom with individual stalls is being considered, aligning with the vision of a universally accessible and progressive park. Funds generated by the café would support park programs and events.
Mr. Rubin indicated the Beaux-Arts statue of Commodore John Barry located in the center of the west edge of the park, along 14th Street, and the expansive lawn area east of the statue that would be used for larger programmed events. He presented illustrations of different seating and tent configurations that would be possible on the west lawn; 500 people could sit on the lawn or at tables. Other spaces around the park could be used for smaller gatherings: the new sloped lawn on the east would be appropriate for neighborhood events such as movie screenings, and events could also be held near the pavilion.
Noting the daily presence of food trucks along 13th Street, Mr. Rubin said that the narrow, ten-foot-wide sidewalk on the east would be doubled to twenty feet, allowing the sidewalk to function more like a plaza; the street trees would be repositioned toward the park side of the sidewalk, away from the food trucks on the street. Throughout the park, a rolled concrete curb would be used; this standard design feature for D.C. parks would vary in height, supporting benches at some locations and providing flexibility in the grading to achieve sufficiently shallow slopes for barrier-free access. The east lawn would be regraded, creating an overlook into the park supported by a retaining wall.
Mr. Rubin said that one of the major changes to the park is the redesign of the central plaza, including the rehabilitation or redesign of the deteriorated fountain. The existing fountain is an oval sandstone bowl, with a high coping and a broad apron; small pipes emerge from each of two large fountain jet structures, and water from each pipe rises to the height of a foot or more. The fountain takes up much of the space on the plaza, forcing people to walk around it; in cold weather, when the fountain is not running, it creates more of an obstacle than an attraction.
Mr. Rubin said that options for the fountain's redesign have been discussed with various review agencies and assessed in relation to the MOA, which stipulates that a new fountain should reflect the existing fountain’s general character and retain its shape while replacing the coping with an outward-facing bench. Both the MOA and the D.C. Historic Preservation Office call for the fountain to remain the park’s focus. The MOA also calls for expanding the central plaza by removing the surrounding oval of eight trees; he said that the design team’s preference is to plant four new trees on the plaza to mark its corners and provide a balance of sun and shade, although this has not yet been agreed to. He described some general criteria for the design of the fountain: it should provide a visually compelling display of water; its scale should be appropriate for the reconfigured plaza; seating should be oriented toward the fountain; and both fountain and plaza should provide programmable space.
Mr. Rubin said that numerous options for the fountain have been developed, and he concluded the presentation with a series of illustrations of different design approaches. Most of the options explore redesigning the fountain and plaza in ways that respect the history while making this area universally accessible; these options would allow the plaza to be used for programming whenever the fountain is turned off. The first option proposes rebuilding the existing fountain in its current form. He said the depth of the fountain bowl is about sixteen to eighteen inches, a concern because it encourages people to wade or play in the water; if the current fountain bowl remains, a sign prohibiting swimming may be required. Option 2 would remove the apron, replacing it with an outward-facing bench and surrounding the fountain with water jets that would shoot directly from the plaza back into the bowl; he said that this option addresses the desire to have people engage with the water. Option 3 would create a raised fountain bed, from which the water could flow over the coping. Option 4 would keep the existing coping but slice through it in places, creating six-foot-wide openings; the bowl would be removed so that the interior would be at the same level as the plaza, and visitors on foot or in wheelchairs would be able to move directly in and out. Option 5 would recall the shape of the existing fountain by marking its historic shape with paving and by relocating the coping outward, perhaps allowing people to sit along one edge facing the interior but maintaining gaps for people to move through; this option would allow a larger fountain and greater public engagement. Option 6 would also recall the historic fountain in its shape, but the coping would be repositioned outward on all sides; the four large tree planters would be removed to provide enough room on the plaza for programs. Option 7 would remove the coping on the east and west sides. Option 8 proposes removing the coping entirely and using jets of water to recall the historic outline, reimagining the fountain as a splash pool on a single ground plane. Option 9 would be an oval splash pool with no basin.
Mr. Krieger observed that Option 2 proposes having water jets soar into the center from outside the fountain bowl, which would incorporate a bench; Ms. Gilbert commented that a person sitting on the bench would get soaked. She observed that the plaza itself would be larger in option 6; Mr. Rubin responded that this would be achieved by removing the eight large trees in four planter beds that frame the plaza, changing the scale of the space. Mr. Krieger noted that option 6 achieves more of the desired attributes than the other options, as outlined in the presented chart. Ms. Gilbert and Mr. Krieger said that they are intrigued by the idea of breaking the fountain open to allow people to walk into the center.
Mr. Powell noted that a contemporary fountain is the central feature of the sculpture garden at the National Gallery of Art, where he serves as director. He said that this fountain has successfully fostered public interaction in the garden, and for this reason he supports Option 6 as the most compelling. Ms. Gilbert observed that scale is also an important factor: a new fountain in Franklin Park should be larger than the existing, and new trees should be planted at the enlarged plaza to provide shade. Mr. Rubin responded that the project team anticipates that probably four trees would be planted to give shade and dappled light.
Ms. Gilbert asked whether the options with no coping would be inconsistent with the MOA. Mr. Rubin acknowledged that these options would not be allowed, but it has been included in the presentation to explore every possibility; Ms. Gilbert agreed that seeing the range of options is helpful. Mr. Dunson summarized that the versions without any coping are Options 7, 8, and 9, and because of the MOA these are precluded. Mr. May responded that these options have been shown because the NPS is trying to sort through all possibilities. He added that the NPS, along with the D.C. government and the design team, has not yet been able to settle on a single preferred concept for the fountain. He said that while the presentation has emphasized the MOA, several of the concepts under discussion raise concerns for the NPS, and many NPS staff members do not support Option 6. Mr. Krieger asked the reason for this viewpoint; Mr. May responded that many on the NPS staff are preservationists at heart and believe the original fountain, with its coping and apron, is a beautiful design which should be maintained as an object, perhaps with a modified bowl. He also acknowledged the possibility of other ways to incorporate water that would engage visitors; he said this feedback from the Commission has been helpful, and it is not the intent to have the Commission pick one preferred option.
Ms. Gilbert commented that option 9 may not be allowable, but it provides an interesting point to begin the discussion because it raises questions of how people could enter the fountain space and how the water could be designed to encourage interaction. She observed that some remnant of the historic fountain may be needed, although the existing fountain is too small for the space; Mr. May agreed that once the inner ring of eight trees is removed, the historic fountain will seem too small for the plaza. Ms. Gilbert noted that the redesign is intended to encourage people to gather in the plaza, where many events will be held, and she suggested defining the plaza’s primary purpose. Mr. Rubin responded that the fountain itself needs to be a dynamic, dramatic focus for the renovated park; Ms. Gilbert likened the fountain to a wellspring.
Mr. Krieger commented that a strict historic preservation approach may suggest allowing the fountain to remain and continue to deteriorate; he said that this approach should actually be considered. He observed that most of the presented options both preserve and create—preserve the fountain’s general shape but enlarge it for people to enter, or keep details of the coping in a rebuilt form. In general, most options would preserve the fountain’s concept but not its deteriorating materials. He commented that preservation advocates should reassess their goals; the idea that the fountain should retain its exact shape is not what he believes is the essential goal of preservation.
Ms. Gilbert agreed that such a preservation approach would prioritize the object before all other values, including the landscape as a whole. She said that the brilliance of expanding the central plaza lies in its layering of the picturesque design with the formal Beaux-Arts design, with modern needs overlaid on both. She commended the proposal’s success in keeping the large views open while also creating play space on the east side and designating an area in the west lawn for large events; she characterized this as smart preservation, and she said that the thinking about the fountain could similarly be opened up. Mr. Krieger suggested that if the fountain were no longer a fountain, or were shaped like an octagon, or lacked a coping, then it could be said that the design tradition is not being respected; but the proposed options are actually adaptations of the historic fountain for the 21st century.
Mr. Dunson suggested that Option 6 may fulfill the proposed goals; Mr. Krieger agreed that it does somewhat. Mr. Dunson said that Options 6 through 9 would all become dead spots when the fountain is turned off, although Option 6 would somewhat mitigate this problem. He added that considering how fountains are used today, reconstructing a historic design is too nostalgic an approach.
Ms. Gilbert asked if the fountain would have to be completely rebuilt; Mr. Rubin responded that it would. Mr. Krieger said that this is where he agrees with the preservation sensibility: Options 8 and 9 would have water in the middle. Mr. Dunson commented that these have a character typical of a theme park. Mr. Krieger said that Options 4, 5, and 6 would retain many of the characteristics and much of the ambiance of the existing fountain without literally replicating it, which he emphasized is a smart approach; Mr. Dunson agreed. Ms. Gilbert observed that experiencing a dynamic new fountain like these might actually encourage visitors to reflect on the origin of its shape; she emphasized that the fountain should act as a magnet for visitors. Mr. May said that this is the philosophy underlying the entire redesign of Franklin Park; he added that with a strict preservation solution, the NPS would not undertake most of the options that are being presented.
Mr. Rubin asked for comments on the proposals for the café pavilion and the new garden. Ms. Gilbert suggested giving the café the historic name of “The Lodge”; Mr. Rubin and Mr. Allan expressed enthusiasm for this idea. Ms. Gilbert observed that two different kinds of railings were shown in the pavilion’s design. Mr. Rubin responded that this detail is still being developed, although the MOA stipulates using the same kind of fence as at the Barry sculpture, if a fence is needed; this detail will be presented at a later time. Ms. Gilbert said that the rolled curb is a good detail; she asked how high and how wide the benches would be. Mr. Rubin responded that this is also still being designed, but the idea is that the profile of this continuous concrete element would vary in response to particular conditions—elevated, shaped, and broadened to create seating and to serve as cheek walls along steps. He added that the design goal is to develop a vocabulary of concrete curbs and benches that can be used seamlessly throughout the park.
Ms. Gilbert commended the idea of an overlook area, and the experience it would provide for visitors; she asked if a similar experience would be created at the corner entrances to the park, where canopy trees are now located. She also observed that the heavily treed park now presents the visual experience of being an entire block of green; she asked if this impression would be maintained in some areas. Mr. Rubin responded that understory trees would probably be added, and that ceremonial thresholds may be created with plantings at the corner entrances, similar to other public parks such as Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square.
Chairman Powell summarized the consensus to approve the revised concept, with the understanding that the next submission will include further details of the proposal. Upon a second by Mr. Krieger, the Commission adopted this action.
3. CFA 18/OCT/18-3, Kennedy Center Pedestrian/Bicycle Trail, Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway, NW, between Virginia Avenue and the Constitution Avenue Belvedere. Access and safety improvements, and roadway rehabilitation. Final. (Previous: CFA 19/JUL/18-3.) Mr. Fox introduced the proposed final design for improvements to the pedestrian and cyclist trail along the Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway in the vicinity of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, as well as improvements to the Belvedere at the historic Potomac River terminus of Constitution Avenue. The proposal is intended to improve pedestrian and cyclist access, accessibility, and safety; the improvements include widening and resurfacing the trail, and creating a new passage for the trail through the east abutment of the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge to replace the existing trail alignment alongside traffic in the parkway’s passage through the abutment. He noted the Commission’s approval of the concept in July 2018, recommending the alignment alternative with the trail having a perpendicular approach to the new passage. Additional recommendations included differentiating the asphalt bike trail at the Belvedere from the historic walks, and strengthening the Belvedere’s relationship with the Constitution Avenue axis. He asked Peter May of the National Park Service to begin the presentation.
Mr. May said that this project, although modest in scope, is important for the National Park Service: the improvements to the trail and the Belvedere are intended as the initial stages of a larger project to improve the roads and pedestrian circulation in this area. He introduced project manager Steve Zeender of Stantec to present the proposal.
Mr. Zeender summarized the revisions to the proposal based on the Commission’s previous review. The earlier design marked the original configuration of the roadway within the Belvedere with a stone edge; this detail has been revised. In addition, the project now considers the broader context of the Belvedere and its connection with Constitution Avenue, resulting in revisions to the proposed paving materials and plantings. He noted the Commission’s previous support for Alignment 2 for the trail’s approach to the abutment, and Option B for a rectangular shaping of the passage portals, with recommendations to make the passage wider than the trail, to carefully detail the portals’ lintels, and to study further the trail’s connections with the pedestrian bridge spanning the parkway, a Kennedy Center project that is currently under construction.
Mr. Zeender presented photographs of existing conditions of the areas planned for improvements. He indicated the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge’s access ramps that now interrupt the historic connection between Constitution Avenue and the Belvedere; the narrow sidewalk for the trail alongside the vehicular roadway passing through the bridge abutment; and the problematic alignment of the intersection of this roadway with the approach road to Arlington Memorial Bridge, resulting in undesirable engineering and safety conditions. The proposal would create a more conventional T-shaped intersection of these two roads, slowing traffic by requiring a sharper turn onto the approach road. The pedestrian crossing of the approach road would also be moved closer to the intersection, a more conventional location that would improve safety by increasing the visibility of people in the crosswalk. The pedestrian circulation would split into two alignments at the Belvedere: the existing exposed-aggregate concrete walk that highlights the historic configuration, located at the river’s edge on the western and southern sides of the Belvedere; and a new asphalt path that continues the recreation trail alongside the roadways to the north and east sides of the Belvedere.
Mr. Zeender said that the design for the Belvedere no longer includes the raised planting bed that was intended to mark the abandoned turnaround at the Constitution Avenue terminus. He presented two new options for the reconfiguration of the Belvedere: in Option 1, the central area would be left as an open lawn; in Option 2, which is preferred by the National Park Service, the lawn would be supplemented by smooth at-grade pavers in a large circle that would demarcate the location of the former turnaround. In both options, existing elm trees would be supplemented with new trees to line the western and southern sides of the Belvedere. Daffodils would be planted within the lawn area beneath and adjacent to the new trees, further reinforcing the western and southern edges of the lawn. He presented a context plan illustrating the existing allée of trees to the east, along the south edge of the historical alignment of Constitution Avenue. He said that although this allée is not within the project scope, the new trees proposed for the southern edge of the Belvedere would continue a portion of the allée; he suggested that other improvements to the allée could be addressed in future projects.
Mr. Zeender presented the proposed connections between the recreation trail and the Kennedy Center pedestrian bridge. He noted that any opportunity for changes to the design of these connections is very limited because the bridge is already under construction. Because the pedestrian bridge will be completed before the trail realignment to the proposed new passage, an interim solution is necessary to connect the pedestrian bridge to the trail’s existing alignment that uses the parkway’s passage; he presented the interim proposal for a temporary asphalt landing at the south end of the pedestrian bridge ramp that would mediate the connection between the bridge and the trail. When the new trail passage through the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge abutment is completed, the asphalt landing would be replaced by a more permanent concrete landing, and the stubs of the existing trail alignment would be removed. He added that this concrete landing could potentially accommodate a bike rack and a space for people to gather.
Mr. Zeender then presented the treatment of the trail passage through the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge. The revised interior width would be fourteen feet—two feet wider than the trail—to provide a more comfortable experience for cyclists moving through the passage. Noting the Commission’s previous preference for Alignment 2, he presented four options for the detailing of the passage portals with this alignment:
- Option B1 calls for a chamfered treatment of the stone lintel with regularly spaced joints, similar to the treatment of the nearby vehicular bridge portal.
- Option B2 would have a slab lintel paired with rounded sides of the opening.
- Option B3 calls for stacked stone with a projecting frame.
- Option B4 would have a chamfered opening, and joints aligned with the abutment’s existing stone facing.
He noted that the D.C. Department of Transportation, which has jurisdiction over the bridge, requested that salvage stone not be used for the new opening. The proposal is therefore to obtain new stone from the original granite quarry in Mount Airy, North Carolina. The intention is to blend the new stone with the old, likely by toothing in the new stone and cleaning or restoring the existing stone.
Mr. Zeender concluded by presenting two options for the lighting within the passage. Option 1 calls for low-profile LED fixtures mounted in a continuous fashion to the interior of the passage; however, this option could potentially attract bird nests or debris and impede vertical clearance. Option 2 addresses these concerns by installing regularly spaced, flush-mounted fixtures in the corners of the passage.
Mr. Krieger commented that a section drawing of the recessed lighting in Option 2 would be helpful. Mr. Dunson said that he prefers the recessed lighting, and he asked if the corners of the passage ceiling would be beveled to receive the rectangular fixtures. Mr. Zeender confirmed that where the lighting would be installed, the corners would be beveled at a 45-degree angle; the conduit for the lighting would run behind the wall and would not be visible. Mr. Powell and Ms. Gilbert joined in expressing a preference for Option 2 for the lighting.
Mr. Krieger recommended Alignment 2 with Option B1 for the passage portal, and he commented that detailing the new portal similar to the existing vehicular portal would be desirable if the cost is not a problem; he suggested additional chamfered details, as well as an alignment of the stone joints. Mr. Powell, Mr. Dunson, and Ms. Gilbert also expressed a preference for Alignment 2, Option B1.
Mr. Krieger commented that the transition between the trail and the Kennedy Center pedestrian bridge generally appears well resolved. However, he reiterated a previous concern regarding the speed of cyclists exiting the bridge on the downhill ramp relative to slow-moving pedestrians who may be facing away from the ramp; he suggested further splaying the intersection between the trail and the pedestrian bridge approach to reduce conflicts on the busy trail. Mr. Zeender responded that these transitions are outside the scope of the current project. Ms. Gilbert said that the Commission has expressed concern about these transition areas during previous reviews of the bridge and trail projects, dating back several years; Mr. Dunson agreed. Chairman Powell acknowledged these concerns, but noted Mr. Zeender’s comment regarding the scope of the current project. Secretary Luebke observed that the current proposal simplifies the intersection and establishes a hierarchy, with a more generous merge than in previous designs. Ms. Gilbert commented that this problematic configuration may result in accidents and will subsequently have to be improved.
Ms. Gilbert questioned the proposal to memorialize the former Constitution Avenue turnaround circle with pavers. Mr. May responded that a common practice in National Park Service projects is to preserve the memory of previous designs or structures; for instance, a similar idea was implemented at the circle around the Lincoln Memorial, and the paving marks the former footprint of the Lockkeeper’s House at Constitution Avenue and 17th Street. He said that the center of the Belvedere turnaround was originally designed to be the site of a memorial, not simply a traffic management device, and the site’s potential as a memorial site could still be realized in the future. Mr. Krieger expressed support for this design gesture.
Ms. Gilbert asked for more information about the new trees proposed within the Belvedere. Mr. Zeender confirmed that the proposed elm trees would fill in the gaps between the existing elms, which would help visually extend the existing allée from the east toward the Belvedere and the river.
Chairman Powell summarized the consensus of the Commission to approve the revised concept, with preferences for each of the options presented:
- Option 1 for the treatment of the Belvedere;
- Alignment 2, Option B4, with the chamfered opening and aligned joints, for the treatment of the passage portals through the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge abutment;
- Option 2 using recessed lighting fixtures within the new passage.
Upon a second by Mr. Krieger, the Commission adopted this action.
C. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
CFA 18/OCT/18-4, Metrorail Stations. Digital advertising and signs in Metrorail stations; additional signs in six stations. Final. (Previous: CFA 19/JUL/18-4.) Ms. Batcheler introduced the proposed final submission for the installation of digital advertising and information screens in six Metrorail stations. She noted that the Commission most recently reviewed a proposal for the screens in July 2018 but did not take an action, requesting the presentation of a comprehensive set of principles and parameters to guide the deployment of the digital sign system, as well as the development of a set of location- and function-specific design guidelines. She asked the project team to begin the presentation.
Gus Bauman of the law firm Beveridge & Diamond began the presentation, noting that the requested guidelines for the newly termed “Digital Engagement Program” are part of the current submission. He introduced two representatives from the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA)—Ivo Karadimov, manager of architecture, and Donna Murray, manager of advertising and program development—to present the proposal.
Mr. Karadimov said that the name of the digital advertisement program has been changed to reflect the intention to deploy digital media beyond advertising in order to improve the customer experience within Metrorail stations. The program, which follows a worldwide trend among transit agencies, seeks to integrate a variety of digital displays at locations throughout the Metrorail system. The program would provide a format for more organized and refined information—such as train arrival, wayfinding, and other passenger information—as well as news, arts, events, sports, and other cultural and financial information, along with Wi-Fi access. In the event of an emergency, WMATA would also be able to provide critical information on the new screens. He said that WMATA’s “Art in Transit” program would engage local institutions to develop a program for the arts and cultural component of this new digital initiative, which would help WMATA connect with its passengers and local communities; for instance, a station’s location within a historic district could be promoted on the displays. He said that WMATA is exploring collaborations with outside agencies and organizations such as the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, the Smithsonian Institution, and the National Geographic Society. He emphasized that the ultimate goal is to improve the overall passenger experience.
Mr. Karadimov described the displays that have been installed as a part of project approved by the Commission in 2016 to install digital screens to replace static back-lit advertising boxes located on or along the platforms of certain stations. In total, more than 100 digital screens have been installed across 45 Metrorail stations, with more planned for the future. He said that these displays have resulted in five million dollars of revenue, and the money will help with the operation and maintenance of the Metrorail system. He added that WMATA has a commitment to the jurisdictions in which it operates to produce additional revenue.
Mr. Karadimov presented the proposed Digital Display Guidelines, which he said would ensure that all installations comply with basic organizing principles and are deployed consistently across the system. He said that the guidelines are organized by seven different sizes of displays set against criteria for their placement, such as the screen’s location within a Metrorail station and its minimum distance from certain station architectural elements. He presented images representing the areas where new displays would be installed: escalator walls; mezzanine walls, near fare vending machines and in open areas; passageway portals; and passageway walls. Installations along escalator walls and passageway portals would accommodate a single display size, while the other areas would feature larger LED display arrays. The diagonal dimension of individual LED screens would range from 55 to 75 inches, and would also range in height, width, and depth. Wall-mounted LED displays would be larger in scale and custom-sized depending on space availability, sightlines, and the number of passengers at the station. The minimum distances that would set the location for the screens within these areas, including the minimum distance of a screen in relation to the floor, the ceiling, other displays, adjacent signage, fare gates, and fare vending machines. He concluded by presenting photographic simulations illustrating several potential installation conditions, including the escalator walls; platform parapets; freestanding installations on platforms; mezzanine walls near fare vending machines and in open areas; passageway portals; and passageway walls, which could feature large, custom curving “wallscape” displays.
Chairman Powell expressed appreciation for the additional information provided in the new submission. Ms. Gilbert agreed that the submission is responsive to the Commission’s previous comments. She asked how many screens would be allowed to be placed side-by-side according to the guidelines. Mr. Karadimov responded that the criteria that would determine the locations of screen installations are available space, sightlines, and passenger flow. Mr. Krieger expressed support for the distances between the displays shown in the photo simulation of an escalator passageway installation, but he observed that the minimum distances listed in the guidelines would allow twice the number of screens seen in this simulation, which he said would be too permissive. Mr. Karadimov responded that in this location, the displays would have to be at least three feet above the ground and a half-foot below the ceiling. Mr. Krieger acknowledged these two dimensions, but said that the critical dimension is the proposed minimum horizontal distance of 2.5 feet between displays, which would allow for a potential doubling of screens in certain locations. Mr. Karadimov confirmed that the displays shown in the simulation are five feet apart. Mr. Powell commented that the proposed minimum dimensions would result in “digital overload.” Ms. Gilbert agreed, commenting that Metro riders would not be able to differentiate the information shown on individual screens. Mr. Karadimov said that some advertising vendors have ad campaigns that span multiple screens; in these instances, having displays located close together would be beneficial.
Mr. Dunson said that the proposed dimensions are as tight as they could be, commenting that the more closely spaced displays would apparently be installed primarily in the passageways; a close spacing along the escalator walls would be more difficult because of the vertical rise. For the freestanding displays, Mr. Karadimov confirmed that these would be restricted to the platform level, and their placement would be subject to certain dimensional restrictions.
Chairman Powell reiterated that the proposed final submission is responsive to the Commission’s previous comments, and he offered a motion for approval. Upon a second by Mr. Dunson, the Commission adopted this action.
D. District of Columbia Department of Transportation
CFA 18/OCT/18-5, 10th Street, SW (L’Enfant Plaza), 10th Street promenade median. Interim landscape improvements, planters, and movable furnishings. Concept. Ms. Batcheler introduced the concept design for temporary landscape improvements to the wide median of the 10th Street promenade, extending south from Independence Avenue, SW, to the Benjamin Banneker Overlook. The project is intended to improve the pedestrian experience between the National Mall, the new development under construction and planned at L’Enfant Plaza, and the new District Wharf development along the Southwest waterfront. She asked Michael Vergason of Michael Vergason Landscape Architects to present the design.
Mr. Vergason said that he is representing the International Spy Museum, currently under construction along 10th Street at L’Enfant Plaza, and JBG Smith, the real estate company that owns much of the L’Enfant Plaza complex. These two entities, along with the Southwest Business Improvement District (BID), are helping to fund the project; the BID will manage and maintain the project after its completion. He said that enhancement of pedestrian conditions along the corridor was called for in the Monumental Core Framework Plan of 2009, and the need is further precipitated by the opening in 2017 of the District Wharf, the recent opening of a pedestrian connection between the Wharf and the Banneker Overlook, and the anticipated opening of the Spy Museum.
Mr. Vergason said that the strong and ordered patterning of the existing pedestrian promenade belies the more complex configuration of 10th Street, which is actually composed of several bridge structures and a building roof; the scope of the project is limited to the 39-foot-wide central median and may have only a minimal impact on the below-grade infrastructure. He presented a photograph of the promenade taken shortly after its completion in the 1970s; many of the terraced fountains, a part of I.M. Pei’s original design, have since been covered with unsightly concrete panels. He said that the proposed design is intended to reinforce Pei’s original patterning while improving pedestrian comfort through new seating and plantings.
Mr. Vergason said that the initial enhancements to the northern segment of the promenade, between Independence Avenue and the bridge spanning the railroad tracks, would include installation of custom-designed, five-by-ten-foot rectangular planters that incorporate trees and seating. These planters would be installed over many of the concrete panels, fitting into the modular framework originally established by the disused fountains. The planters would be powder-coated in a medium-warm gray color, with seating surfaces that project into the inner walkway of the median. He said the planters could be moved in and out by forklifts, and they are intended to remain until replaced by a permanent design. The plantings would include ginkgo trees, native groundcover, and spring-flowering bulbs. He said the ginkgoes were selected for of their ability to survive harsh conditions, and they would provide dappled shade and pleasing fall color. Groupings of three or four planters would be placed along each side of the median, with openings positioned to correspond with natural pedestrian crossing points.
Mr. Vergason described the proposal for the southern segment of the promenade, from the Banneker Overlook to immediately south of the Spy Museum, where the fountain cavities in this area have been filled with soil, rather than capped as in the northern segment. The proposal is to replace this existing fill with horticultural soil planted with an array of mostly native and drought-resistant perennial grasses and bulbs in drifts of soft, cool colors; he said the selected species would relate to the recent plantings along the Banneker Overlook stairway. Ms. Gilbert asked about drainage for the planters; Mr. Vergason said that the existing drains within the cavities would be supplemented by an additional layer of drainage fabric.
Mr. Vergason said that these improvements to the northern and southern segments would constitute Phase I of the project. Phase II would improve the shorter middle segment from the bridge across the railroad to just north of the Spy Museum; the remaining segment along the Spy Museum itself is not part of the project. He noted that implementation of Phase II would depend on a full analysis of the bridge and roof structures below the promenade. The proposal includes moveable seating, tables, and umbrellas where the promenade crosses above the railroad tracks on the Maryland Avenue alignment, a location with a diagonal view of the U.S. Capitol. Paired groupings of three planters would be installed immediately to the south, where the promenade spans above D Street.
Mr. Krieger asked for more clarification of the treatment of the promenade segment in front of the Spy Museum. Mr. Vergason reiterated that no improvements are proposed for this segment; he said that an earlier proposal, presented to the Commission in July 2015, was cancelled because of structural and grading issues. He added that the umbrellas proposed for Phase II would be counterweighted, further necessitating a structural analysis. Mr. Krieger asked if an irrigation system would be installed. Mr. Vergason said that the plantings would be watered manually from water supplied by trucks, which could be beneficial because manual watering would allow for regular inspection of the plantings. Mr. Krieger commented that the presented rendering of the planters looking south makes them appear as though they are arranged in a continuous allée; however, the plan illustrates a different condition. Mr. Vergason responded that the intended breaks in the allée of planters may not show clearly in the rendering. He also noted that the seating surfaces would project from the planters, which is a revision from the earlier design shown in the rendering; he said that this revised detail would provide additional planting depth of 24 inches for the trees, although ginkgo trees can survive with less soil volume.
Ms. Gilbert asked how long these temporary improvements are expected to remain. Mr. Vergason said that no timeline is established for their replacement, although he anticipates implementation of a permanent design in five to ten years. Mr. Krieger asked what sort of permanent design could be implemented without completely restructuring 10th Street. Mr. Vergason cited the solution described in the National Capital Planning Commission’s SW Ecodistrict Plan of 2013, which would alter the promenade to accommodate extensive stormwater management; however, he is not optimistic that this is achievable given the structural challenges and the complex process for even temporary alterations. Mr. Krieger commented that temporary could actually mean ten or twenty years, and he asked for more information about the potential lifespan of the ginkgoes; Ms. Gilbert also asked about their potential size. Mr. Vergason responded that the ginkgoes would be installed as 2.5-inch-caliper trees, approximately 12 feet tall, and they could remain in good health for 20 years or more. He added that ginkgoes are usually slow-growing, but they can be coaxed into growing about 1.5 feet per year if planted in an appropriate soil medium. It would take several years for them to provide adequate shade, but the presence of trees would immediately improve the quality of the promenade.
Ms. Gilbert asked if larger sunshades on poles had been considered for the area of the promenade over the Maryland Avenue alignment, commenting that this would provide a larger space for people to gather in shade. Mr. Vergason responded that larger temporary shade structures supported by scaffolding had been considered, but anything larger would require attachment to the bridge structure. He said that the proposed solution is simpler, more flexible, and would not distract from the larger composition of the promenade. Ms. Gilbert asked about the size and portability of the proposed umbrellas; Mr. Vergason said they would be 14 feet square and would be counter-weighted, preventing them from being moved by individuals.
Mr. Dunson asked if future projects would address the full right-of-way of 10th Street beyond the boundaries of the 39-foot-wide central median. Mr. Vergason said that more wide-ranging improvements would be possible; although the scope of this project is limited, the proposed temporary improvements are achievable and would not prevent using other parts of the promenade for activities such as festivals, for which there is great interest.
Chairman Powell expressed appreciation for the inclusion of trees in the design, and he summarized the consensus of the Commission to approve the concept submission. Upon a second by Mr. Krieger, the Commission adopted this action.
E. District of Columbia Department of General Services
CFA 18/OCT/18-6, Hearst Park, 3950 37th Street, NW. New outdoor swimming pool, pool house, and reconstruct tennis courts. Concept. Mr. Lindstrom introduced the concept proposal for alterations to Hearst Park, which includes a new swimming pool and pool house along with reconstructed tennis courts and general rehabilitation. He asked project manager Shahrokh Ghahramani of the D.C. Department of General Services to begin the presentation. Mr. Ghahramani introduced Tom Wheeler of Cox Graae + Spack Architects and landscape architect Bruno Carvalho of CGLA to present the design.
Mr. Wheeler described the context and existing conditions of the 4.4-acre park, which is located a block east of Wisconsin Avenue in the Cleveland Park neighborhood. The campus of Sidwell Friends School is west of the park across 37th Street, facing Wisconsin Avenue; Hearst Elementary School is immediately north of the park, extending to Tilden Street. Quebec Street is at the south edge of the park, and the diagonal of Idaho Avenue forms the park’s southeastern boundary. Along the east edge of the park is a forested area within an unbuilt street right-of-way, with a pedestrian path leading to the residential area further east along Springland Lane. At the center of the park is a playing field that is heavily used by the community; the southern end of the park has three tennis courts that are also heavily used. He said that the topography of the site edges is challenging, with more than twenty feet of grade change leading to the highest edge on the north; the park’s primary entrance is the relatively flat frontage along Idaho Avenue. He noted that the project scope has recently been extended to include the Hearst School playground on the north, although work in this area would be relatively limited, such as adding play equipment and shade structures.
Mr. Wheeler said that the park was constructed in the 1930s, using extensive cut and fill, and it has had intermittent maintenance over the decades. Current problems with the park include deteriorated paths and stormwater management; the project will comply with the D.C. regulatory requirement to retain all stormwater on site, which may address the runoff problems at the homes to the east. He indicated the large willow oak trees that are a distinguishing feature of the park; these would remain, with the exception of one diseased tree that would be removed.
Mr. Wheeler said that the design process has included six community meetings, beginning in May 2016. The project scope includes renovating the field, adding paths and site furniture, providing minimal site lighting in consultation with the community, and adding an outdoor swimming pool and pool house. A dog park had initially been included in the program but has been removed from the project. The proposed site for the pool facility is a portion of the existing area of tennis courts; these would be reconstructed nearby. He said that many locations in the park were considered for the pool; in consultation with the community, the proposed location at the park’s southwest corner was chosen to avoid impacts on the playing field. The selected site also takes advantage of the rising grade westward along Quebec Street and northward along 37th Street, allowing the pool house to be largely below the grade of these edges. The green roof of the pool house would include a small sidewalk-level park at the corner of 37th and Quebec Streets; an entrance pavilion would rise above the roof to provide access to the pool house from 37th Street. He added that the green roof, extending across occupiable and non-occupiable areas, would also contribute to the site’s stormwater management. He said that another advantage of the proposed siting of the pool house is that it can appropriately be placed directly against the 37th Street property line at this location across from the Sidwell Friends School campus, while other edges of the park are facing single-family homes and have an open spatial character; the pool house would be set back from the Quebec Street boundary, where the context includes single-family homes, in order to minimize the impact on the neighborhood.
Mr. Carvalho presented the site design, which he said emphasizes meeting the programmatic needs, protecting the large willow oaks, and minimizing disturbance to the site. He said that the community’s strong attachment to the park is based on a wide range of uses, and the goal is therefore to avoid altering the park beyond a few enhancements. Extensive bioretention would be provided, incorporating some areas that already appear as small lakes within the park. Grade changes would generally be minimal to avoid disturbing the broad critical root zones of the large trees. The large playing field, used primarily for soccer, would be raised to a slightly higher elevation to improve drainage; its permeability would be improved, and it would be surrounded by a new path that would be partially on raised wood decking above the bioretention area. He added that the area of decking could expand to provide a viewing platform on the east side of the playing field.
Mr. Carvalho said that signage on the site would include typical signage from the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR), which operates the park, as well as interpretive signage for the bioretention area. Site furniture, including playground equipment, would similarly be typical of DPR facilities, with high durability. The specification of trees is being coordinated with the Casey Trees organization, with an emphasis on native species and compatibility with the bioretention areas. The varied additional plantings would include groundcover, decorative grasses, and perennials.
Mr. Wheeler provided further details of the proposed architectural features, which he said are inspired by the rich architectural tradition of the Cleveland Park neighborhood. The pool house would have only partial exposure due to its placement within the topography; the visible facades would be extruded aluminum tongue-and-groove siding with wood patterning, along with windows and solar shading in a contemporary style. He noted the intended relationship to the teak siding of a nearby building on the Sidwell Friends campus. The base of the pool house along the pool deck would be ground-faced concrete block. The pool would be fenced, with a segment designed as a green wall. He noted that the project is being designed to achieve an environmental rating of LEED Silver. He presented the compact plan for the pool house, which includes primarily changing rooms and mechanical equipment. A passenger elevator and stairway would connect the main level to the entrance lobby on 37th Street. Chemicals for pool maintenance would be delivered at the upper level along Quebec Street; a service lift would connect the delivery point to the mechanical room on the pool house’s main level. He noted that the submission drawings show a small room enclosing the upper level of the service lift; in response to neighborhood concerns about the appearance of the roofscape, this enclosure has recently been deleted from the project, after concluding that an exposed platform lift at the building’s roof level would be sufficient for deliveries and would be adequately secured by the site fencing along Quebec Street. He concluded with more detailed images of the proposed materials palette.
Ms. Gilbert asked about the design capacity for the pool. Mr. Wheeler responded that the capacity is calculated at 15 square feet of pool surface per person, resulting in a maximum of approximately 250 people, although the standards for the calculation can vary among jurisdictions. He clarified that he is unsure whether the DPR will establish a limit on pool users, but this capacity has been used in planning for project details such as plumbing fixtures and vehicular traffic. Ms. Gilbert asked how parking for the park’s users would be accommodated in this predominantly residential neighborhood. Mr. Wheeler responded that the projection, developed in consultation with the D.C. Department of Transportation, is for a moderate number of additional vehicle trips due to the proposed improvements to the park; a substantial proportion of the park’s users would walk from the neighborhood or arrive by transit, instead of driving. He said that earlier design studies included some options with on-site parking, as well as an on-site service drive, but these features were unworkable in the site design. The solution is therefore to use on-street parking, perhaps including some designated handicapped spaces along 37th Street. Ms. Gilbert clarified that she is not suggesting on-site parking, and she asked about the pool’s operating hours. Mr. Wheeler responded that the pool would only be open during the summer when the adjacent schools are not in session, and the pool would close daily in the early evening. He added that the park is not being designed for night-time use; in accordance with the neighborhood preference, the park would not be lit, aside from safety lighting along a path and general security lighting.
Ms. Gilbert acknowledged that the swimming pool and tennis courts would be fenced, and she asked if the entirety of the park would also be fenced; Mr. Wheeler responded that the park’s edges would be open. Ms. Gilbert asked if dog-walking would be allowed in the park, as suggested by the illustrated sign of park rules. Mr. Wheeler responded that this will be determined by the DPR; a DPR representative in the audience said that dogs would not be permitted on the playing field. Mr. Wheeler acknowledged the wide-ranging current uses of the park; he said that the community concerns have included how these uses would be affected by the proposed improvements. Ms. Gilbert said that the design is successful in keeping the park’s large open space that is so important to the community. Mr. Wheeler noted that earlier siting studies for the swimming pool would have resulted in reducing the size of the playing field or establishing a separate smaller area of the park for community use, but the community’s preference was to keep a full-size playing field while concentrating more intensive uses at the south end of the park.
Ms. Gilbert questioned the purpose of the small rooftop park at the corner of 37th and Quebec Streets. Mr. Wheeler responded that it does not serve to meet an identified need, but arose from the opportunity presented by the relationship of the pool house to the street grading; he added that this corner could instead simply be fenced, without the proposed corner park. He said that the public use of this amenity is uncertain, perhaps serving as a place for passing pedestrians to stop for a conversation. Ms. Gilbert commented that the design of this area would be more interesting and site-specific if it responded to its rooftop position, such as by expressing the roofline instead of having an unrelated circular path configuration. She added that most people reaching this corner park will want to continue down to the large park. Mr. Wheeler agreed, noting that one of the design challenges for the corner park is the potentially different settlement and movement between the building structure and the street sidewalks; this issue could be addressed more easily with a design that defines the edges of the corner park more clearly.
Mr. Krieger asked how people at the corner of 39th and Quebec Streets would reach the main area of the park. Mr. Wheeler indicated a nearby existing outdoor staircase leading down from 39th Street, which would remain alongside the proposed swimming pool site; other entry points are located around the park’s edges. He added that the soil conditions at the park are poor, due to the extensive use of fill; the proposed pool house will require special foundation techniques, and the project generally avoids altering the site’s existing features such as the access stairs. He indicated one entry route leading down from the playground on the north, which will be realigned to meet accessibility requirements. Mr. Krieger asked how people would reach the tennis courts. Mr. Wheeler indicated the proposed entry walk and access gate facing Idaho Avenue; he said that an earlier design oriented the tennis courts’ gate toward the center of the park, but the expectation is that tennis players would likely want to come from the neighborhood directly into the courts. He noted that the park’s sledding hill would be unaffected by these proposals.
Ms. Gilbert suggested further study of the proposed wooden deck, which includes stepped seating with a view of the playing field. She said that the character of this area should be lighter than is conveyed in the presentation drawing, particularly because the rain garden adjoining and beneath the deck would sometimes be dry. Mr. Carvalho agreed that the details and plantings for this area will require further development. Ms. Gilbert suggested that the support posts for the seating be moved inward from the edge so that the deck is overhanging, in order to give a lighter appearance.
Secretary Luebke noted that the presentation of this project was placed on the agenda to allow for community comments, although none are being provided. He said that the project would provide a major public improvement, and the staff supports moving it forward; he added that the Commission may choose to delegate review of the final design to the staff. Chairman Powell suggested a consensus to approve the concept with the comments provided, along with delegation of the final design review. Upon a second by Ms. Gilbert, the Commission adopted this action.
F. United States Mint
Mr. Simon introduced April Stafford of the Mint to present the three submissions of coins and medals.
1. CFA 18/OCT/18-7, 2021 and 2022 Native American $1 Coins. Reverse designs honoring Native American military service (2021) and Ely Parker (2022). Final. (Previous: CFA 15/JUN/17-10.) Mr. Simon noted that the proposed reverses for these one-dollar coins will be paired with the continuing obverse design that features a portrait of Sacagawea. He said that the earlier coins in this Native American series have been in public circulation, and he provided samples for the Commission’s inspection. However, the more recent coins in the series have been produced only as specially finished numismatic items for collectors; he provided a sample of a more recent coin in the series, encased in protective plastic. Similarly, the currently submitted designs for the coins to be issued in 2021 and 2022 will likely not be produced for general circulation.
Ms. Stafford summarized the authorizing legislation for the program of annual reverse designs for the one-dollar coin to honor Native American contributions to the history of the United States. She noted that the annual themes for the coins in this series were initially developed by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, and the design alternatives have been reviewed by the museum, the Mint’s Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) and liaison groups including the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, the Congressional Native American Caucus of the House of Representatives, and the National Congress of American Indians; the presentation includes their multiple preferences and comments. The Mint has also consulted with representatives of the Tonawanda Seneca for the 2022 coin depicting Ely Parker. She noted that the obverse and edge-incused inscriptions would remain as with previous coins in the series; the required inscriptions on the reverse include “United States of America” and the denomination “$1” rendered with the dollar symbol and numeral.
American Indians in the U.S. Military (2021)
Ms. Stafford noted that American Indians have served in the military during all of the nation’s conflicts, beginning with the Revolutionary War; the recognition of their valor has included five Medal of Honor awards for service during World War II, and the American Indians’ participation rate in the U.S. military is higher than for any other U.S. ethnic group. She presented seventeen reverse design alternatives, noting the preferences of the various liaison groups for alternatives #1, 4A, and 9.
Mr. Powell offered support for alternatives #4 and 4A, featuring eagle feathers as a revered symbol of bravery along with a circle of five stars representing the branches of the U.S. armed services; he described this design as the most focused and interesting. Ms. Gilbert suggested consideration of alternative #1, which features a half-length portrait of an American Indian soldier; in the left half of the portrait, the soldier wears a Revolutionary War uniform, while the right half has a present-day uniform. Ms. Stafford noted that the historical continuity is also symbolized by the soldier holding a tomahawk, which is a traditional American Indian weapon that remains in use by the U.S. military. She said that alternative #1 was the second preference of the National Congress of American Indians, while the CCAC’s discussion included concern that the distinct uniforms on each side of the portrait would not be easily legible. Mr. Krieger commented that the portrait in alternative #1 is compelling even if the detail of the uniforms is not recognizable; he offered a preference for this alternative, along with a willingness to support #4.
Mr. Powell questioned whether alternative #1 would be successful at the small scale of the coin. Mr. Krieger said that an amazing amount of detail can be achieved; he indicated the sample coin from this series with a reverse honoring Jim Thorpe in a reasonably legible composition that includes several people. He acknowledged that the portrait in alternative #1 might be perceived as a generic soldier, not necessarily an American Indian; Mr. Dunson suggested alternative #1A as a similar composition that includes the inscription “American Indians in U.S. Military Service” to clarify the coin’s theme.
Ms. Gilbert asked if the Commission members would support a dual recommendation, for an alternative with the double-uniform portrait and an alternative with the feathers. Mr. Powell and Mr. Krieger suggested that the alternative with the feathers be #4, a design with a textured background that would be more clear than alternative #4A, which features an additional circle within the coin’s border; Mr. Krieger commented that the symbolic meaning of the circle is adequately conveyed by the coin’s circular shape and a simple circular border, without needing further emphasis from the additional circle in alternative #4A. Ron Harrigal, the manager of design and production for the Mint, added that the textured background in alternative #4 could be detailed to suggest a hammered finish, and the proof-grade coins could also include a polished finish. He also noted the CCAC’s discussion of relating this coin to the planned National Native American Veterans Memorial inside the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian; the memorial will have a circular form. Ms. Gilbert questioned the artistry of the feathers in the presented drawings; Mr. Harrigal said that more texture could be added, and the saw-tooth form of the edges could be given greater emphasis. He said that two-tone feathers are intended, which could be conveyed more clearly through careful sculpting. Secretary Luebke asked if the five stars would be polished within the composition of feathers. Mr. Harrigal responded that the feasibility of polishing would depend on the level of the stars within the relief layering of the coin, but the complexities of the layering could be reconsidered in the sculpting process. Mr. Krieger and Ms. Gilbert commented that the stars read more clearly against the textured background of alternative #4 than in alternative #4A.
Chairman Powell noted the consensus of the Commission to support alternatives #1A and 4. Mr. Dunson agreed to join in this dual recommendation. Upon a second by Mr. Krieger, the Commission adopted this action.
Ely Parker (2022)
Stafford provided a biographical overview of Ely Parker (1828–1895), a member of the Tonawanda Seneca Nation who learned English and served as a translator for tribal chiefs; at the age of 25, he was formally recognized by the New York governor as the chief representative of the Iroquois. Parker studied law and then civil engineering. While travelling in Illinois, he became a friend of Ulysses S. Grant, who was working as a store clerk; when Grant rose to leadership of the Union army during the Civil War, Parker served as Grant’s military secretary, a role that included drafting the articles of surrender for Robert E. Lee’s Confederate army in April 1865.
Ms. Stafford presented seventeen reverse design alternatives, each featuring a portrait of Parker and various combinations of his English name, his American Indian name, his signature, and his professional titles. She noted the preference of the CCAC for alternative #5 and the preference of the Tonawanda Seneca representatives for #1A, which includes the name of the tribe and a pair of quill pens symbolizing his achievements in the two worlds of the Seneca and the United States. She described the CCAC recommendation to revise alternative #5 by replacing the central inscriptions of Parker’s American Indian and English names, instead using the configuration seen on alternative #14A that includes his signature and the tribe’s name; an additional recommendation was to improve the depiction of the quill pens to be less stylized.
Mr. Krieger and Ms. Gilbert offered support for alternative #11 that features Parker standing alongside a wolf, symbolizing Parker’s Tonawanda Seneca clan; Mr. Krieger suggested adding a quill pen and signature to this design; he also agreed to support alternative #5, the CCAC’s preference. Mr. Dunson offered support for alternatives #1, 1A, and 5; Ms. Gilbert and Mr. Krieger agreed that all of these designs are of interest. Ms. Gilbert said that the symbolic representation of Parker’s two worlds is especially noteworthy, as seen in the two quill pens of alternatives #1 and 1A.
Chairman Powell noted the consensus of the Commission to support alternatives #1A and #5. Upon a second by Mr. Dunson, the Commission adopted this action.
2. CFA 18/OCT/18-8, 2020 Armed Forces Military Medals honoring the Air Force and Coast Guard. Obverse and reverse designs for silver medals. Final. Ms. Stafford described the new program of medals that broadly honor the branches of the U.S. armed forces, supplementing past medals that have commemorated a particular unit, battle, or anniversary date. The design of each medal is intended to convey the military branch’s mission and its role in protecting the nation. Each medal would be produced in silver with a two-inch diameter, and in bronze at two sizes—a larger three-inch version and a smaller 1.5-inch version. She said that the two-inch size of the silver medal would be unprecedented for the Mint, with a thickness that would allow for substantial relief in the design. Ron Harrigal, the manager of design and production for the Mint, clarified how the diameter and thickness of the different versions would compare to the samples of past medals provided to the Commission members. Mr. Krieger commented that the larger sizes would provide sufficient room for a clearly legible design.
U.S. Air Force medal
Ms. Stafford provided a historical overview of the Air Force, as shared with the artists who developed the design alternatives. The origins of the Air Force go back to 1907, and it was established as a separate branch of the military in 1947. Its organizational focus is on the future, and its three core values are “integrity first,” “service before self,” and “excellence in all we do.”
Ms. Stafford presented thirteen alternatives for the obverse and twelve alternatives for the reverse. She noted the preference of the Mint’s Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) for obverse #1 and reverse #4; the CCAC’s further suggestions included removing the inscription “Critical to the Past, Essential to the Future” from the obverse due to its lack of historical basis, and removing the phrase “Est. 1947” and insignia from the reverse, instead using the Air Force logo. She said that the generically depicted face of the pilot in obverse #1, partially obscured by an oxygen mask, could be detailed to avoid suggesting a gender, in accordance with the CCAC’s comments; in comparison, the pilot in the related composition of alternative #1A is likely to be perceived as female. She added that the Air Force’s representatives cited obverse #10 as a strong design, depicting present-day advanced technology and a pilot. She said that the Air Force agreed with the CCAC’s support for reverse #4, depicting an Honor Guard ceremony at the Air Force Memorial, and also cited reverse #5 as a strong design.
Ms. Gilbert supported including the three phrases of the Air Force’s core values, as seen in many of the reverse alternatives including #4. Mr. Krieger questioned whether a portrait is appropriate for the medal’s reverse, or whether a more typical combination is to depict a person on the obverse and some other type of design feature on the reverse. Ms. Stafford responded that for coins, a two-headed configuration is generally avoided, although occasionally a coin will feature some sort of portrait on the reverse, perhaps in a half-length format; but for medals, a combination of portraits is less of a concern, and the primary design goal is to tell a story in an impactful manner using both sides.
Mr. Krieger suggested reverses #6, 8, and 9 as being appropriate for a medal, although not necessarily the most beautiful of the alternatives. Ms. Gilbert commented that these reverses, and others that are similarly limited to a primary symbolic element, have too much blank space. She suggested that the medal’s story include a future-oriented design for the obverse, such as obverse #1 or 1A, paired with reverse #4 that symbolizes commemoration of the past with the Air Force Memorial and the Honor Guard. Mr. Krieger observed that pairing obverse #1A with reverse #4 would have the desirable result of appearing to depict a female on one side and a male on the other. Mr. Powell offered a preference for obverse #1, commenting that the gender-specificity of #1A is unnecessary and that #1 is a better design. He also supported obverse #7, featuring a lightning bolt and a falcon; he said that these are familiar symbols of the Air Force, and would avoid the concern with people’s gender. Ms. Stafford added that the falcon, more closely associated with the Air Force Academy, was substituted for an eagle that was shown in the initial version of this design.
Mr. Krieger suggested using obverse #7 on the medal’s reverse, paired with obverse #1 that strongly conveys Air Force planes in flight; Ms. Stafford said that this combination would be feasible. Ms. Gilbert asked what inscriptions would be included with this pairing; Mr. Dunson recalled the CCAC’s advice to remove the illustrated phrase. Mr. Krieger suggested including the three phrases of the Air Force’s core values along the perimeter of obverse #7, as seen in the composition of reverse #4. Mr. Powell agreed with this inclusion, which he said strengthens his support for using obverse #7 as the reverse design; he summarized the consensus of the Commission to recommend obverse #1 and, for the reverse, a modified version of obverse #7.
U.S. Coast Guard medal
Ms. Stafford provided a summary of the Coast Guard’s history, formed from multiple organizations and services that date back as far as 1790 with the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service. She presented nine alternatives for the obverse design and nine alternatives for the reverse design. She noted the CCAC’s preference for obverse #4B and reverse #9, and the support of Coast Guard representatives for obverses #1 and 3 along with reverses #4 and 9.
Ms. Gilbert expressed support for reverse #9, consistent with the preference of both the CCAC and the Coast Guard representatives. Mr. Powell agreed, and he also supported obverse #4B depicting the bow of a ship cutting through the water. Ms. Gilbert supported obverse #4B as a dramatic composition. Mr. Krieger questioned the effectiveness of the design in obverse #4B, likening the ship’s bow to a drill bit and criticizing the depiction of the ship in the water. Mr. Harrigal described this design as very challenging to execute, particularly with the straight-on view of the bow and the limited potential for relief sculpting on the small 1.5-inch-diameter bronze medal. He acknowledged that the artist may have taken some liberty with the depiction of a ship moving through a wave. Mr. Powell, a U.S. Navy veteran, agreed that the drawing is not accurate; a ship’s bow would not rise as high from the water as shown, and he suggested lowering the bow to improve the design. Secretary Luebke observed that the dynamism of the composition derives from the tilted angle of the ship, but the depiction lacks a horizontal reference, and the angle is therefore arbitrary within the circle of the coin; he suggested the addition of a horizon line to clarify the design. Mr. Powell and Ms. Gilbert said that this may be a helpful revision.
Chairman Powell summarized the consensus of the Commission to recommend obverse #4B, with modifications as discussed, and reverse #9
3. CFA 18/OCT/18-9, 2021 to 2025 American Eagle Platinum Proof Coin Program (five-year series). Initial concepts for obverse designs. Information presentation. (Previous: CFA 15/SEP/16-7, for 2018, 2019, and 2020 issues.) Ms. Stafford described the history of the platinum coin program, which began in 1997 and has used several multi-year thematic groupings for the annual coins. The most recent theme was the Declaration of Independence phrase, “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness,” with a three-year sequence of obverses designed by a single artist and reviewed by the Commission as a complete set to encourage a coordinated relationship among the designs.
Ms. Stafford said that the current submission is an initial presentation of the next thematic grouping to begin in 2021, with obverse designs that represent the five freedoms enumerated in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Artists were invited to prepare a set of designs for at least the first three coins of the five-year series to illustrate a harmonious sequence; some artists provided additional sketches or narratives for the final two coins in the series. The current submission also includes a separate set of design alternatives for the first coin in the series, honoring the freedom of religion, developed without the constraint of illustrating multiple coins in the series. She asked for the Commission’s advice on whether the Mint should focus on further developing designs for the entire series or for the individual coins, in anticipation of a more formal submission in the spring of 2019.
Ms. Stafford provided the Commission with a sample of a slightly smaller coin that approximates the size of the platinum proof coins. She described the required inscriptions and the continuing reverse design that will be common to all coins in the series, depicting an eagle in flight. She presented twelve sets of design alternatives illustrating multiple coins for the series, including several sets that are minor variations of a conceptual approach. She said that these sets were reviewed by the Mint’s Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC), which cited the beauty of some designs but emphasized the greater importance of choosing designs of appropriate dignity for this prestigious program of high-value coins struck from a precious metal. The CCAC encouraged designs that are grounded in the history of the platinum program and have a somewhat classical character, while also conveying a modern sensibility. She said that the CCAC also encouraged using key words from the First Amendment—such as “religion” and “speech”—to identify the freedoms and unify the series. She reported the CCAC’s concluding recommendation to develop sets #1, 5, and 10 for further review.
Ms. Gilbert expressed support for set #10, based on a symbolic botanic theme illustrated by the stages of growth of an oak tree; Mr. Krieger agreed, offering strong support for this set. Noting that set #10 was presented with the first three coins in the five-year series, Secretary Luebke asked how the remaining two coins would continue the theme. Ms. Stafford provided the artist’s description that the fourth coin would depict leaves on branches from multiple types of oak trees, with the inscription “Liberty Spreads,” and the fifth coin would feature a strong, mature oak tree with the inscription “Liberty Endures.” Mr. Krieger described this concept as creative, and Ms. Gilbert commented that the five-year series would successfully develop the thematic idea over time. She emphasized the beauty of the three illustrated coins for set #10; Mr. Powell agreed. Ms. Gilbert added that this design concept is timeless, in contrast to other presented alternatives that include present-day technology such as video cameras and cellular telephones that may appear dated when the coins are issued in future years.
Chairman Powell discouraged further consideration of set #5, commenting that the allegorical concept of the three Graces does not make an interesting design. Mr. Krieger agreed, supporting continued development of the two other sets recommended by the CCAC—sets #1 and 10. Mr. Dunson joined in supporting set #10. Ms. Stafford asked for further comments to assist in developing the designs. Ms. Gilbert questioned the sequence of inscriptions for set #10 that liken liberty to a tree’s life cycle; Mr. Powell agreed that the phrases are strange but perhaps necessary. Mr. Krieger said that the meaning of the oak designs would not be understood without these inscriptions. Ms. Stafford added that the artist intended these phrases to inspire thoughts about the relationship of each freedom to the nation’s history: liberty as a seedling, then growing, blossoming, and bearing fruit through the information disseminated by the press. Ms. Gilbert supported the sequence as an analogy to the tree’s growth and reproduction; Mr. Powell, joined by the other Commission members, concluded that the design elements are appropriate as presented. Ms. Gilbert said that another interesting feature of set #10 is the varying perspective across the series, ranging from the acorns to branches to the entire tree, forming an overall arc for the series.
Ms. Stafford noted the CCAC’s questioning of the focus on the oak tree in set #10, with a comment to consider expanding the concept to include different trees. Ms. Gilbert supported the emphasis on the oak, an important tree for the nation and a symbol of strength. Mr. Powell and Mr. Dunson agreed that the artist’s focus on the oak is appropriate, and they urged the Mint not to follow this suggestion from the CCAC.
Mr. Dunson said that in set #1, the designs for the second and third coins appear strong, but the design for the first coin—freedom of religion—is unclear and needs reconsideration; Mr. Krieger agreed. Mr. Dunson added that if this first coin is improved, then set #1 could be a strong contender against set #10.
Ms. Stafford then presented seventeen additional obverse design alternatives for individual platinum coins, primarily for the first coin representing freedom of religion; she reiterated that these alternatives were developed without a focus on the design sequence for the overall five-year series. She asked for the Commission’s preference for any of these specific coins, and for the relative merits of focusing on a single coin or the multi-year series. Mr. Dunson suggested alternative #14 for further consideration, commenting that the hands in various prayer postures are an effective symbol of the nation’s variety of religions. Ms. Gilbert observed that alternative #15 also uses the symbolism of hands in prayer, using a different design, and could be considered. Mr. Dunson commented that the composition of alternative #15 is not as good, although it has the advantage of a more open character.
Ms. Stafford reiterated the challenge of developing each design carefully while also considering the series of designs as a coherent set. She said that the Mint would return in 2019 with a more refined submission, with a request for a more specific recommendation from the Commission. Ms. Gilbert commented on the beauty of the Breast Cancer Awareness coin, which was provided to the Commission members as a sample. The discussion concluded without a formal action.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 2:49 p.m.
Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA