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 9:09 a.m.
Hon. Edward Dunson
Hon. Liza Gilbert
Hon. Toni Griffin
Hon. Alex Krieger
Hon. Justin Shubow
Thomas E. Luebke, Secretary
Frederick J. Lindstrom, Assistant Secretary
In the absence of Chairman Powell and Vice Chairman Meyer, Mr. Krieger presided through agenda item II.F.2, and Mr. Dunson presided for the remainder of the meeting.
A. Approval of the minutes of the 18 July meeting. Secretary Luebke reported that the minutes of the July meeting were circulated to the Commission members in advance. Upon a motion by Ms. Griffin with second by Ms. Gilbert, the Commission approved the minutes.
B. Dates of next meetings. Mr. Luebke presented the regularly scheduled dates for upcoming Commission meetings, as previously published: 17 October 2019, 21 November 2019, and 16 January 2020. He noted that no meeting is scheduled in December.
C. Donald Beekman Myer, 1937–2019. Mr. Luebke reported the death in August of Donald Beekman Myer, who served as the Assistant Secretary on the Commission staff from 1966 to 1997. He cited Mr. Myer’s work in guiding projects through the review process, including numerous major museums and memorials, and in writing and co-authoring books on Washington’s buildings and bridges. He also noted Mr. Myer’s work after leaving the Commission staff, including service as clerk of the works for the National Cathedral and involvement in numerous professional organizations; in 2004, the D.C. chapter of the American Institute of Architects awarded him its highest honor, the Centennial Medal. Mr. Luebke said that Mr. Myer will be remembered as an effective steward of Washington’s built environment, as a cheerful advocate for architecture and historic preservation, and as a valued colleague and friend. A memorial service will be held at the National Cathedral later in the month.
Mr. Krieger suggested a formal expression of condolences to the family and of the Commission’s appreciation for his contributions. Mr. Luebke offered to send a letter on behalf of the Commission.
D. Award of the National Building Museum’s Vincent Scully Prize to Elizabeth K. Meyer. Mr. Luebke reported that Elizabeth Meyer, the Commission’s vice chairman, has been awarded this year’s Vincent Scully Prize, administered by the National Building Museum. The prize recognizes exemplary practice, scholarship, or criticism in architecture, historic preservation, and urban design. The award jury, chaired by former Commission vice chairman Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, cited Ms. Meyer’s work as embodying the spirit of Vincent Scully through her lecturing, research, writing, and professional and civic responsibilities; the jury described Ms. Meyer’s influential contributions to the theory, interpretation, and criticism of landscape topics, particularly in relation to aesthetics, sustainability, and social impact. Mr. Luebke said that the award will be presented at an event at the National Building Museum in late October, which will include remarks by Ms. Meyer. Mr. Krieger led the Commission in applauding this achievement.
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 the only change to the draft appendix is a revised recommendation for signs at Eastern Market, supporting a newly developed option for a simple sign over the main entrance door and flanking banners. Upon a motion by Ms. Griffin with second by Ms. Gilbert, the Commission approved the revised Government Submissions Consent Calendar.
Appendix II – Shipstead-Luce Act Submissions: Ms. Batcheler said that the Commission received nearly fifty Shipstead-Luce submissions this month, far more than the previous record high number; Mr. Luebke noted that Ms. Batcheler is the only staff member who handles all of this caseload. Ms. Batcheler said that three cases listed on the draft appendix are being held open for review in a future month; these have been removed from the revised appendix (case numbers SL 19-212, 19-219, and 19-235). The favorable recommendations for seven projects are subject to further coordination with the applicants; she requested authorization to finalize these recommendations when the remaining issues are resolved. Upon a motion by Ms. Griffin with second by Ms. Gilbert, the Commission approved the revised Shipstead-Luce Act appendix.
Appendix III – Old Georgetown Act Submissions: Ms. Stevenson reported that the appendix has 33 projects; the only change to the draft appendix is to place one project on hold for further review. Upon a motion by Ms. Griffin with second by Ms. Gilbert, the Commission approved the revised Old Georgetown Act appendix.
At this point, the Commission departed from the order of the agenda to consider items II.E.2, II.E.3, and II.F.1. Secretary Luebke said that the Commission may wish to act on these submissions without presentations.
E. D.C. Department of General Services
2. CFA 19/SEP/19-7, Capitol Hill Montessori School (formerly Logan Elementary School), 215 G Street, NE. Building modernization and additions. Revised concept. (Previous: CFA 18/JUL/19-5.)
3. CFA 19/SEP/19-8, Two Rivers Public Charter School at the Young School Campus, 820 26th Street, NE. New two-story freestanding school building and renovations to the existing Charles Young Elementary School building. Final. (Previous: CFA 18/JUL/19-4.)
F. D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs—Shipstead-Luce Act
1. SL 19-243, The Mills Building, 1700 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW. Building renovation and additions. Revised concept. (Previous: SL 19-152, May 2019.)
Secretary Luebke said that all three of these submissions appear to be responsive to the Commission’s previous comments. Mr. Krieger agreed, noting that the Commission members find the projects to be substantially improved. Upon a motion by Ms. Griffin with second by Ms. Gilbert, the Commission approved the three submissions.
The Commission returned to the order of the agenda with item II.B.1.
B. National Park Service
1. CFA 19/SEP/19-1, National World War I Memorial. Pershing Park, Pennsylvania Avenue between 14th and 15th Streets, NW. New memorial. Final. (Previous: CFA 18/JUL/19-1.) Secretary Luebke introduced the final design for the National World War I Memorial in Pershing Park, submitted on behalf of the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission. He said that this is intended as the final presentation to the Commission on the project’s overall scope, focusing on the remaining questions concerning the details of the sculpture wall, lighting, security, and a tactile model that were approved in concept at the July 2019 meeting with comments. He asked Peter May, associate regional director for lands and planning at the National Capital Region of the National Park Service (NPS), to begin the presentation.
Mr. May first expressed his condolences on the death of Donald Myer, recalling that he had worked closely with Mr. Myer in the late 1980s when, as administrator for the National Building Museum, he had assisted the Commission of Fine Arts in moving to its current office space in the historic Pension Building.
Mr. May said that the National Park Service believes that the design details for the World War I Memorial have been successfully resolved, and the request is therefore for final approval of the project. He introduced Dr. Libby O’Connell of the Centennial Commission to continue the presentation.
Dr. O’Connell said she is honored to once more appear on behalf of the Centennial Commission; she said the design has benefited from the expertise of the Commission of Fine Arts, and the memorial will be visited by both local residents and people from around the world, perpetuating the memory of the World War I generation. She asked landscape architect David Rubin of Land Collective to present the design.
Mr. Rubin thanked the Commission for the opportunity to present a comprehensive overview of the proposal to revitalize Pershing Park as the setting for a new national memorial to World War I. He summarized the significance of its location, on Pennsylvania Avenue one block east of the White House. He noted that the competition had been won by architectural designer Joseph Weishaar, and subsequently the design team has worked with Mr. Weishaar and members of the Centennial Commission to unite this extraordinary new work of art with an extraordinary existing work of art—a long process in which the design team has enjoyed a productive collaboration with the Commission.
Mr. Rubin summarized the park’s existing design. It features the Pershing Memorial, a monument honoring Gen. John J. Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Forces on the Western Front in World War I. Another major element of the park is a pool with a fountain, no longer operational; the pool had served as an ice skating rink in winter. A glass gazebo structure to the northeast is the third major feature within the park, which is sheltered from the adjacent streets by berms on the south, west, and east. He said that the park is currently in a deteriorated condition, with damaged and missing elements; the project seeks to revitalize the park design through the addition of a new civic memorial that will respect the original design. He said the design team has focused on creating a framework that will place the new memorial at the center of concentric rings, which visitors would enter from the surrounding public streets and sidewalks. The framework builds upon the original composition of three main park elements—the Pershing Memorial, the pool, and the gazebo location, which would become a belvedere—to create an environment that will commemorate World War I while also recognizing that many visitors will come here for respite. The design is intended to accommodate a variety of programming for civic events, as well as ceremonies that commemorate the war.
Mr. Rubin commended the contributions of Dr. O’Connell in developing the memorial’s three-tier system of information focused on three subjects: the Great Man, i.e. Pershing, represented by the Pershing Memorial; Everyman, represented by the proposed sculpture wall, titled The Soldier’s Journey; and peace, symbolized by the proposed Peace Fountain on the west side of the sculpture wall. He described these elements in greater detail. Modification of the Pershing Memorial would be limited to improvement of the soil structure in the tree planters and improvements to paving and lighting. The new granite sculpture wall would support a large-scale bronze relief sculpture of human figures depicting the intense emotions experienced by an average soldier moving through the action of the war. Visitors would be able to examine the sculpture closely from a viewing platform located at the center of the reconfigured pool. Previous discussions about the sculptural program had led to the decision to scale the human figures at slightly larger than full size. At the previous review, the Commission provided recommendations for alterations to the plinth and base below the sculpture and to the stone returns flanking its ends, which have been addressed in the current design. The reverse, or west, side of the sculpture wall would feature a cascade, the Peace Fountain, flowing over corrugated granite to create turbulence and sound; a quotation in bronze letters would project in front of the cascade.
Mr. Rubin then described the second tier of elements. Supplementing the existing inscriptions at the Pershing Memorial, new inscriptions would be located in a few strategic positions: the cascade, the exterior of the belvedere, a wall of the northwest berm, and two planters along Pennsylvania Avenue. The belvedere would provide visitors with an overall view of the site while they read related interpretive material. The belvedere’s granite outer wall would feature a list of the war’s major battles; in addition, a large bronze medallion commemorating the Allied victory in World War I would be set in the paving at the center of the belvedere plaza. The south-facing wall of the northwest berm would carry a quotation from President Woodrow Wilson that justified American participation in the war.
Mr. Rubin described a third tier of information on the war and the memorial; this would be digitally accessible via poppy symbols located next to objects within the park. Scanning the symbols with a digital device would lead visitors to a website providing more detailed, regularly updated information on relevant topics. Two types of poppy symbols would be used—one inscribed on stone adjacent to a particular feature, and the other a three-dimensional design on top of a freestanding metal blade.
Mr. Rubin described the site circulation and additional details. The viewing platform for the sculpture would be reached by a low bridge at the east side of the pool. The pool itself would have a quarter-inch deep scrim of water that could be easily drained to create a large area of continuous paving for programs or events. The pool would be surrounded by a two-inch curb and a tactile grooved edge for safe footing. Throughout the park, modifications would be made to improve barrier-free accessibility, such as widening walks and installing handrails. Also to improve accessibility, a tactile model of the site is proposed; the current design moves it to a location closer to the belvedere. A new interpretive wayside presenting the park’s history and its transformation into a memorial would be located along the northern edge of the park.
Mr. Rubin described the proposed lighting that would support the memorial narrative and pedestrian movement; the park would be open continuously, all day and night. Lighting toward the center of the park would be focused on the sculptural elements; the standing figure of Pershing and the sculptural wall would be highlighted with a chiaroscuro effect of subtle shading.
Mr. Rubin presented the proposed new security elements. At three locations—the entrances at the park’s northwest, southwest, and southeast corners—lines of simple metal bollards would be installed. Along Pennsylvania Avenue on the north side of the park, a modified form of the existing planter benches would be used for safety as well as seating, made of Stony Creek granite like the existing benches but distinguished by a rougher surface finish. Other security measures would include cameras integrated into lighting standards in a few strategic locations; their color would match the lighting equipment so they would mostly disappear from view.
Mr. Rubin summarized information about signage. The primary identification sign would be located at the northeast corner, inscribed on the face of the entrance wall; entrances at the three other corners would have signs inscribed on the curbs around the adjacent planting beds. Along the north sidewalk, a panel would be installed to acknowledge those who have contributed to the design of the memorial.
Mr. Rubin presented final details of the planting plan. The design team has worked with an earlier landscape designer for the park, the firm of Oehme, van Sweden, adjusting their planting plan to reflect the loss of original trees and to select new replacement species. The plan retains thornless honey locust on the berms, replaces the major specimen tree with a Jefferson elm, and substitutes a white crape myrtle for the existing pink crape myrtle. Understory plantings for the ground plane would feature Pennsylvania sedge. Seasonal display would emphasize white flowers, with poppies providing a striking, ephemeral two-week bloom on the south end of each side; ginger would provide a year-round green edge to the park perimeter, with fall-flowering anemone. The previous planting in the park’s interior would be simplified to feature fountain grass, and the planters would contain white liriope and Sweetbay magnolias.
Mr. Rubin concluded by thanking the Commission and staff for their collaborative contributions, calling it an extraordinary process for the design team. He also acknowledged the contributions of the Centennial Commission and GWWO Architects.
Mr. Krieger thanked Mr. Rubin for his kind words and agreed that the process has yielded good results. He invited comments from the Commission members.
Ms. Gilbert acknowledged a few particularly important points raised by Mr. Rubin: first, the idea that the memorial will be an extraordinary work of art set within an extraordinary work of art, Pershing Park itself. She emphasized that this has been the underlying context from the beginning of the review process, and the responsiveness of the design team has been of great importance. She said that Mr. Rubin’s discussion of “reviving” the landscape was powerful, because this effort will also make history come alive through the creation of a healthy and sustainable landscape; which will also revitalize the experience of its visitors. She said that the proposed revival of the landscape makes clear that the project team respects this park as a cultural treasure, and the result of this fascinating process has been well worth the lengthy process.
Ms. Griffin agreed with Ms. Gilbert’s comments and also extended her thanks for the collaboration and for the clarification of the conceptual plan. She expressed appreciation for Mr. Rubin’s summary of the process, and she noted that the careful work to resolve the details has been important to the successful realization of the design framework. She asked about a presented image of the belvedere, which appears to depict a reveal along its top surface; she expressed concern that leaves and other debris could collect here. Mr. Rubin explained that this would be a slot to allow water and small materials to flow through; it would also house the indirect lighting. He said the design team is working with the stone fabricator to ensure the slot will work and will remain structurally sound. Ms. Griffin emphasized the importance of regular maintenance to keep this drain functioning.
Ms. Gilbert indicated renderings showing the letters of inscriptions crossing joints in the stone; she asked if the inscriptions could be detailed to avoid this condition. Mr. Rubin assured her that mockups of these inscriptions will be presented to the Commission for review prior to construction.
Mr. Luebke asked if the Commission members are satisfied with the responses to two issues that had arisen in the July 2019 review. The first is the relocation of the tactile model to a position close to the belvedere; he asked Mr. Rubin to provide further explanation for this change. Mr. Rubin responded that the previously proposed location was near but not quite in the existing grove toward the north side of the park; the intention was for the tactile model to be a separate design element from the grove, while having dappled light to preserve the bronze and provide shade for visitors. He said the new location just east of the belvedere would be near other interpretive materials, would be partially shaded, and would allow more visitors to gather around the model.
Mr. Luebke then asked for further explanation of the detailing of the stone base below the sculpture wall. Referring to a plan detail, Mr. Rubin indicated an L-shaped piece that turns to eliminate the need for one joint; the quarter-miter joint at one end would allow the water to come to the edge of the west wall and cascade down over the solid stone. Mr. Krieger called this detail a big improvement. He emphasized that the Commission should see the further development of such construction details because these will be key to the memorial’s long-term success. He summarized his belief that the design for both the park and memorial have been improved through the interaction between the design team and the Commission, and the result speaks well of the design team.
Upon a motion by Ms. Griffin with second by Mr. Krieger, the Commission approved the final design submission for the National World War I Memorial at Pershing Park, subject to review of the requested details and mockups.
2. CFA 19/SEP/19-2, Peace Corps Memorial. Louisiana Avenue at C and First Streets, NW. New memorial. Revised concept. (Previous: CFA 21/MAR/19-2.) Secretary Luebke introduced a proposal submitted by the National Park Service on behalf of the Peace Corps Commemorative Foundation for a new Peace Corps memorial, to be located on Reservation 727, a small triangular park on the northwestern edge of the U.S. Capitol Grounds. He said that in March 2019 the Commission had approved the general concept design while raising concern that the concept was not fully developed. The Commission members had commented on the difficulties posed by the small site, encouraging a more open plan that would enhance pedestrian movement; they also recommended further study of the physical elements—a heavy barrier fence, a blade-like array of pergola fins, and enormous stone hands—to avoid unintended associations that may run counter to the aspirations of the Peace Corps. He said that artist Larry Kirkland and landscape architect Michael Vergason have returned with a revised concept, and he asked Peter May of the National Park Service to begin the presentation.
Mr. May said that the design team has made improvements to the concept design based on the previous comments of the Commission and other stakeholder groups. He introduced Roger Lewis of the Commemorative Foundation to continue the presentation.
Mr. Lewis thanked the Commission for its collaborative review process. He said that the memorial is not meant to specifically honor the Peace Corps itself or the thousands of men and women who have volunteered for service over the years, but is instead intended to honor the idea of the Peace Corps—helping people throughout the world while striving to overcome the many cultural and political barriers that separate people. He described how this aspiration is grounded in fundamental attributes of the American character. The goal is to design an uplifting memorial, one that will be meaningful for many years to come.
Mr. Lewis described the site and context. The park reservation has the character of a triangular traffic island within a large urban landscape. To anchor the site and give it a presence appropriate to its role as a corner of the Capitol Grounds, it needs to operate at two scales: the intimate scale of the elliptical plaza, and the larger urban scale, which requires a vertical element to create visibility for the site. He said this would be the role of the canopy, a floating form that would be visible from a distance to attract people. He asked Mr. Vergason to begin the design presentation.
Mr. Vergason noted that the small triangular reservation is surrounded by roads and busy intersections; it faces a quadrant of the Capitol Grounds to the southeast, with a view to the Robert A. Taft Memorial and Carillon and to the Capitol beyond. He noted the importance of this view, as well as the broad panorama across the site and the views along Louisiana Avenue. The site slopes gently to the southwest at a three-percent grade.
Mr. Vergason said that a tree study determined that five trees are in fair to good condition and recommended three others for removal. He indicated the largest tree, a northern red oak at the center of the site, pointing out the extent of its critical root zone; he said that this tree is past its maturity and is in decline. Four scenarios for its preservation in the landscape plan have been studied. The preferred option would preserve the tree by reducing the size of the memorial’s gathering space or plaza and moving it to the site’s northeast corner; this shift would allow a direct connection to Louisiana Avenue, and one of the arm-shaped benches could be placed parallel to C Street and its intersection with First Street, extending toward a new secondary entrance. He noted that this change would create some awkward relations to the grade and restrict the amount of room available for planting; also, the relocated plaza would still affect the tree’s critical root zone. Even without any disturbance to the site, the northern red oak is likely to enter terminal decline relatively soon, and any further disturbance to the root zone would only hasten the onset of the decline. He said that for these reasons, the design team is reluctant to organize the memorial around this particular tree. Instead, the proposal is to reduce the scale of the plaza by approximately 15 percent from the previous design, decrease the amount of impervious surface, and increase the amount of planting, including deeper planting around the edges of C and First Streets and the new entrance. The shift to the northeast would create an offset, but the asymmetrical composition would relate well to the panoramic view.
Mr. Kirkland presented the project’s sculptural elements. He said that the revised design is both more concise and more open, and the site would be treated as part of the Capitol Grounds. The relocation of the smaller elliptical plaza will work with the existing grading, avoiding the need to build up the topography. The material proposed for the walks has been changed from granite to the exposed aggregate concrete used for walks and hard surfaces throughout the Capitol Grounds. He said that the benches have been designed to invite people to gather in this plaza and converse. Each granite bench would have one end shaped like an abstracted open hand and the other resembling natural rock. The two arm-shaped benches would embrace the plaza space, which would have granite paving featuring a map of the world depicted without political boundaries. The stone has not yet been selected, but Mr. Kirkland emphasized that he wants it to have a strong, natural, distinctive look; it will probably be a veined marble rather than solid white or gray.
Presenting the revised design of the canopy, Mr. Kirkland said that in the previous version, each glass and stainless steel element had been supported on a separate post, and the entire array had resembled an open wall or fence. The Commission had advised making the canopy element more open, and the supports have therefore been reduced in number to seven elliptical columns, widely spaced to permit open views through the site. He said another change is to the color of the glass elements or pieces. Originally, these had progressed from yellow through shades of red into various greens; the palette now focuses on greens and blues, the colors of the earth, sea, and sky. Each piece of glass would have a two-inch-thick stainless-steel rim or support along its top edge, with an LED strip attached to the glass inside the steel support. The glass would become increasingly transparent toward the lower edge. During the day sunlight would shine through the glass, casting color onto the plaza, the paving, and the people sitting or walking beneath; the bright, cool, colored light is intended to make this memorial feel like a celebratory space. The elliptical shape of the glass pieces is meant to resemble a leaf. Each piece would be twelve feet long, nine inches high at each end and rising to sixteen inches in the center to create a sense of uplift. These leaves would be suspended from a beam made of a twelve-inch-diameter stainless-steel tube. The canopy would be high enough to be beyond the reach of a tall person standing on one of the benches.
Mr. Kirkland said the varying transparency of the glass would provide a different lighting quality at night. Options for lighting the site to create a welcoming and safe space at night are still under discussion. The aim is for each glass leaf to be illuminated at night; as they are transparent, it should be possible to see through each one to the next. Artificial light hitting each leaf will cause it to glow, compared to the daylight effect of light shining through the transparent part and projecting the color onto the ground or other surfaces.
Mr. Vergason said an asymmetrical composition is being considered, with a swamp white oak placed in the lowest corner of the site at the southwest, surrounded by rain gardens to collect runoff, and perhaps balanced by a black gum tree on the north. Lower plantings would comprise a mix of evergreens, perennials, and deciduous groundcovers, with plantings extending up to eighteen inches in height along Louisiana Avenue and up to thirty-six inches around the north and west sides; the higher trees in combination with the low groundcover should allow uninterrupted views across the site.
Mr. Krieger invited comments from the Commission members. Ms. Gilbert expressed support for the decision to shift the location of the space, but she raised questions about the form of the benches, observing that they appear to be too small. She suggested using a bench along only one side of the space to embrace the angle in a manner similar to the canopy and to emphasize the view toward the Taft Carillon and the Capitol. She asked if the design team has considered using only one bench and how they arrived at the proposed dimensions. Mr. Kirkland responded that original design had three benches, two on one side of the space and one on the other; he noted that the Commission had suggested making the benches smaller, and the staff had advised against giving the benches a high back. He said that the benches are meant to suggest humanity coming together to address world issues; he emphasized the importance of having them embrace the world map and of designing the plaza between them at the right scale so that people sitting on opposite sides can speak to each other across the space as well as converse with those sitting next to them. He said that the benches would have a strong presence on the site, especially when seen from inside the space, and they will invite passersby to enter, while the canopy would provide a gesture addressing the broader context.
Ms. Gilbert asked how the benches would be treated at the ends opposite the hands. Mr. Kirkland responded that when the stone is selected, he will work with it to understand its potential; he added that he is envisioning an image of figures emerging out of rough stone.
Ms. Gilbert observed that if inscriptions are placed on the rear of the benches, then the backs should not be hidden by high plantings; she suggested instead planting some kind of green “cloak” that would be slightly higher at the rear. She asked if any plantings would be higher than the proposed groundcovers; Mr. Vergason responded that plantings would be limited to a height of three feet to maintain eye-level views across the site. The general idea is to have higher plantings on the west and north sides, and somewhat lower plantings toward the front of the site on the southeast. He added that the benches have been scaled to fit the range of uses envisioned for this space. The site is closely surrounded by parked and moving vehicles, and when people sit on the benches the arms would enclose the central plaza space and block views of cars, emphasizing the view toward the Capitol Grounds.
Mr. Lewis said that the Peace Corps had been established to fulfill three goals: to provide technical assistance to people in other countries; to break down the cultural, social, and political barriers that separate people of different countries; and to enable Americans to learn from other people. The hands are meant to express that Americans are prepared to help and also to bring what we have learned back to America. He emphasized that the Commemorative Foundation considers two benches essential because it anticipates that employees of the National Peace Corps Association and other groups will frequently gather here.
Mr. Dunson and Ms. Gilbert asked for further explanation of how the landscape and the canopy would appear. Mr. Kirkland and Mr. Vergason indicated the existing street trees; those in poor condition would be replaced, and an additional street tree may be added. The new trees may include a swamp white oak. Mr. Dunson asked whether additional shrubs would be planted at the rear of the site; Mr. Vergason said the proposal is to plant a mix of deciduous and evergreen grasses, and possibly shrubs, that would grow up to three feet high. Mr. Dunson asked if the plantings would shroud the western edge of the site. Mr. Vergason responded that, with a maximum height of three feet, an unobstructed view would be maintained on this edge; the planting behind the benches may be lower to avoid obscuring inscriptions. Mr. Dunson said that more plantings may be necessary to create this space; he observed that the space as depicted appears to bleed away, which makes the canopy look flimsy.
Mr. Krieger commented that the design is an impressive and ambitious work of art; he finds it visually impressive, and he agreed about the need to consider the design at the scale of both the site and the wider context. However, he said he remains confused about the design’s intellectual rationale and the conflict between the literal and the abstract in its imagery. He acknowledged the design team’s belief that a realistic hand is a good image for the bench, but it begs the question of how to interpret the opposite end: the realistic imagery of the hand suggests that the other end could be seen as a “broken elbow.” He also observed that the large canopy is not actually a canopy because it does not provide shelter; and the oval plaza, which implies embracing, is too large to permit conversation across it. He emphasized that he does not find this juxtaposition of forms convincing, and he is also not convinced that the intellectual underpinning is consistent. He asked the design team not to respond immediately but to think about these issues more carefully.
Mr. Krieger continued that he would also miss the presence of the single large tree near the center of the site. He acknowledged that this particular tree may not survive much longer, but he referred to the ancient notion of people sitting in peace under a single large tree, and he suggested planting a tree that would grow to the scale and grandeur required to create a place where people could sit beneath its spreading canopy in harmony with the built and natural worlds. He said that a tree might suggest where people should sit and why they might gather here. He observed that the architectural canopy is important because it will make the memorial visible from a distance and will draw people to this park, but he questioned its apparent bulk, along with the twelve-foot length of its leaves and the large diameter of the supporting beam; he also questioned the canopy’s durability. He asked the purpose of the central oval, and if it would be the right shape to support the idea of embracing and conversing. While expressing general support for the components, he emphasized that the details and, importantly, the concept still need to be refined.
Ms. Gilbert questioned the proposed shape of the central plaza, suggesting that a more elongated oval might respond better to the shape of the site. Mr. Krieger suggested that the shape could be defined by two different forms, with the canopy at one end and the hands at the other; Ms. Gilbert suggested that the hands might be clasping each other. Mr. Krieger said his comments are meant to encourage the designers to think more rigorously and with greater clarity about this concept, and he cautioned them against being so convinced by the current design.
Ms. Griffin noted that she is seeing the project for the first time, acknowledging that her comments might not be consistent with what was said by the other members at the March 2019 presentation. She agreed with the idea that the site should be situated within the larger context of the Capitol Grounds and with the notion that the project operates at two scales. Indicating a map of the Capitol Grounds, she observed that its landscape typically defines the edge, establishing the grounds as an urban form; while buildings along the perimeter frame the grounds, the landscape elements, particularly the trees, define it. She said that the role of this small site is as an edge to an important landscape, which generally does not rely on vertical built forms; because of this, she said that she has the most difficulty with the element of the canopy.
Ms. Griffin expressed support for the idea of using two benches, one on each side of the central space. She observed that the site is small for the intended program; the distance from the Louisiana Avenue sidewalk to the bench is only about twelve feet. She suggested that instead of shrinking the components, a better approach could be to make the central space larger, allowing more breathing room and letting the design fully occupy the triangle instead of being an insertion that may seem too large or too small. She also agreed with the other Commission members that a more elongated oval geometry may work better within the triangular site, or possibly a different geometry for each half of the space.
Noting that the design team is still considering whether to place inscriptions on the rear of the benches, Ms. Griffin questioned how people would approach to read these: would visitors be encouraged to walk over the lawn, or would the benches be surrounded by paving so that visitors could walk right up to the benches or gather around them during a program? She emphasized that thinking through the program might suggest how to free the concept from being treated as a small gem set within a confined space.
Ms. Griffin said that a more thorough consideration of the program would also allow a different consideration of the role played by the canopy, seeing it not as the alien, artificial element it now appears to be, but instead as a natural part of the composition. She recommended also thinking about how trees could be planted to function as a canopy and to create an edge, a treatment more consistent with the historic landscape of the Capitol Grounds. She emphasized that the proposed canopy looks like an artificial, disconnected edge piece that is not related to the memorial’s story as conveyed by the ensemble of benches and paving. Mr. Krieger commented that a canopy rather than a tree is necessary to draw people to this site; Ms. Griffin said that she has the opposite opinion.
Ms. Griffin said her final comment is about the hand forms of the benches, noting that other Commission members have already commented on the different treatment of each end of the benches. She observed that the renderings suggest the benches will appeal to skateboarders, and she advised careful analysis of how the program can encourage appropriate use and discourage inappropriate use. She recommended thinking more about how the hands could be used to support the narrative—how their ends would be treated, how the hands might join, or whether the two benches should not be identical. She commented that using two different geometries in the plaza might give more latitude to better relate this composition with the site; she said reducing the plaza’s scale has resulted in a struggle between elements and intent.
Mr. Krieger asked how to focus the review so that the project can move forward. Mr. Luebke said that although the Commission had given a general endorsement of the project in March, the action was not a full concept approval in which all the elements—their character, general scale, and relationship to each other—were endorsed; the opportunity remains for change in the concept. He noted that the Commission has supported the basic idea of a plaza with the encircling arms and the canopy; Mr. Krieger said the Commission probably does not want to change its general support nor eliminate the canopy. He observed that when disagreements arise in a design review, it suggests that the design is not quite right. He recommended that the design team think more about the concept and what its elements are doing to achieve the design intent.
Ms. Gilbert said she supports the use of two scales, but she questioned how the two elements of the sitting area and the canopy would work together. She observed that the edge of the site would be defined by the glass canopy, and people would want to be able to walk or sit beneath the canopy and its beautiful colored light. Emphasizing that the two systems should work together, she recommended that the canopy should both define the edge and also move into the site.
Ms. Griffin observed that the design process itself has also been part of the challenge for this project. She recalled that the design for the World War I Memorial had evolved from a similar situation to its successful conclusion through a process of conversations in its reviews; this collaborative process also helped the Commission to understand the program and design concept. She said the Commission is now suggesting ways to deepen the collaboration among artist, architect, and landscape architect to better integrate the Peace Corps Memorial design. Mr. Krieger agreed, adding that the World War I Memorial had involved adding a new thing to an existing historical landscape, while with the Peace Corps Memorial the entire design is happening at once. He agreed that the elements of the current Peace Corps design appear unrelated, and he supported encouraging the design team to think harder about how the canopy, trees, and curving benches could work in unison.
Mr. Luebke noted that this submission is a revised concept, which does not require an action; the numerous comments from today’s review will be sent to the applicant to inform the next cycle of the design process. He observed from the review that the revised concept clearly needs more development.
Mr. Lewis objected that the project team is receiving conflicting directions. He said that the National Park Service and the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) want the site to remain open and visible from all directions, which is why no wall is proposed on the north and west sides. Mr. Krieger acknowledged that omitting such a wall results in a better design.
Mr. Dunson suggested adjusting the areas of landscape and paving to encourage people to use more of the site. He agreed that the site should be considered part of the larger Capitol Grounds, which is held together by its landscape. He questioned whether the design proposes the correct amount of planting, or if the landscape might prevent people from approaching the park from all directions. He asked how the planting and hardscape could accommodate visitors wanting to read inscriptions on the rear of the benches, and if visitors approach these across grass or paving. He also commented that the vertical and horizontal elements are not working together, although he does not advise creating more verticality by raising the height of the canopy or by adding an edge wall. He observed that moving the location of the site’s largest tree has provided more options for shifting the position of the plaza; he suggested enlarging the plaza and moving it closer to an edge to encourage people to enter.
Mr. Kirkland responded that both the Commission staff and NCPC have directed the design team to reduce the size of the paved area and to add more plantings. Indicating the five-foot north-south change in elevation across the site, he said that placing the paved space in the proposed location would avoid fighting this grade change. He noted that the first concept design had proposed a hedge along First Street because few pedestrians walk along First and C Streets, but this was rejected because it would not allow views or entrance from those edges. He also noted that the text for the rear of the benches would probably be limited to identifying information, such as “Peace Corps 1961,” while longer inscriptions would be presented on the front side of the benches.
Indicating photographs of the general location, Mr. Krieger agreed that the area has plentiful green space. He noted the presence of many mature trees in the area, and he said that hedges would not add anything to the design; trees would be more effective in establishing a sense of connectivity to the wider context of open space. He emphasized that the fundamental conceptual problem for him is the relation between the trees, the plaza, and the canopy. Mr. Lewis responded that, from the beginning, Mr. Kirkland has talked about the need to create a sense of journey to reach the oval, even though the journey would be short. He said the design has two contrasting compositional elements that are juxtaposed without necessarily being tied together, and he insisted that it is too late in the process to start over.
Ms. Griffin offered a summary of the discussion and next steps, inviting her colleagues to clarify any of the points. She said that various comments had been given about how to resolve the design of the hands in the benches, noting that the Commission still supports this imagery. The Commission has discussed the role of trees and their relation to other elements; the relation of hardscape to softscape; and the relation of these conditions to the benches and the approach to inscriptions. She noted that the Commission members have not reached consensus on the creation of low or visual barriers along the site’s edges, and that they have discussed but did not reach agreement about whether the proposed benches are too big or too small. She also noted the discussion about whether the two sides of the paved space should have the same or different curving geometries, and whether modifying the shape could help resolve other aspects of the design.
Ms. Griffin said the last issue is the canopy. She said she does not believe the proposed canopy design is successful because its location, scale, materials, and construction appear foreign to the central part of design. Mr. Krieger disagreed; Ms. Griffin acknowledged this viewpoint and said she is including the canopy in her summary because it is the biggest point of disagreement among the members. She said the Commission can stand by its previous approval, but she had not been present for that review and wants her opinion to be on the record. She said in some renderings the canopy looks like it would be more appropriate in a residential neighborhood, while in others it appears to be referencing the Metro entrance canopies. She emphasized that the canopy does not feel connected to the story told by the central composition of the sculptural benches and map; if the Commission supports having the canopy as an element other than just to define the memorial’s location, further study of the design is necessary to address these issues. Mr. Shubow agreed with Ms. Griffin’s comments about the canopy, although he supported the proposals for the paved area and for the benches.
Referring again to the review process for the World War I Memorial, Mr. Krieger said the many and seemingly contradictory opinions had inspired that project’s design team to restudy the proposal; some components were adjusted, and others were defended more clearly to the Commission’s satisfaction. Likewise, the Commission’s wide-ranging comments on the Peace Corps Memorial may result in further design revisions; alternatively, a stronger, more clear presentation could convince the Commission to support elements of the design. He said a completely different shape for the canopy or the plaza may not be required but further study is necessary because, in spite of different opinions, the Commission’s consensus is that the proposal is not yet coherent.
Ms. Griffin asked if the designers have sufficient guidance from the review. Mr. Kirkland said they have received opinions from the Architect of the Capitol, the National Park Service, NCPC, and the Commission members and its staff, and they will continue to work on the design. He acknowledged the difficulty of reconciling so many differing opinions, and he said that more specific direction in the forthcoming letter would be helpful. Mr. Lewis thanked the Commission for its comments and expressed appreciation for the comparison to the World War I Memorial’s review process. He said that the design team is convinced that its parti is the right approach but looks forward to considering the comments. Mr. Krieger emphasized that the design team needs to clarify its concept and convey why the design needs to have the canopy, the oval, and the particular arrangement of trees; he said this would not require a major transformation of the concept design.
Mr. Dunson commented that the most important element of the project is the ground plane; whether or not the canopy and the sculpture are integrated, they must complement each other, and the benches cannot stand alone as a sculpture on the ground plane. He said the ground plane is also related to the shape and location of the paved gathering space or plaza; the plaza’s location will affect where people enter, and it may also affect the extent of the landscape. He said the issue with the canopy is more a question of placement and less about whether to eliminate it. He observed that the canopy almost recalls a row of trees in form; he added that the line of real trees should be at the site’s edge instead of the canopy. He said the Commission’s comments complement more than they contradict each other, and they could help integrate and improve this design.
Ms. Gilbert said the important thing is the conversation between the canopy and the other elements. She emphasized the need to make the canopy integral to the design; if it is not integral, it should be eliminated. She commented that the canopy is now a perimeter edge but it needs to be incorporated into the space. If it is, it will provide a feeling of treelike shade and color, and it will sing; otherwise, the design would have two different systems, side by side. Ms. Griffin observed that the Commission’s request for more clarity is primarily directed at the canopy; most members believe that the canopy should be smaller, that it may need to be moved for better integration or conversation among the pieces, and that the design team needs to defend or change its location.
Mr. Lewis said that the elliptical plaza in the previous concept submission had been axially centered in the site, and the ellipse and canopy had an overlapping symmetry; he asked if that design was closer to what the Commission wants. Mr. Krieger said he is looking for more of a metaphorical relationship; the design team has presented an argument for the benches, the hands, and the paved space, but it has not presented a convincing argument for the canopy and whether it should be integrated with or juxtaposed against the rest of the composition. He said the Commission does not necessarily want a spatial redirection but seeks additional conceptual reasoning, supported by the design, about why the canopy has a necessary function other than drawing visitors to this small site. He said the Commission looks forward to seeing the next revised concept. The discussion concluded without a formal action.
3. CFA 19/SEP/19-3, Korean War Veterans Memorial. West Potomac Park, French Drive and Independence Avenue, SW (southeast of the Lincoln Memorial). Modifications to the memorial for a Wall of Remembrance. Concept. Secretary Luebke introduced the third case from the National Park Service, a concept design for a new Wall of Remembrance at the Korean War Veterans Memorial, submitted on behalf of the Korean War Veterans Memorial Foundation. He said that in October 2016, Congress authorized the Memorial Foundation to construct a wall at the memorial that will be inscribed with the names of all members of the U.S. Armed Forces who died in the Korean War—36,574 names in all, including members of the American military killed in action and 7,900 service members missing in action. He asked Peter May of the National Park Service to begin the presentation.
Mr. May said the congressional directive to add this new element to the long-established memorial posed a daunting design challenge, but the design team, led by architect Mary Kay Lanzillotta of Hartman-Cox Architects, has developed a successful solution. He asked Ms. Lanzillotta to present the design.
Ms. Lanzillotta said that the existing memorial, built twenty-five years ago on a site southeast of the Lincoln Memorial, is composed of two main elements: a triangular Field of Service, featuring large sculptures of walking soldiers, leading to a circular Pool of Remembrance at the triangle’s apex. The northern edge of the Field of Service is defined by a curb dedicated to the United Nations, and the south edge is bounded by a stone wall bearing a photographic mural of soldiers; the Pool of Remembrance is surrounded by a plaza with two concentric rings of littleleaf linden trees. She said that after a quarter-century, the memorial now has a mature landscape; the hundreds of thousands of visitors over the years have resulted in ongoing maintenance challenges, which will also be addressed in this project.
Ms. Lanzillotta said that the design process for a long list of names begins with analyzing the amount of surface area required. To determine this, the design team examined the inscriptions of names at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, and concluded that the optimal configuration is 7/16-inch-high letters arranged in tabular columns with a 4’-11” height. She displayed a stone sample of the proposed lettering along with a full-scale cardboard mockup of a segment of the proposed wall.
Ms. Lanzillotta said that the design team explored a variety of alternative configurations for adding the Wall of Remembrance, concluding that a simple low wall embracing the Pool of Remembrance and its plaza would best fulfill the project’s objectives to respect and reinforce the original design. She described the site’s broader topography, indicating the slight rise of the land from Ash Road on the east, from Independence Avenue on the south, and from the west; this rise would be slightly increased to form a berm behind the new wall, so that when the memorial is viewed from nearby areas of West Potomac Park, the wall would be barely visible. She added that some interpretive information about the war may be engraved on the south side of the existing mural wall.
Ms. Lanzillotta noted that two social trails have developed over the years, during a period of dramatic expansion of the nearby memorial landscape through the addition of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial to the southeast and the World War II Memorial to the east; in order to walk among these memorials, people often climb over the post-and-chain barrier surrounding the Pool of Remembrance plaza at the Korean War Veterans Memorial. She said the current proposal acknowledges the need for these circulation routes by the addition of new, tertiary paths radiating from the Pool of Remembrance. The primary circulation route for visiting the memorial will still begin at the west, and visitors will still be able to walk through the memorial as they do now; the project will reinforce the original design and its circulation pattern, while also allowing for alternative routes.
Ms. Lanzillotta presented plan and section drawings of the proposed grade changes, the circulation pattern, and the location of the new wall outside the bosque of linden trees. To improve accessibility, the paving outside the outer ring of trees would be widened and changed to a larger paver; she confirmed for Ms. Griffin that the new paving would match the existing paving along the field.
Ms. Lanzillotta concluded by describing the proposed wall in greater detail. It would be made of Academy Black granite, the same material used for the memorial’s existing walls; she presented a sample and said that the surface may be polished to highlight the names. The proposal is to organize the names by service and then by rank, a different grouping than used at other national memorials in Washington. She noted that the wall would be angled in section, resulting in a height of less than four feet above the adjacent plaza, so it would have only minimal impact on existing views to and from the memorial beneath the tree limbs. She added that the design team is mindful that this memorial is located in a historic district.
Mr. Krieger and Ms. Gilbert asked for clarification of how the ends of the new wall would meet the existing features of the memorial. Ms. Lanzillotta responded that the Wall of Remembrance would touch the south side of the mural wall, using a stone joint without a gap; she confirmed for Mr. Krieger that this would be a caulked joint. At the corresponding location on the north side of the Field of Service, a gap would be left between the new wall and the U.N. curb to allow visitors to walk onto the lawn, which is used for many commemorative events. Ms. Gilbert asked if the design team has considered leaving a gap at the intersection with the mural walls. Ms. Lanzillotta said that this was among the options studied, but the conclusion was that a gap might look odder than engaging the walls; she said that this could be restudied. Mr. Krieger commented that having the walls meet so abruptly would appear more odd; Ms. Gilbert agreed. Ms. Lanzillotta said that a frame would be added along the top of the new wall to hold downlighting, and this frame could run vertically down the juncture to create a physical separation between the two walls. Mr. Krieger clarified that the Commission is not suggesting the introduction of a gap to imply the presence of a path; the concern is that the two walls should be understood as two different elements. He asked if the Commission would see this detail when it is developed; Ms. Lanzillotta agreed it would be presented.
Ms. Gilbert asked about the white stripe shown on a rendering along the back of the mural wall. Ms. Lanzillotta responded that it depicts an existing mow strip of black cobbles, placed four across, to protect the wall from being damaged by lawn-mowing equipment; the same cobble design for a mow strip would be used at the edge of the berm behind the top of the Wall of Remembrance. She added that the original construction of the memorial used fiber optic lights, including some that shine on the rear of the mural wall; the twenty-five-year old system is not performing satisfactorily, and all of it would be replaced with LED lighting.
Ms. Gilbert commented that the concept had been well thought out and relates well to the existing conditions. Mr. Krieger strongly commended the design, aside from the details discussed; he said that the proposal to rationalize the topography into a berm on the outside of the new wall would reinforce the whole design from a distance and would make the broader area around the Lincoln Memorial appear more coherent. Ms. Griffin joined in supporting the proposal, expressing appreciation for the clear design analysis and for its inclusion in the package of materials; she also agreed that the intersection between the new and existing walls needs further study.
Mr. Shubow asked what font is proposed for the names. Ms. Lanzillotta responded that the intent is to use the same font as used for the existing memorial; however, the original stonework company has no record of the font used, and three graphic designers consulted could not agree in identifying it. She clarified that the font used in the presentation renderings to illustrate the names is “Gill Sans.” Mr. Luebke suggested checking the Commission’s project file at the National Archives for possible clarification of the original font specification.
Mr. Krieger commented that the equal treatment of the names on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is quite moving. In contrast, the proposed listing of names on the proposed wall seems strange in its reinforcement of the hierarchy of the armed services, and he asked how this decision had been made; he added that the death of a person of higher rank should be no more important than the death of a person of lower rank. Col. Rick Dean, vice chairman of the Korean War Veterans Memorial Foundation, responded that a previous chairman of the Memorial Foundation had wanted the list to dramatize the fact that most of those killed were very young enlisted men and not officers. Ms. Griffin acknowledged this context, but she suggested possibly displaying the names horizontally instead of in stacks, disrupting the hierarchy and perhaps accomplishing both aims. Ms. Lanzillotta replied that the design team is continuing to study the best way to display the names. Mr. Krieger asked whether a visitor would need to know a person’s rank to find a name. Ms. Lanzillotta responded that the names may be printed in a printed reference guide, as at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial; she noted that each panel of the wall would have a number or some other designation. Col. Dean added that most families know the branch of service and the rank of their family member, so finding a name should not be difficult, without the need to consult a database or book. Mr. Krieger agreed this reasoning makes sense but suggested considering the matter further.
Upon a motion by Ms. Griffin with second by Ms. Gilbert, the Commission approved the concept design.
C. American Battle Monuments Commission
CFA 19/SEP/19-4, Netherlands American Cemetery, Margraten, Netherlands. New visitor center. Concept. Mr. Lindstrom introduced the concept design for adding a visitor center at the Netherlands American Cemetery, located in the southeast of the Netherlands. He said that this cemetery was established in 1960, and it currently has the remains of more than 8,000 members of the U.S. military who died during World War II; it has become one of the most visited of the U.S. overseas military cemeteries. He asked project manager Karen Wurzberger of the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) to begin the presentation.
Mr. Krieger recalled the Commission’s recent review of a new visitor center at the U.S. military cemetery in the Philippines, and he asked how many of these exist. Ms. Wurzberger responded that the ABMC has responsibility for 26 cemeteries and 30 monuments. The first visitor center dates from 2007 at the cemetery in Normandy, France; the visitor center in the Philippines was the eighth, and the visitor center being presented today will become the ninth.
Ms. Wurzberger described the background of the ABMC and this project. The ABMC was established in 1923, shortly after the end of World War I, as a government agency that oversees U.S. commemorative cemeteries and memorials worldwide. She noted that the ABMC is managing the current project in cooperation with the National Park Service’s Denver Service Center. She introduced the members of the design team, who have travelled from the Netherlands for this presentation: architects Vincent Panhuysen and Bas Barendse of KAAN Architecten, and landscape architect Joost de Natris of Karres en Brands.
Mr. de Natris described the context for the project, located near the southeastern corner of the Netherlands; the borders with Belgium and Germany are relatively close, and somewhat further are France and some of the ABMC’s other cemeteries and memorials. The landscape character of this area is very unlike the flat landscape of Holland in the northern part of the Netherlands, and the topography contributes to the cemetery’s beautiful design. He said that the current design team has carefully studied the cemetery’s existing design in order to choose the best location for the visitor center, which will substitute for the shrinking generation of veterans in telling the story of the cemetery to future visitors. He indicated the cemetery’s location along an ancient Roman road that connects Maastricht and Cologne, noting that this road also had a role in World War II.
Mr. de Natris described the design of the cemetery, organized along two main axes: a formal axis for the cemetery, roughly east–west, that extends through the burial ground to a memorial bell tower and chapel toward the west end; and a less formal cross-axis, roughly north–south, that incorporates the entrance drive at the far western side of the site. The two axes cross at an oval lawn, from which traffic is distributed to drop-off and parking areas. Beyond the cemetery is the agricultural landscape of the Margraten plateau, with fields of crops and orchards. He presented photographs of the existing conditions, noting the cemetery’s large scale, the pristine maintenance of the lawns and hedges, and the thoughtful relationship between built forms and the landscape design. The cemetery also includes artwork and the inscription of a poem that expresses why the cemetery exists and why people visit it; he described this poetic effect as very tangible and moving.
Mr. de Natris described the typical experience of visitors, beginning with the appearance of the bell tower as a distant landmark rising above the trees. The cemetery gate at the historic road introduces the materials and forms of the cemetery, and the long entrance drive establishes the cemetery’s special character of calmness, open spaces among tall trees, and beautiful broad views of the landscape. He said that the effect of this arrival sequence is to prepare the visitor for the story that is told by the cemetery, which is immense and also very personal. The oval lawn ties the arrival sequence to the cemetery’s formal axis, introducing a sense of dignity and symmetry. Adjacent to the oval, two parking lots are symmetrically located to either side of the formal axis; after parking, visitors can walk toward the bell tower and other parts of the cemetery, which has been carefully designed with delicate transitions between spaces. In addition to the vast burial ground with rows of headstones, other features include a chapel and a wall with the names of the missing; he said that members of the local community, some of them several generations removed from World War II, continue to adopt names and graves. Visitors returning toward the parking lots would again pass by the chapel and commemorative names, as the view opens to the landscape beyond the cemetery to the west; he described this exit sequence as helping visitors to absorb their impressions of the cemetery and to internalize the importance of what it communicates.
Mr. de Natris indicated the proposed site of the visitor center, which he said was selected to avoid disrupting the important existing views and circulation patterns of the cemetery. The site would be a clearing among the trees to the south of the oval, slightly hidden within the landscape, and with a visual relationship to the bell tower while still being away from the main axis; he described this as a very respectful location. He said that the landscape interventions for the project include the visitor center site, an approach path, a gathering space in front of it, and slight enlargement of the two parking lots for increased capacity. He said that the larger monumental trees on the site would generally remain; the root zones for two trees would be affected, and these will be studied further, and one small tree would be removed from the visitor center site. The approach path would also affect some root zones, small trees, and small shrubs, but the character-defining larger trees would remain.
Mr. de Natris described the siting and topography in greater detail. The main floor level of the visitor center would be set slightly lower than the surrounding terrain, and the undulating character of the landscape would be respected. The visitor center’s approach path would have a bending alignment as it descends into the terrain; he described its purpose as being similar to the oval in creating a transition space to an entrance area. He summarized that the landscape intervention is intended to be subtle enough that visitors may not even be aware of the alteration.
Mr. Panhuysen presented the architectural proposal for the project. The visitor center is envisioned as a white volume that appears to be hovering 1.5 meters above the ground; this volume would be hollow, defined by a fascia that wraps around the visitor center, in conjunction with a perimeter of glass that separates interior and exterior space. He said that the building would not intrude on the cemetery, but visitors would have framed views of the landscape from throughout the interior space. A square structure in the center of the plan would rise to support the cantilevered roof and fascia, which he likened to a giant mushroom made of exposed poured-in-place concrete. The floor material would be stone with the same color as the local clay. He said that the program for the building is relatively simple; he indicated the entrance, security screening area, lobby, seven display galleries at the perimeter, a theater, and an office for the staff. He indicated the double-height public spaces and a mezzanine containing equipment. Visitors would circulate clockwise around the perimeter galleries, reaching the theater at the halfway point where they could rest while watching an orientation film. The building would be ringed by a 90-centimeter-high retaining wall for the depression of the building into the terrain; he noted that each of the galleries would have an exhibit wall on one side and a full wall of glass on the other, providing views into the landscape above the retaining wall. He presented a section of the visitor center, indicating the beams that would support the fascia, the dropped ceiling for acoustic control, and the retaining wall; he described the interior as a quiet space for the exhibits. He noted the proposed gap between the fascia and the building roof, allowing daylight to reach the area behind the fascia; he described the building as very solid but also light-filled and hovering, set within the tree canopy.
Mr. Panhuysen presented axonometric and perspective views of the building and its setting. He indicated the widening of the approach path to form an exterior plaza adjoining the visitor center entrance; the linear benches along this plaza would have capacity for two busloads of visiting schoolchildren. The materials, in addition to the concrete and the natural stone, would include walnut cladding of the walls within the building core; the intent is to use high-quality materials that would not require painting. He added that the exterior concrete would be constructed in the manner of a solid sculpture, created by small pours of 20 centimeters of concrete per day into a single large mold. He concluded the presentation with a video animation of the proposal.
Mr. Krieger invited comments from the Commission members. Ms. Gilbert expressed appreciation for having the landscape architect lead the presentation, which she said is rare and appropriately reflects the importance of a visitor’s progression through the site. She noted that some people may choose to visit the cemetery without going to the visitor center, or they may want to visit the burial ground first and then go the visitor center afterward. She commented that the proposed location for the visitor center appears to be well chosen, although she questioned its angled siting in relation to the rest of the cemetery design. She described the proposed building as resting lightly on the land, and she said that the views through the landscape would be beautiful.
Mr. Krieger joined in questioning the intended sequence of visiting the cemetery. Mr. Panhuysen responded that the proposal is intended to allow people to choose whether to go to the visitor center; some may visit only the burial ground, or they may visit both areas but could do so in any order. Mr. Krieger asked how a first-time visitor would make this decision, such as through wayfinding or other design signals, perhaps beginning at the entrance gate; Ms. Gilbert added that the guidance may be provided at the parking lots. Ms. Wurzburger responded that some wayfinding signage will likely be provided at the site, likely to be near the entrance gate as well as at the parking lots. She said that the ABMC supports giving visitors a choice of how to experience the site—typically encouraging people to begin at the visitor center, as at the Normandy cemetery, but allowing for repeat visitors who may prefer to go directly to the burial ground, which is especially common at this cemetery which is visited by many nearby residents.
Mr. Shubow asked why the approach path to the visitor center is angular in plan instead of being curved; Mr. Panhuysen responded that one reason is to find an alignment that minimizes the impact on existing trees. Mr. de Natris said that another concern was whether the new interventions should be in the same language as the existing cemetery design, or deliberately different. For the expansion of the parking lots, the intent is to design them in keeping with the original design; but the visitor center is being treated as a clearly different element. Its approach path is similarly intended to be slightly different from the treatment of other paths in the cemetery, resulting in the proposal for an angular alignment that does not blend in with the existing system of roads and paths.
Ms. Griffin described the proposal as quite elegant, noting that her questions are intended as curiosity rather than criticism. She asked about the choice of materials in relation to the existing features of the cemetery, and whether different materials had been considered. She also asked for more information about the visitors, such as the age profile, how many come to this cemetery, and what their needs might be. Mr. Panhuysen responded that this is a very important place for education in the Netherlands: buses of schoolchildren from throughout the country come to this site, and a visit is understood as part of the country’s education system. Another major group of visitors is local residents who have adopted one of the graves; they often gather at the cemetery, and they are hoping to be able to have meetings within the new visitor center. An additional category of visitors is Americans who have a family member buried at this cemetery. Ms. Wurzburger added that this is the ABMC’s second-most-visited cemetery, after Normandy; the number of visitors is estimated to be 200,000 to 300,000 people per year. She said that the majority of the visitors are Dutch, as described by Mr. Panhuysen; the connection with the community is very strong. The ABMC has a program for adopting graves, and this is the only cemetery where all of the graves have been adopted, primarily by nearby residents.
Mr. Krieger asked for further clarification of whether most of the visitors are busloads of schoolchildren, compared to local residents or other types of visitors. He said that this information relates to the proposed entrance sequence. For example, schoolchildren would likely be first-time visitors, and they would walk from their bus to the visitor center; he asked if the design includes a bus parking area or a place for buses to unload. He indicated the places where he expected bus drivers may pull over. If it is a location near the visitor center, then the expected sequence would be convenient; but if the buses go to the parking areas and find them to be full, then the bus unloading may occur far from the visitor center, and the children may simply walk to the burial ground rather than take a back-and-forth route that includes the visitor center. He said that the concern is less important for repeat visitors, who will know where they want to go, but he concluded that the proposed entrance sequence may not be orchestrated well for schoolchildren and other first-time visitors. He noted that this is not intended as a criticism of the design for the visitor center itself, which he described as magnificent.
Mr. de Natris responded by indicating a designated location for drop-off from buses, located near the visitor center. This location could accommodate parking for two buses; additional bus parking could occur along the approach road, which happens currently. He noted that the original design for the cemetery anticipated parking for five to six buses. The cemetery also has two employees who can direct people where to park, advising when the first parking lot is full. He acknowledged the odd situation that visitors continuing to the northern parking lot will drive past the bell tower before parking, then double back to the bell tower and burial ground, but he noted that this sequence is part of the cemetery’s original design. He added that the current design team considered expanding only the first parking lot, so that a greater proportion of visitors would park closer to the visitor center; Mr. Krieger encouraged exploration of this idea. Mr. de Natris said that during peak visitation in the summer, the site has many cars, buses, and also bicycles. Overflow parking for cars is provided on the lawns; overflow parking for bicycles is more challenging, and he indicated the limited area for bicycle racks. He said that the current proposal includes a provision for placing temporary bicycle racks next to the permanent racks, in order to provide an orderly solution to the peak demand for bicycle parking.
Mr. de Natris provided further clarification of the visitor circulation route. He noted that visitors reaching the parking lot, particularly the northern lot, will have seen the visitor center and the bell tower before leaving their vehicle; they will then have the option of walking toward either destination, which he described as an equal choice. He said that the details of the site circulation are still being studied, which may result in some small adjustments.
Ms. Griffin said that she shares the concerns raised by Mr. Krieger, and she said that the description of typical visitor profiles addresses her initial guess that many visitors would be elderly and may have difficulty navigating the site’s pedestrian routes. She supported further study of the site circulation, including traffic management, the back-and-forth route of pedestrians, and potential conflicts between pedestrians, sometimes in large groups, and buses. She noted her earlier question about materials, which Mr. Panhuysen said have been considered very carefully. He described the exterior materials at the memorial space around the bell tower: tiles of natural stone that are assembled in a precise, complex manner. The intent for the visitor center is not to mimic the special quality of the memorial elements, while achieving a calm, humble, and serious character for the building. Natural stone would be best for achieving the desired character, but it would be too closely related to the memorial elements. Concrete was therefore chosen as the best alternative, and pouring it as a large, monolithic structure would eliminate the need for joints, thereby avoiding any reference to the tiles at the memorial space. As a result, the visitor center would have a very serious character while being very different from the memorial elements. The use of natural stone for the ground plane would contribute to the concept of the visitor center site being carved out of the grassy landscape; the stone would be dark gray-brown.
Mr. Shubow and Mr. Krieger asked about the intended finish of the concrete. Mr. Panhuysen said that it would be smooth but not polished, using a high-quality concrete that would not require further treatment of its surface. He added that the layering process for pouring the concrete will take a long time; the consistency of the concrete throughout this process will be monitored carefully, and it will inevitably vary slightly among the layers, which will add liveliness to the concrete surface. He added that the smooth surface, without exposed aggregate, will be the finish on the interior display walls as well as on the exterior.
Mr. Shubow said that his interest in the concrete finish stems from his concern that the visitor center may have the appearance of a wartime bunker, especially when seen from the oval space within the entrance drive: the building will be seen as a heavy mass of concrete with some kind of horizontal opening toward the bottom. He added that visitors may initially feel that they are visiting a battle site rather than a cemetery. He suggested that using stone instead of concrete would help to avoid the resemblance to a bunker. Mr. Panhuysen suggested that the association with a bunker would be acceptable; in addition, the quality and careful finish of the concrete would have a rich, lively effect, compared to a more standard type of concrete that would have a colder character and a closer association with a bunker. He said that the extensive area of light beneath this hovering form would further differentiate it from a bunker. Mr. Krieger added that the potential for momentary confusion of the visitor center with a bunker could be an evocative quality for a military cemetery.
Ms. Gilbert commented that the design creates many beautiful moments where people inside the building will look outward and see only the trunks of the trees in the landscape. This viewing band, approximately five feet high, would provide an interesting perspective of the landscape, especially in comparison to the cemetery’s other landscape views; she described the result as very moving. She also supported the design idea of setting the building slightly below the prevailing grade, giving a sense of being burrowed in but not as deep as a basement, and with plentiful daylight; she concluded that the proposed depth of depression in the landscape is correctly chosen. Mr. Krieger agreed, commenting that many aspects of the building are quite beautiful.
Mr. Krieger provided an additional comment on the site plan. He said that the route from the parking lots to the visitor center would be reasonably clear and beautifully orchestrated, particularly due to the descent of the approach path into the terrain; but the intended route is less clear for people exiting the visitor center to reach the memorial area and the burial ground, requiring navigation around the bicycle parking and other infrastructure. He suggested further consideration of this exit route.
Mr. Krieger commented that the diagrammatic representation of the building in an exploded axonometric drawing is very compelling, conveying the concept of a small wooden box within a concrete structure that is set on top of a stone-paved ground plane. But the more detailed drawings of the visitor center’s interior show wood being used only for furnishings such as bookshelves and desks, not for the walls at the core of the building. He asked if the extent of wood will be as prevalent as suggested by the diagram. Mr. Panhuysen acknowledged that the diagram is more conceptual, not matching the actual design that is proposed. Mr. Krieger emphasized the powerful concept conveyed by the diagram, and he suggested returning to the idea of a small wood box within the concrete shell, instead of just using wood for details. Mr. Panhuysen clarified that although the outer walls of the core would be exposed concrete in the exhibit galleries, all of the public spaces within the core would be surfaced in wood, including the walls, ceiling, and floor. Among these spaces is the theater, where the wood provides acoustic advantages. Mr. Krieger questioned whether this response is consistent with the lack of extensive wood surfaces in the presented images; Mr. Panhuysen clarified that some of the images are of a different building, shown for reference to generally illustrate the desired effect, but the visitor center will have more extensive use of wood for the internal rooms. He said that the purpose of the wood is to soften the character of these internal spaces; Mr. Krieger acknowledged this intent but suggested further study of the detailing.
Ms. Griffin agreed that the diagrammatic drawing is powerful, especially because it depicts the concrete “mushroom” of the fascia hovering in space above the rest of the building, seemingly ungrounded. The actual design, however, supports this concrete form with a core structure of the same material, which diminishes the power of the diagram and reduces the horizontal transparency of the concept. She agreed that further exploration of the use of materials could strengthen the design in accordance with the presented diagram. She and Mr. Krieger emphasized that wood is not used in the places where the diagram suggests its use. Mr. Panhuysen responded that the strength of the diagram may be distracting; the important feature of the visitor center is the sequence of exhibit spaces that wraps around the core, and the introduction of wood in these spaces would detract from the exhibits. Ms. Griffin acknowledged this concern while suggesting the opportunity for improvement, and she reiterated the request for further consideration of the materials; Mr. Panhuysen agreed to consider this advice as the design is developed further.
Ms. Gilbert suggested a consensus to support the proposed siting of the visitor center and approach path. Mr. Krieger said that the approach path is a separate issue, and he reiterated the request for further study of how it functions as people exit the visitor center. Ms. Griffin agreed that the experience of the visitor in moving among the different areas of the cemetery is an important consideration. Ms. Gilbert said that a possible solution could be to add an additional approach path toward the oval space, so that visitors would not be forced to walk alongside the parking lot to reach the visitor center’s approach path; this could be especially useful for visitors arriving by bicycle. Mr. de Natris responded that the desired effect of calmness extends beyond the architecture and landscape design to include limiting the views of activity, including pedestrian activity and the motion of cars and buses; the placement of new paths is therefore deliberately limited, helping to achieve the serene view from the windows encircling the visitor center’s exhibit galleries. Ms. Gilbert accepted this logic. Mr. Krieger said that the circulation nonetheless requires further study, and he suggested that the designers are trapped by the project’s symmetry while insufficiently considering the experience of a person who exits the visitor center. Mr. Panhuysen said that part of the response may be to provide additional photographs of the site as part of the next submission, helping to address the apparent complexity in the site plan diagrams. Mr. Krieger agreed that these issues could be addressed in the next submission, and meanwhile the design team should consider the Commission’s observations.
Mr. Dunson offered a motion to approve the concept with the comments provided, particularly concerning the use of wood and the visitor experience moving from the visitor center to the memorial space. Ms. Gilbert added that the experience on leaving the visitor center should be as beautiful as the approach to it. Upon a second by Ms. Griffin, the Commission adopted this action.
D. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
CFA 19/SEP/19-5, Reporters Building (commercial office structure), 300 7th Street SW. Building renovation, alterations, and additions for Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority headquarters relocation. Revised concept. (Previous: CFA 20/JUN/19-2.) Mr. Lindstrom introduced the revised concept design for alterations to an existing office and retail building to serve as the new headquarters for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA). He noted that the Commission approved the initial concept in June 2019, and today’s revised concept addresses the Commission’s previous comments and concerns. He asked Nia Rubin, the manager of WMATA’s office consolidation program, to begin the presentation.
Ms. Rubin noted that this project is a part of a larger consolidation initiative that includes other buildings in Maryland and Virginia, with the goal of moving WMATA’s workforce into a safer, healthier, and more productive work environment. The initiative would also result in projected savings of $130 million over twenty years and would help in attracting and retaining employees. She said that the design team has made great progress on the concept for 300 7th Street, and she introduced architect Brian Pilot of Studios Architecture to present the design.
Mr. Pilot noted features of the triangular building site and its context that affect the design: the Virginia Avenue railroad viaduct to the north, and grade changes across parts of the site that results in an inhospitable retaining wall at the prominent corner of 7th Street and Virginia Avenue. He indicated the existing parking access, screened loading area, and service core toward the east end of the site; these would be retained, and the service core would be reclad. He noted that the first level of the existing building has a floor-to-floor height of twelve feet, which is not sufficient for current retail needs; much of the first level would be converted to double-height space.
Mr. Pilot said the revised concept addresses the issues raised by the Commission in its approval of the concept in June 2019, which involved the all-glass design of the main entrance lobby, the unclear relationship between the building podium and the office tower above, and the random patterning of the fins on the facade; the Commission also suggested exploration of adding window openings to the metal recladding of the service core on the east. He said that the revised design for the podium further advances the concept of making the base a true podium for the office tower, with the intention of creating a strong civic presence at the street level. The exterior material at the main entrance is now proposed to be stone, and the double-height volume would provide a gracious and modern lobby for employees and visitors. The roof of the podium would include plantings and would be used as terraces. He said that the recesses in the podium, proposed for several places along its perimeter, have been made smaller and are intended to help reinforce the podium’s curvilinear shape; one recess would have seating, and another could potentially serve as a place for artwork. In addition, the site plan has also been revised to be better integrated with the overall design; additional street trees would be planted, and WMATA is working with the Southwest Business Improvement District to help improve and program the small National Park Service reservation at the eastern end of the block. The paving at the main entrance would be the standard scored concrete paving found throughout the District, with the goal of making the private area feel like an extension of public space. While acknowledging the Commission’s past concern about the viability of retail in this location, he cited research that shows a large workday population in the area. The retail spaces are being designed in accordance with modern retail trends; if the retail leasing is not successful, WMATA is committed to using these spaces for other uses such as a WMATA store, a transit museum, or conference space. He noted that the freestanding retail space at the eastern end of the site, adjacent to the National Park Service reservation, would provide a buffer for the building’s loading area and parking access.
Mr. Pilot said that the proposal is to remove the existing precast concrete facade, which does not provide the desired level of interior daylight, and replace it with a glass curtainwall system. The proposed design of the curtainwall has been refined to be more restrained and lightly textured, with more orthogonal projections to provide a counterbalance to the curvilinear shape of the podium. He indicated the existing building core volumes, which would be clad with articulated metal panels intended to convey a sense of movement; windows would also be integrated into their facades. The existing northern building core would be enlarged, allowing for better internal integration of the two halves of each office floor. He summarized that 21 percent of the building enclosure would be clad with stone, 22 percent with metal panels, and 57 percent with glazing.
Ms. Gilbert asked if the exterior building recesses at the podium were included in the first concept design. Mr. Pilot clarified that the previous design had included the recesses; however, they were larger, designed with more solid materials, and had not been programmed. Revisions to the interior program resulted in the current changes to the recesses, and they would now be more connected to the street with more emphasis on their role in the landscape. Ms. Gilbert asked for clarification of the proposed street trees and island areas within the sidewalk. Mr. Pilot responded that street trees would be regularly spaced around the perimeter of the site, and the islands within the sidewalk would be primarily planted along with bench seating. Ms. Gilbert asked for more information on the plan for the adjacent National Park Service reservation; Mr. Pilot said that although this reservation is outside the property line, the project team is beginning discussions with the Southwest Business Improvement District to maintain and program the park.
Ms. Griffin commented that the podium materials appear warm in color, while those of the office tower appear very cool, especially the proposed metal panels; she asked for more information on the intended material palette. Mr. Pilot acknowledged that the renderings suggest that the tower materials have a cooler tone than is intended; he confirmed that the desired effect is a closer relationship between the podium and tower materials, including the vertical elements in the glazing system. He said that the podium would be clad with a textured, warm-toned gray stone, while the vision glass for the lobby space would have a neutral gray tint with gray-colored mullions; this would differ from the retail storefront system. Ms. Griffin recommended refining the renderings to ensure that the intended design is better depicted.
Mr. Krieger expressed support for the metal cladding proposed for the volumes of the vertical cores, but he commented that the office tower now appears more mute; he speculated that this may be the result of subjecting the previous facade design to value engineering. He recalled that the Commission’s previous comments were about the strength of the design idea for the podium compared to that of the office tower, and he said that this advice may have been misinterpreted: the office tower now appears to be a glass box without much texture. He observed that the renderings suggest the use of vision glass throughout the curtainwall system; Mr. Pilot clarified that spandrel glass would be used in horizontal bands along each slab’s existing edge beam, and in vertical bands in front of the columns.
Ms. Griffin agreed that the current curtainwall design appears more regularized than the previous version; she asked for more information on the current design, as well as the reasoning behind the change. Mr. Pilot responded that the articulation of the curtainwall fins has been studied in great detail, and he acknowledged that the design is now more restrained. He noted that the cladding of the vertical cores was revised to be more articulated, resulting in the decision to make the curtainwall glazing less visually prominent. Ms. Griffin asked for a fuller comparison between the previous and current versions. Mr. Pilot confirmed that the strongly projecting vertical fins were not carried over to the current design; he said that the rendering of the previous design iteration better depicts the intended color of the glazing, which is intended to be the same in both versions. Ms. Griffin observed that the irregular fins of the previous design created a texture on the facade that is missing in the current version, although she is not necessarily advocating for them to be reinstated. She said that the revised design for the podium successfully addresses the Commissions comments regarding the podium’s character and civic presence, but the tower now appears to fall flat, especially when compared to the strength of the podium; she acknowledged that the inaccurate depiction in the renderings may also be influencing her perception of the design. Mr. Krieger asked for more information on the intended curtainwall design, particularly regarding the dark horizontal lines shown; Mr. Pilot said that these lines are intended to be horizontal fins.
Mr. Dunson expressed support for the advancement of the podium design. However, for the office tower, he expressed a preference for returning to vertical fins; he said that these would give more distinctiveness to the tower and provide a better balance with the podium. He added that the currently proposed horizontal fins would exaggerate the length of the already long building; the podium is the element in the composition that would be best served by elongating elements, but its curvilinear shape in the current proposal is successful.
Mr. Krieger asked if the proposed projecting fins are decorative or functional. If they are decorative, then one could advocate for a horizontal or vertical orientation based purely on their aesthetic impact on the design; however, considering that the proposal is for a glass tower, the fins should logically be serving a functional purpose, such as for solar shading. If the fins are intended for this purpose, then they should be configured in relation to the solar orientation—vertically in certain areas, and horizontally in other areas. He said that answering this question of functionality versus decoration would help in deciding the number, orientation, and dimensions of the fins in the further development of the design.
Mr. Pilot responded that a similar discussion about the potential functional role of the fins led to their horizontal orientation on the south facade; however, he acknowledged that further study showed that vertical fins would provide better sun shading, especially on the east facade. In addition, the building’s massing is broken down into many faces; because each face would potentially require a fin of different orientation, the result would be a complicated exterior design that would work against the larger concept, and the design team feels that a unified facade is a priority. He added that the deeply projecting fins would need to be much deeper in order to have a meaningful impact on the reduction of solar heat gain. He noted that the proposed shallow fins would simply be attached to the mullions of the curtainwall system.
Ms. Griffin asked for a more detailed description of the proposed facades. Mr. Pilot said that the design of the facades for the building cores has been developed since the previous version, and these would appear highly articulated. He indicated the building masses containing office space to either side of the central core, with the more vertically proportioned mass to the west and the more horizontal mass to the east. He also indicated the different heights and roof levels of the podium, which is intended to have a slight undulation in plan and elevation. Mr. Krieger asked for clarification of the material for the spandrel panels, observing that they appear to be metal in the renderings. Mr. Pilot responded that the spandrel panels would be glass; their appearance in the renderings may be distorted by the shadow lines of the horizontal fins, particularly for the horizontal spandrels, and he noted that the mullions would project slightly from the facade. Mr. Krieger concluded that the renderings are deceptive, and Ms. Griffin agreed that the building articulation appears more horizontal than vertical. Mr. Pilot acknowledged that an emphasis on the horizontal projections is intended in the design. Ms. Griffin said that this horizontal emphasis is negating the expression of any vertical elements on the facade. Mr. Pilot asked if the Commission is expressing a preference for vertical elements. Ms. Griffin asked if this was the original intention of the design team; Mr. Pilot said that the design team would embrace any approach that brings unity to the facade design. Mr. Dunson said that with the modification of this design detail and the success of the podium, the design is close to completion.
Mr. Shubow agreed with the other Commission members that the design of the podium has significantly improved; he also expressed support for the revisions to the tower, and he agreed with Mr. Dunson’s preference for vertical fins. He said that while the revisions to the entrance have improved its civic presence, the rest of the building still appears to be a glassy commercial building that does not have a civic appearance. Mr. Pilot acknowledged that the major office volume is primarily glass, which is intended to bring daylight to the interior and unify the architecture; he reiterated that the volumes of the service core would have more articulation.
Secretary Luebke noted the consensus that the introduction of vertical elements on the vertical core volumes appears successful; he asked if the Commission members are comfortable recommending stronger vertical elements on the glass volumes as well, which would result in the juxtaposition of two facade systems with a vertical emphasis. Mr. Krieger said he is not convinced that returning to vertical fins on the glass facades is the correct decision, and he asked for more information on the design team’s intentions for the character of the office tower; Ms. Griffin agreed that the design appears too indecisive. Mr. Shubow said that he is supportive of the fins regardless of their role as functional or decorative elements.
Mr. Pilot responded that the design team sees the fins as a way to give a more active and lively appearance to the glass facade, with a strong preference for unity in the design regardless of whether horizontal or vertical fins are used; he said that the change from vertical to horizontal is an attempt to address the Commission’s comments regarding the articulation of the facades. He asked Ashton Allan, an architect with Studios, to elaborate further on this issue. Mr. Allan said that some areas of the facade would have a clear horizontal emphasis, and the rectangular grid of the curtainwall could be seen as referencing the iconic pre-cast concrete coffering of Metro’s stations, as well as the strong rectangular grid of WMATA’s current Brutalist-style headquarters building near Judiciary Square. Additionally, the horizontality could be seen as a balancing or mediating element in the composition between the vertical tower and the horizontal base; the vertical elements are also intended to subtly break up the horizontality of the facade. He said that it would be difficult to achieve the depth required for the projecting elements to provide effective sun shading, and that attempting to introduce this type of element would also present technical challenges that would impact the overall architectural expression of the building. He reiterated Mr. Pilot’s response that the design team believes the composition of the curtainwall system will be most successful if it is unified, with the overall goal of making the office tower appear as a textured box that is secondary to the podium and core volumes.
Ms. Griffin expressed support for the goal of unifying the facade design. However, she said the design team seems to be contradicting itself, observing that the presented facade design appears fairly neutral, with neither a strong horizontal nor vertical emphasis. She said that having a prominent horizontal expression on the facades could be a good approach to experiment with, but this is not coming through in the current design, which does not appear as unified as the design team may think; the facades appear instead to be benign grids. She encouraged the architects to make their point of view clearer in the design, and she suggested exploration of an approach that would bring a more decisive texture and boldness to the glass facades; she also agreed with Mr. Krieger that value engineering may be affecting the design. Mr. Krieger agreed that the design team’s conviction is not apparent in the design, and he is not giving specific direction to use horizontal or vertical fins. He commented that the office tower would appear vertical regardless of the orientation of potential projecting fins, and further emphasizing its verticality may not be desirable if the goal is horizontal continuity. Ms. Griffin added that the resolution of the cladding design for the core volumes could be flexible, because offices are not located behind these facades; for example, a single- or double-story module could be used. Mr. Krieger agreed that the treatment of the cores could be flexible, potentially balancing the horizontal or vertical treatment that is chosen for the glass portions of the facade where the office space is located.
Mr. Dunson said that the design team graciously followed the Commission’s advice from the previous review to rethink the previously proposed random vertical fins. However, he believes that the original idea to have a vertical expression on the glass facades is the right approach, helping to balance the horizontality of the base. He added that the strength of the building would be in the podium, which is often the most important and visible part of a building from the street.
Secretary Luebke summarized that the review of the design is generally positive, with some outstanding questions regarding the cladding of the office tower, which he categorized as a discrete design problem. Ms. Griffin asked if the motion should be to request modifications to the office tower design for review in an additional submission, or to approve the current submission with the comments provided. With the previous concept submission already approved, Mr. Luebke suggested that the Commission could provide comments without taking an action.
Mr. Krieger offered a motion that includes the Commission’s support for the substantially improved design of the podium, with the recommendation to further study the design of the office tower in response to the comments provided. Mr. Dunson agreed, commenting that this issue should not impede the advancement of other aspects of the design. Ms. Griffin said that after further revision, the office tower design should be submitted to the Commission for another review. Mr. Krieger advised the project team to clarify its intentions regarding the character and expression of the office tower. Upon a second by Ms. Gilbert, the Commission adopted this action.
E. D.C. Department of General Services
1. CFA 19/SEP/19-6, Benjamin Banneker Academic High School, 925 Rhode Island Avenue, NW (site of the former Shaw Junior High School). New (replacement) school building. Concept. (Previous: CFA 18/JUL/19-3.) Mr. Lindstrom introduced the concept submission for a new building for Benjamin Banneker Academic High School. He said that during its review of the project in July 2019, the Commission requested a new concept submission and provided several recommendations for the development of the design, including rotation of the gymnasium volume to be aligned with Rhode Island Avenue and reconsideration of the landscape concept. He asked architect Omar Calderon of Perkins Eastman DC to begin the presentation.
Mr. Calderon described the overall conceptual diagram for the school as two academic bars with a learning commons atrium at its center that would be defined by a staircase ascending from east to west; at the top of the stair would be an outdoor space with framed views of the city. Major spaces such as the auditorium and gymnasium would be located toward the western end of the school building. He described the two major changes to the concept. First, as suggested by the Commission, the gymnasium volume has been rotated to align with Rhode Island Avenue. This results in improved and more contiguous outdoor spaces, and would also give the school building a greater street presence. Second, the exterior expression of the main stairway at the east side of the building has also been rotated to align with Rhode Island Avenue; this is intended to open up the main entrance and provide a more gracious and recognizable entry for the school, as well as to engage the YMCA building to the south. He introduced landscape architect Sharon Bradley of Bradley Site Design to present the revised landscape design.
Ms. Bradley said that the rotation of the gymnasium has enabled the landscape elements to fit much better into the site, allowing for an appropriate scale and thoughtful circulation between the spaces; this rotation also allows for a strong axial landscape between Rhode Island Avenue and the school’s western plaza. She described this western plaza as a campus quadrangle that would serve as an important node in the circulation between the school and playing fields, as well as between R Street and Rhode Island Avenue along the 10th Street axis. She indicated the location at the northern end of the quadrangle for a vertical, kinetic sculpture intended to honor the science and technology contributions of Benjamin Banneker; the backdrop to the sculpture would be plantings that would screen the staff parking lot to the north. The lawn south of the western plaza would slope upward from Rhode Island Avenue, terminating in steps leading down to the quadrangle to create a shallow sunken area; she said that this sequence is intended to create a sense of anticipation as pedestrians move toward the school. A sunken tennis court, which could also be used for gathering and performances, would be sited perpendicular to the gymnasium, with plantings surrounding the court to create an oasis-like place. A bioretention area, sited between the quadrangle and the tennis court, would be bridged by a twenty-foot-wide walkway; this bioretention area would also be used as an immersive outdoor learning space for science and environmental stewardship.
Ms. Bradley said that the program elements of the recreation center on the west side of the site have also been aligned more neatly, and the proposal includes all of the elements requested by the community. A tall bleacher structure for the athletic field would be located along the field’s west side so as not to create barrier between the school and the athletic fields; a lower bank of seating is proposed for the east side of the field, adjacent to the quadrangle.
Ms. Bradley presented the proposed tree plantings, including a grove within the quadrangle and a row of trees to reinforce the axial walkway that would connect Rhode Island Avenue with R Street. Bioretention areas would meet stormwater management requirements and create a garden-like setting on the campus. She said that the site would have a variety of places for students to gather throughout the day. At the main entrance plaza, the rotation of the stairwell enclosure provides the opportunity for a graceful barrier-free access route from the sidewalk to the building entrance; the route would have a grade of less than five percent, obviating the need for handrails. She concluded by noting the intent to have a direct relationship between the material palette for the landscape and that of the building; hardscape, planters, and synthetic surfaces are currently being considered.
Mr. Calderon presented the revised facade designs. He said that the proposed material palette for the school includes modular concrete panels of varying textures, with red-toned panels for the primary volumes, gray-toned panels for the secondary volumes, and masonry for the base; the goal is to create tonal and textural variation across the facades. The east facade at the main entrance would be the shortest, and it affords the opportunity to develop a massing with a strong relationship to adjacent buildings. The design is intended to be suggestive of a portal; the two building volumes flanking the portal would express the interior organization of the building. The stairway volume would be glazed, allowing for views to the east and south; angled fins would provide shading and serve to redirect views back toward the entrance plaza. He said the massing design of the north facade is intended to relate to the row houses across R Street; for example, the school’s upper level would be set back, creating a more sympathetic height for the large building. The facade would also have recesses where egress stairs are located. He said that the syncopated fenestration pattern is intended to be reflective of the appearance and human scale of the row houses across the street. The south facade would have a partial presence from the street, and would otherwise face the alley behind the YMCA building; the stairway expression at the east end of this facade would have a large-scale window with a civic character. The gymnasium would have windows facing south and west, and the framing element on the south facade of the gym volume would shade both the interior space and an outdoor terrace. The building entrance from the quadrangle would face south, toward Rhode Island Avenue; stairs, ramps, and seat walls leading to this entrance would create places for students to congregate. He said that the entrance to the campus from Rhode Island Avenue is intended to be reminiscent of gates at universities such as Columbia, Georgetown, Howard, and Princeton. The R Street entrance to the campus would have a similar gate, and the spaces in the adjacent staff parking lot have been rearranged to eliminate placing vehicles alongside the pedestrian walkway leading south from the R Street gate, allowing for a more gracious entrance experience. He said that the sense of threshold and the collegiate atmosphere is intended to inspire the students as they enter the campus.
Mr. Krieger commented that the design has improved, citing the landscape articulation and superior site planning. He expressed support for the changes to the stair tower expression, as well as for the more muted facade designs; Mr. Dunson agreed. Mr. Krieger suggested giving a stronger bridge character to the design of the walkway over the bioretention area leading to the tennis court. Ms. Bradley clarified that the walkway is proposed to be metal grating as it passes over the bioretention area.
Ms. Gilbert agreed that the landscape design has more clarity, but she questioned mounded appearance of the proposed lawn south of the quadrangle. Ms. Bradley said that the rendering is exaggerating the shaping of the lawn, and it is proposed to be flatter than is shown; Ms. Gilbert expressed support for a slight shaping of this lawn. She commented that the fence and curbing design for the Rhode Island Avenue entrance appears old-fashioned, and this type of detailing does not appear anywhere else on the site or in the neighborhood. Ms. Griffin agreed, suggesting that the strong architecture of the school building should be reflected in the gateway design. Ms. Bradley said that the presented design is a placeholder, with the proportions and materials still under consideration; the goal is to create the sense of a portal, with a subtle separation of public and private space.
Ms. Griffin noted the robust city-wide school construction program now underway, recalling that many of these projects have similar architectural elements, such as stacked volumes, two or three colors for the material palette, and grand civic gestures in the massing. She said this would be an opportune moment for the D.C. government to develop a broader initiative to articulate a clear vision for the civic architecture of the D.C. public schools and their role in their neighborhoods and the larger city; this initiative could be seen as analogous to the one undertaken for the D.C. Public Library over the last decade to dramatically transform its existing and new facilities.
Ms. Griffin expressed strong support for the revised parti for the outdoor spaces, particularly the west plaza or quadrangle, commenting that the composition is much clearer; she said that she could imagine students enjoying these outdoor spaces. However, she suggested further consideration of several details. She asked for more information on the design of the quadrangle’s edges, such as the bleachers on the west and the screening of the parking lot on the north. For example, she asked whether generic metal bleachers are envisioned or something designed for this particular space. She commented that the northern edge of the quadrangle has an ambiguous character, and resolving this area in relationship to the parking lot enclosure would be important, perhaps by introducing additional steps. Mr. Calderon responded that vegetation would be used to define the northern edge of the quadrangle; Ms. Griffin said that in addition to serving as a screen for the parking, the vegetation should become a part of the quadrangle space, and she suggested more interplay between these areas. Ms. Bradley clarified that the regulation-size football field would have a tall bleacher structure along its long western edge, with a shorter bleacher structure to the east; Ms. Griffin recommended designing the field’s eastern edge as a stepped seating area in massing that would better address both the quadrangle and the athletic field. Ms. Bradley agreed to study making this element more like a landscape element and less like a structure, adding that more topographic change at this location would be desirable.
Ms. Gilbert questioned the sculpture proposal for the quadrangle; she suggested studying the design of the space without the sculpture, characterizing its proposed location as composed of edges and fragments of space could instead be a gathering spot. Ms. Bradley said that the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities has a program to incorporate art into schools, and the project team is interested in developing artwork for the space related to the legacy of Benjamin Banneker. She said the sculpture is intended to provide a deliberate terminus to the strong axis of the quadrangle, and also to provide movement and visual interest for the plaza. Ms. Gilbert observed that the proposed location for the sculpture is a knuckle in the site circulation where several paths converge, and she suggested that the location could be compelling as an irregular space. Ms. Griffin said that a sculpture could be located there, but that it would not be enough to resolve the space.
Mr. Krieger commented on the lack of clarity concerning which edges of the quadrangle are strongly defined and which would maintain more openness between adjacent spaces, in particular the planted edge between the quadrangle and the parking lot; he suggested more three-dimensional documentation of these edge conditions. He expressed support for the circulation through the north end of the quadrangle that bends to bring pedestrians to the building’s west entrance; Ms. Gilbert agreed. Ms. Griffin supported this aspect of the circulation design, while cautioning that adding a fence in this area to separate the quadrangle from the parking lot would detract from the design. Ms. Bradley said that a twenty-foot-wide bioretention area is proposed for this edge, with trees intended to provide the backdrop and terminus to the view through the quadrangle.
Mr. Shubow noted that the fenestration pattern on the R Street facade was presented as being syncopated; however, he said that the pattern simply appears random, and he requested the development of a pattern that is more similar to the residential windows across the street. Mr. Calderon said that the window rhythm is determined in part by the building structure, and it would also serve to avoid a long and repetitive facade; he offered to study and document the pattern further.
Mr. Krieger offered a motion to approve the concept with the comments provided, with the request for the applicant to return with additional documentation of the development of the landscape and facade design. Upon a second by Ms. Gilbert, the Commission adopted this action.
2. CFA 19/SEP/19-7, Capitol Hill Montessori School (formerly Logan Elementary School), 215 G Street, NE. Building modernization and additions. Revised concept. (Previous: CFA 18/JUL/19-5) The Commission acted on the submission earlier in the meeting without a presentation, following agenda item II.A.
3. CFA 19/SEP/19-8, Two Rivers Public Charter School at the Young School Campus, 820 26th Street, NE. New two-story freestanding school building and renovations to the existing Charles Young Elementary School building. Final. (Previous: CFA 18/JUL/19-4) The Commission acted on the submission earlier in the meeting without a presentation, following agenda item II.A.
F. D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs—Shipstead-Luce Act
1. SL 19-243, The Mills Building, 1700 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW. Building renovation and additions. Revised concept. (Previous: SL 19-152, May 2019.) The Commission acted on the submission earlier in the meeting without a presentation, following agenda item II.A.
2. SL 19-240, 555 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW (The Newseum). Building alterations and additions to adapt for use by Johns Hopkins University. Concept. (Previous: SL 19-194, July 2019–Information presentation.) Ms. Batcheler introduced the concept design for modifications to the Newseum building to serve as a consolidated location for the D.C. programs of Johns Hopkins University. She said that in January 2019, the university bought the building from its original owner, the Freedom Forum; the Newseum is expected to cease operating at this location by the end of 2019. The existing building, designed by the Polshek Partnership and completed in 2008, includes a residential slab connected to the north, which will not be altered.
Ms. Batcheler noted that the Commission heard an information presentation on the project in July 2019, expressing support and providing recommendations on the design. Subsequent to submitting the project booklets that have been provided to the Commission members, the design team has continued to explore options for adapting the stone facade along Pennsylvania Avenue; today’s presentation therefore includes additional images, and new printed pages have been distributed to the Commission members. She added that the treatment of the Pennsylvania Avenue entrance, including the location and extent of steps, ramps, and railings, is being coordinated with the National Park Service and the National Capital Planning Commission. She asked Richard Olcott of Ennead Architects, the successor firm to the Polshek Partnership, to present the design.
Mr. Olcott summarized the extent of the proposed changes, as previously presented. The existing elevator bulkhead would be altered, and two inset terraces on a high, stepped-back area of the south facade would be infilled with the curtainwall system. Also on the south facade, the multi-story expanse of stone panels inscribed with the First Amendment, projecting to the property line, will remain the property of the Freedom Forum and will be removed from the building. The large expanse of window set into the south facade would be filled in with program spaces, while continuing to respect the building’s existing setback lines that relate to the context of neighboring buildings along Pennsylvania Avenue. At the base of the building, the main entrance would be shifted eastward, and a new plinth at the entrance would provide a threshold to the building. Additional alterations would activate the street-level frontage along Pennsylvania Avenue.
Mr. Olcott presented a comparison of the submitted design to the previous presentation in July 2019. The entrance canopy shown in July has been eliminated from the design, and the proposed vestibule has been slightly widened. He indicated the relationship of the infill at the existing large window to the massing of the adjacent Canadian chancery building. The design of the entry plinth has been refined to include planters and low seating walls, while continuing to include the visibility into the building and an outdoor area for tables and chairs adjoining a cafe to the east, where the sidewalk space is widest.
Mr. Olcott said that the dimensions and circulation patterns of the Pennsylvania Avenue sidewalk have been studied more closely in relation to the context. The unobstructed travel path has a minimum width of 14’-8” in this block, measured from the tree pits to the built elements, although this dimension narrows in the block to the west. Although the sidewalk at the Canadian chancery is substantially wider, its perimeter security planters and driveway gate extend to the 14’-8” clearance. The clearance in front of the university’s building will therefore also be designed with a minimum of 14’-8” which is slightly more generous than previously presented.
Mr. Olcott said that the building’s main level is 18 inches above the sidewalk level; this difference will be resolved in the proposed entrance plinth, replacing the current internal sloped floor that is part of the Newseum’s visitor queuing area. He presented images of several local buildings that have similar grade changes at the main entrance, including the nearby East Building of the National Gallery of Art, and additional examples from New York. He said that the intent is to treat the plinth as a civic amenity, with gathering space and seating, offering a graceful and welcoming gesture toward Pennsylvania Avenue. He indicated the plinth’s three steps that would be feathered into the shallow slope of the sidewalk, providing unobtrusive barrier-free access. He described this exterior resolution of the grade change as much more successful than accommodating the 18-inch rise within the building’s interior. He also noted that the removal of the canopy from the design results in a taller entrance space beneath the cantilevered second floor.
Mr. Olcott presented the recent detailed study of the facade along Pennsylvania Avenue, including the selection and treatment of stone. The proposed replacement for the curtainwall system is similar to the previous presentation, with a slight widening of the mullions and a revised relationship of clear and bronze-colored glass; he emphasized the importance of bringing adequate daylight into the building. For the stone, the previous presentation showed a running bond with a honed finish, comparable to the exterior of the East Building of the National Gallery, and using the same Tennessee Pink stone if possible. The current proposal is for a more lively facade, using a random coursing pattern; he presented images of other buildings with varied coursing, dating back to ancient Pergamon. The intent is to encourage the eye to dance around the pattern, without resting on a single spot. For additional variety, thermal and corduroy finishes are also being considered for the stone, along with larger reveals at the horizontal joints for shadow and texture, in order to provide a richer and more lively visual effect; he said that this visual interest is desirable for the very large expanse of stone on this facade. The other change, seen in the newly submitted supplemental drawings, is to add a random pattern of small windows in the stone facade, bringing daylight to some of the interior spaces; these windows could continue onto the west facade. Mr. Krieger asked what interior spaces would have these windows; Mr. Olcott said that these are student lounge areas on three levels, and the small windows would supplement the larger windows of these spaces. He concluded with additional perspective views of the proposal, showing its relationship to the context.
Mr. Krieger invited comments from the Commission members. Ms. Gilbert expressed support for the proposal to accommodate the grade change with an exterior plinth; she said that the sloped sidewalk leading up to the plinth appears to be generously scaled. She asked about the width of the ramp on the west side of the plinth, which appears to be much narrower; Mr. Olcott responded that it would be approximately eight to ten feet wide, which could be revised if necessary, and he noted that the nearby steps leading up to the plinth would be relatively shallow. Ms. Gilbert agreed that the dimensions for the site features at the plinth are generous; Mr. Krieger joined in supporting the design.
Ms. Griffin said that she was more satisfied with the proposal as submitted in advance than with the new supplemental drawings being presented today. She described the initial submission as handsome, with transparency and a sense of the different volumes and levels of the building. The drawings newly presented today include a deeper texturing of the stonework and the addition of window slots. She acknowledged that the added windows may be a response to the client’s desire for more sunlight in the interior spaces; however, she questioned why the texture of the stonework is being revised. Mr. Olcott said that the project team has studied many alternatives, and even the stone selection has not yet been determined. He noted that the Tennessee Pink stone will likely be difficult to obtain, a problem that was recently faced by the Smithsonian Institution when planning the facade replacement for the National Air and Space Museum. The stone selections currently under consideration include Deer Isle granite from Maine, which he described as livelier and richer than the Tennessee Pink. He reiterated that the design challenge is to enliven the building’s very big blank wall, which some people considered to be too blank; the design responses include selecting a livelier stone, adding more interest through the surface texture and the treatment of joints, and adding small windows. He acknowledged that the combination of these solutions may have the appearance of being excessive.
Ms. Griffin said that the calmer stone treatment in the initial submission provides a welcome visual relief as it frames the views through the curtainwall system to the busy activity of the building’s interior. She suggested using fewer of the design gestures that are intended to enliven the facade, seeking a middle ground for the design. Mr. Olcott said that the small windows would not provide a lot of light and could easily be removed from the design. Ms. Griffin agreed that removing the windows would result in an improved composition of the facade.
Mr. Krieger suggested giving the design team more leeway in developing a solution. He advised against steering the project toward resembling Washington’s monumental marble buildings, and he said that the elevation drawings may be exaggerating the visual effect of the deeper joints in the stonework, while acknowledging that too strong of a shadow line would overemphasize the horizontal joints. He requested the submission of more detailed information or a mockup before the Commission makes a decision on the facade details. For the windows, he said that his recommendation would be based on how they relate to the interior spaces, not simply on their exterior appearance; while they would not be missed if removed from the exterior elevations, he would support keeping them if they have an extraordinarily beneficial effect on the interior. Mr. Olcott noted that the precedent images show stone walls that are relatively restrained, while the current proposal is for a livelier effect. Ms. Griffin observed that the precedents use a small number of techniques, such as varied block sizes or coursing heights, in comparison to the many techniques for adding liveliness in the current proposal.
Mr. Shubow agreed with Ms. Griffin in preferring the stone treatment depicted in this month’s initial submission. He said that the presentation booklet conveys enough interest in the stonework without needing to introduce raked joints or random apertures; he said that the building’s variety of window sizes is already complicated. He noted Mr. Krieger’s reluctance to have this building appear too monumental, but observed that this site is within monumental Washington in an area characterized by marble buildings; the monumental character of the submitted stone treatment is therefore fitting. Mr. Krieger acknowledged the presence of the National Gallery of Art across the street from this site. Mr. Olcott added that the submitted drawing is intended to show the Tennessee Pink stone, and simply changing the stone to a lively granite would result in a different, richer appearance.
Mr. Dunson said that a range of stone treatments may be acceptable, but the more restrained treatment serves to provide an appropriate frame for the large glass areas, adds clarity, and generally makes the entire facade less frenetic. He acknowledged that substantial joint dimensions can be used successfully, as seen in the 3.5-inch joints in the rusticated stone of some Federal Triangle buildings. He summarized that a more restrained design would have greater clarity and would avoid a competition among the facade elements. Ms. Gilbert agreed, observing that a more restrained design would be more sympathetic to the detailing of the adjacent Canadian chancery building; Mr. Olcott noted that the chancery exterior is a white Canadian granite with a smooth finish and no raked joints.
Secretary Luebke suggested that the Commission clarify its position on the proposal to use a coarse granite, which he said would have more effect than the stone details in causing a substantial change to the character of the building. He said that the presented Deer Isle granite, with its coarsely variegated pattern, does not seem consistent with the materials used for other buildings along Pennsylvania Avenue; while the staff has not encouraged the use of this granite, the Commission may choose to provide different advice. Ms. Batcheler noted that the exploration of materials could include many other types of stone; Mr. Luebke said that these could include other granites or limestone. Mr. Olcott agreed, noting that the design team was deliberately looking for a livelier texture and a pink tone consistent with the facade’s bronze detailing, rather than a white or gray stone. He suggested that perhaps the Deer Isle stone may be acceptable in conjunction with simplified joints and the omission of the small windows; Ms. Gilbert observed that this granite is very lively, and she encouraged exploration of other stone options.
Mr. Krieger asked for clarification of the design team’s preference for the stone. Mr. Olcott responded that Tennessee Pink would be the first choice but it is not readily available; the second choice would be the Deer Isle granite that is being presented. He noted that the Air and Space Museum recladding will use a pink-toned granite [Colonial Rose] that is more homogeneous and slightly darker than the Deer Isle granite.
Mr. Luebke said that many stones could be considered, and the issue today is whether the Commission wishes to give guidance on the desired character of the stone, perhaps more uniform than the Deer Isle granite, which he described as quite loud compared to the Tennessee Pink. Mr. Krieger said that he has no objection to granite, but a slightly lighter stone could be preferable. Mr. Shubow said that he prefers a stone that is as similar as possible to the Tennessee Pink, and granite would be too loud; Mr. Dunson agreed. Mr. Luebke said that the desired character could be achieved with limestone or granite, if carefully selected; Ms. Gilbert agreed that the selected stone should have less color variation than the Deer Isle granite.
Mr. Krieger noted that the prominence of the joints also requires careful study; he emphasized that the Commission’s skepticism of this feature may result from the exaggerated effect in the renderings. He summarized that his response to the inclusion of small windows would largely depend on their relationship to the interior student lounge spaces, rather than evaluating only their effect on the facades. Ms. Griffin acknowledged this logic while continuing to express skepticism for the inclusion of these windows.
Mr. Luebke noted that the Commission has previously commented on the project at the information presentation; the current discussion is focused on details, which suggests that the Commission is satisfied with the project at the concept level. Ms. Gilbert and Mr. Krieger agreed in supporting the concept, with the request for reconsideration of the stone selection, the treatment of the stone joints, and the introduction of small windows. Mr. Krieger added that the proposal for the plinth is satisfactory; Ms. Gilbert agreed. Mr. Krieger noted the consensus of the Commission to approve the concept with the comments provided; upon a second by Ms. Griffin, the Commission adopted this action.
Mr. Krieger and Ms. Griffin departed at this point, resulting in the loss of a quorum. Mr. Dunson presided for the remainder of the meeting.
3. SL 19-244, 411 New Jersey Avenue, SE. New residential building. Concept. Ms. Batcheler introduced the concept design submission for two new three-story row houses to be built on a vacant lot at 411 New Jersey Avenue, SE. The site is at the north end of a row of five three-story row houses in the Capitol Hill historic district, approximately one block south of the Longworth House Office Building and adjacent to the southern portal of the First Street railroad tunnel leading to Union Station. She noted that the Commission members may recall this site from a previous project for the National Democratic Club that was reviewed by the Commission in March 2016. For the current project, the architect has developed three design alternatives for the proposed pair of houses that would extend the existing row. She asked architect Mateusz Dzierzanowski from DZ Architecture to present the project.
Mr. Dzierzanowski described the existing conditions of the site, which has a paved walkway running through it that connects the New Jersey Avenue sidewalk to the rear alley, which is at a significantly lower grade; this walkway provides supplemental pedestrian access to other buildings on the block, including the main National Democratic Club building that fronts on Ivy Street, SE. While the existing row house facades along New Jersey Avenue are traditional in character, he noted the modern and industrial character of some facades along the alley, as well as the railroad infrastructure along the north side of the site that results in an irregular shape for the northern boundary of this project site. He presented photographs of the existing row houses to the south, indicating their shared architectural details of corbelled brick, ornamental cornices, brackets, and Victorian-era ironwork such as cresting.
Mr. Dzierzanowski said that due to the irregular site shape, the proposal is to build two houses of differing widths; the proposed southern house would be rectilinear in massing, while the northern house would have a more varied massing that responds to the site’s northern boundary. Each house would have a rear patio and a dedicated parking space with vehicular access from the alley. He said that the proposed design of the houses is also informed by the adjacent floor levels, as well as the proportion and rhythm of the fenestration along the row. He cited discussions with the D.C. Historic Preservation Office, which encouraged a design that features a tower element at the northeast corner of the northern house to visually terminate the row.
Mr. Dzierzanowski presented three alternative schemes for the new houses. In each scheme, the northern house would step down in height from the front to the rear; in addition, instead of terminating the northern house at a pinch point near the rear of the lot, a narrow hallway would bridge the main house with a rear volume to the west that would contain bedroom suites. In Scheme A, both houses would be clad in brick with wood trim. The facades of the two houses would be mirror images of each other, with the upper stories featuring mansard roofs; the corner element at the northeast would be a cylindrical tower projecting above the roofline. The facade arrangement in Scheme B would be more reflective of the rest of the row, with similar brick trim work and window and door arrangements on the facades; mansard roofs would also be used on the north facade of the northern house. The corner element in Scheme B would be a square tower, which he said would emphasize rectilinearity along the block and conform to the rectilinear treatment of the north facade. In addition, the window treatment in this scheme is refined to better align with the interior plan. He said that Scheme C is intended to juxtapose the historic with the modern, drawing on the aesthetic of the commercial and industrial buildings in the alley and of the railroad. The treatment of the New Jersey Avenue facades of the houses in Scheme C would be similar to that developed for Scheme B; however, the tower element and rear extension of the northern house would appear as jagged, asymmetrical volumes that would be clad with an expressive material, such as stone or cast iron panels.
Mr. Dzierzanowski concluded by presenting the proposed floor plans for Scheme B, which he said are representative of the three options. He characterized the plans as an efficient use of the available space, and he indicated elements such as the projecting bay windows on the eastern facades, as well as the jagged plan of the northern house as it follows the irregular, tapering shape of the lot.
Ms. Batcheler read a comment regarding the existing walkway along the railroad, submitted to the Commission by Vanessa Griddine-Jones of the Congressional Black Caucus Political Education and Leadership Institute, stating that there is a sidewalk right-of-way easement on this lot used by her organization and the general public to gain access to the buildings and parking lot behind, and asking how the design will affect the easement. Mr. Dunson asked if the walkway is established by a legal easement, or if it was simply installed out of courtesy and without any officially documented status; Mr. Dzierzanowski responded that the current owners pursued full title ownership of the entire property, and concluded that no officially recorded easement exists for the walkway. Ms. Batcheler noted that the site was previously owned by the National Democratic Club before it was sold to the current owners; Mr. Dzierzanowski agreed that the pathway is it most likely a remnant of the previous ownership, and he indicated on a site plan the other points of access to the National Democratic Club.
Ms. Gilbert expressed appreciation for the research of the architectural context, and she noted that the northeast corner of the proposed building would be uniquely situated and visually prominent. She commented that Scheme C is an interesting interpretation of the industrial character of some of the area. However, she said she is most supportive of Scheme B, noting that this appropriate, contextual design has a syncopated arrangement of windows and bays that appears successful; in addition, the resulting interior plans are modern and make the best use of the available space. She summarized that Scheme B has a creative layout without needing to employ the contemporary design seen in Scheme C. She asked for more information about the plans for the rear yard, noting the irregular shape of the lot. Mr. Dzierzanowski responded that the new houses would occupy most of the lot, and most of the remainder would be fenced. Cellar-level access would be provided to parking and patio spaces behind the houses; cast iron details, hedges, and trees would be included in the design for this rear space. He confirmed that the front facades would have stooped entrances; plantings such as trees and architectural details such as cast iron are also being explored for the front yard area. He added that the project team is seeking relief from the D.C. Board of Zoning Adjustment to proceed with the design of the mansard roofs, which would exceed the allowable height. In addition, the owner is seeking to subdivide the lot to correspond to the two proposed houses, and is requesting a variance from the minimum lot width for the northern house because of the narrow area described earlier. He confirmed that each of the two houses would be for one family.
Mr. Dunson asked if the adjoining property directly to the south—a modified row house with a roof several feet taller than the surrounding houses—is a modern, allowable “pop-up” renovation. Mr. Dzierzanowski agreed that this is most likely a recent alteration, but said that he is unsure if it was properly permitted; he added that it is out of character with the rest of the street, and the current proposal is not attempting to continue the taller roofline of this adjacent property.
Mr. Dunson agreed that Scheme B is the most compelling option, but he cited some positive aspects of Scheme C, including the differing treatment of the rear building volume of the northern house when compared to the more traditional front facades. If this scheme is pursued, he suggested exploring the opportunity to be more expressive with the rear volume, but he suggested toning down the expressiveness of the modern tower element. Mr. Dzierzanowski responded that the design team recognizes the visibility of the northern facade, and the intent is not to continue the unappealing industrial character seen along some of the railroad right-of-way. He noted that the contemporary-styled elements shown in Scheme C could feature more glass at the ground level, while still trying to achieve a consistent design language for the project. He also suggested that the north facade could be executed in an expressive vernacular style, similar to the architecture seen in Scheme B.
Mr. Shubow expressed support for Scheme B, citing the comments provided by the other Commission members. Secretary Luebke noted that before departing, Mr. Krieger and Ms. Griffin had also expressed a preference for Scheme B. He observed that the discussion has raised important questions, with the potential conclusion that the use of a mansard roof along the western end of the northern facade may not be advisable. He added that the project team has not met with the staff, which would be useful in the development of the design and to coordinate the parallel reviews for zoning relief and historic preservation. Noting the lack of a quorum, he suggested that the Commission members present not recommend an action, and instead direct the applicant to meet with the staff. Mr. Dunson supported this response, and he noted the consensus to explore the direction represented by Scheme B, as well as the suggestion for further study of the design for the rear, westernmost building volume of the northern house. He said that the Commission’s comments would be summarized for the applicant in a letter, subject to confirmation by a quorum at the next meeting, and that the Commission looks forward to reviewing the next concept submission for this project. The discussion concluded without a formal action.
G. United States Mint
Mr. Simon introduced the three submissions from the U.S. Mint. The first two are Congressional Gold Medals, which would also be available to the public in the form of bronze duplicates; he provided samples of the duplicates from several past medals. The third submission is the next four one-dollar coins in a non-circulating series commemorating American innovation; he provided a sample of the initial coin in the series, which includes the common obverse design that is paired with a reverse for each state. He noted that the presentations have been updated to highlight the newly identified preferences of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) and the Mint’s liaison organizations. He introduced April Stafford of the Mint to present the design alternatives.
1. CFA 19/SEP/19-9, Congressional Gold Medal honoring Chinese-American Veterans of World War II. Design for gold medal with bronze duplicates. Final. Ms. Stafford said that this medal will be awarded collectively to Chinese-American veterans of World War II. She described their service during this war and others in American history, as well as the discriminatory laws that limited the citizenship opportunities for Chinese-Americans.
Ms. Stafford presented sixteen alternatives for the obverse design and nineteen alternatives for the reverse design. She noted the preference of the CCAC and the Mint’s liaison group, the Chinese American Citizens Alliance, for modified versions of obverse #7 and reverse #6. Obverse #7 depicts a group of seven Chinese-American men and women representing each of the U.S. service branches in World War II; if this design is selected, the depicted text—“Proudly Served On Land Sea & in the Air”—would be changed to “Proud to Serve as an American,” and the rifle and helmet would be adjusted as needed for historical accuracy. Reverse #6 depicts a battleship, tank, and airplane from World War II, along with an American flag. If selected, reverse #6 would be modified by adding a text border as seen in reverse #4, with the branches of service listed within the border, allowing for the removal of the text “In Every Service / In Every Theater.” She presented a newly prepared drawing of the modified version, designated as reverse #6A.
Mr. Dunson welcomed the veterans group representatives in the audience, and he invited comments from the Commission members. Ms. Gilbert said that the group of faces in obverse #7 is very moving, with the different uniforms conveying the numerous service branches more powerfully than just showing military equipment. Robert Lee, a retired major general and chairman of the design committee for the Chinese American Citizens Alliance, confirmed that this reasoning is why obverse #7 was chosen as the group’s preference. He noted that the depicted branches include the Merchant Marine, which moved supplies by ship between the eastern U.S. and Europe without convoy protection; many Chinese-Americans served in the Merchant Marine, while many other Americans avoided this dangerous service. He added that the depiction of uniforms from each service conveys effectively that Chinese-Americans served in every theater of World War II without the complexity of enumerating each type of service through inscriptions. For the reverse, he said that the depicted battleship, tank, and airplane would convey to the veterans’ descendants a sense of how their ancestors fought during the war. Mr. Dunson and Ms. Gilbert expressed appreciation for Mr. Lee’s remarks, which they said provide a helpful basis for supporting the presented preferences.
Ms. Gilbert observed that the background flag in reverse #6 extends beyond the tank to the bottom of the composition, giving the odd impression that the flag is on the ground and the tank is driving on its stripes; Mr. Dunson agreed. Ms. Stafford responded that the juxtaposition of these elements is not intended to convey this impression, and the design could be adjusted. Mr. Shubow expressed appreciation for the inclusion of the Merchant Marine in obverse #7. He observed that some of the service members appear to be smiling, which would not be appropriate on this medal; Ms. Stafford agreed that this adjustment could be made. Ms. Gilbert commented that the drawing for obverse #7 is otherwise very good.
Mr. Lee added that he has talked with Chinese-American veterans, and they have described themselves as Americans of Chinese ancestry, with primary emphasis on being Americans; this emphasis is important in contrast to the legal impediments to their becoming American citizens. The preferred obverse and reverse are intended to convey this message through the use of the American flag as well as the inscription “Proud to Serve as an American.”
Ms. Gilbert offered a motion to recommend the preferred pairing of obverse #7 and reverse #6, with the adjustments presented, and subject to the comments provided by the Commission members. Upon a second by Mr. Shubow, the Commission adopted this action, subject to confirmation by a quorum.
2. CFA 19/SEP/19-10, Congressional Gold Medal honoring the crew of the USS Indianapolis. Design for gold medal with bronze duplicates. Final. Ms. Stafford said that this medal will be awarded collectively to the crew of the USS Indianapolis in recognition of their perseverance, bravery, and service to the nation. She described the ship’s notable wartime service record and its rapid sinking after an attack by a Japanese submarine in July 1945; of the 1,195 crew members, 316 survived to be rescued several days later.
Ms. Stafford presented eleven alternatives for the obverse design and eleven alternatives for the reverse design. She noted the preference of the Mint’s liaison group for obverse #7 and reverse #7. The Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) supported this pairing, as well as the pairing of obverse #9 and reverse #5, which they said would be a powerful combination at the scale of the medal, giving a sense of pride to the families and the few remaining crew members; she said that the liaison is still considering this additional recommendation. Obverse #7 depicts the Indianapolis with its ten battle stars and a border of rivets. Obverse #9 depicts a close-up view of the metal plates of the ship’s hull, with the ship’s number “35,” rows of rivets, and an arc of the ten battle stars. Reverse #5 is a simple design depicting ocean waves and the cone of a searchlight. Reverse #7 depicts a group of survivors in the water, looking toward a rescue ship and airplanes.
Mr. Shubow expressed support for obverse #7, citing the arcs of rivets within the medal’s border. He questioned the suitability of reverse #7, commenting that the design is too busy and seems to have two different water levels for the crew and the ship. He suggested consideration of reverse #8, depicting an empty lifejacket in the water and rescue planes above; he described this as a powerful design that conveys a sense of loss, with the airplanes representing the rescue operation.
Ms. Gilbert described the pairing of obverse #9 and reverse #5 as a strong choice, particularly the depiction of a searchlight to show the rescue of the survivors; she added that this light is reminiscent of the commemorative lighting of the World Trade Center site in recent years.
Mr. Dunson offered support for obverse #7 and reverse #5, agreeing that the stark design of reverse #5 is very powerful. He also acknowledged the strength of reverse #7 due to its depiction of a group of survivors. He said that obverse #7 effectively conveys the mission of the ship through the depiction of clouds of smoke in the background, implying the context of a wartime battle. Ms. Gilbert observed that a pairing of obverse #7 and reverse #5 would combine two very different graphic styles.
Mr. Shubow discouraged the selection of reverse #5. He said that the combination of inscriptions may be confusing, with the date of the sinking and the phrase “879 Still at Sea,” which might seem to imply the number missing as of that date. He also observed that the searchlight cone is spreading upward, as if shining from the water level to search for airplanes, instead of spreading downward to suggest a light from an airplane searching for survivors in the water; Mr. Dunson agreed. Ms. Stafford responded that the prolonged rescue operation was an important part of the historic event, and some of the designs are intended to convey the rescue from the viewpoint of the survivors; reverse #7 compresses this history into a single scene that combines a ship and planes that may not have been present at the same time. Through inscriptions and other devices, the designs are also intended to provide a remembrance of those who did not survive. Ms. Gilbert acknowledged that a simple, powerful design cannot convey the entirety of the complex history. Joe Menna, the Mint’s chief engraver, said that artists respond to this challenge by choosing between an expository or a more symbolic approach to telling a story; he compared this to the contrast between prose and poetry. He said that the pairing suggested by Mr. Dunson would depict the Indianapolis in a documentary fashion with obverse #7, while depicting the rescue in a very poetic way with reverse #5; the juxtaposition of the explicit obverse and subtle reverse could be a striking and successful combination.
Mr. Dunson noted that the Commission has sometimes recommended several options for the pairing of alternatives, and he suggested a consensus to take this approach—supporting either of the presented pairings, or the additional pairing of obverse #7 and reverse #5.
Ms. Gilbert said that reverse #5 should be refined if it becomes the selected design. She suggested raising the horizon line so that the composition includes a greater area of ocean, and some subtle visual interest should be added to the very planar treatment of the light cone, perhaps with a reveal.
Secretary Luebke noted that the Commission members have not offered comments in support of obverse #9, which was recommended by the CCAC in combination with reverse #5; he added that the staff similarly supports this simple and poetic pairing, which avoids the issue of realistic scenes that seem to resemble movie posters. Ms. Gilbert reiterated the Commission’s support for this pairing; Mr. Dunson said that it is among the pairings that he suggested as a consensus. Of the four designs recommended by the CCAC, he said that reverse #7 is his least favorite, resulting in his suggestion to include the pairing of obverse #7 with reverse #5, but he confirmed his willingness to also support the two pairings recommended by the CCAC, encompassing all four of the highlighted designs. Ms. Gilbert agreed, offering a motion to recommend the pairings of obverse #7 with reverse #7, obverse #9 with reverse #5, and obverse #7 with reverse #5. Upon a second by Mr. Shubow, the Commission members present adopted this action, subject to confirmation by a quorum.
3. CFA 19/SEP/19-11, 2020 American Innovation One Dollar Coin Program. Designs for the second set of coins: Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, and South Carolina. Final. (Previous: CFA 18/APR/19-9.) Ms. Stafford summarized the authorizing legislation for the program of commemorative coins that recognize significant innovation or innovators from each state, territory, and the District of Columbia. The common obverse for all coins in the series features a depiction of the Statue of Liberty, as seen in the sample coin provided to the Commission members; the current submission is for the reverse designs for the next four coins, to be issued in 2020. She said that the themes for each coin have been developed in consultation with the state governor and other liaisons and experts, and these themes have been approved by the Secretary of the Treasury. The presentation will highlight the preferences of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) and, when provided, of the governor’s office.
Ms. Stafford presented nineteen reverse alternatives for Connecticut; the selected themes are the Colt Armory, the Gerber Variable Scale, and the USS Nautilus nuclear submarine. The governor’s office is satisfied with these themes and all of the design alternatives; the CCAC preferences are alternative #8 depicting the Gerber Variable Scale, and alternative #16 depicting the Nautilus. She described the Gerber Variable Scale as a revolutionary engineering tool invented by H. Joseph Gerber, incorporating a triangular calibrated spring to resolve scaling and conversion; it was in widespread use worldwide by the 1950s. The scale’s uses include plotting curves, interpolating contour lines, and converting between proportional scales when enlarging or reducing a drawing; alternative #8 depicts its use in enlarging an outline map of Connecticut. The Nautilus was the world’s first operational nuclear-powered submarine and was the first to travel through the Arctic Ocean at the North Pole; reverse #16 depicts it on an Arctic mission.
Mr. Shubow commented that the design features of alternative #8 were unrecognizable when he first looked at the submission materials; the central shapes appeared to be gem crystals rather than a map of Connecticut, and the Gerber Variable Scale is not a familiar object. He suggested that alternative #10, which includes a hand holding a pencil alongside the scale and line segments, would be a more legible design for this theme. Ms. Gilbert commented that the image of the scale itself, as an object, doesn’t convey the power of its use by architects and engineers, and she questioned whether any of the designs on this theme would be satisfactory. She acknowledged that conveying its significance through a drawing may not be possible, and this device will likely be forgotten.
Mr. Shubow suggested considering the designs on the theme of the USS Nautilus. Ms. Gilbert acknowledged the importance of nuclear submarines but observed that many coins depict military equipment; she supported choosing a theme that involves other types of innovation by our society.
Mr. Dunson commented that the unfamiliarity of the design elements in alternative #8 is part of its attraction; while he was able to discern the scale device despite never having used one, he agreed with Mr. Shubow that the central shapes were not immediately recognizable as outline maps of Connecticut. Ms. Gilbert suggested refining this design to be more legible; she observed that the projection lines superimposed on the two maps result in a complicated and confusing composition. Mr. Luebke noted the lack of detail in the mapping, and he suggested that more articulation could be helpful such as along the state’s southern coastline; Mr. Dunson and Ms. Gilbert agreed. Mr. Shubow suggested representing the projection lines as dotted lines, but Mr. Dunson questioned whether this would be achievable in the sculpting process for the coin. Ron Harrigal, the Mint’s manager of design and engraving, responded that a broken or dotted line would be feasible if not too finely detailed; he also agreed that adding more detail to the map outline could enhance its legibility as a map of Connecticut, rather than being simply a geometric shape. Joe Menna, the Mint’s chief engraver, joined in supporting a more realistic outline of the state, but he discouraged the use of dotted lines for the projection lines, which would have been drawn by hand as a single, fine line.
Upon a motion by Mr. Shubow with second by Ms. Gilbert, the Commission members present recommended alternative #8 with the comments provided, and subject to confirmation by a quorum.
Ms. Stafford presented fourteen reverse alternatives for Massachusetts; the themes are the invention and development of the telephone, and the game of basketball. She said that the governor’s office did not provide a preference among these themes nor among the design alternatives. The CCAC supported the theme of the telephone and provided a preference for alternative #1, depicting the rotary dial that was developed for the telephone. She noted that the game of basketball is the subject of a commemorative coin program for issue in 2020, as reviewed by the Commission in July 2019.
Mr. Dunson described alternative #1 as an interesting composition. He observed that the lettering of the circumferential text at the top—“Massachusetts”—touches the edge of the rotary dial, while the text at the bottom—“United States of America”—does not. Mr. Harrigal said that this was the artist’s stylistic choice, but the lettering could be adjusted to be uniform in relation to the edge of the rotary dial.
Mr. Shubow suggested consideration of alternative #2, depicting the original patent drawing for the telephone; he said that this design is clearly about the telephone’s invention, while the time period of the rotary dial is less clear. Mr. Dunson acknowledged this concern; Ms. Gilbert commented that younger people now are entirely unfamiliar with rotary telephones, and this image will therefore convey a sense of history. Ms. Stafford responded that these issues were discussed by the CCAC, which concluded that the rotary dial would introduce some “fun” while adequately conveying the innovation of the telephone.
Acknowledging Mr. Shubow’s comments, Mr. Dunson supported both alternative #1 and #2. He added that alternative #3 is an interesting design that combines a very early telephone with a modern mobile phone, illustrating how far this invention has progressed; he anticipated that further innovation would result in a very different telephone design in the next five to ten years. He concluded that alternative #2 makes a powerful statement about the telephone’s origins.
Ms. Gilbert asked about the time period of the rotary dial depicted in alternative #1; Secretary Luebke responded that it appears to date from the 1920s to 1930s. Ms. Gilbert described the composition of alternative #1 as compelling and direct; it seems to invite a person to place a finger on the rotary numbers. Mr. Dunson agreed, reiterating his support for both #1 and #2. Upon a motion by Mr. Shubow, the Commission members present adopted this recommendation, subject to confirmation by a quorum.
Ms. Stafford presented sixteen reverse alternatives for Maryland; the themes are the Hubble Space Telescope, managed from two facilities in Maryland, and the Human Genome Project. The CCAC preference is for alternative #5, depicting the Hubble Space Telescope in orbit, with no recommendation concerning the Human Genome Project. She noted the telescope’s contributions to our understanding of the age of the universe, the growth of galaxies, the identification of black holes, and the study of planets within our solar system and beyond.
Ms. Gilbert noted the unusual lettering in alternative #5; Ms. Stafford confirmed that this is derived from the font used for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) logo. Mr. Dunson commented that alternative #5 is a powerful design; Ms. Gilbert agreed. Mr. Shubow said that the NASA font is interesting, although its use for other text such as “Maryland” is strange.
Mr. Shubow said that alternative #15 is also of interest, depicting a diagram of a DNA strand in the process of separating or reassembling. Mr. Dunson suggested that the Commission recommend both alternative #5 and #15. Upon a motion by
Mr. Shubow with second by Ms. Gilbert, the Commission members present adopted this recommendation, subject to confirmation by a quorum.
Ms. Stafford presented eleven reverse alternatives for South Carolina; the themes are educator and civil rights activist Septima Clark (1898–1987) and the invention of the maser. She said that both the governor’s office and the CCAC support the theme of Septima Clark, with a preference for alternative #2. She described Ms. Clark’s establishment of citizenship schools that taught literacy and citizenship rights, helping in the development of local leaders in the fight for civil rights, and she promoted knowledge as a way to empower marginalized groups. Alternative #2 depicts Ms. Clark marching with three students; she and two students are carrying books, and the third student carries a U.S. flag.
Ms. Gilbert supported alternative #2 as a powerful design, especially the inclusion of children and the side view of the group marching. She suggested that the text be revised to use Ms. Clark’s full name—Septima Poinsette Clark—if space allows.
Mr. Dunson supported alternative #1 for its strong message, depicting Ms. Clark lecturing against a background of the first page of the U.S. Constitution. He acknowledged that alternative #2 is also strong, but its message may not be clear: a person carrying the U.S. flag is a routine image, as seen in alternative #2, while the background text “We the People” in alternative #1 is especially powerful. He suggested that the Commission could recommend both alternative #1 and #2.
Ms. Gilbert commented that alternative #2 effectively depicts Ms. Clark as a leader; she suggested adding the text “Citizenship Schools” to this design, as seen in alternative #1. She observed that Ms. Clark has a dictatorial expression in alternative #1, reminiscent of an overly stern teacher. Mr. Dunson agreed but said that the stern expression is appropriate for her serious approach to education, even though this teaching style is no longer prevalent.
Mr. Shubow said that he prefers alternative #1 over #2, in part because the text “Citizenship Schools” in #1 helps to explain the subject of the design. Additional reasons include the traditional calligraphy in the background image of the Constitution, and the depiction of Ms. Clark as a teacher.
Mr. Dunson summarized the apparent consensus to recommend alternatives #1 and #2, with the suggestions provided concerning the text. Upon a second by Ms. Gilbert, the Commission members present adopted this recommendation, subject to confirmation by a quorum.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 4:50 p.m.
Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA