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 9:13 a.m.
Hon. Earl A. Powell, Chairman
Hon. Elizabeth Meyer, Vice Chairman
Hon. Edward Dunson
Hon. Liza Gilbert
Hon. Toni Griffin
Hon. Alex Krieger
Hon. Justin Shubow
Thomas E. Luebke, Secretary
Frederick J. Lindstrom, Assistant Secretary
A. Approval of the minutes of the 19 September meeting. Secretary Luebke reported that the minutes of the September meeting were circulated to the Commission members in advance. Upon a motion by Mr. Krieger, the Commission approved the minutes.
B. Dates of next meetings. Mr. Luebke presented the regularly scheduled dates for upcoming Commission meetings, as previously published: 21 November 2019, 16 January 2020, and 20 February 2020. He noted that no meeting is scheduled in December. He also noted that renovation of the building is planned during the winter, and the January 2020 meeting may need to be held at another location or on a different date.
C. Report on the approval of objects proposed for acquisition by the Freer Gallery of Art. Mr. Luebke reported Chairman Powell’s approval earlier in the morning of the Smithsonian Institution’s proposed acceptance of Japanese artwork donated to the permanent collection of the Freer Gallery of Art. These include a 19th-century screen, painted in ink with a mountain landscape image, and a collection of sixteen antique ceramic pieces related to the Japanese tea ceremony. An additional 167 pieces from the tea ceremony collection will become part of the Freer’s study collection, which does not require referral to the Commission.
D. Confirmation of the recommendations from the September 2019 meeting after the loss of a quorum. Mr. Luebke said that a formal action is needed to confirm the recommendations concerning four submissions reviewed the previous month without a quorum. He listed the projects requiring action:
SL 19-244, 411 New Jersey Avenue, SE. New residential building. Concept.
CFA 19/SEP/19-9, Congressional Gold Medal honoring Chinese-American Veterans of World War II. Design for gold medal with bronze duplicates. Final.
CFA 19/SEP/19-10, Congressional Gold Medal honoring the crew of the USS Indianapolis. Design for gold medal with bronze duplicates. Final.
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.
Upon a motion by Mr. Powell with second by Ms. Gilbert, the Commission adopted the September recommendations for these four submissions.
Mr. Luebke noted that Vice Chairman Meyer has been awarded this year’s Vincent Scully Prize, administered by the National Building Museum, as reported at the Commission’s September meeting. The prize recognizes exemplary practice, scholarship, or criticism in architecture, historic preservation, and urban design. The award will be presented at an event at the National Building Museum on 30 October.
II. Submissions and Reviews
Secretary Luebke introduced the three appendices for Commission action. Drafts of the appendices had been circulated to the Commission members in advance of the meeting.
Appendix I – Government Submissions Consent Calendar: Mr. Lindstrom said that no changes have been made to the draft appendix. Upon a motion by Mr. Krieger with second by Ms. Gilbert, the Commission approved the Government Submissions Consent Calendar.
Appendix II – Shipstead-Luce Act Submissions: Ms. Batcheler said that a project has been added at the beginning of the appendix to note that it has been withdrawn (case number SL 19-175). Other changes are limited to minor wording adjustments. 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. Gilbert, the Commission approved the revised Shipstead-Luce Act appendix.
Appendix III – Old Georgetown Act Submissions: Ms. Stevenson reported that the appendix has 22 projects; the only changes to the draft appendix are minor wording adjustments and the removal of one project. Upon a motion by Ms. Griffin, the Commission approved the revised Old Georgetown Act appendix.
At this point, the Commission departed from the order of the agenda to consider item II.F. Secretary Luebke said that the Commission may wish to act on this submission without a presentation.
F. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
CFA 17/OCT/19-8, Reporters Building (commercial office structure), 300 7th Street, SW. Building renovation, alterations, and additions for Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) headquarters relocation. Revised concept. (Previous: CFA 19/SEP/19-5)
Mr. Shubow commented that he prefers the original concept submission from June 2019, which had a better treatment of exterior fins, using a random placement. Upon a motion by Mr. Powell with second by Ms. Meyer, the Commission approved the revised concept submission with the inclusion of Mr. Shubow’s comment.
The Commission returned to the order of the agenda with item II.B.1.
B. National Park Service
1. CFA 17/OCT/19-1, National Emergency Medical Services Memorial. Various sites in Areas 1 and 2. Site selection for new memorial. Secretary Luebke introduced the site selection study for a planned memorial to the Emergency Medical Services (EMS), submitted by the National Park Service (NPS) on behalf of the National EMS Memorial Foundation. He said that in November 2018, the memorial foundation was authorized by federal law to establish a memorial honoring the commitment, service, and sacrifice of the nation’s EMS personnel, who respond each year to more than 37 million emergency calls ranging from medical problems to terrorist acts. He said that the project team has evaluated 25 potential sites, identifying four for further analysis; the study has been reviewed by the National Capital Memorial Advisory Commission, which did not oppose any of these four sites. He asked Peter May, the National Park Service’s Associate Regional Director for Lands and Planning, to introduce the presentation.
Mr. May noted that the National Park Service currently has ten memorials in the process of design review or development. He said that the EMS memorial could be situated on a relatively small parcel of land and does not necessarily require a location on or adjacent to the Mall. He asked James Orsino, vice president of the memorial foundation, to begin the presentation.
Mr. Orsino said that he has been a professional emergency medical technician for the city of Boston for over thirty years. He summarized the history of EMS, which began during the Civil War with the creation of the Medical Corps of the Grand Army of the Potomac, charged with handling the war’s large number of casualties by stationing ambulances and personnel on the front lines. At Gettysburg, under Gen. George Gordon Meade, the Medical Corps was responsible for greatly reducing the mortality rate. After the war, civilian ambulance services were established throughout the country. However, it was not until the mid-1960s that the federal government coordinated a national EMS system, now managed jointly by the U.S. Departments of Transportation, Defense, Homeland Security, and Health and Human Services, along with the Federal Communications Commission. Today, the U.S. has more than 21,000 EMS agencies and 880,000 EMS providers, half of them volunteers, responding to millions of calls each year. The work has a high number of fatalities and injuries; since 1992, 600 EMS workers have died on duty. He expressed hope that the memorial will inspire future generations to join the EMS. He introduced Katie Orsino, the memorial foundation’s executive director.
Ms. Orsino said that her husband, brother, and sister had all been EMS members; her brother was killed on duty, and her sister was permanently disabled from injuries sustained on the job. She emphasized the commitment shared by EMS workers to help other citizens, and the dangers they face every day; each life they save affects the lives of countless family members and friends, and likewise the deaths or injuries of EMS providers affect their families. She said that a national memorial will help ensure that EMS providers and their ideals will always be remembered.
Landscape architect Claire Sale of AECOM provided an overview of the site selection study. The initial list of 25 sites was drawn from the sites identified in the Memorials and Museums Master Plan, issued by the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) in 2001. The 25 sites are loosely clustered including in several areas: along Maryland Avenue, SW; in downtown Washington, particularly along Pennsylvania Avenue, New York Avenue, and on larger parcels such as Franklin Square and the National Building Museum grounds; in new rights-of-way along L’Enfant Plan streets that are being reestablished over the I-395 highway; and sites west and northeast of the Capitol. Sites were eliminated that had already been selected for a memorial or were otherwise unavailable.
The widely dispersed sites were evaluated using a list of criteria, narrowing the list to four sites. The evaluation criteria included: suitability to the program; the presence of shade; adequate space for a relatively small physical memorial, with sufficient gathering space for events; a thematic link between the site and its surroundings; prominence, including whether the site would be easy for visitors to find; access to public transportation and barrier-free access; tranquility, allowing for the creation of an environment for reflection. She summarized that the foundation seeks a location that can strike a balance between prominence and tranquility. Additional considerations include limitations imposed by existing infrastructure, the availability of a site, and the potential for opposition to locating this memorial on it.
Ms. Sale provided examples of why certain sites had been eliminated. The west yard of the National Building Museum is very close to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Judiciary Square, potentially resulting in confusion in differentiating among different types of emergency responders; Franklin Square will soon be redeveloped under a new plan that does not include a memorial; and the context of Murrow and Monroe Parks along Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, is too busy for this commemorative purpose. She listed the four sites remaining for further evaluation, using the identifying labels from the initial list of 25 sites: Site L, at Massachusetts and New Jersey Avenues and G Street, NW; Site S, at 3rd Street and Pennsylvania and Constitution Avenues, NW; Site U, at 3rd Street and Independence Avenue, SW, in front of the Department of Health and Human Services headquarters building; and Site W, at Maryland and Virginia Avenues, SW. She introduced landscape architect Alan Harwood, also with AECOM, to provide a more detailed analysis of these four sites.
Mr. Harwood noted that all four sites are relatively small, between a tenth and two-tenths of an acre, and are located at intersections to provide high visibility. The four sites are all located toward the eastern end of the monumental core, and they are generally near but not on the Mall; situating the memorial on any of these would shift the character of the Mall slightly away from the Reserve at its center. He described several areas of thematic groupings that have emerged for memorials in Washington—such as Revolutionary War heroes north of the White House, and Latin American leaders along Virginia Avenue, NW—and said the project team has identified an emerging area of memorials related to public service; these include the planned Peace Corps Memorial near the Capitol and the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial at Judiciary Square. He added that the Emergency Medical Services tend to be less recognized than police and firefighters, and the expectation is that the memorial will bring more visibility to the service.
Mr. Harwood described Site L, a small park serving as a traffic island at the intersection of Massachusetts and New Jersey Avenues with G Street, NW. The flat, triangular site is planted with grass, and it lies mostly within the right-of-way of Massachusetts Avenue. At 0.16 acre, it is the smallest of the four sites. The location is highly visible, two blocks west of Union Station and five blocks from the U.S. Capitol Grounds, and it is near the D.C. Fire EMS Museum at New Jersey Avenue and E Street. The surrounding area is undergoing a great deal of change, with the potential for additional new development immediately adjacent to the site. The location has good physical access, with many roads and sidewalks leading to it, although it is somewhat removed from the main routes traveled by visitors and is not near the Mall. However, with a location at the confluence of four roadways, it has views in many directions, including a direct view of the U.S. Capitol along New Jersey Avenue. Ms. Meyer asked about an existing memorial located near this site; Mr. Harwood indicated the Victims of Communism Memorial, occupying a small triangular plaza across Massachusetts Avenue from Site L. He described the relationship to additional memorials: the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial is several blocks west, currently without a direct pedestrian connection between them, but this will be improved after completion of the Capitol Crossing project above the sunken I-395 highway. He indicated a possible focal point of Site L, acknowledging that the view to the Capitol would be from the site’s edge rather than this point, similar to the site conditions for the Victims of Communism Memorial. He said that the main challenge to designing a successful memorial on Site L would be traffic noise, particularly along the south and west sides, but overall it would be a good location for a modest memorial.
Mr. Harwood presented Site S, a small park at the intersection of Pennsylvania and Constitution Avenues with 3rd Street, NW. The site is located in Area 1 as defined by the Commemorative Works Act; it is one block north of the Mall, several blocks northwest of the Capitol, and immediately across from the National Gallery of Art East Building, the E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse, and the Gen. George Gordon Meade Memorial. Thematic connections of the site include its proximity to the Capitol, the Meade Memorial, and the Department of Health and Human Services headquarters building across the Mall down 3rd Street; the site is also near Judiciary Square and the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. Although noisy and surrounded by traffic, the location possesses great symbolic and ceremonial strength, and the flat, triangular site affords clear views of important buildings and itself has excellent visibility and good access. Most visitors would probably come from the Mall, to the south, or from the east. The site is constrained by some existing utilities, which may affect the location of a focal point within the site.
Mr. Harwood described Site U, located on the front plaza of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) headquarters building at 3rd Street and Independence Avenue, SW. The site for the memorial would be a 0.17-acre area along the western side of the plaza. The prominent Modernist architect Marcel Breuer designed the Brutalist building and its plaza; it was completed in 1976 and is not currently considered historic. He said that Breuer set the building back from Independence Avenue to allow unimpeded views of the Rayburn House Office Building to the east. The HHS Building is under the jurisdiction of the General Services Administration, and the context is an established area near the Mall that is also undergoing change because of increased development in Southwest. He indicated the nearby American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial to the southeast. He summarized that Site U would balance prominence, noise, and activity, with high visibility along Independence Avenue.
Mr. Harwood presented the final site under consideration, Site W within the park at the intersection of Maryland and Virginia Avenues and 7th Street, SW. While Site U is not as quiet as a typical memorial site, he said that it could be successful as a place for events that would create a feeling of tranquility among the nearby office buildings, streets, and railroad tracks.
Ms. Gilbert commended the project team for including the presence of existing shade in the criteria; she asked if the memorial will be designed with consideration of saving existing trees. Mr. Harwood responded that there is no program or design yet, but the trees will likely be a consideration; he added that the project team is looking for guidance on such issues. He said that Site U will have shade from the HHS building, and on other sites the memorial could take advantage of shade from existing trees; he observed that keeping large shade trees is preferable to planting trees and waiting years for them to grow large enough to cast shade. Ms. Gilbert recommended preserving as much shade as possible, emphasizing the importance of shade in a warming climate; Mr. Krieger suggested that creating shade could be an additional criterion for the design.
Ms. Meyer said the noted landscape architect Peter Rolland had worked with Breuer on this project. She said she would recommend this site for its many strengths, including thematic associations, prominence, and access. However, she emphasized that it is not a featureless, empty site but is instead a minimalist design with an elegant ground plane; this should be recognized from the beginning if this site is selected, to avoid the problems that were encountered by other memorials constructed on sites with existing Modernist designs. She said that the memorial’s design could alter or reimagine the site but must recognize that what is here has value. She said that this may be the best site, but it may feel limited once design development begins; for example, the site area identified on the presented diagram might be too narrow, and she suggested remaining open to a wider range of locations on the plaza. Mr. Harwood responded that the area indicated was meant to identify the memorial’s focal point; the memorial could occupy a larger area. He expressed appreciation for the advice of the Commission members on how a memorial might be created on a particular site.
Mr. Krieger suggested consideration of whether the site should be autonomous or part of something larger. He observed that Sites L and S are both small and located at intersections, and either of these sites would be entirely devoted to this memorial; in contrast, Sites U and W would be a smaller part of a larger open space that may change over time in ways that would be beyond the control of the memorial foundation. He observed that all four sites are centrally located near the Capitol and appear to be plausible sites for this memorial. He commented that the association of Site U with the Health and Human Services headquarters building would be powerful; Ms. Meyer noted that this advantage assumes that the building will always have this occupant.
Ms. Griffin expressed appreciation for the opportunity that serving on the Commission gives to learn about different facets of American history, such as the story of the Emergency Medical Services. She commended EMS workers for the extraordinary risks they take on behalf of Americans, and she thanked the representatives of the memorial foundation for their heartfelt testimony. She said that she has been considering how to prioritize the site criteria, and listening to the testimony and comments has begun to suggest how this might be done. One idea that seems to link the testimony together is the importance of giving greater recognition to the EMS; therefore, a location where EMS could be connected to a larger theme or meaning may be helpful. For this reason, she said she is drawn to Site U: its association with the health and service professions would give a reason for locating the memorial there, which would help elevate the importance of the EMS. In addition, many people walk by this site. She said that Sites L and S would be suitable; because they are located along traffic corridors and are not otherwise destinations, they might have less potential to improve recognition of the EMS. She called Site W the least compelling, in part because of its size: the larger park might be too big and too anonymous for a memorial that needs a prominent site and a larger thematic program. She advised the project team to clearly prioritize the site selection criteria.
Ms. Meyer said that she frequently walks past Sites L and S. She commented that the triangular Site L is suitably autonomous, but the future use of the parking lot to the north is unknown, so a major part of the context cannot be controlled; Mr. Krieger agreed this would be an issue. Ms. Meyer said the association of Site S with the Gen. Meade statue is compelling, but many other aspects of this location do not work—in particular, the empty site to the east, under the jurisdiction of the Architect of the Capitol, may eventually be built on, another issue of loss of control of the context. She concluded that all four sites are strong contenders, while Site U is the best for this particular memorial.
Mr. Dunson said he thinks that Sites U and W are the most promising. Site W, although it is cluttered, possesses prominence, tranquility, and easy access, which he finds to be the most important qualities. He commended Sites L and S for their prominence but said they have too many problematic qualities, such as heavy traffic and difficult access; they give the impression of being under siege, which might detract from the memorial. He agreed with Ms. Griffin on the power of the testimony, as well as the importance of increasing the public’s recognition of EMS.
Mr. Shubow spoke strongly in favor of Site W, calling it a highly accessible site in a neighborhood that is getting an increasing amount of pedestrian traffic. He said that because there are no existing memorials nearby, an EMS memorial here could stand out. He found Site U problematic for several reasons, including its lack of shade and the potential difficulty of planting trees here because of the configuration of I-395 in this area. Most importantly, he said, the Brutalist HHS Building is widely regarded as one of the ugliest buildings in Washington, and he questioned whether people would want to visit a memorial in such an unpleasant location.
Mr. Krieger commented on the challenges facing memorials that lack the international fame of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. He said that those people who know about the EMS memorial will know what it is regardless of where it is located, and they will go to it regularly for events. He said the question instead is whether the sponsor wants this to be a memorial that other people will encounter as they go about their daily lives. He agreed that exposing the work of the EMS to a wider audience should be an important criterion, similar to the argument for Desert Storm and Desert Shield Memorial; he recalled that the presentation for the Desert Storm Memorial had revealed a lack of public understanding of the significance of these conflicts, and thus its sponsor had advocated for a site close to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in order to attract the attention of its millions of visitors. He said that while Site W would be a great location for something, if the EMS memorial were built here, it would probably only be visited by EMS families.
Concerning Site U, Mr. Krieger said he does not find the HHS Building unpleasant, but he commented that even if it is widely considered to be ugly, it is nonetheless a location where people would be likely to come upon the memorial and would therefore be able to learn about and appreciate the EMS story. For this reason, notwithstanding the high pedestrian traffic of Sites L and S, he concluded that Site U is better situated to provide a meaningful experience.
Ms. Gilbert noted Ms. Orsino’s testimony that half of the almost 900,000 EMS workers in the U.S. are volunteers, and she emphasized that this astounding number is an important part of the story. She cited the example of a London church that had been bombed in World War II and was left as a ruin, which now contains a garden and is visited by people daily; she observed that such an experience of daily communion with a special place of history and memory suggests how the EMS memorial may become a destination that people will be drawn to repeatedly, keeping it continually renewed and alive.
Mr. Krieger asked if the Commission is expected to provide comments about all of the sites or a formal endorsement of a specific site; Mr. Harwood said that the comments are helpful, as would an endorsement of one particular site. Ms. Meyer observed that the Commission’s comments indicate more interest in a couple of sites; Chairman Powell agreed. Mr. Luebke summarized that the discussion has included more comments in favor of Site U but has recognized the pros and cons of all four, and these will be summarized in a letter. Ms. Meyer said that in the past, at this phase of a project some members may say that a particular site would not be a good choice; she advised the project team to consider negative comments as well as positive, bearing in mind the importance of the memorial experience and the general atmosphere of each place. She observed that this memorial is different than a war memorial, where eventually no survivors of the war will remain, and future visitors will be people who were not directly affected by the deaths. In contrast, she said that with the EMS memorial, she said, families and colleagues will come here to mourn every year, and the experience will be current for them; the project team needs to consider how this will affect the experience and the design, rather than just consider which site is the most prominent.
Chairman Powell commented that he is most familiar with Site S, which he described as an island marooned by traffic and not suitable as a destination. He observed that Sites U and W both offer interesting possibilities. He endorsed Ms. Meyer’s comments and thanked the memorial foundation for its moving commentary.
Mr. Dunson observed that the sites have been discussed as they exist today; however, the construction of the memorial will likely involve clearing the site, rather than adapting the memorial to existing conditions. Chairman Powell agreed that this is an important point. Mr. Harwood said the intention is to work with and enhance what now exists on the chosen site. Mr. May added that there are no preconceived ideas about how any particular site would be treated, and the design would be developed gradually. He expressed appreciation for the Commission’s comments and the inspiring discussion. Chairman Powell and Mr. Krieger thanked the project team for its thorough investigation of the potential sites. The discussion concluded without a formal action.
2. CFA 17/OCT/19-2, National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, Judiciary Square, 400 Block of E Street, NW. Alterations to accommodate additional names. Concept. Secretary Luebke introduced the concept design submitted by the National Park Service, on behalf of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, for alterations to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial located at Judiciary Square. The existing memorial, designed by architect Davis Buckley, was authorized by federal law in 1984 and dedicated in October 1991. Its walls, inscribed with the names of deceased officers, will likely reach their capacity by 2029, sooner than was anticipated when originally designed. The proposal calls for a vertical extension to these existing marble walls on the east and west sides of the memorial, adding fifteen-inch-high panels of the same marble to accommodate more names. He asked Peter May of the National Park Service to introduce the proposal.
Mr. May said that this is one of the most beautiful and successful of the memorials built in Washington in recent decades. Unfortunately, the number of names being added to the memorial has surpassed initial projections, in part due to extensive research into the history of law enforcement. He introduced Davis Buckley of Davis Buckley Architects and Planners to present the proposal for the wall extensions.
Mr. Buckley said that the memorial was designed to accommodate the addition of approximately 377 names per year, including new deaths as well as past deaths discovered through historical research. Since that time, several catastrophic events have materially changed the number of named being added to the memorial. He said that consultations with the law enforcement community and other stakeholders have resulted in the decision to provide space for additional names within the existing memorial, reasoning that all those who die in the line of duty should be memorialized in the same place. Extensive study has shown that a new fifteen-inch-high extension atop the existing memorial walls could accommodate new names at the current rate through the year 2057.
Mr. Buckley said that a critical component in the proposed design is the transition between the existing walls and the new extensions. He presented diagrams of the numerous options that were studied for the configuration and dimension of this transition; a consensus was reached that a simple half-inch offset would be sufficient to differentiate the old and new. Names would be added to the new wall, starting from the bottom and proceeding upward; the text would be centered with ragged margins, the same format as the existing names. He said that special consideration was given to the design of the end conditions where the walls are interrupted by the diagonal walkways between the inner and outer precincts of the memorial, and at the terminations of the walls at the memorial’s sculptural elements. He concluded by presenting scale mockups of the proposed wall details to the Commission to show the various options studied; he noted that full-size mockups were also installed at the site to study the design.
Ms. Griffin asked how the existing stone wall would be modified to accept the new pieces on top. Mr. Buckley said that the existing marble cap would be removed, and the new installation would be attached using pins; he asked a member of his firm, architect Tom Striegel, to provide additional information. Mr. Striegel said that the existing cap is a separate piece of stone secured with dowels, making it detachable from the lower wall. The concrete substructure and foundations would not have to be altered to support the new additions, nor would the existing plantings or trees need to be removed. He said the construction would be phased, allowing for the memorial to remain open while segments of the wall are worked on. Mr. Powell asked if a sufficient supply of the existing stone exists to construct the new extensions. Mr. Buckley said an adequate supply should be available; he noted that the new stone, when it is first installed, will appear lighter than the existing wall.
Mr. Krieger said the preferred option is very elegant. He asked how the existing memorial walls would be protected during construction, especially when removing the stone cap; he also cautioned that large equipment used during demolition and construction could damage the memorial. Mr. Striegel said that the existing quarter-inch joint between the wall and the cap allows for a skilled stone craftsman to carefully insert a blade and remove the cap; a metal edge and a protective layer over the names would be installed to provide additional protection for the existing walls. He said that extensive shop drawing and testing phases would ensure that the existing memorial is protected. Mr. Buckley said that when the memorial originally opened, a repair and maintenance manual was prepared; it included diagrams and other specifications detailing how to remove and replace the stone panels. Mr. Krieger advised including specifications in the contract documents detailing the required protection for the memorial walls during demolition and construction.
Ms. Gilbert asked if an option has been studied that would add names to the seat walls opposite the engraved memorial walls, perhaps having engraved named interspersed with seating areas. Mr. Striegel said that this had been explored, but representatives of the memorial fund felt strongly that all the names should be displayed in the same place; the names engraved on the seat wall would have been perceived as not equal to those on the main walls.
Ms. Meyer said that the preferred option is a surprisingly reasonable solution. She said many agree that the memorial is successful both as a place of commemoration and an everyday place, and it is one of the most beautiful places in Washington to take a short walk. She encouraged consideration of the pedestrian experience of the memorial at night, given the increased height of the walls. She also asked for more information on the treatment of the pleached trees during demolition and construction. Mr. Buckley recalled that landscape architect Dan Kiley had originally recommended pleaching the trees. He said that the first layer of lower branches on the trees would be pruned; he also noted that the pathways adjacent to the walls are ten feet wide, in part to facilitate the movement of equipment needed for regular maintenance of the trees. Mr. Striegel added that arborists from the National Park Service confirmed that the trees can be limbed up. Ms. Meyer advised completing the pruning before construction begins so that a smaller canopy would need to be sustained during construction and to allow more space for the construction work.
Upon a motion by Ms. Meyer with second by Mr. Dunson, the Commission approved the concept design.
3. CFA 21/NOV/19-3, Second Division Memorial, Constitution Avenue, NW, southwest side of The Ellipse. Alterations to accommodate additional names and barrier-free access. Concept. Secretary Luebke introduced a concept submission for alterations to the Second Division Memorial, which was originally constructed in 1936 to commemorate the members of the U.S. Army's Second Infantry Division who died in World War I; it was designed by architect John Russell Pope and sculptor James Earl Fraser. An addition was completed in 1962 to honor the division members who died in World War II and the Korean War, designed by Pope’s successor firm, Eggers & Higgins. Legislation from August 2018 authorizes the addition of new commemorative elements to honor service members who have died in more recent military conflicts. He said that the design team will present four options for these new commemorative elements; each would add granite plinths or blocks to the existing platform in front of or flanking the central granite tri-partite wall. Additionally, the alterations would provide barrier-free access to the memorial. He asked Peter May of the National Park Service to begin the presentation.
Mr. May noted that this is the second proposal of the day for an addition to an existing memorial, which is a somewhat rare occurrence, although he acknowledged that memorials evolve over time. He said that he is pleased with the skillful proposal to modify this memorial. He introduced Aves Thompson, chairman of the board of directors for the Second Indianhead Division Association, the sponsoring organization for the project. Mr. Thompson thanked the Commission members for the opportunity to present the proposal on behalf of the association and its members, and he asked architect Hany Hassan of Beyer Blinder Belle to present the design.
Mr. Hassan noted that his first architectural job in the U.S. was with Eggers & Higgins, and he recalled seeing drawings for this memorial in their New York offices. He said that the memorial is prominently sited on the Ellipse, and it has the special quality of having a strong visual presence from the street despite being set back into the park landscape; this character has been a factor in the development of solutions for the new addition. He also observed that the large gilded sword sculpture at the center of the memorial is particularly beautiful when lit by sunlight.
Mr. Hassan said that the four options for adding to the memorial were developed based on an analysis of the original conception for the memorial and its subsequent expansion. The original memorial was composed of a vertical tripartite wall set at the north edge of a raised platform accessed by shallow steps, with the gold sword as its sculptural centerpiece; a large opening in the central panel of the wall allows the sword to be seen from both the front and rear of the memorial. The expansion in the 1960s encompassed extensions of the raised platform to the east and west with the addition of low, horizontal walls and two flagpoles set on plinths at the far ends, while largely preserving the original memorial; he observed that the vertical punctuation of the sword was balanced with the new flagpoles. The steps on the south were also extended to the east and west, with a slight setback to give prominence to the original memorial, now at the center of the enlarged composition. He characterized the 1960s addition as successful, and he said that it resulted in the creation of three distinct zones within the memorial. He said the goal is for the new addition to be compatibly integrated into this existing memorial composition, using new stone plinths for inscriptions commemorating the military conflicts of recent decades.
Mr. Hassan said that Option A represents a minimalist approach. This option would place on the existing raised platform two new plinths of Stony Creek granite, the same stone used in both the original memorial and the 1960s addition; the new plinths would be the same length and width as the underlying stone paver, with a height equal to the existing plinths that support the flag poles but without their coping. He said that this design would accentuate the three zones of the existing memorial, and he noted that the location of the new plinths in this option would result in narrow gaps of approximately 2’-3” between them and the projecting base of the existing central wall. Option B would add coping to the new plinths proposed in Option A; he presented perspective drawings showing the coping, observing that the memorial has a very sensitive scale, and its character can be impacted by even small changes such as this. Option C would shift the new plinths further to the east and west to emphasize the original central space of the memorial. He confirmed for Mr. Krieger that the plinths would be wider in this option, again corresponding to the size of the existing pavers. Option D, which is the design team’s preferred option, would create a southward extension of the original central area of the memorial’s raised platform; the extension would be flanked by two new stone plinths, and the existing approach steps would be moved southward to the new edge of the platform. The proposed plinth height and location in this option are intended to differentiate the old from the new, comparable to the subtle jog in the steps seen in the 1960s expansion of the memorial. To establish the subordinate role of the new plinths within the memorial composition, their height would match the height of the existing flagpole plinths at the joint below the coping. He noted that the newly expanded platform would allow visitors to view the central wall and sculpture from within the memorial at a less extreme angle. He added that this proposal does not seek to increase the height of walls or introduce other elements that would compromise the original character of the memorial as an object seemingly floating above a foreground of lawn, especially when seen from Constitution Avenue. One or several inscriptions would be placed on the front and sides of the new plinths, using the same font as the memorial’s existing inscriptions.
Mr. Hassan presented three alternatives within Option D for providing barrier-free access to the newly expanded memorial platform. Option D-1 would bring the grade to the platform level toward the east and west ends of the platform’s south edge, adjacent to the new plinths, while providing wide, shallow steps between the plinths to approach the center of the memorial. Option D-2 would reverse this condition, with at-grade access provided at the center of the memorial and shallow steps to the east and west. Option D-3 would provide at-grade access along the entire southern edge of the platform, eliminating steps altogether.
Mr. Hassan concluded by presenting two options for a new pedestrian path leading from Constitution Avenue to the memorial, both using granite pavers. The first option would provide a straight path perpendicular to the avenue; the second would provide a widely arcing symmetrical path, meeting the Constitution Avenue sidewalk at two places. He said the arcing path is inspired by the curvilinear paths seen throughout President’s Park and the Ellipse. He expressed concern that the first option would compromise the existing experience of viewing the memorial from the south with lawn as the foreground, leading to his preference for the second option. He said that although the presentation shows the arcing path passing in front of the memorial, the intended solution is to design the arc as two segments terminating at the memorial’s two side rooms that would be created in Option D.
Ms. Gilbert asked for more information on the original landscape plans for the memorial, noting the beautiful planted area behind the memorial consisting of shrubs and canopy trees. Mr. Hassan said that drawings of the 1962 expansion depict the current design, which includes the hollies framing the memorial and flower beds wrapping around the front. He said that this is an interesting composition, but he is surprised by the flower beds, which partially block the stairs; he noted that the flower beds are not proposed in Option D, but they could be incorporated into the design of the new approach pathway. Ms. Gilbert suggested that the flower beds be eliminated in the new design, and she expressed support for the intent to retain the lawn as the foreground of the memorial when viewed from the south.
Mr. Krieger complimented Mr. Hassan’s design analysis and supported the conclusions. He agreed that Options A, B, and C could be eliminated, since the plinths shown in these options appear odd and intrusive in the central space; he observed that they would over-exaggerate the hierarchy of the central space and subordinate flanking wings. In addition, the space behind the new plinths would be too narrow in these options. He therefore expressed support for Option D, which he characterized as brilliant, commenting that it would enhance the memorial while maintaining a sense of its evolution over time. For the more specific variations to provide barrier-free access, he supported the stair and paving configuration of Option D-1, commenting that retaining steps at the center of the memorial is desirable. He asked for additional information on how the proposed pedestrian path would meet the memorial; Mr. Hassan said that the pathway could intersect with the memorial at the southeast and southwest corners of the platform, and Mr. Krieger supported this solution.
Ms. Meyer expressed appreciation for Mr. Hassan’s careful analysis of this and other projects he has presented to the Commission, and she commended his design for the recently completed screening pavilion for the Washington Monument. She observed that the 1960s addition to the Second Division Memorial did not replicate the paving pattern of wide and narrow units seen in the original memorial’s platform, instead using only wide pavers in the extension. She recommended that this project have a similarly careful differentiation of the new paving from the existing—whether using only pavers with a narrow dimension or another size. She said that visitors would be able to sense this subtle difference, helping to differentiate the new from the old.
Ms. Griffin expressed support for Option D-1, with the new path configuration intersecting the corners of the memorial. Regarding the overall design of the pathway, she questioned whether it needs to be symmetrical, commenting that paths often have the appealing quality of being non-symmetrical. Mr. Hassan responded that the presented drawing is only diagrammatic, and the path does not need to be so rigidly symmetrical; he also noted that other paths in the area are non-symmetrical. Ms. Griffin suggested further study of this configuration. Mr. Krieger also advised that the pathway not be made too asymmetrical, since there would be no clear rationale for doing so; he suggested that the configuration of the path be adjusted in response to the context and character of the Ellipse, such as to avoid trees. Ms. Gilbert suggested slightly depressing the path within the grade near the memorial so that the path would not be visible when viewing the memorial from the Constitution Avenue sidewalk.
Mr. Shubow also expressed support for the configuration of Option D. However, he said that this option appears minimalist compared to the existing memorial, and he suggested consideration of adding a coping stone to the new plinths to bring artistry to the design, as shown in Options B and C. Mr. Hassan responded that excluding the coping is intended to help differentiate the new from the old, as well as to subordinate the new plinths to the existing flagpole plinths, which he characterized as embracing the overall composition. Mr. Krieger reiterated his support for Mr. Hassan’s assessment of the design options. Ms. Meyer agreed, commenting that the height difference between the old and new plinths would allow the new elements to feel as though they are appropriately situated within the overall memorial space and would reinforce the sense of hierarchy among the three spaces.
Ms. Meyer asked if this project could be affected by the master plan for President’s Park. Mr. May responded that this project would not be affected by the master plan, which has been dormant for some time; other issues within the park have taken precedence over executing the master plan. He acknowledged that some projects with the potential to alter the shape of the Ellipse, such as adjustments to the roadway, could have some limited effects on the Second Division Memorial.
Chairman Powell expressed appreciation for the presentation and discussion, and asked for a motion. Mr. Krieger offered a motion to approve Option D-1, with the understanding that the pedestrian pathway would meet the memorial at the corners as discussed. Upon a second by Mr. Powell, the Commission adopted this action.
Following the vote, Chairman Powell asked about the use of the word “Indianhead” in the sponsoring organization’s name. Mr. Thompson said that when the Second Division was formed in France in 1917, a contest was held to select a nickname for the division. “Indianhead” was chosen at this time; in 1941, the Army changed the designation to the Second Infantry Division, but the nickname remained. He noted that while this is not part of the division’s official name, an image of the profile of a Native American wearing a feather headdress is still used on the division’s official insignia.
C. Smithsonian Institution
1. CFA 17/OCT/19-4, National Museum of the American Indian, Maryland Avenue at 3rd Street, SW. National Native American Veterans Memorial. Final. (Previous: CFA 16/MAY/19-1) Ms. Batcheler introduced the proposed final design for the National Native American Veterans Memorial, to be located on the grounds of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian at Maryland Avenue between 3rd and 4th Streets, SW. She summarized the Commission’s recommendations from the concept review in May 2019 regarding the relationship of the memorial to the museum’s existing landscape, and for further development of details such as railings, benches, materials, and the approach path. She asked Ann Trowbridge, associate director for planning at the Smithsonian, to begin the presentation.
Ms. Trowbridge said that the submitted final design responds to previous comments from the Commission and the staff. She noted that the D.C. Historic Preservation Office has determined that the project will not have an adverse effect on historic resources. She expressed hope that construction could begin soon, allowing for completion of the memorial for Veterans Day in 2020. She introduced several members of the design team: artist Harvey Pratt, the project’s lead designer; architect Hans Butzer of Butzer Architects and Urbanism; and landscape architect Elliot Rhodeside of Rhodeside & Harwell. She asked Mr. Butzer to present the design.
Mr. Butzer said that the presentation will focus on the topics identified in the Commission’s previous review: the landscape; the approach path and the railing along it; benches; and the materials and detailing of the memorial’s central sculpture and the stone drum beneath it. He said that the proposed use of stainless steel for the sculpture—a vertical ring titled the “Warriors’ Circle of Honor”—is the appropriate choice for symbolic reasons, based on the comments of the competition jury and the Native American communities that were consulted in recent years. Regarding the detailing of the stone drum beneath the sculpture, he said that the proposed abstraction in the design is necessary due to the many differences among the drums used by different communities.
Mr. Butzer presented a site plan, indicating the relationship of the memorial to the museum building, the Welcome Plaza to the east of the building entrance, and the wetland landscape east of the plaza and south of the proposed memorial. The memorial’s approach path would begin at the Welcome Plaza alongside an existing prayer circle, winding along the north edge of the wetland landscape to reach the circular memorial precinct. Mr. Pratt described the symbolism of the concentric circles in this area, with benches separating the inner and outer circles; visitors would reach the inner circle at one of the cardinal compass points. The central area of the memorial is intended to bring visitors into harmony with nature through the elements of water, fire, earth, and air, creating a contemplative character conducive to praying for veterans.
Mr. Harwell presented the landscape plan, which he said is intended to integrate the memorial with the beautiful, natural landscape of the existing museum grounds. He indicated the proposed paving pattern for the memorial and its approach path, intended to support the intended character of the circular areas of the memorial and of the approach path’s connection to the museum’s existing paved areas. He presented a diagram of the project’s area of disturbance, which has been minimized to protect the existing landscape as much as possible. Tree removal has also been minimized; the resulting proposal is to remove eight trees and to replant seventeen trees elsewhere on the museum grounds. He indicated areas of new plantings, including densification of the plantings along the museum site’s boundary wall along 3rd Street and Jefferson Drive in order to provide a backdrop for views from within the memorial and a strong landscape foreground for views from the sidewalks toward the museum building. Plantings would be added at the west edge of the wetlands area, alongside the Welcome Plaza, as previously suggested by the Commission. Along the northwest edge of the wetland, adjacent to the memorial’s approach path, additional plantings as well as boulders are proposed. He said that the landscape design is intended to relate to the varied characters within the adjacent grounds, including wetland, meadow, and upland landscapes. The types of plants used for this project would be drawn from the museum’s original planting plan from more than a decade ago; no new types of plants would be introduced by this project. He said that the design team has worked with the Smithsonian’s staff to assure that the project is using native species instead of cultivars, and that the new landscape will have a planting density similar to the original design for the museum grounds. He presented images of many of the proposed plantings; perennials would be used to provide year-round beauty.
Mr. Rhodeside concluded with several photographs of existing conditions, paired with photo-simulations of the proposed landscape and memorial. He indicated the density of plantings along the sidewalk edges, allowing for intermittent views of the memorial. The view from the Welcome Plaza toward the memorial would similarly be partially screened, and the existing tree canopy above the memorial would provide dappled light. He also indicated the location for a bioretention facility further west on the museum grounds, close to the north edge along Jefferson Drive; he said that this stormwater management feature is required because the project’s area of disturbance exceeds 5,000 square feet, and the location is an existing gap in the original plantings and appropriately sited near a stormwater outfall area.
Mr. Butzer continued the presentation of design refinements to the memorial. Along the north side of the approach path near its origination point, a sinuous title wall of dark granite would give the name of the memorial and contain the five seals of the armed forces. He said that the proposed height of the lettering would be comparable to other title text on the museum grounds, and the finish of the granite would be rougher toward the edges to evoke a symbolic connection to earth. Further along the path, a bench would emerge from the wall. As previously recommended by the Commission, the width of the walk would vary, ranging from eight feet to slightly more than six feet, and the primary views would be toward the wetland and the memorial.
Mr. Butzer presented the refinements to the paving design, which focuses on the centrality of the drum supporting the Warriors’ Circle of Honor. The emanating rings of granite paving would draw people toward the center of the memorial, where different types of seating and gathering space would be provided. The backs of the seating have been refined in response to the Commission’s advice—higher for some seating to provide additional separation from the sounds and disturbances of the nearby streets, and lower for some seating to open the views toward the wetland and museum. He added that the paving of the approach path is designed as an extension of the museum’s existing site paving.
Mr. Butzer said that the design for the railing along the approach path has been studied carefully in response to the Commission’s previous review and subsequent staff consultation. The emphasis is on horizontal elements that follow the curving alignment of the railing; vertical supports would be as thin and far apart as possible, subject to the need for structural stability. The proposed material is CorTen steel, which will visually tend to recede into the landscape. The intended effect is a rhythmic railing with a flowing sense of movement that also blends with the surrounding site. He concluded by presenting several granite samples to the Commission, indicating the varied finishes that are proposed.
Mr. Pratt presented details of the four proposed sculptures of guardian lances; these would be fourteen feet tall, made of stainless steel, and placed at the transition points into the core of the memorial at the four cardinal compass points. Each lance would taper toward a bronze lance tip at the top; slightly below would be a battle pennant with bronze feathers and streamers attached, and the bottom of each lance would be designed for the attachment of prayer cloths. He summarized that the memorial is intended as a timeless symbol for past and future generations.
Mr. Butzer presented refinements to the lighting design, intended to achieve a balance between safety needs and a solemn, peaceful character for the site; consideration was also given to the context of lighting on the National Mall. Accent lighting would be provided below the seating edges and the path’s handrail, and uplighting would be provided for the Warriors’ Circle of Honor. He concluded by expressing appreciation for the Commission’s advice, acknowledging the importance of design refinements in making this a timeless memorial.
Ms. Griffin asked if the height of the railing could be reduced along the landscape edge of the approach path. Mr. Butzer responded that the design is intended to draw people directly alongside the constructed wetland of the museum grounds, but this results in the need to protect visitors from falling into the water. The railing is therefore designed with a 42-inch height, and the handrail is placed at a height of 36 inches; he noted that the falloff from the path to the water below is slightly more than 30 inches, necessitating the protective railing. He emphasized that the continuity of the railing is intended to draw people along the path toward the memorial. Ms. Griffin agreed that the railing is beautifully designed, but she observed that it has the effect of separating the visitor from the elegant landscape, perhaps due to its design as well as its height. She supported Mr. Butzer’s intent for the path to draw visitors into the landscape, but she suggested a railing design that visually recedes rather than appearing as a barrier, however beautiful. Mr. Krieger noted that the proposed height is likely required by regulation; Mr. Butzer confirmed this requirement. Ms. Trowbridge clarified that the Smithsonian Institution has authority to determine its own building code standards, but it typically follows the requirements of international building codes; she said that this detail has been reviewed, and the proposed height is required.
Ms. Meyer observed that the railing is along a relatively flat path, not a ramp; Ms. Trowbridge clarified that the railing protects against the danger of people falling into the water, or into the dry basin during the annual draining of the water for maintenance. Ms. Meyer suggested that this protection could be provided by a coping with a height of perhaps twelve or eighteen inches, and the proposed handrail is not necessary along this flat path. Mr. Krieger commented that the presented perspective view along the path is contributing to the Commission’s dissatisfaction; even if the objectionable height cannot be changed, the color could be adjusted and the thickness of the railing components could possibly be reduced. Ms. Griffin emphasized that the design should allow a more open view through the railing toward the landscape, rather than creating the perception of a barrier that separates the visitor from the landscape. Ms. Gilbert suggested that some components of the railing could be eliminated; for instance, some of the vertical posts do not extend all the way to the top and seem to be merely decorative. Alternatively, the railing’s components could be thinner.
Mr. Krieger observed that the railing appears to be less obtrusive in the elevation drawing, and the problem may be that the perspective rendering is giving the impression of a heavier appearance. Mr. Butzer responded that the design team is continuing to work with the project’s structural engineer to make the railing’s components as thin as possible and to eliminate vertical posts where possible; he said that the structural analysis involves evaluating the horizontal distance between support points. He agreed with the need to continue refining the design, while also emphasizing the need for adequate safety. Ms. Griffin agreed that the density of components in the railing should be reconsidered, and she acknowledged that the drawing technique of the rendering may be giving a false impression of the railing’s character.
Mr. Krieger asked about the design rationale for the railing’s color. Mr. Butzer responded that the dark color helps to make the railing visually recede into the landscape and relate to the earth; this general effect, and the use of CorTen steel in particular, is seen elsewhere at Smithsonian facilities. Ms. Gilbert agreed that the CorTen steel has an organic character. Ms. Meyer said that another advantage of using CorTen steel for the railing is to contrast with the more honorific use of stainless steel at the center of the memorial; she therefore discouraged the proposed use of stainless steel for the railing’s handrail. Mr. Krieger again observed that the railing does not appear to be receding in the presented rendering, perhaps due to the dark-colored depiction of the landscape behind it. He suggested adding lighting along the edge of the approach path or railing to illuminate the landscape and provide a stronger visual contrast; he said that this treatment could be effective in the evening and would help to overcome the sense of darkness that is apparent, although perhaps exaggerated, in the rendering.
Ms. Meyer asked for clarification of the two stone finishes for the title wall, noting that this area is unclear from the presented drawings. Mr. Butzer clarified that the ends of the wall would have a rough-hewn finish, while the seating surfaces would have a honed finish. More generally, he said that the site’s walls and benches are intended to create a “blanket of granite” that wraps the memorial, and the stone is intended as a reference to earth.
Mr. Krieger said that the initial design for the memorial’s benches seemed odd, but he now supports the varied treatment of their backs. Mr. Butzer said that the height difference has been increased to six inches in response to the Commission’s previous comments; he acknowledged that the perspective drawing may not convey this clearly, perhaps due to the angle of the view. He indicated the section details of the benches; Mr. Krieger agreed that the design depicted in these details is more effective than conveyed by the perspective drawing.
Ms. Meyer commented that the paving design is extraordinary in many details, particularly the varied width of the pavers moving outward from the memorial’s central plaza, giving emphasis to the symbolism of the circle. But she criticized the intersection of the approach path and the memorial circle, describing the blocky paving in this area as awkward and simply an expedient treatment; Mr. Krieger agreed that the design for this area seems crude. Ms. Meyer suggested a more feathered treatment, with the paving of the approach path transforming to embrace the outermost circle at this transition area. She said that this is a detailing issue that could still be worked out without delaying the Smithsonian’s schedule for the project, and she observed that the memorial’s other transitions and end conditions have been more carefully designed. Mr. Butzer responded that the problematic area identified by Ms. Meyer is at a structural expansion joint; an earlier design included feathering with smaller pieces of stone, but the concern was that ground movement over time would result in a hazardous walking surface. Ms. Meyer acknowledged this issue but said that a solution could be found, perhaps by varying the paver widths to reduce the perception of a thick, featureless band of stone.
Ms. Gilbert questioned the limitation on the planting list to use only native species without modern cultivars. For example, she said that river birches are now routinely planted as cultivars, which may be a reasonable choice for this project, although she acknowledged that other river birch trees on the museum grounds appear to be healthy. Mr. Rhodeside responded that the proposal is based on the strong preference of the Smithsonian’s horticulturalist, who has a vision for the landscape goals at this museum and for how the landscape will evolve. He added that he generally supports using cultivars, but he wants to respect the horticulturalist’s preference. He also noted that he has located a source for obtaining the proposed plantings. Ms. Gilbert said that the Smithsonian may be able to provide sufficient care to allow these plantings to thrive.
Ms. Meyer asked if the discussion of native species took into account the ongoing effects of climate change; she said that in the near future, species that are now native to areas south of Washington may become naturalized to this area. Mr. Rhodeside responded that this issue was discussed with the Smithsonian staff, which is very experienced in dealing with the challenges of climate change. He also cited the steady and successful work of the Smithsonian staff in caring for the landscape, treating it like a forest garden. He said that staff carefully considers how the landscape may evolve, and the museum grounds have already changed greatly since the initial landscape installation. Ms. Meyer expressed surprise that the Smithsonian still wants to draw from the same planting list that was developed twenty years ago, and she encouraged the introduction of plants that have typically been more successful in a slightly warmer climate. Mr. Rhodeside emphasized the desire for this project to be respectful of the original design for the museum’s landscape, resulting in the reliance on the existing plant list. He noted that this list is very extensive, allowing for the selection of plants that will adapt well to this project, with consideration of which plants have been successful on the museum grounds over the past decades.
Chairman Powell invited a motion on the project. Secretary Luebke requested clarification of the Commission’s position on several issues that have been discussed, including the railing and perhaps the paving. He suggested that the action on this final design submission could be a general approval, conditional on resolution of these issues, or further review could be delegated to the staff. Mr. Krieger said that delegation would be satisfactory to ensure that the project team responds to the comments provided about the railing. Mr. Luebke requested clarification of the comments, noting that the Commission members have raised questions about its height and character. Mr. Krieger and Ms. Meyer said that due to the regulatory requirement, the Commission is not requesting a change in the railing’s height. Ms. Griffin suggested a consensus that the Commission seeks more visibility for the landscape and transparency for the railing; Ms. Meyer said that these goals may be addressed through minimizing the number or thickness of the railing’s components, or through lighting, and subject to regulatory constraints. Mr. Shubow added that the solution may be to reduce the number of horizontal rails while increasing the thickness of those that remain; Mr. Krieger noted that the maximum spacing is determined by regulation. Mr. Luebke offered to work further with the project team in accordance with this guidance; the Commission members confirmed their support for the remainder of the project, commenting that the design team has been very responsive to the previous comments.
Chairman Powell offered a motion to approve the final design, subject to further review of the design for the railing and paving transition, which is delegated to the staff. Upon a second by Mr. Krieger, the Commission adopted this action.
2. CFA 17/OCT/19-5, National Zoological Park, 3001 Connecticut Avenue, NW. Signs for wayfinding, visitor gates, and parking lots. Concept. (Previous: CFA 16/MAY/19-b, Interim signs) Mr. Lindstrom introduced a concept proposal for signage and other modifications at several pedestrian entrances from parking lots within the Smithsonian Institution’s National Zoological Park. He noted that these permanent signs would replace the temporary ones approved by the Commission in May 2019, and that the proposal is part of a larger perimeter improvement project for the zoo. He asked architect Peter Baker and graphic designer Lindsay Story of Ayers Saint Gross to present the project.
Mr. Baker said that the proposal focuses on several public entrances to the National Zoo, and it is intended to help improve the visitor experience. The proposed entrance structures would also complete parts of the larger project for new perimeter fencing. He presented a site plan illustrating the extent and type of this fencing: chain link within vegetated areas; a more ornamental design in areas visible to the public; and a more substantial vehicle-rated barrier adjacent to North Road, which is a public circulation road that is within the zoo property.
Ms. Story presented the concept design for the entrances. She said that the National Zoo is seeking to provide a consistent visitor experience at all of its entrances, and the proposal therefore develops a kit of parts for the parking lot entrances based on the existing material palette at the zoo’s main pedestrian entrances, which are located on Connecticut Avenue and at the southeastern end of North Road. This existing palette includes Carderock stone piers, black-painted metal piers and gates, and standardized information signage. She presented images showing the existing visitor arrival experience from North Road to each of the entrances being considered in the proposal, noting that each appears utilitarian in character and provides a poor first impression for visitors. To create a sense of arrival and place, the proposal is to associate each parking lot entrance with an animal that was selected based on the lot’s proximity to an exhibit within the park: cheetah for Lot A, elephant for Lot B, primate for Lot C, and panda for the bus lot. She said that associating an animal with a parking lot would extend the exhibit experience beyond the bounds of the zoo, in addition to helping visitors remember where they have parked.
Ms. Story presented the elements that would comprise the kit of parts. The proposed piers, some with Carderock bases, would be used to terminate the ends of the perimeter fencing and provide a threshold for entry into the zoo; each pier would be fitted with frames to mount tall, narrow photographs of the animal that correspond to the parking lot and entrance. Large identification signs featuring the Smithsonian’s iconic sunburst logo would be affixed to the fencing at each entrance, helping to associate the zoo with the Smithsonian Institution; messages about the conservation mission of the zoo would also be featured on these panels. The frames installed on the piers and fencing would allow the signs to be swapped out for other information, such as event notifications. In addition to the large photographs, life-size painted metal silhouettes of animals would be placed at the entrances; these would support the project’s placemaking and wayfinding goals, as well as create an exciting arrival experience for visitors. She emphasized that creating the sense of a threshold would be important for visitors entering and exiting the zoo.
Ms. Story presented the proposal for each entrance in greater detail, indicating the various elements from the kit of parts that would be deployed, including the metal silhouettes, metal and stone piers, animal photographs, and large identification signs. For the Lot A entrance, she said that additional cheetah silhouettes would be placed leading up to the entrance within the parking lot to help with placemaking and wayfinding. She added that pedestrian crosswalks across North Road would be adjusted in this area to provide a safer and more direct route from the parking lot to the zoo entrance. The nearby bus lot is used for visitor drop-off and queuing, and the adjacent entrance can be very busy. The design for this entrance includes four piers framing two gates, one sized for large delivery vehicles and another sized for pedestrians only. She indicated the large-scale panda photographs on the piers, and one large identification and wayfinding sign panel placed between the gates. Metal silhouettes of pandas would also be placed at the entrance. She noted that the zoo has more extensive plans to redesign this area, and the presented design is an interim solution; a Carderock base is therefore not proposed for these piers. The gate at Lot B, featuring elephants, would be widened to ten feet to accommodate the high volume of visitors at this entrance, which is currently a bottleneck. The standard features would be provided at the entrance; additional signs would be placed in the long parking lot to remind visitors of their location.
Ms. Story presented the more complicated proposal for Lot C, featuring primates. The relatively hidden pedestrian entrance, currently marked by several yellow bollards and a barrier fence, is accessed from the parking lot by crossing North Road; a ramp leads from the road up to the zoo. She noted that the perimeter fence in this area is located away from the roadway within the vegetation, so the experience for visitors would be somewhat different from the other entrances. The large animal photographs, metal piers, silhouettes, and identification signage would be arranged to create a sense of arrival, with several silhouettes also placed within the parking lot to guide visitors toward the entrance. Low walls faced with Carderock stone would frame a new plaza at the base of the ramp, replacing the unsightly bollards and barrier fence. She said that the existing conditions at the top of the ramp within the zoo are also challenging, where the gate is currently unmarked for exiting visitors. To better identify it, several of the proposed entrance features would be repeated within the zoo: metal piers with stone bases; large animal photographs; and a sign panel with wayfinding information. She summarized that although each entrance is designed with slight differences, the proposed kit of parts would bring a cohesive appearance and feel to visiting the zoo.
Chairman Powell invited comments from the Commission members. Ms. Meyer asked about the quality of the signs, requesting more information on the proposed material for the animal photograph panels, as well as the method by which they would be attached to the piers. Ms. Story said that the PVC board currently used by the zoo for other sign panels would be used for the new photographs, allowing the zoo to have the flexibility to regularly update the images; the PVC panels would slide into a framework attached to the piers, and the panels would not be backlit.
Mr. Krieger expressed support for the intent to enhance the entry experience, commenting that it would be an improvement on the existing conditions and that children would likely be delighted by the larger-than-life depictions of animals. In addition, he said the proposal would achieve the wayfinding goal of connecting the zoo to the parking lots and entrances. However, he questioned the number of proposed elements, commenting that they may overwhelm the entrances and detract from the experience of seeing actual animals in the zoo; the photographs and silhouettes could inadvertently substitute for real animals, rather than eliciting excitement and anticipation among visitors who are arriving to visit the real thing.
Mr. Dunson said that he enjoys visiting the zoo, which he considers a park, and he commented that the scale of the landscape at these entrances is much larger than is apparent in the presentation; the elements proposed for the entrances would be seen from much further away than the cropped photographic simulations suggest. He said that the proposal takes advantage of the opportunities for views and gathering places along the hilly topography and wide circulation paths of the zoo, while providing a more coherent system of wayfinding and signage. He said that he was initially skeptical of the cartoonish appearance of the proposed elements, but he has concluded that this character could be seen as festive or symbolic of taming a wild animal, making the entrances more approachable.
Ms. Gilbert said that the images appear overwhelming, especially because the proposal seems to double each element at the entrances; for example, an image on a single pier, rather than on two, could be used to create a threshold. Noting that the public is already overexposed to realistic imagery seen on ubiquitous screens, she suggested exploring black-and-white photographs or more abstract sketches of animals instead of the proposed color photographs. She expressed support for the metal silhouettes, commenting that their depiction of animals in motion is more compelling than the static photographs. Ms. Story responded that the realistic photographs could be swapped over time with different images selected by the zoo staff. Ms. Gilbert reiterated that the entrances would appear crowded with all of the elements proposed; citing the proposal for the exit to lot C, she suggested pairing a single pier with a columnar tree or other landscape element. She said that including wayfinding information for the parking lots would be important, but she recommended refining the proposal to be more sophisticated and do more with less.
Mr. Shubow agreed with the desirability of improved wayfinding, and he expressed strong support for the proposed silhouettes. He said that if correctly sited, the silhouettes would provide sufficient wayfinding information, making the photographs unnecessary. He emphasized that the zoo is a park with an understated character, and the flashy, billboard-like photographs would clash with this character. Ms. Griffin agreed, commenting that the playful and abstract silhouettes could playing a larger role in identifying the entrances without using photographs; she also expressed support for their proposed color, commenting favorably on the cobalt blue of the silhouettes against the green vegetated backdrop. She said that the scale and number of photographs would clutter and overwhelm the entrances, and that having more images would not further contribute to the intended wayfinding purpose. She recommended reducing the number of photographs or eliminating them altogether in favor of more abstract imagery.
Ms. Story responded that the perimeter fence is going to be constructed; the current proposal is intended to soften the character of this fencing at the entrances, instead giving the feeling that one is being welcomed into a fenced neighborhood park. She asked if the Commission members are reacting to the proposed photographs or to the piers themselves. Ms. Gilbert and Ms. Griffin responded that their concern is with both the number and scale of the images; Ms. Griffin suggested testing different kinds of piers, or having the silhouettes engage the piers. Mr. Krieger commented that the proposal might be more appealing to children than adults. He said that the solution may be to reduce the variety of photographs representing a type of animal, perhaps to just one, instead of eliminating the photographs altogether. He added that the wayfinding information would be more helpful if placed on the piers.
Ms. Meyer agreed with the guidance that the proposal needs editing. She expressed strong support for the general intent of the initiative, recalling her experience working on an uncompleted project several decades ago that was intended to improve the overall visitor experience at the zoo, including the rehabilitation of Olmsted Walk and the parking lots. She said that the goal should be to achieve the maximum effect with the minimum amount of intervention, and this could be achieved in several ways. One approach would be to use a name or letter for each parking lot, rather than several animal photographs, to reduce the number of signs. Additionally, the silhouettes could be used both as freestanding elements and within the piers, with their repeated use becoming a mode of wayfinding. Regarding the goal of softening the perimeter fencing at each entrance to avoid a cage-like character, she commented that designing the gates and piers as separate structural elements composed of different materials as proposed would add undesirable visual clutter. Noting that fences usually have a well-designed relationship to their associated piers and gates, she suggested simplifying the design by integrating the separate structures.
Ms. Griffin recommended developing parameters to help guide the deployment of the kit of parts, such as specifying the conditions under which certain elements should be used or combined, and how they are scaled; she also advised continued consultation with the Commission. Ms. Meyer agreed, requesting that a second concept proposal be submitted for review, rather than having the Commission vote to approve the current submission with the numerous comments provided. She summarized the suggested revisions such as reducing the number of elements proposed, reconceptualizing the front versus the back of the thresholds, and rethinking the inclusion of photographs; she added that the silhouettes may be a more timeless design—unlike the photographs, which could be changed by zoo staff without consideration for the placemaking, wayfinding, and aesthetic values considered by the designers. Chairman Powell thanked the design team for the presentation, and he said that the Commission’s comments would be summarized in a letter. The discussion concluded without a formal action.
D. U.S. Department of the Army
CFA 17/OCT/19-6, Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia. Southern Expansion Project. Concept. (Previous: CFA 15/FEB/18-3, Information presentation) Mr. Lindstrom introduced a concept proposal for the Southern Expansion project at Arlington National Cemetery (ANC); he noted the information presentation on this project at the Commission’s February 2018 meeting, outlining the scope and design approach of the project. He asked Col. Michael Peloquin, the project’s program manager and former director of engineering at ANC, to begin the presentation.
Col. Peloquin noted he will be retiring at the end of 2019 and will be replaced by Col. Tom Austin. He said that the ANC expansion will include new columbarium and interment areas as well as an additional entrance to the cemetery with visitor parking. The expansion will also be integrated with the adjacent Air Force Memorial, designed by architect James Ingo Freed with landscape architects Laurie Olin and David Rubin; this memorial will be a central component of the larger design and function of the new cemetery area. He said that the expansion project must balance multiple interests, including the congressionally mandated expansion; respecting funeral services at the cemetery; respecting the existing design of the Air Force Memorial; and following the Commission’s previous guidance to reconceive the memorial’s plaza area as a pedestrian space. The project team has reconsidered key components of the design, particularly the parking area’s entrance and its connection to the memorial and the cemetery.
Col. Peloquin summarized the project goal of redeveloping the expansion area, formerly the site of the Navy Annex building, to become a permanent cemetery landscape through the creation of new burial sites and columbaria, using ANC’s historic design vocabulary. He said the Southern Expansion project will require realigning several public roads, including the important arterial of Columbia Pike, in order to increase the amount of contiguous land at the south edge of ANC; the remaining area to the south of the new road configuration, along I-395 and separated from the rest of ANC, is described as the “south parcel” and will contain public parking as well as non-public support facilities for the cemetery.
Col. Peloquin introduced Col. Ethan Griffin, representing the Air Force District of Washington, to summarize the interests concerning the Air Force Memorial. Col. Griffin commended the project team for its inclusive and collaborative approach. He emphasized the respect the Air Force bears for the ANC mission; he also spoke of the pride the Air Force takes in its history and traditions as represented by this memorial, and of their desire to work with the Army to successfully expand its capacity on adjacent land. He said that the Air Force is concerned about maintaining access to and use of the memorial; for example, in the past the Air Force has brought in buses for special events and service vehicles to perform necessary maintenance on the three prominent spires that are the memorial’s major feature, and the Air Force would like to continue these activities. He said that the Air Force is also concerned about preserving several important features of the memorial site, such as the view from its northern boundary to the cemetery, and important physical elements, particularly the founders wall and the dedication wall—both of which have considerable symbolic meaning and play an important role in the memorial’s design. He also noted the symbolic importance of the main diagonal approachway extending through the memorial, intended to suggest an airfield runway that leads to the spires, which then soar into the air. He conveyed the opinion of the Air Force that the current concept design does not clearly address these issues.
The presentation continued with engineer Gregory Schwieterman of HNTB, serving as the private-sector manager of the Southern Expansion project. He said the current design includes modifications based on recent comments from the Air Force, the Army, Arlington County, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), the sponsor of the 9/11 Visitor Education Center, and the public. He noted the challenges presented by the site’s considerable change in grade, sloping more than 100 feet downward from west to east. He described the design objectives and the evolution of the program, noting that the presentation will include a video animation to illustrate the project’s scale and impact. He said landscape architect Rebecca May will discuss the proposed landscape design for Columbia Pike and the south parcel, with a focus on the visitor experience; landscape architect Marty Poirier will present the plan for integrating the cemetery expansion and memorial into a single cohesive design; and Col. Peloquin will conclude with a summary of the next steps.
Mr. Schwieterman described the context and existing conditions of the Southern Expansion site. He indicated the location of key features of ANC: Memorial Avenue, the Millennium Project, and the central circulation spine of Eisenhower Drive. The Pentagon and the 9/11 Pentagon Memorial are located east of the Southern Expansion. To the west are Joint Base Myer–Henderson Hall and the residential neighborhood of Foxcroft Heights; he said that the project team is working with the military base on its security requirements. He indicated the roads to be realigned, including South Gate Road, South Joyce Street, and Columbia Pike; utilities associated with these roads will also be relocated. He noted that the road pattern will be further affected by the future Defense Access Road project, led by the Federal Highway Administration, to realign roads and utilities in the vicinity of the Pentagon. He said that the realigned Columbia Pike is being designed as a multi-modal corridor to accommodate streetcars, bike lanes, and sidewalks; it will also function as a commemorative corridor extending along ANC, the Air Force Memorial, and the 9/11 Visitor Education Center, connecting to the memorial at the Pentagon further to the east.
Mr. Schwieterman presented the proposal for the south parcel, which will involve significant regrading. Visitors arriving by vehicle will use a new entrance drive at the east end of the south parcel, with access from South Joyce Street; they will proceed through an access control point to reach the parking garage at the center of the south parcel, shared by employees and the public. The access control has been newly incorporated into the design, requiring a reconfiguration of the parking garage’s entrance drive to accommodate queuing and a rejection lane, as well as the relocation of the vehicular access point to South Joyce Street. To help the parking garage blend in with the landscape, vines will be grown on trellises covering its facades. After parking, visitors will walk to a plaza at the northwest corner of the parking garage, connecting to a new crosswalk on Columbia Pike to reach the proposed pedestrian entrance to ANC and the Air Force Memorial. The south parcel’s western end will be used for maintenance, warehouse, and office facilities; this area will be sunken to reduce its visibility from surrounding roadways, and a non-public vehicular tunnel under Columbia Pike will connect this area to the cemetery. He indicated an additional parcel to the east of South Joyce Street and south of the realigned Columbia Pike, outside of the project area and reserved for the future 9/11 Visitor Education Center; he said that this building will be designed to complement the context. In the area north of the realigned Columbia Pike, the major design changes relate to the Air Force Memorial: it was previously treated as an independent property extending into the cemetery’s expansion area, while the current proposal is to integrate the memorial and the cemetery. He indicated the access control point on the north side of Columbia Pike for screening pedestrians as they enter the cemetery alongside the Air Force Memorial. A limited-access vehicular gate would also be at this location, leading to the memorial’s plaza, but most private vehicles would be prohibited from entering this area. He concluded with an animated fly-through video of the project illustrating how the cemetery’s design vocabulary will be extended into the new expansion.
Landscape architect Rebecca May of Rhodeside & Harwell presented the concept for the south parcel’s landscape in greater detail; it is intended as a park-like landscape that is integrated with the existing cemetery. The placement of trees is intended to provide screening and shape views, similar to their use within the cemetery. A frame of vegetation would be planted around the service area of the south parcel to screen the views of pedestrians and drivers into this utilitarian space; the plant palette along its north edge would complement the planting of the columbarium area to the north, unifying the two sides of the realigned Columbia Pike and giving drivers the impression of moving through a unified space. A mixed evergreen buffer opening into a bosque of ornamental trees is proposed at the pedestrian plaza connecting the parking garage to the Columbia Pike crosswalk. She said that the project team is coordinating with VDOT for plantings along the street edges. The landscape around the parking garage’s entrance drive would comprise lawn and shade trees, similar to the landscape of ANC.
Mr. Poirier, of Attention Landscape Architecture, provided additional details of other changes to the proposal. After parking or drop-off, visitors will enter through a screening pavilion designed in a minimalist style, where floor-to-ceiling glass walls on three sides will provide extensive views of the landscape. Upon leaving the pavilion, visitors will enter a simple garden planted with a formal grove of trees and surrounded by ten-foot-high bluestone walls, similar to the cemetery’s historic boundary walls but with a different coursing pattern; this space will be aligned with the geometry of the Air Force Memorial. He noted the importance of considering this initial entry sequence as an experience of families attending a funeral, as well as for casual visitors to the cemetery and the Air Force Memorial.
Mr. Poirier described the proposed alterations to the Air Force Memorial grounds. He noted that until now, the needs of the memorial have all been handled within its own boundaries; over a third of its site is used for parking, bus drop-off, and other vehicular purposes. The initial design for the Southern Expansion, as previously presented to the Commission, had retained a separate entrance and perimeter for the memorial; the current proposal has a single controlled-access point for both the memorial and cemetery. With the new arrival facilities, much of the memorial’s existing vehicular space would become unnecessary, such as the large turnaround at the north end of the existing entrance drive, scaled for buses; with the Southern Expansion project, turnaround could occur in cemetery roadways. As part of reconceiving the memorial’s site to be more pedestrian-oriented, some of the memorial’s current vehicular space would be combined with the cemetery landscape to form a transitional zone between cemetery and memorial—a place where visitors can orient themselves or wait for the cemetery’s internal tram. This transitional space, demarcated by clipped hedges, would feature long allées of large shade trees along lawn panels.
Ms. Meyer asked for clarification of the concept for the transitional space; the presented plan shows an allée of trees and two lawn panels, but the meaning of additional lines and the spatial layering is unclear. Mr. Poirier responded that the dark line indicates a cobblestone drive that would allow dignitaries to drive into and exit from the Air Force Memorial through a secondary gate. This drive would be flanked by an allée of plane trees and a clipped hedge, eleven feet tall and fifteen feet wide, that would serve as both a threshold and a backdrop between the memorial and the transitional area. He said the overall idea is to keep all spaces free of traffic, creating a more comfortable and reverential experience for pedestrians. In the transitional area, visitors would see glimpses of both the memorial and cemetery, and would be able to move easily from one space into another.
Mr. Poirier indicated two of the memorial’s inscription walls—the dedication wall and the founders’ wall, both constructed of Jet Mist black granite—that would be affected by the proposal. The dedication wall is inscribed with the name of the memorial and quotations from presidential speeches; the founders’ wall has quotations from those responsible for establishing the Air Force. The proposal is to disassemble the founders’ wall and move it 48 feet eastward; the new location would be 42 feet from the dedication wall, establishing a space where the quotations on both walls can be read and reflected upon without disturbance from traffic. Other features of the memorial would remain, including the two diagonal walks that extend from the “prow” of the memorial, the bosque of trees on the west side of the plaza, and the overlook that will provide a view over the new Southern Expansion area and beyond to the historic cemetery and across the Potomac River to Washington. He noted that the new cemetery burial areas will extend the landscape character of the historic cemetery: gently sloping lawns with a regular pattern of headstones, planted with towering shade trees and crossed by winding roads, with small touches of seasonal color in the plant palette. The grading for the cemetery area below the memorial’s overlook has been adjusted to be shallower, and the view will give the impression of being surrounded by the park-like landscape. Columbia Pike traffic and the new service complex would generally be hidden from this view, although the highest point of the parking garage would be visible in the distance through the trees.
Mr. Poirier then described the refinement to the design of the proposed columbarium area west of the memorial and the new entrance. The columbarium would be organized into four long north–south sections grouped around lawn panels, an arrangement that he said will help visitors with orientation and identification. Two east–west walks would cross through the columbarium; the southern walk would be aligned with the Air Force Memorial’s spires to the east. The columbarium niches would be stacked two or five high, allowing views to flow across the complex and supporting the perception of a continuous landscape. He emphasized the necessity of a sense of openness and connection between the columbarium and the open landscape of the burial areas, to avoid having columbarium visitors feel trapped within a contained space. He added that a level grade is important for the dignity of the space, and the grading will therefore be limited to a 1.3 percent slope in one direction only. A large lawn and a granite-paved plaza in the center of the columbarium complex would accommodate funeral services in a committal shelter on the north; at the south end of the plaza, a simple granite structure surrounded by a pergola would contain service rooms and restrooms. The committal shelter would have open sides and a translucent roof, and its palette of dark white to light-gray granite would complement the stone palette used throughout the columbarium area.
Mr. Poirier described the plantings for the columbarium area, noting that the project team has worked closely with the cemetery’s horticulture staff in developing the palette. The various open rooms in the columbarium complex would be given character by groupings of trees, underplanted with groundcovers to create a light, bright quality. The groundcover panels would also serve as small stormwater retention basins. The southern edge of the area would be defined by a tall, rustic bluestone wall, planted with vines and with evergreen shrubs at its base. Ms. Meyer asked about the traffic on Delta Drive, the proposed cemetery road to the east of the columbarium complex and west of the entrance area’s transitional space. Mr. Poirier responded that this road would be used by the cemetery’s trams and by cars allowed into the cemetery; it would have two-way traffic, and passengers could be dropped off along the allée leading to the entrance gate on Columbia Pike.
In conclusion, Col. Peloquin described the project’s review schedule, along with the recent reviews of the proposal by Arlington County and VDOT, particularly in relation to the work along Columbia Pike and the Defense Access Road project. He anticipated that the next stage of the design’s development, at 65 percent, would be presented to the Commission in the summer of 2020.
Ms. Meyer asked whether the Southern Expansion project would compromise the ability of service vehicles to access the Air Force Memorial, including cranes; she noted the intention that the needs of the cemetery and the memorial would be integrated. Col. Peloquin responded that the project team is working with a requirement that a certain size of crane should be able to come onto the property. Col. Griffin of the Air Force said that this issue will be discussed further, and he added that the Air Force has not been satisfied with the proposal’s capacity to provide access for large vehicles such as cranes and buses.
Mr. Krieger commented that the new plan is an impressive refinement of the previous version shown during the February 2018 information presentation. He commended the coordination of the cemetery and memorial areas, and the inclusion of a transitional space to separate them, which he said has a great deal of potential. He asked if drop-off from private cars would be allowed along Delta Drive, where the tram drop-off was described. Col. Peloquin responded that this area would be reserved for the tram, which has a designated route of travel through the cemetery that will be extended into the Southern Expansion. He emphasized that only people who have a family member buried at ANC are allowed to drive into the cemetery, but only to drive directly to a gravesite; he said that allowing private vehicles to drive freely around the cemetery would interfere with the daily interment ceremonies.
Mr. Krieger questioned how someone driving to the site from the west would recognize that the parking garage is intended for cemetery visitors. He observed that the route to the parking garage would not be evident, particularly to first-time visitors, and the entrance’s location off a minor street leading south from Columbia Pike would be unexpected; he said drivers may be inclined to let passengers out at the pedestrian entrance before finding where to park. He summarized that the proposed internal circulation is fine, but the external circulation requires greater clarity. Mr. Dunson asked if the turn onto South Joyce Street to reach the parking entrance results from the need for a control point; Col. Peloquin responded that the previous proposal had included multiple entrances and exits along Columbia Pike, but Arlington County and VDOT will not allow these curb cuts, nor a pull-off along the roadway. He emphasized that Memorial Avenue is the main entrance to ANC; while information will be provided on the ANC website, this southern entrance would not be prominent nor widely publicized because it is intended for those visiting gravesites in this area of the cemetery, or for visitors to the Air Force Memorial who would prefer not to travel through the cemetery.
Ms. Meyer observed that the length of the proposed entrance drive to the parking garage’s access control point is approximately 300 feet; she asked if this implies an expectation of extensive queuing for access to the garage. Col. Peloquin responded that the Anti-Terrorism Force Protection requirement mandates sufficient space for queuing and for a retractable barrier, so that if a threatening vehicle comes through at high speed, there is enough distance, space, and time to raise the barrier.
Ms. Meyer provided several recommendations for improvements to the design. She suggested reconsidering the design of the overlook area north of the Air Force Memorial, where a small building for restrooms and service is currently located, to make it function as a memorial space even when service activities, such as trash removal, are occurring. Observing that the design for this space appears cramped, she suggested pulling the hedge back or otherwise enlarging the area; she also advised developing logistical diagrams to understand such issues as the turning radii of trucks and other service vehicles.
Ms. Meyer expressed support for using a planter for the hedge on the east side of the proposed transitional area, serving to create a defined space between the hedge and the existing memorial wall further to the east. However, she questioned whether the hedge on the west side of the transitional area should be in a planter box, as illustrated; she suggested treating the west side as a sloping surface to create a softer, less emphatic edge and a more informal and inviting waiting area. Mr. Krieger agreed, observing that the proposal may include too many layers; he suggested that this wall and hedge on the west side could still function as a layer without being treated as a line. Ms. Meyer agreed, recommending that it be designed more as an earthwork.
Ms. Gilbert observed that the proposal includes multiple spaces oriented north–south between the Air Force Memorial and the columbarium complex; she suggested including more east–west connections to knit the two sides together, in addition to the illustrated east–west paths. Mr. Dunson supported the inclusion of multiple layers because they include numerous openings allowing a visitor to move between larger spaces and the many smaller, more intimate spaces. Ms. Gilbert observed that the walls of the Air Force Memorial, in their current location, would contribute to the variety of intimate spaces; she therefore questioned the proposed relocation of the founders’ wall. Col. Griffin responded by describing the significance of this wall: as a key element of the original design, it is also meaningful to current airmen and is a location for events such as Medal of Honor ceremonies. He said many people recognize its location as the beginning of the diagonal runway walk that leads to the memorial’s spires, which visually soar into space and create a sense of endless domain that is considered representative of the Air Force; he emphasized that this overall visual expression is a source of pride for the Air Force. He said that the current location of this quotation wall is meaningful because it represents the foundation of the Air Force as the Army Air Corps. However, he acknowledged the question of whether it is critical that the wall remain here, at the beginning of the runway walk, or whether its inscriptions could be handled differently—such as by distributing the quotations between walls on either side of the walk, placing them on a wall that would face visitors as they enter the memorial, or setting them within the granite paving of the walk. He asked for the Commission’s views on what is appropriate for the needs of the Air Force as well as for the architecture of the memorial. Ms. Meyer commented that this an intriguing design question: what to do with inscriptions on an existing wall that will be moved because its current location would not support the future needs of orientation and procession. Emphasizing the symbolic importance of the original stones, she encouraged moving these stones from the existing wall to any new wall instead of inscribing the same words again on new stones, even though a rebuilt wall would require new stonework at its ends.
Mr. Krieger said he finds the design to be unclear in helping visitors enter the Air Force Memorial. He questioned how a visitor would know which route to take through the transitional space to reach the memorial, and he asked if a new wall should be aligned with the diagonal walk of the runway. He recommended placing the founders’ quotations at the point where visitors turn to enter the memorial, even perhaps placing them on walls along one or both sides of the walk so that their positions will not only encourage visitors to enter but will draw them further into the memorial space.
The Commission members expressed appreciation for the positive changes that have been made in the design. Upon a motion by Mr. Powell was second by Mr. Dunson, the Commission approved the concept submission with the comments provided.
E. U. S. General Services Administration
CFA 17/OCT/19-7, St. Elizabeths West Campus, 2701 Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue, SE. Concept Master Plan for Amendment 2 for the Department of Homeland Security Headquarters Consolidation at St. Elizabeths West Campus. Concept. (Previous: CFA 17/MAY/12-2) Ms. Batcheler introduced the proposed revision to the master plan for the St. Elizabeths West Campus, which is being redeveloped by the General Services Administration (GSA) as the headquarters of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). She noted the prominent site of the campus on the Anacostia ridge line overlooking central Washington, and its status as a National Historic Landmark. The original psychiatric hospital was built by the federal government in phases from the mid-19th to the mid-20th century. In 1987, the hospital use was consolidated to the East Campus, which was transferred to D.C. government ownership; the East Campus is currently being developed for office, retail, housing, and entertainment uses, while the West Campus remains in federal ownership. She noted that the Commission had reviewed the initial master plan for adapting the West Campus for DHS in 2007 and 2008, and reviewed a subsequent amendment in 2012. The master plan had contemplated including a parcel of the East Campus for DHS use, but this has not occurred; the current proposal is to accommodate the entire DHS headquarters facility on the West Campus. The focus of the presentation will be on two areas identified for new construction. She asked Mina Wright, director of GSA’s regional Office of Planning and Design Quality, to begin the presentation.
Ms. Wright acknowledged the lengthy process of developing the DHS headquarters. She said that GSA now has firm guidance from its own leadership, from DHS, and from Congress to move more DHS personnel to the West Campus as soon as possible; further funding for the adaptive reuse of historic buildings on the West Campus is conditional on this relocation of personnel. She said that GSA has been given a specific per-square-foot budget for the additional development, and the program area for these buildings is 1.2 million square feet. She said that the current master plan amendment has been discussed extensively by the many stakeholders who have been consulting parties to the master planning process, including the Commission staff. She asked Kristi Tunstall Williams of GSA, the deputy director of the Office of Planning and Design Quality, to continue the presentation.
Ms. Williams described the original master plan from 2008 and the subsequent changes. The master plan emphasized adaptive reuse of historic buildings on the campus: of the 62 buildings contributing to the historic site, 51 were to be rehabilitated; the current proposal would reduce this number to 45. The East Campus parcel was intended to accommodate DHS parking and the central offices of the Federal Emergency Management Agency; the current proposal would accommodate these needs on the West Campus. The master plan envisioned much of the DHS program being housed in moderately sized buildings whose area corresponded to specific agency needs; the current proposal is for a smaller number of buildings with a large floor area. She indicated the components of the master plan that have been implemented, including a very large building for the Coast Guard, an associated parking garage, a utility plant that is largely underground, and rehabilitation of the historic Center Building for occupancy by the secretary of Homeland Security, which has recently been completed. Adjoining the Center Building, the new West Addition has a slightly different configuration than envisioned in the 2008 master plan.
Ms. Williams said that over the past ten years, the condition of the historic buildings has progressively worsened beyond what had been anticipated—due to a combination of their original construction, deferred maintenance, and their recent prolonged vacancy. Rehabilitation of the Center Building was achieved, but this required the complete demolition and reconstruction of the interior due to its unsound structure; in general, the rehabilitation costs have been twice as high as originally anticipated, resulting in budget problems. The floor plates of the historic buildings have also resulted in an inefficient layout for modern office needs.
The new buildings have been designed to respect the historic context and ridgeline setting, including varied massing and moderate height, but this too results in inefficiency due to the resulting irregular, non-optimal floor plates and sprawling layout. Federal appropriations for the campus have been intermittent and less than half of what GSA has requested; in combination with the high construction costs—as well as the heavy cost of support needs such as utilities, roads, and site security—has resulted in relatively little actual consolidation of DHS employees. She said that GSA is therefore required to focus on new construction for the near term, increasing the population of the campus to achieve a critical mass, rather than the ongoing balance of rehabilitation and new construction that was envisioned in the master plan.
Ms. Williams said that the near-term projects envisioned in the master plan revision would be at the Plateau and at Sweetgum Lane. The Plateau is a large area at the southeast corner of the West Campus designed in the early 20th century; it is configured as a central lawn that is partially framed by historic administrative buildings, with some open developable sites for larger buildings along the west and north edges as the terrain drops to ravines. The smaller Sweetgum Lane site is to the northwest of the historic Center Building, adjacent to the Coast Guard’s recently constructed building and the historic Civil War-era cemetery; the program for this area is a secured meeting facility that would be two-thirds underground. She introduced landscape architect Hallie Boyce of OLIN to present the site planning.
Ms. Boyce said that the project team has been studying how to accommodate the program area while creating new landscapes that extend the place-making on the campus. The landscapes will be multi-functional, addressing issues such as stormwater management, seasonal interest, a long-term tree canopy, and pedestrian connectivity, while providing social spaces for employees to gather. The planning has also considered the larger context of the region’s piedmont and coastal plain ecosystems, as well as the site’s role as part of the topographic bowl of hills that frames central Washington. She said that the flat area of the West Campus includes open space to the north, with views of central Washington; a central area is occupied by buildings that are programmed for shared amenities for the campus; and the southern Plateau area is focused inward with buildings grouped around a lawn. The cultural history of the site is also important, as documented in the Cultural Landscape Report from 2010; the hospital was inspired by mental health advocate Dorothea Dix, implementing her vision of a mental health campus based on an agricultural landscape, which over time has developed as an arboretum landscape. She noted the role of landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., in planning the expansion of the hospital campus to the south; she cited his careful research in relating the Plateau buildings to the land form and ravines. She said that that the current planning intends to maintain the existing landscape features, including the arboretum concept for the flatter areas and the woodlands and meadows of the steep slopes. She noted the need to plan for stormwater management, particularly for the potential water flows into and through the ravines. The edges of the slopes around the plateau are unstable and have poor soils; the master plan addresses the need to stabilize these areas, possibly with re-grading. Contamination of the soil is also a problem in some areas, due to the ash from the historic power plant across the ravine to the northwest of the Plateau.
Ms. Boyce described the analysis of the overall landscape framework for the campus, with a series of landscape typologies and a variety of large outdoor rooms, some oriented to outward views and some designed as internal gardens. Green roofs have also become part of the campus character, as seen on the Coast Guard building.
Toby Hasselgren of ZGF Architects presented the proposed architectural massing for the amended master plan. He emphasized the master plan’s goal of weaving together the architectural and landscape planning. Three guiding issues have been the campus context, the quality and operation of the buildings, and the feasibility of implementation. The context issues involve the number and scale of new buildings in relation to the existing buildings on the campus; the effect of new buildings on views into and out of the campus is also a consideration, relating to the landscape and topography. The operational issues for the buildings include efficiency, optimal daylight and solar orientation, connections among buildings, and future flexibility. The feasibility issues include cost as well as technical issues such as soil stabilization, with the goal of turning potential problems into opportunities.
Mr. Hasselgren presented a comparison of the 2008 master plan to the current proposal. At the Plateau, adapting the currently envisioned program size to the building sites identified in 2008 would exceed the master plan’s height limits. Additionally, the 2008 master plan was based on a building module layout that was very inefficient, using narrow floor plates. The current proposal envisions using a more efficient floor plate, reducing the ratio of useable square footage per employee from 131 to 115; however, this floor plate would not fit well in the schema of building footprints shown in the 2008 master plan. The result is to establish a new massing concept for the next phase of construction at the Plateau, which requires reconsideration of which historic buildings should be preserved. He identified several buildings considered especially significant based on extensive consultation; these include the ice house and power plant to the northwest of the Plateau; the administrative buildings that line its east side; Hitchcock Hall at the north end of the lawn; and Building #64, the northernmost of the scattered buildings on the lawn’s west side. The remaining four buildings on the west side, as well as Building #69 at the south end of the lawn, would be designated for potential removal to accommodate new construction.
Mr. Hasselgren described the design studies for configuring the new program along the western side of the Plateau, with exploration of building heights and massing. Potential configurations included six, four, three, or two buildings, with consideration of impacts within the campus and on views from outside the campus, including longer-distance views from across the Potomac River. The impact on the landscape and the adjacent ravine was also considered, as well as the loose axial design of the Plateau centered on Hitchcock Hall to the north. The northernmost of the new buildings would have extensive frontage along the north ravine, leading to studies of how this relationship might shape the design and scale of the building.
Mr. Hasselgren said that the conclusion of these studies has led to the proposal for two buildings of approximately 600,000 square feet to accommodate the desired total program of 1.2 million square feet. Between the buildings would be a large open space serving as a westward extension of the Plateau’s existing lawn, providing open views toward the west and establishing a sense of place. The southern building would have a greater height, while the northern building would step down into the ravine, providing the slope stabilization that is needed in this area and serving to connect the areas of campus development. He presented numerous diagrams and perspective views of the new massing in the context of the campus, illustrating the proposal’s relationship to the views, topography, historic resources, and overall layout of the campus. He compared some of the drawings to images from the 2008 master plan using an identical viewpoint.
Ms. Boyce presented an overview of the landscape proposals for the Plateau area in the amended master plan. Trees would be planted to frame long-distance views; new paths would follow the ravine topography to provide pedestrian connections; and the ravine topography would be terraced to provide a more functional landscape. She identified special locations where employees could pause, enjoy a view, or have lunch as part of their day-to-day use of the campus.
Mr. Hasselgren presented the proposed planning for the Sweetgum Lane site. He noted that it is on high ground immediately east of the historic cemetery near the west edge of the campus, and the site is also visible from the secretary of Homeland Security’s office in the Center Building. The proposed program is 175,000 square feet; most of this would be secured meeting space that could be located below grade, allowing for an at-grade green roof on much of the site. The massing concept envisions a small above-grade volume that would relate to the adjacent Coast Guard building, as well as a two-level-deep sunken courtyard to bring daylight to some of the building’s interior. He presented a series of photographic simulations to illustrate the building’s potential effect on views.
Ms. Williams provided a concluding summary of the amended master plan. She noted that the total area of the DHS program would be reduced, although more program would be located on the West Campus due to the elimination of the East Campus parcel from the master plan. She said that the amount of parking to be provided is still being coordinated with the National Capital Planning Commission, which has recently revised its guidance on the amount of allowable parking for federal facilities; she said that additional parking beyond the amount in the 2008 master plan would likely be placed below grade. For the future schedule, she said that GSA anticipates submitting a final proposal for the amended master plan in the summer of 2020 for the Commission’s review; the environmental and historic preservation review processes are ongoing.
Ms. Meyer expressed support for the planning of the north building at the Plateau and the ravine, commenting that it is an innovative and exciting approach for dealing with site stabilization; she said that many designers and engineers would have simply avoided this location. She discouraged the use of the term “naturalistic” to describe the landscape in this area, which results from the collaboration of architects and landscape architects; she suggested that the design team acknowledge its role in shaping this landscape, using it as a prototype for other sites with challenging grade differences. While acknowledging that the 2008 master plan had intended more rehabilitation of historic buildings at this stage of the campus development, she expressed support for the presented configuration of new buildings and related landscapes in the proposed amendment, emphasizing her enthusiasm for the north building. Ms. Williams noted that the project team devoted extensive effort to the planning for this site, which is an important location within the campus; she described it as a “knuckle” that draws the campus together and provides an opportunity for place-making. Ms. Meyer commented that the development of an actual building design for this location will be closely scrutinized by the Commission; the design will need to recognize the unusual typology of the building and its landscape, rather than rely on standard responses such as naturalistic landscapes. She summarized her support for the approval of the submission.
(At this point, Ms. Meyer departed for the remainder of the meeting.)
Mr. Krieger commented that the concerns with relating the new buildings to the historic context seem overstated. He cited the example of Boston’s Old State House, which pre-dates the establishment of Washington; several modern buildings of approximately forty stories are now grouped around it, and the result is one of the nation’s most amazing urban contrasts between old and new. He joined in supporting the planning for the north building at the Plateau, while observing that the proposed integration of this building with the ravine’s steep terrain is in keeping with ancient traditions, not a modern innovation; he cited the prevalence of such design solutions in ancient Rome.
Mr. Krieger commented that the 600,000-square-foot size of the two buildings at the Plateau is very large, and the total program might better be configured as three buildings; he suggested that buildings of 300,000 to 400,000 square feet may be more suitable for tenants than buildings of 600,000 square feet. He reiterated his support for the configuration of the north building along the ravine, asking why this design approach would be subject to any opposition; Ms. Williams responded that the opposition has been from the National Park Service. Mr. Krieger said that the large size of the total program area requires an imaginative and intelligent solution, rather than simply accepting the limitations imposed by others.
Mr. Powell recalled that an eagle nesting area near the Plateau had previously been a constraint on the options for siting new buildings, but the nest may no longer be present. Ms. Williams clarified that the eagle nest remains, and she indicated the circle on the West Campus site plan that marks the offset distance to avoid disturbing the nest.
Mr. Powell expressed support for the amended master plan. He agreed with Mr. Krieger that additional height could be acceptable for a well-designed building, and he encouraged exploration of this option. Ms. Griffin recalled from her years with the D.C. Office of Planning that some very obtrusive proposals have been made for this area in the past, and the current concern about building height is understandable. She commended the thoughtfulness of the design studies that have been presented, and she said that the proposal is more reasonable than she had anticipated.
Ms. Griffin observed that the rotation of the plan drawings in the presentation has the effect of obscuring the direction of the sun’s path; the ravine on the north side of the Plateau would often be in shadow, which she said could affect the evaluation of the massing and height of the proposed building in this area. She suggested further study of the siting and orientation of the new buildings at the Plateau, noting some degree of flexibility within the existing constraints. She acknowledged the creative massing of these buildings that mitigates the large scale and relates the height to the topography. She expressed appreciation for the consideration of place-making and the clustering of old and new buildings throughout the campus, and she encouraged consideration of these principles in further exploration of the optimal number of new buildings at the Plateau. Similarly, she said that the forthcoming design of the Sweetgum Lane building should include consideration of its relationship to the adjacent old and new buildings.
Chairman Powell suggested a consensus to approve the master plan amendment. Mr. Krieger asked about the Commission’s future involvement in the illustrated projects. Secretary Luebke responded that the final master plan would be submitted for Commission review. He added that the actual implementation of the illustrated projects could vary somewhat from the master plan, but would likely follow the general guidance of location and massing. Ms. Williams confirmed that each building would be submitted for review.
Mr. Krieger asked whether the proposed size of 600,000 square feet for the two buildings at the Plateau is firmly settled; he reiterated his suggestion for further consideration of dividing the program into three buildings. Ms. Williams said that the intended tenants are two agencies that each requires approximately 600,000 square feet, and the preference is to provide that area as contiguous space; Ms. Wright clarified that one tenant is known, and the other would be dependent on funding. Ms. Griffin asked if the planning would change if different program needs arise near the time of implementation, perhaps allowing for a smaller building or a different number of buildings; Ms. Williams said that this could occur, or a building could be shared by more than one agency if feasible, which Ms. Wright noted as a likely outcome. Mr. Luebke clarified that the disposition of the program at the Plateau into two larger buildings was the consensus solution that emerged from extensive consultation meetings, after comparison to the impact of a larger number of buildings. Ms. Griffin acknowledged this outcome of the massing exercise, but she observed that the solution is also driven by tenant needs. While acknowledging that the tenant needs are somewhat speculative, Ms. Wright said that the DHS programming information is limited but stable, and she anticipated that GSA will proceed with the building configuration illustrated in the presentation rather than seek a further amendment to the master plan; she noted that DHS supports the presented configuration of two buildings, and the exact size may be adjusted as the design and program are further refined. Ms. Williams added that the anticipated future tenants for the campus have approximately the same program areas. She also noted that demolition of historic buildings, as described during the presentation, would not occur until funding is available for new construction. Ms. Griffin asked if the potential tenants include non-DHS agencies; Ms. Williams clarified that all of the tenants on the West Campus would be components of DHS. Ms. Griffin asked if different buildings or tenants would have different requirements for perimeter security. Ms. Williams responded that the entire campus is protected by the highest level of perimeter security; Ms. Wright clarified that each building may nonetheless have its own security screening.
Mr. Krieger offered a motion to support the concept for the master plan amendment, while encouraging flexibility and the exploration of configuring the new construction at the Plateau as three instead of two buildings. Upon a second by Mr. Powell, the Commission adopted this action.
Chairman Powell departed at this point. In the absence of the chairman and vice chairman (who departed during the discussion of the previous agenda item), Mr. Krieger presided for the remainder of the meeting.
F. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
CFA 17/OCT/19-8, Reporters Building (commercial office structure), 300 7th Street, SW. Building renovation, alterations, and additions for Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) headquarters relocation. Revised concept. (Previous: CFA 19/SEP/19-5) The Commission acted on the submission earlier in the meeting without a presentation, following agenda item II.A.
G. United States Mint
Mr. Simon introduced the four submissions from the U.S. Mint; the first three are for non-circulating coins and medals, available for purchase from the Mint, while the fourth presentation is for the reverse of the circulating quarter-dollar coin. 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 17/OCT/19-9, 2020 Women's Suffrage Centennial Commemorative Medal. Obverse and reverse designs for a silver medal. Final. Ms. Stafford described the intent to commemorate the upcoming 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which ensures women’s right to vote. She said that the secretary of the Treasury has authorized the Mint to develop a silver medal, and the enactment of currently pending legislation may also result in production of a commemorative coin; the medal may therefore be the Mint’s only product on this topic, or it may serve to complement a commemorative coin. She asked the Commission to recommend designs for use on a medal, which could have either a historical or modern focus; additionally, she asked the Commission to recommend designs for use on a coin, which the currently pending legislation would specify as having a historical focus.
Ms. Stafford first presented the design alternatives with a historical focus, featuring the suffragettes and their work; these included eleven obverse designs and fifteen reverse designs. She noted the preferences of the Mint’s two liaison groups for the historical focus: obverse alternatives #1A, 2, 3, 3A, 4, 5, and 6, and reverse alternatives #1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 5A, and 9. She observed that these preferences generally emphasize the work of the suffragettes and the diversity of women who were involved in the suffrage movement. She also noted the recommendation of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) for the historical focus: a pairing of obverse #1A with reverse #4. She presented the separate set of alternatives with a modern focus, including nine obverse designs and nine reverse designs. The preferences of the liaison groups for the modern focus are obverse alternatives #1, 2, 3, 3A, 4, and 8, and reverse alternatives #, 3C, 4, and 8; the CCAC recommendation is the pairing of obverse #1 and reverse #8.
Ms. Stafford noted that the CCAC’s recommended reverses for both the historical and modern focus have the text of the 19th Amendment as a central design feature, and this would result in redundancy if both the coin and medal are minted. She provided printouts depicting alternative pairings suggested by the Mint staff to provide more flexibility, based on the preferences of the other groups: a historically themed pairing of obverse #1A and reverse #5A, and a modern-themed pairing of obverse #1 and reverse #1. The modern pairing is envisioned for the silver medal; the historical pairing could be used if the commemorative coin is authorized, and its reverse could be adapted by replacing the text of the 19th Amendment with the necessary coinage inscriptions, which have not been illustrated in this presentation. She noted that the text of the 19th Amendment is part of modern reverse #1, and a suffragette is part of the design for modern obverse #1, so the silver medal using this pairing would convey the subject well on its own, and the medal would also complement the historically themed coin if they are produced as a set. She noted several small adjustments to the figures and flag in modern obverse #1 if this design is used.
Ms. Griffin offered support for historical obverse #1A, describing it as very beautiful; she said that the composition of three suffragettes would resonate with many women. She also supported the Mint’s proposed pairing with historical reverse #5A, commenting that this would be preferable to the CCAC’s recommendation for historical reverse #4. Both of these reverses contain the text of the 19th Amendment, which she said would be a powerful element; reverse #4 includes two suffragettes while reverse #5A has no human figures, which she said results in a better complement to obverse #1A. She noted that other reverse alternatives include the text of the amendment without additional figures, and these could also be acceptable. Ms. Gilbert questioned the composition of reverse #5A, with hands grasping a placard alongside the text of the amendment; she commented that the placard could be a powerful representation of a protest march, but the hands grasping it are strange, and she suggested depicting the entire placard that would contain the text of the amendment. Ms. Griffin agreed that the composition of reverse #5A does not make clear what the hands are holding, and Ms. Gilbert added that they are chopped off at the edge of the design. Ms. Stafford clarified that this historical pairing may be used for the commemorative coin, with the illustrated text of the amendment to be replaced by the required inscriptions for coinage.
Mr. Krieger offered support for historical reverse #4, which the CCAC had recommended in combination with historical obverse #1A; Mr. Dunson agreed. Mr. Krieger observed that reverse #4 has the text of the amendment as the primary element, alongside two suffragettes. Ms. Gilbert said that the problem remains of the repetitive inclusion of suffragettes on both the obverse and reverse; she said that the reverse should have a different design approach, such as focusing on the powerful text alone. Ms. Stafford noted the consensus of the liaison groups that the text of the amendment should be a priority for this commemoration—which is most effectively achieved by including it on the silver medal, to be issued either as a stand-alone commemoration or in conjunction with a coin that would have other inscriptions.
Mr. Shubow suggested consideration of historical reverse #2, which achieves the Commission’s objective of a design that emphasizes the text without additional people; Mr. Dunson and Mr. Krieger supported this choice. Ms. Griffin asked if an additional recommendation is needed for the reverse of the commemorative coin, which would not have this text. Ms. Stafford said that the simplest solution would be to select a reverse design that could be adapted to use different text. Mr. Krieger asked if the Mint would return to the Commission with an adapted design; Ms. Stafford said that a follow-up submission would result from a lack of consensus or clarity from among the advising organizations, including the Commission. Ms. Gilbert summarized the consensus of the Commission to recommend obverse #1A and reverse #2 for the historically themed pairing.
For the modern-themed designs, Ms. Gilbert suggested consideration of obverse #4, featuring four women in profile with the U.S. Capitol dome in the background. Several other Commission members agreed, describing this design as beautiful and well composed. For the reverse, Mr. Dunson suggested alternative #1, using the layout of the U.S. flag with the text of the 19th Amendment overlaid on the flag’s horizontal stripes. Ms. Gilbert suggested reverse #3C, featuring several hands pushing up a block of stone that is inscribed with an excerpt of the amendment text; Ms. Griffin joined in supporting #3C, and Mr. Dunson agreed that it is an interesting design. Ms. Griffin commented that reverse #3C is more modern than the CCAC’s preference of reverse #8, which features a pair of historically styled gateposts.
Mr. Shubow observed that the modern-themed obverse #4 includes the amendment text at the periphery of the composition, which would be redundant with the reverses being considered. Ms. Gilbert commented that obverse #4 would be a powerful design even without the amendment text at the periphery; Mr. Shubow and Ms. Griffin said that the design would be improved by this omission, making the composition seem less crowded. Mr. Krieger said that some sort of peripheral element would be better, particularly toward the left, so that the sequence of faces is not simply fading away at the edge; he suggested consideration of adding a border. Joe Menna, chief engraver for the Mint, responded that the best solution may be to add a border along only the upper part of the design, allowing the figures and the Capitol dome to reach the edge at each side; this would avoid having an empty border extending around the entire periphery. Ms. Gilbert and Mr. Krieger supported this solution. Secretary Luebke observed that the Capitol dome has a somewhat squat appearance, and its proportions could be adjusted; Mr. Krieger said that the removal of the quotation would provide space above for this adjustment.
Mr. Shubow suggested further discussion of modern reverse alternative #3C before recommending this design. He observed the ambiguity of whether the large block of stone is being pushed upward or is pressing down; this ambiguity may result from the stone occupying slightly more than half of the composition. He compared this proportion to the two other alternatives using this concept—reverse alternatives #3 and 3A—in which the stone occupies slightly less than half of the composition, giving a stronger sense that the block is being pushed upward. Ms. Griffin observed that reverse #3C contains more text on the stone; shrinking the size of the text could allow for moving the stone’s bottom edge upward to the top half of the composition, while avoiding an alignment exactly at the center. Mr. Krieger and Ms. Gilbert agreed with this solution, and Mr. Menna confirmed that it would be feasible. Ms. Gilbert observed that reverse #3 uses a much shorter inscription in Latin, which could be another solution for adjusting the composition; the consensus remained to reduce the size of the text in reverse #3C, combining it with the composition of reverse #3A.
2. CFA 17/OCT/19-10, 2021 Armed Forces Military Medal honoring the United States Navy. Obverse and reverse designs for a silver medal. Final. (Previous: CFA 18/OCT/18-8, Air Force and Coast Guard medals) Ms. Stafford said that the U.S. Navy medal will be the third in a program of silver medals honoring each of the U.S. military branches. The design is intended to convey the mission and unique identity of each branch; the medal does not commemorate any particular event such as a battle or special anniversary year. She noted that the Mint has worked with Navy historians in developing the designs.
Ms. Stafford presented eighteen alternatives for the obverse and sixteen alternatives for the reverse, noting that some designs could be suitable for either the obverse or reverse. She described the preference of the Navy historians: for the obverse, they suggested obverse alternatives #4, 10, and 10A, as well as reverse alternative #4; and for the reverse, they suggested reverse alternative #19 as well as obverse alternatives #3 and #12. The Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC), after considering the Navy’s advice, recommended two pairings: as the first choice, obverse #5 with reverse #19; and as the second choice, obverse #12 with reverse #4.
Ms. Gilbert and Mr. Krieger expressed support for the second pairing: obverse #12, depicting a row of sailors at attention; and reverse #4, depicting the Navy’s three types of deployment with an airplane, ship, and submarine. The Commission adopted this recommendation.
3. CFA 17/OCT/19-11, 2021 American Liberty High Relief One-Ounce 24-karat Gold Coin and Silver Medal. Designs for a 24k gold coin and silver medal. Final. (Previous: CFA 20/SEP/18-5, 2019 issue) Ms. Stafford summarized the program of gold coins and silver medals, with new designs developed every two years. Throughout the series, the obverse has featured a modern representation of American liberty, and the reverse has featured an eagle. For the upcoming issue in 2021, the Mint has asked the submitting artists to develop a new concept for representing liberty, rather than relying on an allegorical depiction of Lady Liberty. She provided a sample of a past coin of the same size as the gold coin, and she noted that each alternative will be presented in versions for the coin and medal that differ in their inscriptions.
Ms. Stafford presented twenty alternatives for the obverse design. She noted the preference of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) for obverse #12, depicting a wild mustang horse throwing off its saddle, symbolizing the nation’s revolt from British rule, with a rising sun symbolizing a new day. Ms. Griffin asked for further information on the intended meaning of the mustang. Ms. Stafford said that the artist chose this symbol because it is both native to this nation and also an immigrant: the ancestors to modern horses first evolved in North America, then disappeared at the end of the last ice age, and were reintroduced to North America by the Spanish in the 1500s. Mr. Krieger commented that the symbolic use of the mustang is intriguing, although the saddle could easily be mistaken for an emaciated rider being thrown. Ms. Gilbert suggested obverse #3, depicting a rearing mustang without a saddle. She also suggested a design depicting the Statue of Liberty torch, such as obverse #9; Mr. Shubow supported the numerous alternatives related to the Statue of Liberty.
Ms. Griffin commended the intent for a modern design approach, in conjunction with the biennial issuance, suggests the desirability of choosing a design related to current national concerns. She encouraged consideration of obverse #15 and #18, depicting people proclaiming their liberty, comparing them to current conversations about the expansiveness of liberty for all and the meaning of liberty today. She described the other alternatives as abstract and not tied to our particular time. She asked if obverse #18 depicts a ballerina; Ms. Stafford clarified that it depicts a young woman as a symbol of liberty; she holds an olive branch, and the American flag billows around her. Mr. Krieger suggested obverse #15 as a better choice because it depicts a group of people; Ms. Gilbert and Mr. Dunson agreed.
Ms. Stafford presented fourteen alternatives for the reverse design, all based on the theme of an eagle; she noted the CCAC’s preference for reverse #12, a closely cropped view of an eagle’s head. Ms. Gilbert commented that reverse #7 is unusual and interesting, with an emphasis on the eagle’s wings in flight. Ms. Stafford noted that this design is a detail from an earlier reverse in the series; the closer cropping is intended to create an appealing new design. Ms. Stafford agreed and said that this design would pair well with obverse #15. Ms. Griffin and Mr. Krieger agreed, and the consensus of the Commission was to recommend obverse #15 and reverse #7.
4. CFA 17/OCT/19-12, 2021 George Washington Crossing the Delaware River Quarter. Reverse designs for a quarter-dollar coin. Final. Ms. Stafford summarized the authorizing legislation for the reverse design of the circulating quarter-dollar coin. The legislation specifies that the design depict George Washington leading his troops across the Delaware River in 1776, preceding the Battle of Trenton. This subject was famously depicted in a 19th-century painting by Emanuel Leutze, which was adapted to the reverse of the New Jersey state quarter issued in 1999; the Mint has therefore asked the submitting artists to avoid repeating this imagery and instead develop a new artistic concept for this historic event. She noted that this reverse will be used after the conclusion of the current “America the Beautiful” series, and will continue indefinitely until another design for the quarter is authorized by future legislation.
Ms. Stafford presented seventeen alternatives for the reverse design. The Mint has consulted with the staff of Mount Vernon, George Washington’s home, who have expressed a preference for alternatives #1, 1A, 2, and 12; the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) recommended alternative #12. Mr. Dunson and Ms. Gilbert commented that alternative #2 is a strong design. Ms. Stafford noted that the CCAC provided some support for alternative #2 but concluded that the prominence of Washington’s face might give the appearance of a two-headed coin, in combination with his profile portrait on the longstanding obverse of the quarter. Ms. Gilbert acknowledged this concern and offered support for alternative #12. She suggested a more dramatic depiction of the river’s ice floes, as seen in some of the other alternatives. Ms. Griffin and Mr. Krieger joined in supporting alternative #12, and the Commission adopted this action.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 4:44 p.m.
Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA