The meeting was convened by videoconference at 9:02 a.m.
Hon. Justin Shubow, Chairman
Hon. Rodney Mims Cook, Jr., Vice Chairman
Hon. Chas Fagan
Hon. Perry Guillot
Hon. James McCrery
Hon. Steven Spandle
Hon. Duncan Stroik
Thomas E. Luebke, Secretary
Frederick J. Lindstrom, Assistant Secretary
Mary Catherine Bogard
A. Approval of the minutes of the 15 April meeting. Secretary Luebke reported that the minutes of the April meeting were circulated to the Commission members in advance. Upon a motion by Mr. Cook, the Commission approved the minutes.
B. Dates of next meetings. Secretary Luebke presented the dates for upcoming Commission meetings, as previously published: 17 June, 15 July, and 15 September 2021. He noted that no meeting is scheduled in August, and the September meeting is scheduled on a Wednesday to avoid conflicting with a religious holiday. He anticipated that the Commission meetings will continue to be held by videoconference for the coming months, perhaps returning to in-person meetings in the fall.
C. Anniversary of the establishment of the Commission of Fine Arts, 17 May 1910, and the Shipstead-Luce Act, 16 May 1930. Secretary Luebke acknowledged the Commission's two anniversaries falling in May: the 111th anniversary of the Commission's establishment, which dates to the Taft administration, and the 91st anniversary of the Shipstead-Luce Act.
D. Report on the 2021 National Capital Arts and Cultural Affairs grant program. Secretary Luebke said that the recipients for this grants program have been selected, and the disbursement of funds is being processed. The determination of eligible recipients was reviewed by a panel that included Chairman Shubow and designees for the chairmen of the National Endowments of the Arts and for the Humanities; the 25 selected organizations were all participants in the previous year’s grants program. The appropriated funding for 2021 is $5 million, unchanged from the previous year, and the median grant is approximately $175,000, which averages to approximately 4.5 percent of the operating income of the organizations. He noted that the need for the grants is particularly urgent this year due to the effects of the ongoing pandemic.
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 reported that no changes have been made to the draft appendix, which has seven projects. Upon a motion by Mr. McCrery with second by Mr. Spandle, the Commission approved the Government Submissions Consent Calendar.
Appendix II – Shipstead-Luce Act Submissions: Ms. Batcheler said that the only revisions are minor wording changes and the notation of dates for the receipt of supplemental materials. She noted that the recommendations for seven projects are subject to further coordination with the applicants, and she requested authorization to finalize these recommendations when the outstanding issues are resolved. Upon a motion by Mr. Guillot with second by Mr. McCrery, the Commission approved the revised Shipstead-Luce Act Appendix. (See agenda item II.E.1 for an additional Shipstead-Luce Act submission.)
Appendix III – Old Georgetown Act Submissions: Ms. Bogard reported that the recommendation for one project has been changed to be favorable based on the receipt of supplemental materials (case number OG 20-277); the appendix has a total of 33 projects. Upon a motion by Mr. Cook with second by Mr. McCrery, the Commission approved the revised Old Georgetown Act Appendix. (See agenda item II.E.2 for an additional Old Georgetown Act submission.)
At this point, the Commission departed from the order of the agenda to consider items II.D.1 and II.D.2. Secretary Luebke said that the Commission had identified these as submissions that could be approved without presentations.
D. D.C. Department of General Services
1. CFA 20/MAY/21-4, Bard High School Early College (formerly the Malcolm X Elementary School), 1351 Alabama Avenue, SE. Renovation and modernization of the existing school building. Final. (Previous: CFA 18/MAR/21-2) Secretary Luebke noted that the Commission’s concerns in the previous review included the configuration of angled framing around the window openings within the new precast concrete units on the school’s two long facades; whether color should be used on these frames; and the color of the mechanical penthouse enclosure. He said that the submission includes three options for the configuration of the window frames—with all angled in one direction, or a book-matched effect, or a more random appearance—and the Commission is willing to support the first and third of these options, allowing the project team to select its preference. The Commission also prefers for the frames to have no applied color, and for the color of the penthouse enclosure to match the color of the building exterior. Upon a motion by Mr. McCrery with second by Mr. Guillot, the Commission adopted these recommendations. Mr. Luebke said that the staff would coordinate with the project team for the documentation of the response to these recommendations, as part of the final review process. He also noted that the project includes an exterior artwork that was identified in the concept submission but is not yet ready for a final review; it will be submitted separately at a later date.
2. CFA 20/MAY/21-5, School-Within-School at Anne M. Goding Elementary School, 920 F Street, NE. Building renovation and additions—colors for windows. Final. (Previous: CFA 18/MAR/21-3) Secretary Luebke noted that this project has already received final approval, subject to review of options for accent colors on the projecting window surrounds and fins; the current submission responds to the Commission’s request for options with a more muted color palette, using either a single color or possibly a combination of colors. Chairman Shubow said that the consensus of the Commission is to support the option with multiple colors; Mr. Luebke noted that this is consistent with the project team’s preference. Upon a motion by Mr. McCrery with second by Mr. Cook, the Commission adopted this action; Mr. Luebke said that the resolution of this issue completes the final review process.
The Commission returned to the order of the agenda with item II.B.1.
B. National Park Service
1. CFA 20/MAY/21-1, World War II Memorial, West Potomac Park, 17th Street and Independence Avenue, SW. Install plaque with President Franklin D. Roosevelt's D-Day Prayer. Final. (Previous: CFA 15/APR/21-1) Secretary Luebke introduced the proposed final design for installing a plaque with Franklin D. Roosevelt’s D-Day prayer, along with related improvements, at the Circle of Remembrance of the World War II Memorial in West Potomac Park, submitted by the National Park Service in cooperation with the Friends of the World War II Memorial. He reminded the Commission members that in April 2021, they had approved a revised concept submission for this project, with recommendations that included simplifying the plantings; revising the perimeter benches to be less blocky in shape and more closely related to elements of the main memorial; developing different designs for the center of the circle’s plaza; lowering the height of the two piers supporting the plaque to allow it to visually float above its stone base; and possibly simplifying the inscription on the outer face of the base to say “June 6, 1944.” He said the design team has returned with alternatives responding to these comments, and he asked Peter May, associate director for lands and planning with the National Capital Area of the National Park Service, to begin the presentation.
Mr. May said that the Commission’s comments from the previous review had guided excellent refinements to the design. He introduced landscape architect Kara Lanahan of Oehme, van Sweden to present the design.
Describing the context of the prayer plaque, Ms. Lanahan indicated on a site plan the location of the Circle of Remembrance, which is situated northwest of the main precinct of the World War II Memorial. She illustrated views of the main precinct from the circle, most importantly the view to the Atlantic Arch. She reminded the Commission that the circle’s original design intent was to serve as a quiet place for reflection, removed from the activity of the memorial’s main precinct.
Ms. Lanahan said the current presentation addresses all the Commission’s comments from the previous review. In order to unify the design of the circle with the larger memorial landscape, the palette for its landscape setting has been simplified. The existing landscape includes three Chinese fringe trees, two on the south side of the circle and a single specimen on the north; instead of planting small groups of flowering trees among the existing trees, as had been proposed, a single Chinese fringe tree would be added on the north so that the circle would be framed by two Chinese fringe trees on each side, leaving open the view to Constitution Gardens. The proposed ground palette has been radically simplified to include only a single species of Carex, a consistent hardy evergreen with a grass-like texture. Finally, the plan proposes planting Sarcococca, a woody, hardy evergreen shrub, which will create a green backdrop to the prayer plaque that will be low enough to ensure the inscription on the plaque’s stone base is visible while discouraging visitors from walking through.
Ms. Lanahan presented two alternatives for refinement of the benches, intended to make the benches appear less blocky and more closely related to the benches in the main part of the memorial; the alternatives also provide options for the detailing of the site walls and for the enframement of the prayer plaque—all components that serve to define the circle’s perimeter. Alternative A modifies the approved concept by lowering the height of the site walls; adding a stone cap on the walls, similar to those used on the walls at the memorial’s main precinct; building the walls of two courses of granite, laid with alternating joints and continuous from front to back; aligning the bronze armrests with the joints in the walls; and partly replicating the angles and curves of the memorial’s existing stone benches. In addition, the proposed height of the two piers supporting the plaque would be lowered. In Alternative B, the site walls would also be lower and would have a stone cap; the walls would be built of three stone courses, with a narrow center course between two larger courses, and the bench seats would project from the center course of these walls so that they would appear to float. The profile of the benches in Alternative B would follow even more closely the curves and angles of the memorial’s existing stone benches, and the bronze armrests would be centered on the stone instead of the joints. The piers supporting the plaque would be eliminated, replaced by a support structure of rods beneath the plaque that would give it the appearance of floating above its stone base; this base would be lowered to the same height as the site walls, and the inscription on the front of the base facing the entrance paths would be revised to read “D-Day, June 6, 1944.”
Ms. Lanahan then presented three different options for embellishing the center of the Circle of Remembrance; the second and third options include variants. All options would use two primary materials, bronze and granite. Option 1 would incorporate a replica of the solid bronze medallions already used in two locations of the World War II Memorial as the centerpiece of the paved areas within the memorial’s Atlantic and Pacific Arches; the medallion features a slightly raised bas-relief image derived from the World War II Victory Medal. She noted that the use of an allegorical female figure in this design gives the medallion a directional emphasis. The other two options and their variants are nondirectional, omitting the Victory Medal medallion and replacing it with circular rings of different symbolic motifs in either solid bronze or composed of bronze pieces inlaid into granite; in each of these options and their variants, the circular patterned design would surround a central circle of granite with a textured finish. Option 2 proposes a solid bronze ring with a design of five olive branches representing peace, separated by five individual stars intended to represent the five landing beaches of Normandy; she noted that peace was a major theme of Roosevelt’s D-Day prayer. Option 3A would use a bronze rope to signify the ideas of unity and binding the nation together; Option 3B illustrates the rope in granite, with five granite stars circling the central medallion of textured granite. More generally, she said that decorative elements of Options 2 and 3 could be formed either entirely of bronze or of bronze pieces inlaid flush into granite; the solid bronze options are proposed to have the raised designs treated with a lighter, more gold-colored patina to stand out against a darker background.
Ms. Lanahan said the proposed material palette for the circle uses the same materials as the World War II Memorial’s main precinct: the site walls and benches would be made of gray Kershaw granite, which was used for the vertical elements of the memorial; and the primary paving material would be gray Greene County granite with accents in a darker grayish-green granite; this accent stone would also be used for the textured granite center in some of the paving options.
Kate Fuller of MCLA Architectural Lighting Design presented two options for the lighting at the Circle of Remembrance. She said that both options propose installing flexible, linear lighting fixtures beneath the bench seats to provide a soft, low-level light that reinforces the shape of the circle and enhances its contemplative quality; these fixtures would be entirely hidden from view. In Option 1, general illumination for the circle and the prayer plaque would be provided by the site’s existing pole lights; the soft ambient light would be sufficient to illuminate the plaque with no need for additional accent light. Option 2 would replace one of the existing Washington standard light poles with a new, taller pole supporting a fixture that could be directed to illuminate the plaque; new light poles would be installed outside the circle to create even lighting across the plaque’s surface and to illuminate the paths, without obstructing views. She noted the numerous options available for selecting new multi-headed poles.
Ms. Lanahan summarized that the revised design includes a simplified plant palette; benches and site walls refined to be lower, less blocky, and more closely related to similar elements in the memorial; an alternative concept for a floating plaque; a simpler inscription for the granite base; several options for designing the center of the paving; and options for lighting.
Chairman Shubow thanked the design team for its presentation, and he invited questions and comments from the Commission members.
Noting that Option 1 for the lighting would not provide additional light to accent the plaque, Mr. Stroik asked if the existing lighting would be sufficient to read the text. Ms. Fuller said it would, noting that the site has been studied at night to ascertain that an existing plaque at the circle receives enough light to be legible; she added that lighting options will be mocked up on site.
Mr. McCrery asked whether consideration was given to relocating one of the existing Mall standard light poles and adding a spotlight to it for lighting the plaque. Ms. Fuller said this had been discussed, and existing poles could be relocated; but a slightly taller pole would be required to provide the correct angle for lighting the plaque while minimizing glare, and therefore a new pole would be specified for flexibility in the mounting heights for fixtures.
Mr. McCrery commended the proposal to support the prayer plaque from below instead of from the sides. He endorsed Option 1 for the central medallion because it would establish an iconographic bond between the Circle of Remembrance, the idea of peace, and the main precinct of the World War II Memorial. He also supported the proposal for a solid bronze medallion, which he called creative and responsive to the Commission’s comments and appropriate for the design of this space. He suggested consideration of combining Option 1, featuring the replica of the Victory Medal, with Option 2, the bronze ring of olive branches and stars, observing that this would result in three bronze elements in the Circle of Remembrance; he noted that it is generally better to use three related elements than two. He expressed support for the motif of five stars; he added that the relation of the stars to the five beaches of Normandy would be tenuous, if laudable, but another possible association for the stars could be the five branches of the U.S. military. He said that if stars were used to symbolize the beaches, the names of the beaches should also be included; however, he did not think the connection is necessary. He reiterated his suggestion to combine Options 1 and 2 and his observation that using the same solid bronze medallion as in the Atlantic and Pacific Arches for the center of the Circle of Remembrance will strengthen the understanding that the circle is an inherent part of the World War II Memorial.
Secretary Luebke noted that this project had recently been reviewed by the National Capital Memorial Advisory Commission (NCMAC), which includes representatives from groups with regulatory oversight over the design of national memorials; he asked Mr. May and Chairman Shubow if they would like to convey NCMAC’s comments to inform today’s discussion. Mr. May, who chairs NCMAC on behalf of the National Park Service, said that NCMAC is legally required to review the design of new memorials, but it does not have approval authority, and its review sometimes occurs late in the process; Mr. Luebke added that NCMAC’s design review typically occurs prior to Commission of Fine Arts review. Mr. May said there had been strong comments from the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) representative that the design does not need to include another bronze medallion or all the additional references to D-Day. Chairman Shubow, who represented the Commission of Fine Arts at the NCMAC meeting, said that the comments otherwise had been very positive.
Mr. McCrery expressed his disagreement with the comment from NCMAC. He said that the prayer had been composed for D-Day, and it would benefit the design to include both written and graphic references to this event; he emphasized that redundancy is a successful rhetorical strategy. Chairman Shubow noted that the ABMC representative had meant that there is already an abundance of D-Day commemoration in Washington, including most prominently at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial, and even at the World War II Memorial itself. Mr. McCrery asked whether the NCMAC commentary was questioning the entire idea of the prayer memorial; Mr. May said it was not. Mr. McCrery said he also is not questioning it, and it is the role of the Commission of Fine Arts to make the prayer memorial the best it can be.
Secretary Luebke clarified that this area, the Circle of Remembrance, is not a D-Day memorial but rather a feature of the World War II Memorial, and the plaque will be an insertion into this existing feature. While acknowledging that the circle with the plaque could be construed as a separate D-Day Memorial, it technically does not have that purpose. Mr. McCrery acknowledged this but observed that the inscription on the base wall will say “D-Day.” Mr. Luebke noted a comment from the NCMAC meeting that using this name on the wall would also be excessive; Mr. May added that NCMAC does not vote on positions but provides comments, which have not yet been formally transmitted by letter to the design team. He also said that NCMAC supported a more elaborate treatment for the circle’s center, while the ABMC representative had given the strongest commentary objecting to that treatment; he said the Commission of Fine Arts could take this into consideration, and the National Park Service is interested in the CFA’s consensus opinion.
Mr. Stroik said it would be helpful if the inscription proposed for the plaque’s stone base includes a specific reference to the prayer, which is being added to the memorial by an act of Congress, to inform visitors of the circle’s new purpose; Mr. Shubow agreed. Mr. Stroik proposed replacing “D-Day” with “Prayer for the Nation” to appear along with the date. Mr. McCrery said he liked the idea of using “D-Day,” going from the general to the specific; this would inform an approaching visitor that the space concerns D-Day generally, and then the plaque itself will provide the specific reference to the prayer. He observed that if all relevant information is inscribed on the wall, then the wall will be doing the work of the plaque. Overall, he said, the proposed inscription is a huge improvement. Mr. Cook agreed, asking Secretary Luebke if this change to the inscription had been made at the Commission’s request; Mr. Luebke said it had. Mr. Stroik agreed with Mr. McCrery that it is an improvement but again suggested using the prayer’s title.
Mr. Fagan expressed concern that using scored concrete for the walks leading to the Circle of Remembrance would make them a destination for skateboarders; he asked if details could be added, such as a raised edge to the walks or a different surface treatment for the benches, to make them less inviting for skateboarding. Mr. May responded that skateboard use is a challenge in many parks across the city; however, skateboarding does not often occur at memorials, and the National Park Service is sensitive to designing them to discourage this behavior. He noted that the walks would actually be made of exposed aggregate concrete, which is a poor surface for skateboarding.
Mr. Guillot observed that the plan depicted on slide 21 indicates that the circle’s paved ground plane would be sloped to the south at 1.5 percent.; he asked whether the proposal is for rainwater to collect on the ground plane and then drain out over the two entrance paths to the main walk. Ms. Lanahan responded that this is correct, explaining that the proposed design would work with the existing drainage. Mr. Guillot asked whether it is proposed that the tops of the benches would rise to a consistent height or whether they would slope in response to the ground plane; Ms. Lanahan responded that the top of all walls would rise to a consistent elevation, although their actual height relative to the ground would vary, but would generally be about thirty inches. Mr. Guillot asked if the paved ground surface could be made slightly conical so that water could drain into a trench or slot drain beneath the benches; Ms. Lanahan agreed this is a good suggestion that can be studied during the development phase.
Citing the proposed inscription of “D-Day | June 6 1944,” Mr. Guillot suggested including a comma after “June 6” and questioned the use of a vertical line to separate the words “D-Day” from the date. Ms. Lanahan said this detail will be studied with the artist, who will design the inscription, adding that the design team has considered using scoring instead of the vertical line. Mr. McCrery suggested using a bullet for separation and putting the day before the month, “6 June 1944.” Mr. Guillot commented that this is a European convention and he would not support using it here.
Mr. Guillot thanked the design team for making revisions in response to the Commission’s previous review. Referring to the motif of the olive branch for the center of paving, he said that Mr. McCrery’s comments about the medallion in April had supported using the Victory Medal image, resulting in a figure that imposes directionality; the result is that visitors reading the prayer plaque would have their backs to the figure in the medallion. He said that a non-figural, non-directional design would better support the concept of a circle as a form equal in all its parts, and so someone sitting on a bench would not face the top, bottom, or back of a human figure; he emphasized that the form of a circle implies a motif that is all-encompassing. Although he agreed that the allegorical figure on the medallion is lovely, he said the motif of bronze olive branches and stars would also be beautiful. He observed that the branches and stars appear slight as presented, and he suggested that the middle circle of textured stone could be enlarged to make the composition bolder. Indicating the presentation’s introductory photograph of President Roosevelt at his desk in the Oval Office, he noted that the metal tieback for the drapes behind him was shaped like an olive branch, so this motif would establish a deeper connection with the president. Regarding the prayer plaque, he said the proposal to support the plaque from beneath so that it appears to float is an elegant solution. He expressed support for the revised landscape proposal and for the proposal to use a single existing light pole without additional fixtures.
Mr. Spandle said he supports Alternative B for the bench as a nice improvement, with the bench curving up the seat back; he said he also prefers the option to align the bronze armrests with the stones instead of the joints. He endorsed supporting the plaque from below, and he expressed strong support for Mr. McCrery’s suggestion to combine Options 1 and 2 for the design of the central bronze medallion. Overall, he said, it is a great design.
Mr. Fagan observed that the Commission members had described the wreath of olive branches as a bronze-like ribbon. He said that some images show this design treated as bronze pieces inlaid in the stone paving, a treatment that would require more work but would effectively accentuate the shape of the stars and the organic form of the branches, giving each branch its own distinct shape that together would form a circle rather than being forced into an inscribed circle. He said this treatment would accent the visual iconography in a circle that is also bronze; the design would still be structured but the flowing lines would add life to the composition.
Mr. Guillot agreed that the ability to show the nuances of the foliage on the branches, using bronze inlay, would strengthen the design; although the design would be more complicated and might require a wider margin, he said it is a very good suggestion. Mr. Fagan acknowledged that it would be more involved but agreed it would enhance the design. Mr. McCrery strongly recommended this approach, including the wider band of stars and branches; Mr. Spandle agreed.
Mr. Fagan expressed support for the revised proposal for supporting the prayer plaque. He said that supporting it on posts set beneath the plaque would avoid the visual distractions of the high framing piers, making it clear that the plaque is the focus of the composition. He cautioned that visitors will inevitably lean or sit on the plaque, so it will be necessary to ensure it is engineered to support this weight; Mr. Cook agreed this is an important consideration. Ms. Lanahan said the plaque will have an interior steel structure tied into the supports, which will be sized appropriately, adding that the design team will work on this with the engineer and the fabricator of the plaque. Mr. McCrery added that stainless steel should be specified to avoid oxidation and other staining; Mr. Fagan supported this recommendation.
Mr. Stroik observed that the addition of the prayer plaque to the Circle of Remembrance will require visitors to read it from close up, which will make it an interesting and unusual memorial. He said the entrance inscription will be helpful, and he expressed support for using “D-Day” and the date of June 6, 1944, with the comma. He said that the Victory Medal figure on the central medallion would also be helpful, and he supported inclusion of the olive branch, which he thought Roosevelt would have wanted. He also supported the addition of stars, and he expressed his strong support for the proposal to inlay the bronze branches and stars into the granite.
Mr. Shubow noted that the entrance inscription is now proposed to include “Prayer for the Nation” above “D-Day” and “June 6 1944,” and this inscription will inform visitors exactly what the circle is. He agreed with Mr. Guillot’s suggestion to add a comma after the “6” and a graphic device other than a vertical line to separate “D-Day” from the date. He reminded the Commission members of the issues raised during the previous review concerning the use of the bronze medallion based on the Victory Medal: its directional character, which would force visitors to look at it with their backs to the prayer plaque, and the fact that the medallion already appears twice in the World War II Memorial. He emphasized that this would be its third iteration, and it may draw attention away from the prayer plaque, which should be the true focal point for the Circle of Remembrance. Commending the suggestion for inlaid olive branches, he reiterated his doubts about the need for the figural medallion.
Mr. Guillot agreed with Mr. Shubow, observing that making the olive branches larger would create a beautiful contrast between the filigree edge of the olive leaves and the granite field, and said he would support the concept of the circle as a non-directional geometric shape in which all parts are equal. He agreed that the treatment of inlaid branches and stars would maintain the focus on the prayer, while if the bronze figural medallion—essentially a decorative piece—is used, it will become the focus and a distraction. He also agreed with Mr. Shubow that it would be excessive to add a medallion that is already used twice in the memorial; he emphasized that the design for the paving should play to the strengths of the circle’s shape.
Mr. McCrery observed that there is no consensus on the medallion; he suggested framing a motion regarding the other design issues, allowing the Commission members to then focus on the medallion question. Mr. Spandle suggested a consensus motion that the Commission supports Option B for the perimeter walls and benches, with the bronze armrests centered on the stones; Option B for supporting the prayer plaque from below; and Option 1 for retaining the existing lighting with no additional light poles. Mr. McCrery added that the motion should include the recommendation that the inscription should read “Prayer for the Nation, D-Day, June 6, 1944,” without the proposed vertical line separating “D-Day” and the date; the motion should also include approval of using the design for bronze olive branches and stars inlaid into a ring of granite surrounding a central motif. Mr. Guillot suggested that the motion should require another Commission review of these elements.
Mr. Guillot commented that the inclusion of “Prayer for the Nation” would make the inscription too busy; he observed that the Washington Monument does not require a sign giving its name. Mr. McCrery suggested removing the matter of the inscription from the motion. Mr. Shubow and Mr. Cook objected that the prayer’s title should be added to clarify the purpose of the circle. Mr. Guillot said if it was decided to keep the name of the prayer, he would recommend removing the rest of the text because the inscription as proposed includes too much information; he said that less text in the inscription may encourage visitors to enter the circle, allowing them to discover the prayer plaque and other features on their own. Mr. Spandle and Mr. Shubow supported this revision. Upon a second by Mr. Guillot, the revised motion was adopted. Mr. Cook voted against the motion, commenting that he does not think the Commission should request a further change to a design that has already been changed in response to the Commission’s prior recommendation: he recalled that the Commission members had asked to change the first line of the inscription from “Circle of Remembrance” to “Prayer for the Nation,” and now they were now changing their minds again, which he feels is not appropriate. Mr. Guillot clarified that the change has been made to illustrate the Commission’s suggestion.
Chairman Shubow asked the Commission members to turn their attention to the medallion. Mr. McCrery, in his continued support for a medallion with an allegorical figure based on the Victory Medal, said he would accept rotating the figure 180 degrees in response the concern about directionality, a change that might inspire visitors to walk further into the circle. He commented that this figural design will be recognizable because visitors will be able to see it from all directions; he doubted that many people would stand looking at it with their backs to the prayer plaque. He observed that there is directionality in the landscape plan, which frames a view to Constitution Gardens, and so it would be appropriate for the medallion also to have directionality. He reiterated his strong support for using the same bronze bas-relief medallion that already appears in the memorial twice, in order to emphasize the center of the Circle of Remembrance and to provide a contrast with all the granite.
Mr. Guillot responded that he understands Mr. McCrery’s argument, but he emphasized that the bronze figural medallion will detract from its true focus, President Roosevelt’s D-Day prayer. He said the overall design of the circle is based on reduction, with careful study of the role played by each element; if the design of inlaid olive branches and stars were given a bolder and more ambitious scale, it would intensify the image of the circle in a compelling way, instead of inserting an element that is unnecessarily decorative.
Mr. Stroik said he supports using the bronze figural medallion, and he asked Mr. Fagan for his opinion. Mr. Fagan said that if this design is used, the feet should be oriented toward the plaque so that visitors would see the figure right side up as they enter; he said this is probably the only position that would make sense. He asked if the medallion would be an exact copy of the two already present; Ms. Lanahan said it would. Mr. Shubow asked whether the two existing medallions are surrounded by a decorative band; Ms. Lanahan confirmed that they are. Mr. Fagan commented that a comparable decorative band at the Circle of Remembrance would compete with the central medallion, and he supported the proposal’s omission of this element. He observed that the presented rendering depicts a “rugged” appearance for the medallion; he said it would be necessary to match the existing medallion as much as possible, adding that he does not strongly support using this design. He commented that the small circular spaces beneath the World War II Memorial’s two existing arches do not provide for a moving experience, and visitors constantly walk over the plaques, so he questions whether the medallion had actually been a good choice for the arches. Mr. Guillot commented that the undesirability of fully replicating the setting of the medallion within a decorative band is supporting the argument against using a directional, figural medallion.
Chairman Shubow pressed Mr. Fagan on whether he would accept the figural medallion; Mr. Fagan expressed his willingness to support such a design, but in this case he does not think it would benefit the design of the circle—whereas the design of olive branches and stars could be powerful enough to emphasize the center while keeping the focus on the plaque. Mr. Stroik asked Mr. Fagan if he were criticizing the design of the two existing medallions; Mr. Fagan said he was. Mr. Stroik suggested using a figural bronze medallion but reconsidering whether to base its design on the historic Victory Medal. Mr. Fagan asked whether a bronze medallion in the Circle of Remembrance must be identical to the existing medallions in the arches; Mr. McCrery said this is an open question. Mr. Stroik objected to the idea of rejecting any piece of architecture that was not quite up to someone’s personal standards, insisting that the Commission members should be willing to accept a broad range of designs.
Chairman Shubow asked the members in favor of the medallion if they accept the proposed ornamental band of stars and olive branches; Mr. McCrery and Mr. Stroik said they did. Mr. Cook disagreed with Mr. Guillot that the bronze figural medallion would not play a role in the circle’s design, commenting that he thought it would tie the design together and relate it to the memorial’s main precinct, from which it is physically separated. He deferred to the other members on the question of the figure’s orientation, although he indicated a preference for having the feet oriented toward the plaque.
Mr. Shubow asked if this medallion would include words, as shown on slide 15. Ms. Lanahan said the proposal is for the medallion to be identical to the other two, which include the text “World War II.” No other text is proposed, although if the branches and stars are treated as bronze pieces inlaid in granite, it may be possible to include additional text.
Chairman Shubow observed that a majority of the Commission members appears to support the proposal for a figural medallion in the center of the circle, with a question remaining about its orientation. Mr. Stroik offered a motion to approve a bronze medallion at the center of the circle that is identical to the memorial’s two existing medallions, with the figure oriented with its feet toward the prayer plaque, and with a request that the design team study including a border of bronze olive branches and stars inlaid within the granite paving. Upon a second by Mr. McCrery, the motion was adopted with a split vote, with Mr. Guillot and Mr. Shubow voting against the motion.
Secretary Luebke asked whether approval of the proposed landscape had been included in the first motion. Chairman Shubow said it had not, and he invited a clarifying action. Upon a motion by Mr. McCrery with second by Mr. Cook, the Commission approved the proposed landscape design. Chairman Shubow congratulated the project team on receiving final approval.
2. CFA 20/MAY/21-2, Lincoln Memorial Volleyball Courts. West Potomac Park, northwest of the Lincoln Memorial, between Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway and Potomac Parkway Drive, NW. Rehabilitation of the beach volleyball courts. Final. Secretary Luebke introduced the proposed rehabilitation of a grouping of eleven volleyball courts northwest of the Lincoln Memorial, within a 5.5-acre that is considered to be part of the context of the memorial grounds. He said that the courts are set within an informal landscape of lawns, trees, and walks; the courts are deteriorating and the site is poorly drained, often making the courts unusable. The proposed rehabilitation would place the courts in a more formalized array, improve the drainage with new site grading and sand for the courts, create a border around the courts to help contain the sand, replace some of the vegetation, and replace the existing chain-link fence with a slightly taller fence along the adjacent roadway. Although initially intended as a simple repair project, the design has developed to the extent that it potentially has an impact on the character of the Lincoln Memorial’s setting, resulting in the decision to present the proposal to the Commission at a relatively late stage in the process. He noted that the impacts could be mitigated, such as by providing a less formal border for the courts or reducing the height of the replacement fence. He asked Peter May of the National Park Service to begin the presentation.
Mr. May acknowledged that the scope of this project has grown from its initial planning, resulting in the staff’s request to submit it for Commission review. He said that any change to the area’s character may nonetheless be negligible, particularly as perceived by people passing through the area quickly in cars, as most would experience the site. He emphasized the important functional reasons for the rehabilitation, noting that the National Park Service must often find a balance between functional needs and the beauty and consistency of the design setting. To present the design, he introduced Sean Kennealy of the National Park Service, the deputy superintendent of the National Mall & Memorial Parks.
Mr. Kennealy said that the National Mall & Memorial Parks encompasses approximately 1,000 acres of parkland in Washington, including a variety of recreation areas as well as the major national memorials. Most of this project’s eleven volleyball courts are currently managed through an on-line reservation system, facilitating use by commercial leagues and organized groups; two of the courts are not reserved and are available to any people who arrive to use them, allowing for enjoyment by a wide range of users. This management system has been effective for many years, and it has allowed for the collection of fees that will now be used to fund the rehabilitation.
Mr. Kennealy said that the proposed rehabilitation of the volleyball courts is intended to reverse their decline, improve the problematic drainage that sometimes makes the courts unusable for several days, and control the migration of sand from the courts to the adjacent lawn areas. Some of the trees and shrubbery in the vicinity would also be replaced; a drinking fountain would be added; and the walk through the area of the courts would be milled and repaved. He presented a context map, indicating the nearby Lincoln Memorial to the southeast, the Kennedy Center to the north, and the Potomac River to the west; the 5.5-acre site is located just outside the Reserve area established by the Commemorative Works Act. He said that the site is easily accessible by bicycle, walking routes, and by car using the adjacent metered on-street parking.
Mr. Kennealy described the existing configuration of the courts that dates from their initial installation in the 1980s, generally similar to what is proposed for the rehabilitation: two courts to the southwest of the bicycle path and walk that crosses through the site; eight courts clustered at the center of the site; and one court slightly apart to the southeast. The existing trees and shrubs are scattered through the landscape. The proposed design would slightly reconfigure the courts and would assure that each is regulation size for league play, requiring the slight enlargement of some courts; the eight courts at the center would have a more regular configuration with two arrays of four courts. A deteriorated four-foot-tall safety fence to the northeast of the eight courts, providing protection along the adjacent roadway, would be replaced by a five-foot-tall fence that would be more effective in stopping stray volleyballs. Much of the fence’s length would have shrubbery along the northeast face, enhancing the views from along the roadway. Three trees in decline would be removed, and eleven new trees would be planted. The asphalt walk through the site would be repaved to provide a smooth surface.
Mr. Kennealy described the detailing of the design for the courts. They would be raised by approximately eight to nine inches for improved drainage, with a gravel foundation below the sand. For rainstorms of up to three to four inches, all of the stormwater would be collected on the site, with none draining into the road’s storm drain system nor into any storm drains that lead to the river. The court edges would have a rubber curb that is commonly used for volleyball courts; this border would be flush with the ground and would help to prevent the migration of sand and lawn.
Mr. Kennealy concluded with several perspective views of the proposal, emphasizing the view from the roadway on the northeast. He said that the view toward the fence, screened by shrubbery, would be very similar to the existing view. He also presented a photograph taken from the Lincoln Memorial, noting that existing trees block the view from the memorial to the volleyball courts. He added that the design has been developed in close coordination with the local volleyball community, which is very large and has been engaged with the details of the project, including the size of the courts and their orientation in relation to the sun.
Mr. McCrery supported the proposal for a slightly taller fence, acknowledging that a chain-link fence would normally be undesirable on the Mall but may be necessary at this location. He recommended extending the proposed plantings to provide more continuous screening along the fence for views from the roadway, except perhaps for a length of approximately ten feet at the opening in the fence. Mr. Kennealy agreed to make this change; he also said that the type of plant may change, noting that the existing yews have not thrived. He added that the goal is not to completely screen the view of the volleyball courts, so that drivers will know the courts are there. Mr. McCrery said that drivers would be aware of the courts, particularly from the roadway to the southwest; the intent should be to hide the chain-link fence. He added that wax-leaf Abelia could be a good choice for the planting, with year-round foliage, success in this climate, and sufficient height.
Mr. Fagan asked about the color of the rubber border around the sand courts, noting that this can be brightly colored at some volleyball courts. Mr. Kennealy responded that it would be black to blend in with the landscape, which Mr. Fagan said would be acceptable. Mr. Kennealy added that the fence would also be black. Mr. Guillot commended the project team, commenting that the proposed design would be only a minimal intrusion from the viewpoint of volleyball players or people in passing vehicles. He said that the varied uses of this park area seem to coexist well, and he expressed enthusiasm that an active recreation area is sited so close to an important memorial. He supported the proposal for the trees and fence, reiterating his overall support for the project. Mr. McCrery agreed, commenting that the design has been delicately handled and would improve the usability of the courts. Mr. Kennealy acknowledged the contributions of the architects, engineers, and landscape architects on the National Park Service staff; in addition to the strong in-house team, the project benefitted from coordination with the D.C. Department of Energy & Environment concerning stormwater management, resulting in stormwater handling that is unobtrusive and easy to maintain without needing pumps or motors.
Upon a motion by Mr. McCrery with second by Mr. Cook, the Commission approved the design subject to extending the shrub planting farther along the new fence.
C. D.C. Metropolitan Police Department
CFA 20/MAY/21-3, District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Memorial, 300 Indiana Avenue, NW (at the Henry J. Daly Building). Rehabilitation of historic fountain and new memorial wall and ramp. Revised Concept. (Previous: CFA 19/JUL/18-5) Secretary Luebke introduced the revised concept design for the rehabilitation of the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) memorial fountain and its expansion with a new commemorative inscription wall and access walkways. The existing memorial fountain is located at the northwest corner of the site of the Henry J. Daly Building, MPD’s headquarters, completed in 1941. The fountain was designed by noted architect and artisan John J. Earley using his distinctive exposed aggregate concrete and built concurrently with the building; it is a contributing element to the building and the Pennsylvania Avenue National Historic Site. He said that the fountain and surrounding plaza are in poor condition: the polychrome concrete is degraded with numerous cracks and missing areas, some of the aggregate is missing, and repair patches have been poorly executed. The proposal would honor the fallen police officers with the inscription of their names in a new wall element. Several locations for this memorial were considered before the enhancement of the existing fountain was selected, with the preference that it be near the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial (NLEOM) in Judiciary Square. In July 2018, the Commission approved a concept design for the expansion of the memorial with long curving walls that would form a backdrop for the freestanding fountain; the walls would taper down from a commemorative section at the center to grade at the outer edges of the site. In its approval, the Commission had questioned the scale and detailing of the curved walkways, suggesting that the intimate scale of the central historic fountain needs to be considered to unify the space and the composition. The Commission had also recommended that the proposed benches on the inside of the new walkways be eliminated, as they do not relate to either the commemorative wall or the historic fountain. He asked architect Hany Hassan of Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners to present the revised concept design.
Mr. Hassan said that after funding for the project was secured, site surveys have revealed issues related to underground utilities, requiring revisions to the approved concept design. He indicated the memorial site on a map, noting the D.C. Court of Appeals across the street, along with photographs of the context and existing fountain. He noted that currently, one is required to ascend three steps from the sidewalk to the fountain. The previously approved design therefore incorporated sloping walkways—necessary to provide barrier-free access to the fountain and plaza—with walls along the ascending walkways serving to embrace the historic memorial precinct and providing a surface on which to inscribe commemorative information.
Mr. Hassan said that the currently proposed design incorporates the Commission’s recommendations, and he presented renderings of the previous and current concepts. The curve of the walkways has been tightened, similar to a quarter-circle, which results in a more intimate scale for the memorial while also avoiding the underground steam and telecommunications vaults in the area. The height of the ascending walls has been lowered, and the tighter walkway approach angle would avoid two existing trees that would have been removed in the previous concept. In addition, the previously proposed stone benches have been eliminated from the design. He said that the inscriptions of names and dates on the wall would be 5/8” tall, similar to the text on the nearby NLEOM within Judiciary Square. He presented a detail of the inscription wall, which would be angled to facilitate the legibility of the inscriptions at the center of the memorial. He concluded by noting that the historic fountain would be restored to its original condition.
Chairman Shubow thanked the project team for its presentation and invited questions from the Commission members. Mr. Stroik asked how new names would be added to the memorial; Donald Blake, founder and president of the D.C. Metropolitan Police Memorial & Museum, said that new names would be added using the same method as the NLEOM, in which the chief of police provides input and the names are added soon after a death so the person can be recognized and remembered. He added that since the initial presentation to the Commission, three names have been added to the list, bringing the current total to 125. Mr. Stroik asked if there would be space for additional names over the decades; Mr. Hassan said the proposed design has space for approximately 500 names. Mr. Guillot asked for the date of the first death; Mr. Blake said it is from the early 1800s. Mr. Hassan noted that the original fountain memorial was completed in 1941, listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1966, and added to the D.C. Inventory of Historic Sites in 1973. Mr. McCrery asked if the names to be inscribed at this memorial are also inscribed at the NLEOM. Mr. Blake confirmed this is the case, noting that names at the NLEOM are duplicated at other state and local police department memorials across the country.
Mr. Fagan asked for more information on the granite proposed for the wall. Mr. Hassan said that Stony Creek granite has been selected in order to minimize the color and material palette, since it is similar in appearance to the limestone base of the Daly Building and would appear subordinate to the more colorful historic concrete fountain. Mr. McCrery asked for more information about the proposed shade trees. Mr. Hassan said that the landscape architecture firm Oehme, van Sweden has selected crepe myrtle trees for the spaces behind the existing benches in order to frame the contemplative space at the center of the memorial. Mr. Guillot observed that the trees are a design device intended to reduce the scale of the memorial while sitting on the benches; the multi-branched canopy structure of crepe myrtles is also conducive to creating an intimate space where none exists.
Mr. Guillot said that he understands the overall design concept, with the walls beginning low at the sidewalk and rising to become the surface on which the names would be inscribed. However, he said it might appear that this is an architectural device that is in opposition to the composition of the building facade and the more classically composed fountain. He said the arcing form represents something new and contemporary, while at the same time being an often-repeated element used at many memorials in Washington—such as the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in West Potomac Park and the President John F. Kennedy gravesite in Arlington National Cemetery. He said the rising walls in these examples are independent elements in a memorial context without buildings; in this proposal, however, the building architecture should be guiding the design of the walls. He suggested that one solution could be to make more concise the wall area where the names will be inscribed, perhaps limiting a wall element to the central area where the benches bracket the memorial fountain, instead of including the “zipper-like” walls that change in height along their length. He acknowledged that he is suggesting a radically different way of thinking about the project, but he said that he often returns to the idea that when all the elements in a composition have a specific reason for their inclusion, they can convey a clear message about the intended impact of a design.
Mr. Stroik expressed similar concerns about the proposal, and he questioned whether the project should still include curving walls and pathways between the sidewalk and memorial. Mr. Guillot said that there does not appear to a compelling reason for this signature design element, observing that the proposed walls appear to have the weight and bulk of retaining walls but do not actually retain any earth as they ascend with the walkways. Citing the rigid architectural control and plainness of the building, he said the existing setting seems antithetical to substantial design elements such as the proposed curving walls. He reiterated that the wall element as proposed represents our time, with a more organic approach to architecture and outdoor spaces that is a departure from the more rigid control of the context. He questioned whether the walls would actually benefit the memorial’s design given all of the issues that are being raised.
Mr. Hassan expressed appreciation for the comments and said he would explain further the logic of how he arrived at the proposed concept design. He said that he was the architect for renovations to the D.C. Court of Appeals building and landscape across the street, during which time he became very familiar with Judiciary Square. He thought of the context as a composition of orthogonal and geometrically simple buildings set in a landscape featuring softly curving pathways. He therefore designed the new curving approaches to this memorial that are not constrained by the geometry of the adjacent building. In addition, he said the historic fountain is a precious piece of art and architecture that is currently lost in the existing context, and he therefore hopes to create a new element that would embrace the fountain and give it more of a presence. He said he was also faced with the program requirement of names inscribed on a wall, with the expectation that additional names would be added over the decades; because of its extensive continuous surface, the proposed commemorative wall would likely not need to be modified to accommodate more names for a very long time, as is currently being undertaken at the NLEOM.
Mr. Stroik asked for more information on the imagery at the center of the proposed inscription wall; Mr. Blake said that it is the Metropolitan Police Department shield. Mr. McCrery commented that the text beneath the shield appears to be approximately half the size of the 5/8” text of the names and would therefore be illegible. He added that it would be difficult or almost impossible to inscribe this small text into granite, as the size of the text is approaching the granular size of the granite itself. Mr. Hassan responded that the size of this text has been the subject of internal debate, with the design team suggesting a reduction in the amount of text to allow for a larger lettering size. Mr. McCrery commented that there is no real graphic design of the inscription wall, aside from the simple composition of text on a surface; in order to suggest a graphic form, the names and dates are both right and left justified, making the text difficult to read. He said that he understands how this organizes the text symmetrically on either side of the central shield and text, but he said that using borders or other graphic design devices to frame the text would add symmetry while still allowing for the presentation of the names in a consistent manner.
Mr. Stroik asked how the names would be organized; Mr. Blake said that they would alternate between even and odd years of death, which works out to an almost symmetrical arrangement around the center. He added that he is the author of the text below the shield and that he would edit the text for length. Mr. Cook asked that the full text be provided for the Commission members to review; Chairman Shubow suggested that this text could be reviewed in a final design submission. Mr. Guillot suggested that the central shield and text could be metal, allowing for finer precision and better legibility of the text, with the names and dates still inscribed in stone; he added that the shield would be beautiful if cast in a material such as bronze. Mr. Hassan noted that this would help differentiate symbolically the central shield and text from the names and dates of the fallen officers. Mr. Guillot agreed that the names inscribed in stone would serve as the identity or human aspect of the memorial that continue to tell the story of the memorial as more are added.
Mr. Guillot reiterated that he is concerned about the proposal for the new walkways and walls, which are a contemporary form of architecture that would be easily identifiable in 50 years as a trend in memorial design from our time. He surmised that this style of commemoration comes from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, but in that instance the inscription wall is also a retaining wall, and the total experience of the memorial—following the at-grade wall down into the earth—evokes many symbols and references. He said he is not certain that the proposed wall is a welcome element in the story of the existing fountain and building.
Mr. McCrery said he is persuaded by Mr. Guillot’s comments and expressed appreciation for the reference to the proposed walls as “zippers”; he asked if it would be appropriate to ask for the development of an option that addresses these suggestions. He said that the areas where the walls become parallel with the building to carry the inscriptions is not graceful, and they appear pinched in plan. Mr. Guillot questioned whether the walls need to be a part of the memorial experience at all, noting that the essential elements of the memorial are located close together at the fountain, centered on the adjacent projecting building pavilion. Mr. McCrery agreed, commenting that there are several potential alignments that could delineate a stand-alone central inscription wall; these include the width of the projecting pavilion, the width of the building areaway, and the width of the historic fountain. He said that the walls along the paths could be revised to create a more rectilinear precinct, with the fountain at the center; the new inscription wall would then participate more clearly as a part of the fountain memorial precinct rather than a much larger, continuously rising or descending object in the landscape.
Mr. Guillot said that the most compelling argument for the walls would be that they engage and retain the grade, but that is not the case here, and a more convincing argument is necessary since they are oppositional elements in the existing context; the walls are providing space for the names, but they seem to transform into a tablet at the center rather than serving as a wall that retains the earth as a viewer would expect. Mr. Hassan suggested that the section of wall with inscriptions could be an independent element that frames the memorial fountain, with the rest of the wall serving as a landscape element closer to the ground; the new memorial would be limited to the fountain area and have a similar rectilinear form. Mr. Guillot said that the walls would be guiding visitors to the primary reason for visiting the space—to read and honor the names of the fallen officers—but the inscription wall as proposed does not have enough emphasis to accomplish this. He said that the strong form of the walls would make them a distraction rather than contributing elements because of the density of the other architectural elements in the area. Mr. McCrery suggested that the greatest number of people would likely approach the new memorial composition from the center, walking up the existing steps and around the historic fountain and benches to view the names. He said that the new elements should therefore participate in the compositional sequence of the historic memorial precinct, with the sloping walkways serving as simple approaches to the new inscriptions. Mr. Blake noted that the walls as proposed are also intended to screen the areaway and guardrail in front of the building pavilion; Mr. Hassan added that the areaway is in the range of six to eight feet deep. Mr. Guillot observed that the Commission members are suggesting that the highest part of the memorial wall would be in this location and would screen the areaway.
Mr. Cook said that the proposed design of the inscription wall appears crowded; he suggested adding a central element at the center of the wall, such as a crest. He also suggested that the facade of the building’s projecting pavilion could accommodate names, freeing up space near the existing fountain and stairway. Mr. Guillot said this is a good observation, but it is difficult to imagine the names on the building; he reiterated his suggestion that the design of the commemorative wall be more concise and focused at the center, with the flanking curved segments of the wall reduced to the simpler form of a curb along the walkways.
Mr. Hassan said he is envisioning a solution that is responsive to these concerns and would like to return with a new concept: an inscription wall that responds to the context by framing the fountain, with the curvilinear walkways having no substantial wall elements. Mr. McCrery suggested that the project team return with a new concept submission based on the comments provided. Secretary Luebke said that giving general guidance without taking an action would be acceptable; alternatively, the Commission could endorse the current design’s overall change in geometry and walkway layout, with a request to develop an option with an inscription wall at the center of the composition. He noted that the staff believes the tighter quarter-circle geometry of the walkways in the revised design is more harmonious with the Art Deco building and fountain. Mr. Hassan said he is committed to developing a new concept design that reflects the comments provided. Chairman Shubow thanked the project team and said the Commission looks forward to further review of the project. The discussion concluded without a formal action.
D. D.C. Department of General Services
1. CFA 20/MAY/21-4, Bard High School Early College (formerly the Malcolm X Elementary School), 1351 Alabama Avenue, SE. Renovation and modernization of the existing school building. Final. (Previous: CFA 18/MAR/21-2) The Commission acted on the submission earlier in the meeting without a presentation, following agenda item II.A.
2. CFA 20/MAY/21-5, School-Within-School at Anne M. Goding Elementary School, 920 F Street, NE. Building renovation and additions—colors for windows. Final. (Previous: CFA 18/MAR/21-3) The Commission acted on the submission earlier in the meeting without a presentation, following agenda item II.A.
E. D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
1. Shipstead-Luce Act
SL 21-105, 600 5th Street, NW. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority headquarters. Building renovation and additions for commercial office use. Concept. (Previous: SL 21-081, March 2021) Secretary Luebke introduced the second concept submission for alterations to the current headquarters building of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), also known as the Jackson Graham building, facing Judiciary Square and the National Building Museum. The existing eight-story building would be expanded with three additional stories plus an occupiable penthouse, providing primarily office space and 14,000 square feet of retail space.
Mr. Luebke summarized the Commission’s previous review in March 2021, which resulted in general support for the proposed concept but no formal approval. He said that the Commission had raised concerns about the building’s role as part of the architectural frame of Judiciary Square, providing recommendations for the development of the east facade, the upper stories, and the exterior materials, and requesting additional information about the height of other buildings around Judiciary Square. He said that the staff has subsequently met with the design team, and the current design is intended to respond to the Commission’s concerns. The east facade and entrance volume have been revised; limestone has been added to the retail frontage; the size of the projecting volume at the northeast corner has been reduced to relate better to the commercial buildings to the north; and options have been prepared for the design of the upper floors to integrate them better with the base of the building and avoid the appearance of merely filling out the volume allowed by zoning regulations. He asked Jane Mahaffie of Stonebridge, one of the development companies for the project, to begin the presentation.
Ms. Mahaffie expressed enthusiasm for the revisions that have been made to the design. She said the development team sees the project as a special opportunity to re-imagine this building and to connect Judiciary Square with the vitality of the Gallery Place neighborhood to the west. She noted that all but the structure of the existing building would be demolished as part of the project. She introduced architect Jon Pickard of Pickard Chilton to present the response to the Commission’s previous review.
Mr. Pickard said that the vision for the project has been guided by a set of eight principles; the most important for today’s discussion is to create a building that contributes to the dignity and vitality of Judiciary Square. He expressed appreciation for the Commission’s comments from March 2021, which led the project team to look more closely at how this principle is applied to the design. Further study, along with staff consultation meetings, has resulted in a variety of ideas and an improved proposal. He observed that the existing building’s Brutalist architecture, while appropriate for its time, does not contribute to the dignity of Judiciary Square; the proposal is intended to improve the appearance, as well as address the internal problems of the building’s design.
Mr. Pickard presented a diagram of the Judiciary Square context, indicating how the building would relate to this setting; the design of the east facade and the penthouse, as well as the exterior materials and details, are particularly important in establishing this relationship. While the diagram is the same as previously presented, he said that the current design is a more successful response to the context. Much of the east facade is symmetrically organized around the east–west axis established by the National Building Museum, which is sited closer to F Street than to G Street; he noted that the same principle was used in the design of the FBI building that faces the opposite end of the National Building Museum, along 4th Street. The current proposal also uses limestone more extensively, as seen in other Judiciary Square buildings. He presented side-by-side comparisons of the current and previous proposals for the east elevation, indicating the previously timid and confused gesture toward the south that was overpowered by the massing gesture toward the north; he said that the revised massing and materials have improved the balance of these elements. He said that the east facade’s proposed “proscenium” feature at the main entrance, aligned with the museum axis, is now dramatically taller, wider, and deeper, with more use of stone, resulting in a strong organizing focus for the renovated building; the new pavilion at the northeast, as revised to be smaller, would be perceived as a subsidiary element. He noted the equal extent of the adjoining background facade to the right, left, and above the proscenium feature, which he said results in the revised design being a pleasing and calm composition.
Mr. Pickard presented a diagram projecting the National Building Museum’s massing and cornice lines onto the proposed east facade, indicating the alignment of the height and width of many of the new design features. Through additional diagrams, he illustrated the relationship of proposed cornice heights and massing to several other buildings in the vicinity, relating the proposal to the datum lines that have historically organized the buildings of Judiciary Square. The seventy-foot height relates to the massing of the National Building Museum to the east, the Government Accountability Office to the northeast, and other buildings to the north along G Street and 5th Street; he described the result as a coherent urban precinct within the wider context. He noted the pattern northward along 5th Street of alternation between shorter and taller buildings, and he said that the proposed northeast pavilion would serve to mediate between the larger and more moderately sized building volumes in the area. He presented a series of perspective views of the proposal within the context, emphasizing the relationship to existing buildings. He said that the southwest corner of the site, at 6th and F Streets, is envisioned as a dynamic place that would be supported by the proposal’s design and retail space.
Mr. Pickard presented several options for revising the treatment of the building’s “crown” at the 11th floor, which would be stepped back by approximately ten feet, and for the penthouse above that would be stepped back further. The first step-back would be at the 120-foot height, corresponding to an important datum line in the context. He said that the changes include simplifying the enclosure system at the uppermost stories, increasing the step-back distance, and creating an elegant cornice line at each change of plane in the facade; the cornices are intended to help integrate the modulations into the overall composition. He noted that the top would be seen from a distance, such as at the Metro station entrance to the east along F Street, but would not be visible from the ground as people get closer to the building. He presented two options for the treatment of the crown, noting the differing opinions within the design team and at the staff consultations. “Revised Massing A” would be a simple solution, with a gesture toward the southeast in response to Judiciary Square and, more distantly, the direction of the U.S. Capitol. “Revised Massing B” would be a more dynamic solution, relating to the pavilion at the building’s northeast as well as to Judiciary Square at the southeast. He said that both options could be successful, and he invited the advice of the Commission.
Mr. Pickard concluded by describing other design revisions and responses to the Commission’s previous comments. The number of exterior enclosure systems has been reduced to give greater dignity and calmness to the design. The soffits at the upper-floor recesses were previously presented as aluminum that could be finished to resemble wood; he agreed with the Commission’s guidance that this would be inappropriate in the context of Judiciary Square, and the revised design calls for a simple soffit of a single material, with the color to be determined later; the goal is for the soffit to have an elegant and timeless appearance. More extensive use of limestone is proposed at the base, with panels located behind the cylindrical columns that will be thickened as part of the building renovation; a granite base would separate the limestone panels from the sidewalk. He said that the design balances the desirability of more stone with the goal of transparency for the ground-floor retail storefronts; the broader intent is to provide a sense of stability and solidity for the pedestrian experience. A projecting stone cornice has been added above the ground floor to emphasize the pedestrian scale at the base of the building. As part of the strengthening of the proscenium feature, the fins on the facade have been widened, along with increasing the proscenium’s depth and height to give a more robust appearance that is appropriate to the character of Judiciary Square. The lobby and retail spaces would also be open toward 6th Street, which the existing building does not engage well; the lobby would be highlighted by flanking limestone walls. He added that in the past decade, office building lobbies have come to be seen as active social spaces where employees can work or collaborate, comparable to a hotel lobby.
Chairman Shubow invited questions and comments from the Commission members. Mr. Cook said that the revisions have made the proposal dramatically better. He expressed support for the effort to treat much of the east facade as a symmetrical composition aligned with the axis of the National Building Museum, but he observed that this organizing idea is not carried through to the detailing and step-backs at the top of the building; he recommended adjusting the penthouse to provide a symmetrical top above the proscenium feature, separate from the northern end that would be recessed to relate to the projecting pavilion. Mr. Pickard responded that the treatment of the building’s top is intended to create a sense of simplicity and calm for the entire composition, with the cornice extending across the entire facade instead of drawing attention to specific symmetries. He added that many ideas were explored for the building’s top, including this suggestion. Mr. Cook reiterated that the proposal appears unsuccessful, missing the opportunity for relating the top of the building to the strong gesture of tying the proscenium gesture to the massing of the National Building Museum. He expressed interest in seeing the other studies that were prepared, but Mr. Pickard said they are not included in the presentation images.
Mr. McCrery joined in Mr. Cook’s broad support for the design revisions, while expressing support for the treatment of the building’s top as proposed. He said the effect of the east facade is a three-dimensional collage that resolves the various alignments that are seen in the context. He recommended Revised Massing A, observing that it provides visual relief at the top with a clear, unambiguous form, compared to the more active massing below. He asked about the ground-floor use of the pavilion at the northeast, observing that it could be a good opportunity for a use that contributes to the street life, but it appears to be blocked by extensive planting beds. Mr. Pickard responded that the renderings may give the incorrect impression that the pavilion’s ground-floor walls would be opaque, but they are intended as floor-to-ceiling glass; the interior use is a fitness center for the building’s tenants. He noted that the earlier design had high stone walls in this area, blocking the sense of vitality when seen from the sidewalk, but this has been revised. He said that the existing floor slab in this area is above the sidewalk level and must remain in place, creating complications for the design solution; the proposal envisions a rich landscape adjacent to the pavilion that allows a visual connection between the sidewalk spaces and the vitality within the fitness center, although this may not be conveyed well in the renderings. Mr. McCrery agreed that a better perspective drawing, perhaps more closely focused on this area, would be helpful; Mr. Pickard added that the process for producing the rendered drawings is not entirely reliable, and they should be considered placeholders.
Mr. McCrery suggested further discussion of the rendered view of the building entrance. Mr. Pickard said that more detailed study of this area could be provided in the next submission; he indicated the stone piers of the proscenium above, which terminate at the top of the ground floor to allow for extensive glazing of the lobby. Adjacent to the lobby, the southeast corner of the ground floor would be a retail space, envisioned as a restaurant, and its facade is designed to be very transparent. He acknowledged that more detailing is needed for the entrance area, which will be part of a future submission, but he emphasized that the concept for the design character has been established. He added that the site planning, by landscape architect James Burnett of OJB, calls for the ground plane to have a series of active civic spaces, ranging from the public space of the sidewalk to the more private zone of outdoor dining; a series of water features would frame the building entrance.
Mr. Cook commented that the submission responds successfully to the Commission’s comments, and he acknowledged the complications of designing the east side in relation to the off-center position of the National Building Museum within its block. He reiterated his concern that the details of the massing and the top of the building do not fully address this relationship; he said that with some adjustments, this could be the most elegant glazed modern building in the city.
Mr. Guillot asked if the projecting pavilion at the northeast is envisioned as having its own tenant, observing that the massing suggests this possibility. Mr. Pickard responded that its office floors are fully integrated with the main volume of the building; the project is designed to accommodate multiple tenants, and the leasing pattern is not yet known, but he anticipated that more than one tenant would likely occupy the pavilion’s office space. For the overall design, Mr. Guillot expressed appreciation for the subtle gestures of alignment to relate this building to its neighbors, especially the National Building Museum; he said that people will be able to sense that the multiple elements of the facade are intended to establish these relationships. He added that the proposed exterior is very elegant, and he agreed with Mr. Cook that this building could be a wonderful contribution to the city’s glazed facades.
Mr. Spandle expressed support for the proposed east facade, observing that the revised design strengthens the importance of the building entrance as the facade’s dominant feature. He recommended Revised Massing A as the best of the presented options, and he supported the use of deep overhangs.
Mr. McCrery offered a motion to approve the concept submission with Revised Massing A, noting that the Commission looks forward to more detail in the next submission. Mr. Cook added that the next submission should also include the study that was discussed for adjusting the alignment of recesses at the top of the east facade; Mr. McCrery agreed to include this in the motion. Upon a second by Mr. Cook, the Commission adopted this action; Mr. Stroik voted against the motion. Chairman Shubow conveyed the Commission’s appreciation for the progress in the design and for the enthusiasm of the project team.
2. Old Georgetown Act
OG 21-111, 1805 Wisconsin Avenue, NW. New four-story mixed-use building. Concept. Secretary Luebke introduced a concept submission forwarded by the Old Georgetown Board (OGB) for a new four-story mixed-use building to be located at the northeast corner of Wisconsin Avenue and S Street, at the upper end of the Georgetown historic district. He said that the existing one-story structure occupying part of the site was built in the 1930s and enlarged and extensively modified in the 1960s; it is considered a non-contributing structure in the historic district. The proposed building, designed by Beyer Blinder Belle, would have three residential levels above a one-story retail base and basement parking. He said that the OGB has reviewed the project three times, culminating in support for the current concept and a request for an interim review in the design development phase. In supporting the proposal, the OGB requested development of several items: studying details of the brick cladding, including the suggestion to use a more traditional Flemish bond; refining the spandrel design of the first floor, a possible location for retail signage; and reconsidering the use or treatment of the dark-colored brick at the stepped-back fourth floor. The OGB also requested design refinements to the proposed setbacks and terraces in order to minimize the use of plantings and to avoid the placement of any features, such as planters or umbrellas, that may compromise the character of the Georgetown historic district. He said that the Commission’s action will be either to adopt, add to, or change the recommendation in the OGB report. He noted that the Commission has received comments from the public, which he will summarize after the presentation. He asked Jonathan Mellon, an architectural historian with the law firm Goulston & Storrs, to begin the presentation.
Mr. Mellon said that he is speaking on behalf of the Fortis Companies, the project’s developer. The site is within a commercial strip that has typically been occupied by undistinguished buildings, and the proposed building is intended to establish a higher standard of design. The proposal has been modified in response to the OGB comments and in consultation with the Commission staff, and he said the revised design is compatible with other commercial structures along Wisconsin Avenue. He introduced architect Hany Hassan of Beyer Blinder Belle to present the proposed design.
Mr. Hassan illustrated the site and its context, including the west or opposite side of Wisconsin Avenue. The existing building would be demolished, and the new building would be compatible with other buildings of the Wisconsin Avenue commercial corridor in its massing, height, width, facade design, and brick construction. He presented side-by-side comparisons of the proposed building with others of similar size, noting that the most relevant nearby building is 1700 Wisconsin Avenue, located a block south on the west side of the avenue. He added that a variation in height is characteristic of buildings along this corridor.
Mr. Hassan said the proposed building would have retail use on the first floor and three floors of residences above; a modest entrance to the apartments would be located on S Street, while the Wisconsin Avenue facade would have the potential to include three separate entrances for retail spaces. The exterior would be entirely brick except for some details of the penthouse. He said that access to the roof had been proposed in previous versions but has been eliminated; in the current proposal, the roof would have only mechanical equipment, an elevator penthouse, and stair exits surrounded by an unoccupied green roof. The mechanical equipment would be surrounded by a four-foot-high perforated metal fence; the elevator overrun would also be four feet high, and the stair enclosures would meet the code requirement for a 7.5-foot-high doorway.
Mr. Hassan described the design of the exteriors. The primary, west facade on Wisconsin Avenue would be organized in three parts, with a projecting center unit of five bays flanked by three bays on each side; at these side bays, the first floor would terminate with a cornice, and the second and third floors would be slightly recessed from the facade plane of the first floor.
The S Street elevation would be similarly organized, with cornices above the first and third floors continuing from the front facade. Soldier courses of bricks would be placed beneath each cornice and at the windows. He noted that the S Street facade is inflected in response to the geometry of Wisconsin Avenue at this intersection and to avoid underground utilities; the angling of this part of the south facade is also another visual device to help break down the overall massing. The fourth floor will be stepped back on three sides.
Mr. Hassan said that the east and north facades would be organized similarly to the south, with partial cornices and uniform stacked windows. He noted that the north facade, including its windows, may be blocked by future construction, but until then it will be visible to cars and pedestrians approaching from the north along Wisconsin Avenue. He indicated a solid area of unbroken brick at the center of the north elevation, where the stairwell rises to the fourth floor.
Mr. Hassan described the treatment proposed for the brick on the front facade. The brick on the second and third floors of the three bays to each side would be laid in a Flemish bond, with intermittent headers of iron spot brick, creating a regular pattern that would differentiate the side bays from the center. The bricks in the spandrel areas between the second- and third-floor windows would be angled at 45 degrees to create a decorative pattern; Flemish bond would also be used on the second and third floors of the south facade. Additional texture would be added to the wall surface through the use of angled and staggered bricks. Window openings would be slightly recessed from the wall planes; the windows would have black-colored metal frames and would be configured as six panes in two vertical stacks of three, with the two lowest being smaller operable square panes. He said the center section of this facade would be further articulated through the use of angled and staggered bricks to add decorative texture to the wall plane. The first-floor retail windows would be taller and slightly wider than the windows of the residential stories.
Mr. Hassan said the OGB asked the design team to study the spandrel details further; he noted that his preference remains the Flemish bond but other options were also examined, such as introducing soldier courses turned 45 degrees. He said that two options were explored for the treatment of the large panel that would occupy the center of the west facade between the first and second floors; his preferred option is three stacked courses turned 45 degrees, with the addition of a simpler panel between the first and second floors. He said the OGB also suggested using a material other than brick for the stepped-back fourth floor, such as metal panels, but his preference is still for a dark brick. The fourth-floor windows would have projecting metal awnings, and a soldier course of brick would suggest a cornice at the top of the fourth floor. Secretary Luebke clarified that the OGB guidance was not specifically to use metal panels, but to give the fourth floor a lighter color to reduce the contrast with the rest of the building.
Mr. Hassan presented photomontages of the proposed new building in its neighborhood context, along with a comparison of the previous and current proposals. He indicated that on the approach from the north down Wisconsin Avenue, the building would not obstruct the view of the Georgetown branch library, located a block south of the project site.
Chairman Shubow invited questions from the Commission members. Mr. Stroik noted that red brick is typical for Georgetown, and he asked why a darker brick is proposed for the penthouse instead of the same red brick used for the rest of the building. Mr. Hassan responded that the intention is to create a stronger termination for the building and to break down its scale, with the three red-brick stories intended to read as a single mass below the dark, recessed fourth floor. He added that using a lighter color of brick for the fourth floor has been considered, perhaps the darker of the building’s two tones of red brick.
Secretary Luebke summarized the public comments that have been received on this project, with more letters opposed to the design than in favor of it. Although there was general support for new development on this site, there are concerns about the potential for rooftop access from the fourth-floor terrace and about the visual impact of a four-story building with no setback when seen from the east. There was a question about whether the height could be reduced; other letters expressed disappointment with the architectural typology and concern about the repetitive appearance of the massing, material palette, windows, and detailing. There was also a letter encouraging maximum development of the site to help mitigate the severe shortage of housing in Washington.
Expressing appreciation for the public comments, Chairman Shubow opened the review for comments from the Commission members. Mr. McCrery observed that the deep fourth-floor setback makes a great contribution to breaking down the building’s scale, which he said is a different issue than color. He commented that the building’s massing, size, height, and the relation of fenestration to wall surface are all appropriate for this site and for the neighborhood generally. He commended the variety of treatments proposed for the walls, and he called the fourth-floor step-back a successful move that would likely make this a successful development. He suggested replacing the dark brick on the fourth floor with either of the two red brick colors used on the other floors. He suggested that more of the window panes be operable, and he asked for clarification of the white material proposed for the second-floor window sills; Mr. Hassan said these white limestone sills would provide an accent color.
However, Mr. McCrery said the architecture appears too severe and lacking in charm. He observed that the design may be intended to have an industrial warehouse aesthetic, but he disagreed with the appropriateness of this character for the location. He said the industrial appearance of the black metal windows would be counter to both the residential and the small-scale retail character desired. He questioned the architectural strategy of taking cues from adjacent buildings, which he described as mediocre structures dating from decades ago that were missed opportunities for good design; he cautioned against making the same mistake with this new building. He summarized that the proposal’s unattractive appearance could probably be easily improved and made more aesthetically compatible with Georgetown.
Mr. Stroik asked whether this project is being held to a higher aesthetic standard than other new construction in Washington because of its location in the Georgetown historic district. Secretary Luebke responded that the Old Georgetown Act creates a different jurisdiction for review in comparison to the rest of the city; the review process for Georgetown is unique, but whether it is stricter than the review process for other neighborhoods is debatable, depending in part on how historic preservation principles are interpreted.
Mr. McCrery reiterated that the proposed building seems generally compatible with the architectural character of Georgetown and with the immediate context; he called the proposal a good start. He observed that the design has met the needs of its developer, and the architect has brought it through the mandated review process to a good point. He said the building design needs to be refined for a better appearance, adding that it should set a new standard for this stretch of Wisconsin Avenue. He commended the use of an A-B-A pattern of three bays/five bays/three bays for the west facade, but he observed that this emphasis is not carried through in the fenestration; he recommended creating more openness and variation in the fenestration of the central portion. He acknowledged the variation in composition and detail that was introduced to break down the massing of an otherwise boxy building; he said that if the fenestration were modified to be consistent with the massing, the appearance might be more residential than industrial. He added that even the retail portion of many buildings in Georgetown has a residential character.
Mr. Guillot observed that the building has a strong, crisp, serious appearance, but the renderings may not accurately indicate the animation of the ground floor that will result from retail occupancy, such as the addition of signage, lighting, and awnings. He noted that controls and regulations will dictate what will be added to the exterior, and perhaps on the interior as well; he described the design of the building as creating a vessel for things to happen.
Mr. Spandle commended the massing and rhythm of the facades. He observed that the black color would call too much attention to the penthouse, fighting against the desired recessive appearance; he agreed it would be better if the penthouse brick color is changed, and he suggested using the lighter of the building’s two tones of red brick. He supported Mr. McCrery’s comments on the windows, adding that a more vertical, rectangular proportion for the panes would be more aesthetically pleasing and also more in keeping with the neighborhood’s residential character than the proposed arrangement of both rectangular and square panes.
Mr. Cook commented that the design reminds him more of buildings by the nineteenth-century German architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel than of mid-twentieth century American architecture. He called the massing superb and said the design is strong, bold, and elegant. Mr. Stroik said that Georgetown has many good precedents for this design, such as the use of limestone for window sills; he supported using the two types of red brick and a Flemish bond for the facades, and he suggested also studying the use of Flemish bond for the penthouse.
Secretary Luebke noted that the Commission is being asked to adopt or change the recommendations of the OGB report. He summarized the Commission’s comments as approving the general character of the massing, with questions about the secondary levels of detail, such as the finish of the penthouse and the character of brick details; the Commission is asking for more exploration of the fenestration’s character and possibly of other window details, which he said could be treated as part of the project’s design development phase. He suggested that the Commission could adopt the OGB report, providing a concept approval on some items, with a request for further development of secondary details to be seen in an interim review before the final design submission. Chairman Shubow agreed with this summary.
Mr. McCrery asked if the revised concept submission requested by the OGB would return to the Commission for review; Secretary Luebke said that the Commission can direct this. Mr. McCrery offered a motion that the Commission accept the OGB report and its recommendation for concept approval, encouraging the submission of a revised concept design for Commission review, showing west and south elevations that explore the suggestions provided by the Commission. Secretary Luebke suggested that the next submission follow the usual procedure of returning to the OGB for further review before being placed on the Commission’s agenda; Mr. McCrery agreed and added this procedure to his motion. Upon a second by Mr. Cook, the Commission adopted this action.
F. United States Mint
CFA 20/MAY/21-6, 2023 American Innovation One Dollar Coin Program. Designs for the fifth set of coins: Ohio, Louisiana, Indiana, and Mississippi. Final. (Previous: CFA 18/MAR/21-7, coins for 2022) Secretary Luebke introduced the set of reverse designs for the 2023 issue of one-dollar coins in the American Innovation series. He noted that this is the fifth submission in the fourteen-year series, which will include a coin for each state, the District of Columbia, and the five U.S. territories. He said that the authorizing legislation calls for each reverse design to include an illustration emblematic of the innovation, innovator, or group of innovators, along with the inscriptions “United States of America” and the name of the state or territory. He said that for this series, the legislation specifically prohibits the use of a head-and-shoulders portrait or the depiction of any living person, and it calls for selecting the designs in consultation with the governor or chief executive of each state or territory. He asked April Stafford of the U.S. Mint to present the alternative designs.
Ms. Stafford said that two themes, provided by the governor’s office and approved by the Secretary of the Treasury, have been developed for the Ohio coin: the Underground Railroad and the invention of flight. She presented seventeen alternative designs for the coin’s reverse, noting the preference of the governor’s office for alternative #4 and the recommendation of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) for alternative #1; both of these designs are based on the Underground Railroad theme. She described the history of the Underground Railroad as a decentralized network to help slaves escape to freedom; Ohio was especially important in this history, and the National Park Service recognizes more than a dozen routes that went through the state, with an estimated 3,000 miles of trails. Alternative #1 depicts two strong hands grasped together, with the upper hand pulling the lower hand upward to freedom as a chain snaps off the lower hand. Alternative #4 depicts the John Rankin house on a hill along the Ohio River, where a lantern would be raised to provide a signal for slaves fleeing from Kentucky.
Mr. Stroik expressed support for alternative #4 and the rowboat scene in alternative #9, citing the depiction in these designs of people’s faces and the movement of people toward freedom. He said that all of the presented designs are very strong, and alternative #1 is particularly powerful in depicting the two hands and the breaking of the chain.
Mr. McCrery joined in supporting alternative #9; he said that the handsome Rankin house is not depicted well in alternative #4. He also expressed support for the map of Underground Railroad routes across Ohio in alternative #8, commenting that the dense network of routes and the lantern result in a powerful design. He said that alternative #1 is also strong, although the symbolism of the north-south orientation of the hands may not be as persuasive as was cited by the CCAC in its support of this design.
Mr. Guillot recommended alternative #1 as a strong design for a small coin, conveying the message that the human chain is stronger than the metal chain; Mr. Shubow agreed. Mr. Fagan also supported #1 as a standout design for a coin, commenting that the composition is very strong; he cited the several elements of the design that break through the coin’s border. He questioned whether a chain would shatter as depicted in the design, commenting that a more likely effect would be a link that bends open after its welded joint is pulled apart; he said that a more realistic depiction of a breaking chain could be just as dramatic and powerful as the shattering that is depicted. He noted that alternative #7 depicts a broken chain more accurately, although not in a very dramatic way. He said that alternative #8 would invite people to examine the Ohio map closely to discover the story of the hidden historical routes, and the lantern in relief would be a strong central feature. Nonetheless, he concluded that alternative #1 would be the strongest design for people to hold as a coin.
Joe Menna, the Mint’s chief engraver, also commented that alternative #1 seems to be the strongest design, and he agreed with the reasons cited by the Commission members. Mr. Shubow suggested that the chain details be understood as taking poetic license, giving the effect of smashing the chain, perhaps being hit by a hammer; he said that other alternatives with a simple broken chain are less compelling. Mr. Guillot suggested that the design might be equally or more powerful if the chain were depicted intact, symbolizing that the journey to freedom is still underway; he said that the chain being broken would be difficult to discern at the scale of the coin. Mr. McCrery noted that simplifying the depiction of the chain would reduce the number of elements that break through the coin’s border ring. Mr. Cook supported the symbolism of the broken chain as a powerful feature of the design, with the human chain being stronger than the metal chain. He summarized that alternative #1 is by far the most elegant and simple of the designs, conveying a powerful message.
Chairman Shubow noted the consensus of the Commission to recommend reverse #1 for the Ohio coin; he suggested that a formal vote be taken after discussing each of the four coins.
Ms. Stafford said that two themes have been developed for the Louisiana coin: jazz music and the Higgins boat, which was invented in Louisiana to navigate shallow marshes, and became critical in landing troops during World War II; she noted that the National World War II Museum is located in New Orleans. She presented fifteen alternative designs for the coin’s reverse, noting the preference of the governor’s office for alternative #13, depicting the Higgins boat, and the recommendation of the CCAC for alternative #7 on the theme of jazz music. She said that the CCAC cited the artistic strength of the jazz designs and the prevalence of other coins and medals related to World War II and military themes. She added that alternative #7 features a depiction of the wrought iron flourishes that are often seen in the architecture of the French Quarter in New Orleans, symbolizing the qualities of jazz music; although appearing crisp in the presented line drawing, this detail may be less legible when sculpted in bas relief.
Mr. Guillot expressed support for the theme of the Higgins boat. He said that the inclusion of soldiers with the boat could be a nice feature but would be illegible at the small scale of the coin, and he therefore recommended alternatives #8 and #11, which feature the boat without people. Mr. McCrery said that alternative #8 is an especially powerful design, and Mr. Guillot added that people will know that these boats were full of soldiers when used for military landings. Mr. Cook supported this choice, and Mr. McCrery said that the presented alternatives for the jazz theme are not strong enough.
Mr. Fagan observed that the inscription “Higgins Boat” is included in some designs but not with alternative #8; he suggested adding it to the design; while people looking at the coin will easily recognize the boat, they will likely not know its name. Ms. Stafford added that technical corrections have been identified for some of the Higgins boat alternatives, including #8, which will result in minor modifications to the presented design.
Chairman Shubow noted the consensus of the Commission to recommend reverse #8 for the Louisiana coin.
Ms. Stafford said that a single theme has been developed for the Indiana coin: the automobile industry; Indiana had many inventors involved in the development of automobiles and had an important role in manufacturing automobile parts. She presented twelve alternative designs for the coin’s reverse, noting the preference of the governor’s office for alternative #5, depicting three cars from the past and present, and the recommendation of the CCAC for alternative #3, depicting several innovations that came from Indiana, including the gas pump, speedometer, and race car. She said that alternative #5 was cited for its inclusion of Indiana’s modern-day contributions to the automobile industry as well as the historical innovations; alternative #3 was cited for its interesting composition.
Mr. Fagan said that alternative #6 is the most interesting composition and conveys both the modern and historic development of cars; he suggested that this alternative could be sculpted with detailed relief to emphasize the car’s wheels and hood as foreground elements, resulting in a strong sense of depth that would be interesting to see on a coin. He said that alternative #11 would be his next choice, illustrating various automobile-related inventions as well as the route of the Lincoln Highway.
Mr. Guillot asked if alternative #5, the governor’s preference, would be feasible to sculpt, with its overlay of three cars from different eras. Mr. Menna said that the drawing technique may be slightly obscuring the sculpted appearance of this design. He said that the composition is strong, and legibility could be achieved by carefully sculpting the three cars in three layers to give a sense of receding in space. He anticipated that the result would be successful at the scale of the coin. Mr. Guillot observed that alternative #6 is presented as mostly a line drawing; its composition should be clearly legible, and it conveys the timespan of the automobile age.
Mr. Stroik observed that the beautiful middle car in alternative #5, a classic Duesenberg, seems very large compared to the Indy race car in the foreground. Mr. Menna responded that the relative scales could be adjusted as part of the sculpting process; the disparity in the artist’s computer-assisted drawing may result from problems in importing images from various sources. Mr. Stroik said that combining historic and modern images in a single coin design would often be problematic, but alternative #5 appears to be successful, and the three types of cars depicted would be meaningful to the people of Indiana. Mr. Stroik recalled that an Indy race car was previously used for the Indiana coin in the series of quarters for the fifty states, issued in recent decades.
In support of Mr. Fagan’s recommendation, Mr. McCrery offered support for alternative #6, agreeing that its composition is strong. He said the historic race car is shown with a strong sense of movement, and the addition of a driver with goggles could be helpful; Mr. Stroik agreed. Mr. McCrery said that the grandstand in the background is a welcome feature of the design. Mr. Fagan said that a mechanic at the front of the car could also be an interesting element.
Expressing agreement with this choice, Chairman Shubow noted the consensus of the Commission to recommend reverse #6 for the Indiana coin.
Ms. Stafford said that two themes have been developed for the Mississippi coin: Delta blues music and the first human lung transplant, which was performed at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in 1963. She presented fourteen alternative designs for the coin’s reverse, noting the preference of the governor’s office for alternative #13, representing the lung transplant, and the recommendation of the CCAC for alternative #3 on the theme of the Delta blues music. She said that the lung transplant theme was cited as a significant innovation that is not commonly associated with Mississippi, while alternative #3 was recommended by the CCAC for its artistic excellence and its reference to the Mississippi River with a wave pattern, as well as the familiarity of the Delta blues theme in relation to the state.
Mr. McCrery asked if the governor’s office is choosing a preference for the theme of the lung transplant. Ms. Stafford clarified that both themes were initially submitted by the governor’s office, instead of submitting only a single theme; nonetheless, the current design preference of the governor’s office is for an alternative based on the theme of the lung transplant. She said that the preference for the lung transplant theme began to emerge as state officials were reviewing the designs.
Mr. Guillot said that he agrees with the preference of the governor’s office for alternative #13, depicting a pair of lungs in the background and a surgical team’s hands and instruments in the foreground. Mr. McCrery said that alternative #11 features a very powerful depiction of human lungs, conveying their beauty; Mr. Stroik agreed, and he emphasized the strong reasons for supporting the theme of the lung transplant. Mr. Spandle said that for the squeamish, the more abstract representation of the lungs in alternative #11 is the best choice. Mr. Cook suggested further consideration of alternative #13, the preference of Mr. Guillot; Mr. Guillot added that the hands in alternative #13 suggest the transplant that was being performed by Mississippians.
Mr. Fagan said that the central emblem in alternative #11, a snake and pole that symbolizes the medical profession, places too much emphasis on the anatomical depiction of the snake; he suggested that it be represented as a more abstract curving form, reserving the anatomical rendering for the depiction of the lungs. Mr. McCrery supported this refinement. Mr. Menna clarified that the central symbolic emblem is not a caduceus, which traditionally has wings that might be understood as being represented by the lungs; it is actually the staff of Asclepius, which consists more simply of a single rod and a snake, with no reference to wings. Chairman Shubow noted the consensus of the Commission to recommend reverse #11 for the Mississippi coin.
Mr. McCrery offered a motion to formalize the recommendations discussed for each of the American Innovation coins that was presented; upon a second by Guillot, the Commission adopted this action.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 3:19 p.m.
Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA