The meeting was convened by videoconference at 9:01 a.m.
Hon. Hazel Ruth Edwards, Vice Chair
Hon. Peter Cook
Hon. Lisa Delplace
Thomas E. Luebke, Secretary
(Due to the absence of Chair Billie Tsien, Vice Chair Edwards presided at the meeting.)
II. Submissions and Reviews
Secretary Luebke noted the lack of a quorum due to a combination of planned and unanticipated absences of Commission members. He suggested deferring consideration of the administrative items and appendices while the staff considers the best procedure and continuing with review of the cases listed on the agenda. He said the next meetings are scheduled for 19 January, 16 February, and 16 March 2023, as previously published, with no meeting scheduled in December. (See end of meeting for consideration of the appendices.)
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 members had identified these submissions as ones that could be approved without presentations.
D. D.C. Department of General Services
1. CFA 17/NOV/22-4, Dorothy I. Height Elementary School, 1300 Allison Street, NW. Renovations and additions to building and landscape. Final. (Previous: CFA 16/JUN/22-5) Secretary Luebke said the project team has been working with the Commission staff and other review agencies to develop the previously approved concept. Vice Chair Edwards noted that the Commission members do not have further comments on the project. Upon a motion by Mr. Cook with second by Ms. Delplace, the Commission approved the proposed final design, subject to confirmation by a quorum.
2. CFA 17/NOV/22-5, Ward 8 Senior Wellness Center, 1700 Q Street, SE. New building and landscape. Final. (Previous: CFA 15/SEP/22-5) Vice Chair Edwards noted that the Commission members do not have further comments on the project. Upon a motion by Mr. Cook with second by Ms. Delplace, the Commission approved the proposed final design, subject to confirmation by a quorum.
The Commission returned to the order of the agenda with item II.B.
B. National Park Service
CFA 17/NOV/22-1, Rock Creek Park Golf Course, 6100 16th Street, NW. Rehabilitation of existing golf course and construction of new clubhouse facility. Concept. Secretary Luebke introduced the proposal for the historic Rock Creek Park Golf Course, which occupies approximately 100 acres within Rock Creek Park. It is one of three public courses in Washington, along with the Langston and East Potomac Park courses; Rock Creek is considered the most challenging as well as the least played, and it suffers from decades of neglect. He said the original 18-hole parkland-style course was designed by prominent golf architect William Flynn and constructed in the 1920s. The course was altered significantly in the 1950s when three of the original holes were removed to make way for the limited access parkway for Military Road, NW. Encroachment of the surrounding woods at the back nine has narrowed the fairways and led to weedy greens, bare spots, and abandoned holes.
Mr. Luebke said the proposed rehabilitation includes the reconfiguration of the course into two separate courses—a nine-hole regulation course and a nine-hole par-three course—along with new program elements. The project would also promote access for golfers of different abilities by providing a driving range and practice areas. Landscape improvements would include a “nature loop” walking trail, and the proposal also includes a new clubhouse, cart barn, and driving range facility. The existing clubhouse was constructed in 1964 as part of the National Park Service’s Mission 66 program; it is considered a contributing resource to the Rock Creek Park Historic District, but it lacks contemporary amenities and barrier-free access, and it would therefore be demolished. The design of the new 10,000-square-foot, two-level clubhouse is inspired by the 19th-century farmhouse that served as the clubhouse when the course first opened. He asked Peter May, Associate Director for Lands and Planning at the National Park Service (NPS), to begin the presentation.
Mr. May said the NPS has a long history of operating recreational golf courses in Washington, providing access to affordable golf play for residents of the city and the region. In contrast to the previous concessionaire model, the NPS has recently signed a fifty-year lease with the National Links Trust for the three golf courses, allowing the Trust to invest and make improvements that would not have been possible under a concession contract—one of the reasons NPS-owned golf courses have suffered over the years. He said the Trust has proposed to revitalize the three courses to make them an asset to the community and reinvigorate surrounding neighborhoods while keeping fees affordable for long-time patrons. The Rock Creek Park course, which serves a diverse community, was almost closed by the previous operator and is in most need of help; the Langston course, located partially on an island within the Anacostia River, is the next facility scheduled for rehabilitation. He introduced Michael McCartin, a co-founder of the National Links Trust, to present the design.
Mr. McCartin said the Trust is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to protect and promote accessible, affordable, and engaging public golf courses that positively impact local communities across the United States. He said putting the mission into practice in Washington means providing welcoming and inclusive facilities that run a variety of educational, sports, and workforce development programming designed to expand access to golf and its benefits, as well as providing non-golfers with opportunities and access for enjoyment. He said the lease terms require the Trust to address substantial deferred maintenance at the course, which will require a full-scale renovation project.
Mr. McCartin indicated the location of the courses within the city; he noted that the Rock Creek Park course has the fewest golfers and the most inadequate infrastructure by a large margin, and as a result is the least financially viable. The Rock Creek Park course is easily accessible by foot from the adjacent neighborhood, as well as by car and bus from the rest of the city, and public use is therefore expected to be high after the rehabilitation.
Mr. McCartin said the guiding concerns for the proposal include the history of the golf course, environmental sustainability, and most significantly, the goal to positively impact the community by providing affordable and accessible facilities to both golfers and non-golfers. He said the original nine-hole course by Flynn was completed in 1923, with an additional nine holes added in 1927. The original front nine was characterized by open farmland, long views, and relatively gentle slopes, while the back nine was created within a more forested area having steeper slopes. Following the elimination of three holes in the 1950s for the construction of Military Road, the remaining six holes were shortened and reconfigured to create nine, but he said the resulting course is too short to attract experienced golfers, yet too difficult for beginners. In addition, a substantial increase in the tree canopy and invasive species, particularly in the forested section, have encroached on the golf course to such an extent that the holes are unmaintainable and unplayable. When the Trust took over in 2020, five of the closed back nine holes were reopened after significant work.
Mr. McCartin said the basic character of the course is the feeling of being in the middle of an old farm looking out over open space to forest that surrounds the property, and the proposal intends to emphasize this character. He indicated the old farm road that led to the original farmhouse that later served as the course’s first clubhouse. When the farmhouse burned, a new clubhouse was completed in 1964; he said experts have told him the building is not an outstanding example of the Mission 66 style. In addition, the clubhouse does not support a modern golf operation: it is not viable for a food and beverage operation, it lacks space for youth or educational programming, and it does not meet current accessibility standards. He said the project team has concluded that the building cannot be reused or repurposed as part of the rehabilitation plan, and the proposal is therefore to demolish it.
Mr. McCartin presented the overall site plan, indicating the major program components: a nine-hole regulation course, composed of holes from the William Flynn design; a nine-hole par-three course; a driving range with fifty stalls, located in the middle of the property; a large practice putting green and practice area adjacent to the clubhouse; and an expanded clubhouse facility and cart barn to support the proposed programming. He said the goal for the putting green and driving range is to engage golfers of all types; the par-three course would offer a stepping-stone for new golfers to the regulation nine-hole course. Two of Flynn's original hole corridors at the back nine, in the northern section of the property, would be replaced with a pollinator meadow as part of a publicly accessible nature trail through the site. He presented a comparison of the original course configuration with the existing and proposed course, noting that the presence of Military Road precludes a return to the original design. He said the par-three course would be routed through the disused back-nine corridors and would feature some of Flynn’s original green sites, while the proposed driving range would be sited in the space currently occupied by the ninth and tenth holes, just north of the clubhouse.
Mr. McCartin described the proposed entry sequence into the property from 16th Street; it would mirror the experience on the course of moving from open farmland into forest and then back into the open as one approaches the clubhouse. The proposed nature trail would start at the clubhouse, making use of the historic farm road to reach the northern part of the property and the proposed pollinator meadow, before returning to the clubhouse via the course and an existing trail along a stream and wetland. The nature trail would support the substantial current use of the property for birding and hiking, and he noted that the course’s edge habitat condition hosts abundant wildlife. He said use of golf courses by naturalists is common throughout the world and creates a favorable intersection of golfers and community members; he added that the project team is exploring a connection between the nature trail and existing trails within Rock Creek Park.
Mr. McCartin said a new maintenance building and pavilion would be designed with the same architectural vocabulary as the proposed clubhouse. The maintenance building would be sited for convenient access from the entrance road. The pavilion, overlooking the front nine holes, could be used by the community for events; it would be an open-air space with a simple gabled roof. The proposed irrigation pond at the northern end of the site would capture rainwater, lessening the golf course’s reliance on the municipal water supply. He said other components of the landscape plan are intended to encourage use of the outdoor space around the clubhouse; this landscape would include specimen trees to encourage people to sit and linger under the trees to enjoy views of the surroundings. This space would connect to the practice putting green area, which would be a natural hub of activity on the property. Around the clubhouse would be more formal patio and staging areas for golf course operations and circulation between the various program elements. The parking lot would remain largely in its current location, but it would be reconfigured to provide adequate parking for the renovated facility. He said the landscape material palette includes stone and exposed aggregate walkways, and it is intended to be responsive to the clubhouse design. He asked Chris Henningsen of Henningsen Kestner Architects to present the proposed clubhouse design.
Mr. Henningsen said the clubhouse facility would be composed of three interconnected parts: the clubhouse proper; an open-air driving range structure; and a cart barn. The facility would be sited to avoid disturbing the grove of trees that surrounds the existing clubhouse, and he noted that the historic clubhouse was also located in this area. The three parts of the clubhouse would be interconnected with a barrier-free route. He said the design strategy is to harmonize with the context of Rock Creek Park; the large facility would appear prominent because it is a destination point, but it would be designed to avoid dominating the site. Program areas across the three levels of the facility include a pro shop, restaurant, offices, classroom and event spaces, stalls for the driving range, and cart storage. He said the composition of the roofs is intended to create a hierarchy and emphasize program areas; for instance, the restaurant would be marked with a slightly raised roof with cross gables. The driving range structure would have shed roofs that could serve as a location for solar panels, while the cart barn would have a simple gable roof with dormers.
Mr. Henningsen said the material palette for the clubhouse facility is informed by precedents found within Rock Creek Park, including natural stone, horizontal wood siding, and slate shingles. Additional compatible materials would include standing-seam metal roofing and large expanses of glass with steel framing. The driving range is designed to be as light and transparent as possible. He said the design is intended to give the clubhouse and cart barn the appearance of one-story buildings with a walk-out lower level that reveals itself as the grade drops away; he noted the facility is set into a natural bowl or swale that rises to the driving range, with the clubhouse and cart barn serving as visual anchors set into the grade.
Vice Chair Edwards invited questions and comments from the Commission members. Mr. Cook commended the proposal’s emphasis on benefiting the adjacent neighborhoods and communities. He asked for more information on the community engagement process, particularly what the respondents would like to see in the project and if the proposal would truly bring non-golfers to the course. Mr. McCartin said his organization has worked with the Rock Creek Conservancy to gather feedback from stakeholders about the site and their goals for its renovation; community requests have included access to the property for non-golfers, particularly hikers and birders. Mr. Cook said he surmises that the Trust is seeking to engage with a new audience to ensure the long-term viability of the course; he asked if these potential new patrons have provided feedback that is reflected in the proposed programming and facility. Mr. McCartin said the current infrastructure only supports playing golf; the proposed pavilion, meeting spaces, restaurant, and outdoor spaces respond to community feedback and would offer venues for ongoing use of the property. He noted that other golf courses have used this design approach to open their properties to the greater public.
Mr. Cook requested more documentation of the original farmhouse and asked if the proposed clubhouse design is attempting to play off the materiality of the farmhouse; he added that he is not suggesting the new facility mimic the old farmhouse. Mr. Henningsen said the house is not well documented, but it appears in the background of several surviving photographs. He said the house, dating from the 19th century, was white with horizontal siding, a wraparound porch, and a mansard roof in one section. He added that initial design studies for the new clubhouse more closely resembled the farmhouse, but the result seemed too much like mimicry or trying to appear historic. The current approach is to design a clubhouse that is more clearly perceived as being contemporary, with a few elements drawn from the original farmhouse.
Mr. Cook observed that the clubhouse itself would be oriented in a north–south direction and is sited to minimize its impact on existing trees; however, he asked if other orientations had been explored, such as to establish desirable views of the clubhouse from the outside and toward the landscape from within. Mr. Henningsen said there have been several studies of the clubhouse siting and orientation, and he noted that the views from the existing clubhouse are poorly considered. The proposed siting and orientation would provide beautiful sweeping views toward the ninth hole from the main entrance and restaurant; the more intimate areas of the clubhouse would be adjacent to the putting green, set in an existing grove of trees.
Ms. Delplace commented that the presence of invasive species is likely the result of the property’s proximity to the greater city; she asked if a tree inventory had been taken, as well as what the predominant species are. Mr. McCartin confirmed that an inventory has been prepared; the primary tree is tulip poplar, with hickory and oak trees interspersed. Ms. Delplace observed that a photograph of the old farm shows it as heavily wooded with copses of trees, and she asked for more information on the intention to retain this wooded character. Mr. McCartin responded that the front nine would recreate the hole corridors of Flynn’s original design as much as possible. He said the project team is working with the NPS to evaluate significant trees and the overall health of the forest. He noted that many trees are being choked by invasive species and are in poor condition; much of what is proposed is driven by the current condition of the trees. He added that a return to the tree placement of the original golfing corridors would be best for both historical and maintenance purposes; the par-three course would be less maintenance-intensive, allowing more flexibility in the design of the tree canopy. He summarized that the intention is to go back to the original look and feel of the course while acknowledging that the course has changed and would embrace new elements, such as new vegetation.
Ms. Delplace commented that keeping a robust tree canopy would limit the ability to incorporate the current practice in golf course design of increased biodiversity in the landscape, such as by using native plantings in the roughs and possibly threading them throughout the entire site, rather than isolating them in a single pollinator garden. Mr. McCartin responded that there is great opportunity to incorporate this idea in the transition areas between the forested areas and the more manicured open spaces, as well as in special locations such as the pollinator meadow in the northern part of the site.
Mr. May said it is difficult for the NPS to remove trees from the property, and this reluctance to trim or remove trees is one of the reasons why parts of the course have become unplayable. He said the goal is to find the right balance between the forested and open areas, adding that he has played the course in the past and that there is something magical about the interplay between the landscape areas. He said the project team is striving to retain this special character for both golfers and non-golfers.
Ms. Delplace noted that the facility is currently dependent on the municipal water supply, and she asked if the proposed irrigation pond would provide enough water to irrigate the entire site. Mr. McCartin said the pond would need to be charged with piped water initially, particularly when the new plantings are being established. Following this initial grow-in period, the pond is expected to be self-sustaining. He added that the site previously had wells in the vicinity of the proposed pond, but he is unsure of their current viability. Ms. Delplace observed that the pond would have steeply sloped sides, which would likely require fencing, and she encouraged reconceptualizing the pond as an amenity that is part of the romantic landscape style being reintroduced on the property.
Dr. Edwards expressed support for the proposed effort to restore the golf course and make it an accessible amenity for both golfers and non-golfers. She said she has played the course in the past and was struck by its beauty, as well as its important position within Rock Creek Park. She also expressed support for the proposed nature trail and for connecting the golf course property to the existing park trails, which gains added importance with the recent announcement that Beach Drive through the park will be permanently closed to cars. She encouraged consideration of how to get people to be more active and engaged with the larger park system, especially those coming from the east side of the park.
Vice Chair Edwards asked if the Commission needs to take an action on the project. Secretary Luebke suggested that the Commission members present could take an action, to be confirmed later by a quorum; the staff will also document today’s comments and convey them to the project team. Mr. Cook said the presented design is a very good start, but a number of items may need further review. He suggested the project team continue to work with the staff and study some of the topics discussed, such as the orientation of the clubhouse and the character of the retention pond. Secretary Luebke asked if the Commission considers these to be large conceptual problems with the design; he noted that relatively minor additional comments have been provided about tree retention and trail connections, but the apparent consensus is to support the overall concept design. Mr. Cook said he does not see major conceptual problems with the project, and he could support approval. He offered a motion to approve the concept design with the comments provided, which include study of the clubhouse orientation and the character of the retention pond. Upon a second by Ms. Delplace, the Commission adopted this action, subject to confirmation by a quorum.
C. U.S. Department of the Navy / U.S. Marine Corps
CFA 17/NOV/22-2, Marine Barracks Washington Annex, 7th and L Streets, SE. Construction of new six-story housing and support facility (P-158). Concept. Secretary Luebke introduced the proposal for a new building at the Marine Barracks Washington Annex, located on the south side of Interstate 695 and several blocks southwest of the historic Marine Barracks Washington quadrangle. The annex property was consolidated in the early 2000s and has been developed with an L-shaped building complex toward the south and east edges, facing L Street and 7th Street. The proposed building would be sited on part of the existing athletic field, to the north of the existing building, but connected in some areas at the ground floor. The remainder of the athletic field to the north would be reconfigured; this open space would continue to extend to the elevated I-695, giving prominent visibility to the north facade of the proposed building when seen from the highway or the athletic field. The building would contain the housing and support facilities that are currently located in Building 20, located two blocks to the east. He asked Lt. Alexander Cinq Mars, public works officer for the Marine Barracks Washington, to present the proposal.
Lt. Cinq Mars said the project is at the ten-percent design phase, as part of a design-bid-build process that involves a joint venture team of outside firms working with Navy engineers and architects. He presented photographs of the site, emphasizing its visibility from the I-695 highway that is elevated above Virginia Avenue on the north. He said the athletic field is used by both the military and the general public; a fence line separates the field from the secure parts of the annex property. The existing five-story building complex includes housing for enlisted soldiers (known as “bachelor enlisted quarters,” or BEQ), facilities for the Marine Corps band, and a large auditorium used for the band’s public concerts.
Lt. Cinq Mars said the nearby Building 20 is approximately fifty years old; its condition is deteriorating, and it does not meet current regulations for stand-off distance from adjacent roadways. Renovating Building 20 to meet regulatory requirements would be infeasible, and the proposal is therefore to relocate these functions to a new building at the annex. He said the new construction provides the opportunity for a more aesthetically pleasing building, compared to the functional character of Building 20. The proposed design is based on an installation appearance plan that was developed for the annex in 2015, resulting in a consistent design character for the annex. The project is also guided by a programmatic agreement from 2017, which specifies a height constraint and the maintenance of view corridors through the annex along the L’Enfant Plan alignments of 6th Street and K Street. He presented a diagram of these constraints overlaid on the existing plan of the annex, identifying the rectangular area toward the center of the annex that would be available for the proposed construction. He also indicated the alignment of existing below-grade utilities that further constrain the buildable area. The resulting site adjoins the existing BEQ building to the south; an offset would be provided between the upper floors of the existing and proposed buildings to provide daylight for the residential windows. The proposed six-story building would house 250 people and provide support facilities, including a dining hall, fitness center, and armory for weapons. Although the size of the existing athletic field would be reduced, the intent is that it would remain available for public use.
Lt. Cinq Mars presented a context plan and indicated the historic properties in the neighborhood; he indicated the nearest historic property to the southeast, a former streetcar facility, which would be shielded from the proposed building by the existing building complex on the annex. He added that the only alternative for a military-owned location in the vicinity would be the Washington Navy Yard, which could not feasibly accommodate this project.
Lt. Cinq Mars presented alternative massing studies that were developed during the design process and were rejected. Two of these alternatives would have exceeded the allowable building limit, likely delaying the project schedule; the proposed massing is lower, accommodating 115,000 square feet within a height of approximately 105 feet, which is within the regulatory height limit. He then presented perspectives and elevations to illustrate the architectural features being considered by the design team, with the intent to match the neo-Georgian character of the adjacent building and make the new building more aesthetically pleasing. The features include a projecting pedimented portico at the center of the north facade, providing a backdrop for the playing field, and a tower at the building’s northwest corner.
Vice Chair Edwards thanked the project team for the presentation, and she invited questions and comments from the Commission members. Mr. Cook asked if the project team has consulted with the Commission staff prior to submitting this project. Lt. Cinq Mars said this project was not brought to the staff, in part because of a turnover in leadership of the project team, but past projects have been coordinated with the staff.
While acknowledging the many constraints on the siting, Mr. Cook commented that the 25-foot distance described between the proposed and existing buildings seems “harsh” and “very aggressive.” He asked if any analysis of this condition has been prepared, such as a daylighting study, to assess the impact of the proposal on the quality of spaces within the existing building. Lt. Cinq Mars responded that the study so far has not considered the impact on the existing building; he acknowledged that the windows on the lower floors would be impacted by the proposed 105-foot-tall building. However, he noted that the rooms with the lowest windows would generally be common areas such as lounges and workout rooms, and the existing building’s lowest story is windowless toward the western end of the north facade. He offered to study the daylight impacts as the project’s design is developed. Mr. Cook said that the substantial height of the proposed building would likely have an effect on daylight for much of the facade, not just the lowest story, and he reiterated his concern with this issue.
Mr. Cook asked why a standoff distance of 25 feet is proposed, and whether a more generous dimension could be used. Lt. Cinq Mars clarified that standoff distance is a security issue for the existing Building 20, located on a different site and within thirteen feet of roadways; current military regulations require a minimum standoff of 86 feet for a residential building or the construction of improved blast resistance, which would be difficult for the fifty-year-old building. For the current proposal, to be located within the annex property further away from public streets, security-related standoff distance is not limiting the design; the constraint is the need to allow for adequate views from the residential windows of the existing adjacent building, as well as the need to retain the L’Enfant Plan viewsheds along the north and the west. Secretary Luebke noted that these viewsheds are actually the historic L’Enfant Plan street rights-of-way, which must be kept open in accordance with the outcome of the historic preservation review process. Lt. Cinq Mars added that the memorandum of agreement for the annex, dating from 2002, also requires keeping the athletic field; the current proposal would retain the field in a reconfigured shape. Mr. Cook acknowledged the severe challenges of the site. Lt. Cinq Mars confirmed that the site is constrained in every direction, including from above. He noted that acquisition and clearing of a new site was considered, but this would be difficult and cost-prohibitive in this built-up neighborhood; the preference is to locate the project on land already held by the military.
Mr. Cook said the proposed architecture raises several questions and concerns, which can be addressed more fully with a presentation that has stronger visualizations of the design to illustrate the proposal’s relationship to its surroundings. He observed that this building would be very visible from a range of directions; he requested that the next presentation include views of the project from K Street, 6th Street, and I-695. He said the proportions require further study, and he said the pedimented portico gives the north facade a character of pastiche. He also requested further information about the intended uses for the corner tower.
Ms. Delplace asked for further information about the existing parking garage within the annex property; Lt. Cinq Mars said it was constructed when the annex was initially developed, in approximately 2004. Ms. Delplace suggested a broader reconsideration of the master plan for the annex, including possible removal of the parking garage, with the goal of accommodating the evolving programmatic needs and creating a campus character, instead of placing two buildings in very close proximity and reducing the size of the athletic field. She agreed that available land in this area is scarce, and she emphasized that the annex property is an important asset in proximity to the historic Marine Barracks quadrangle and commandant’s house. She observed that in the current proposal, the new and existing buildings appear to be pushed together and fighting each other; she recommended seeking a more harmonious and campus-like solution with a better relationship among the buildings, better access to daylight, and a more humane character.
Lt. Cinq Mars confirmed that a master plan was created for the annex property, and it is updated at five-year intervals in accordance with military requirements. He added that the ideal solution would be to modernize Building 20, or demolish and replace it on its current site adjacent to the historic quadrangle. However, this solution is not feasible because of the standoff requirements that have evolved in recent decades, which would require losing programmatic space at the Building 20 site. New construction at the annex is therefore the best available solution. He expressed appreciation for the Commission’s concern with the project’s aesthetics and the quality of life for the Marines who will be residing in the annex buildings; he said the project team is trying to balance all of the issues.
Ms. Delplace acknowledged the problem of Building 20’s undesirable adjacency to the highway. She reiterated her interest in seeing a master plan for the annex property that would provide a different siting for the new building, instead of creating the appearance that a new building is being placed in front of an existing building with an unresolved relationship between them. Lt. Cinq Mars said the project team would try to develop a more harmonious design, perhaps giving the two buildings the appearance of being one unified project.
Graham Ruggie, the architectural branch chief at the Naval Facilities Engineering Command, provided further clarification of the proposed massing. He said the third through sixth floors of the proposed building—accommodating most of the new residential units—would be set back much more than 25 feet from the existing building; as indicated in the section drawings, the distance between the residential facades would be approximately 50 to 60 feet. He agreed to provide further study of the daylighting conditions and the impact of the proposed building.
Noting the concern that the new and existing buildings would appear unrelated, Mr. Ruggie emphasized the programmatic, physical, and aesthetic connections that are envisioned in the design. Both buildings would contain housing for Marines; the proposed building would include a 350-seat dining area, exercise facilities, and other amenities that would serve the residents of both buildings. A significant connection between the two buildings would be provided at the lowest story, and a pedestrian bridge would connect the buildings at the third story. He said the proposed aesthetic is based on the architectural vernacular of the existing building, with the intent that they appear as one building, and conforming to the established installation appearance plan. He said the design team would work further on developing the design vocabulary.
Mr. Cook asked if the proposed height of 105 feet is the maximum allowable; Lt. Cinq Mars clarified that the limit is 110 feet. Mr. Cook asked for further discussion of the alternative massings that were rejected because of excessive height, and he asked whether the additional height available for the current proposal could provide the opportunity for more flexibility in providing light and views for the existing building. Mr. Ruggie responded that the proposed building, currently at an early design stage, is shown as five feet below the height limit in order to allow for adjustments as the design is developed. For example, as the structural requirements for progressive collapse are being studied, the thickness of the planned structural components is increasing, perhaps requiring beams as thick as two feet, which may increase floor-to-floor heights. Some of the five feet of additional allowable height may therefore be consumed as the design is finalized.
Secretary Luebke added that height issues are tightly regulated in Washington; any violation of the limit would be highly unusual, even for structural reasons. He discouraged pursuing a massing that would conflict with the height limit, noting that such a situation would require a difficult process for zoning and other reviews, regardless of this Commission’s position. He emphasized that an engineering-related exception to height regulations could be used as a troubling precedent throughout the city.
Mr. Ruggie agreed, clarifying that the intent is to remain within the 110-foot limit even as the engineering design is developed. Responding to the question about the rejected massing alternatives from early in the design process, he said that these explored configuring the new building as two separate towers with a narrow gap between them. Aside from their problematic height, the rejected building massing studies would have come even closer to the existing residential building at the upper floors. As a result, the currently proposed massing appeared as preferable, providing a wider separation between the upper floors of the existing and proposed buildings.
Vice Chair Edwards asked if an action on the submission would be appropriate. Secretary Luebke noted that the project has been submitted at an unusually early stage of design, apparently in response to the project team’s internal sequencing of the design process. For the Commission’s own process, he observed that the proposal is less well developed than would usually be expected for a concept-level submission, although today’s review has provided useful guidance. He summarized the apparent consensus that the Commission members do not want to approve the current concept, having raised fundamental questions about the building’s form, siting, and design character. He suggested simply providing today’s comments, along with a request that the project team meet with the staff in preparing a more developed concept. The Commission members agreed with this outcome, with the expectation of reviewing an additional concept submission with further discussion of the issues that have been identified. The discussion concluded without a formal action.
D. D.C. Department of Transportation
CFA 17/NOV/22-3, Car Barn Training Center, 2550 Benning Road, NE. Renovations and additions to existing streetcar maintenance and training facility. Concept. Secretary Luebke introduced the proposal for renovations and additions to the Car Barn Training Center, an existing streetcar maintenance and training facility that was completed in 2017 in a design by ZGF Architects. The site is located in the Carver/Langston neighborhood and is adjacent to several significant buildings and landscapes, including Langston Terrace Dwellings, the Langston Golf Course, and a hilltop education campus that comprises several historic buildings, including Spingarn High School. He said that the existing facility was constructed to provide service to the streetcar line that runs along H Street and Benning Road, and it was designed to present a civic character that somewhat belies its very utilitarian purpose. He asked James Benton, a transportation management specialist at the D.C. Department of Transportation (DDOT), to begin the presentation.
Mr. Benton said the current proposal to enlarge this facility is a result of the planned eastward extension of the streetcar line to the Benning Road Metro station, which will improve transit equity for the city’s residents. He noted that substantial changes have already been made to the initial proposal as a result of consultation with the Commission staff. He introduced architect Charles McGloughlin of Jacobs to present the current design.
Mr. McGloughlin said the project to expand the Car Barn Training Center, an operational and maintenance facility, will meet the functional needs of the train operations and allow for improved and expanded streetcar service to the community. It will respect the significant historic resources of the neighborhood and also the existing building, which has been successful as a civic structure and has enabled the D.C. streetcar service to become an important part of the community.
Mr. McGloughlin explained that the planned service expansion is a result of this facility’s success; however, the facility lacks capacity to meet the requirements of both current and expanded service. The building does not have enough space for storage and inventory, nor for in-house maintenance of an expanded streetcar fleet. It also lacks enough office space for all current employees, and more employees will be required for the service expansion. The existing car wash at the rear of the building is open to the outdoors on three sides and is not useable in inclement weather. Finally, he said the site does not have enough track space for an expanded fleet nor to provide for the safe movement of additional streetcars within the track yard. He noted that the streetcar service is already experiencing significant operational issues because of this lack of space, a situation that will only become worse with the extension of the line. Expansion of the training center would add space for critical needs, including office, storage, inventory, and in-house maintenance operations; in addition, the car wash would be enclosed, and the space for on-site tracks would be increased.
Mr. McGloughlin described the existing building and its historic neighborhood context. The building faces south onto Benning Road, with a distinctive rectangular superstructure of clad steel columns that forms a physical framework encompassing the brick structure within it and creates the character of a civic building. The facades of the building recede and project within this superstructure, creating a visually intriguing appearance with varied fenestration that expresses the different functions within. For example, he indicated the glass-enclosed area of administrative offices, which includes the public entrance and a distinctive brise-soleil.
Mr. McGloughlin said the proposed addition would be at the east side of the existing building. To minimize its visual impact, the addition would be a lower structure, connected to the existing building with a sky bridge; the addition would contain offices, service areas, and inspection bays. He said the guiding principle for the addition’s design is to mimic the existing building by employing the same ordering logic, massing, and proportions, along with the same family of materials, fenestration, lines, and forms. The use of brick for the exterior of the service and inspection areas refers to the brick construction of the existing training center and also to the neighborhood’s historic buildings. Fenestration would be provided to allow people to watch maintenance and other streetcar operations, which has been a popular feature of the existing training center. The addition would replicate the continuous rusticated stone sill course of the training center and would have the same width between curtainwall mullions. Instead of being horizontal, the brise-soleil fins of the addition’s curtainwall would be oriented in a vertical position. He added that after discussion with the Commission staff, the design team reduced the number of fins in order to make the facade less busy.
Mr. McGloughlin described the relationship of the project to the historically significant context. Immediately north of the training center is the historic Spingarn High School, at the top of a slope, and to the west are the Langston Terrace Dwellings, a historic apartment complex. Unobstructed views to these buildings would be maintained. He indicated the location proposed for the new storage tracks at the north side of the site; the design would mitigate this intervention by terracing the grade to minimize the need for large retaining walls near Spingarn High School. The relocated parking area would be outside the viewshed of the historic buildings.
Mr. McGloughlin said the redesigned site would respect the original concept of buildings set in a field, although the existing slope would be somewhat flattened. He said this modification is needed to accommodate the expansion of the storage tracks, which requires creating a flat area; to allow for expanded parking within the property line; and to accommodate a shared access road for DDOT and for truck loading access to Spingarn High School. The natural grade would be maintained to the extent possible, and the proposed retaining walls would be tapered and scaled to reflect the appearance and color of the masonry buildings. A reinforced permeable grass turf would be installed between the storage tracks and in the new parking area to retain a green appearance. Based on a thorough plant inventory, existing plantings would be relocated or plantings similar to the existing vegetation would be added.
Mr. McGloughlin concluded by presenting a video animation illustrating movement through the site from Benning Road to the building and then to the tracks and parking areas at the rear. He summarized the project schedule, with the goal of completing construction for the opening of the streetcar extension in 2026.
Vice Chair Edwards thanked the project team for its thorough presentation, and she invited questions and comments from the Commission members.
Mr. Cook congratulated the team on the design’s evolution, and he asked for clarification of several details. Observing that a brick language has been selected to coordinate with surrounding historic architecture, he asked if the proposed brick would match the material of the existing building or of Spingarn High School. Mr. McGloughlin responded that the intent is for the expansion to appear part of a similar architectural language as the existing training center building; the design team will work with the same manufacturers to obtain brick in either the same color or the closest available, and the addition would demonstrate the same respect for historic context as the existing brick building. Mr. Cook expressed his support for this approach.
Mr. Cook observed that the rendering of the east facade depicts horizontal fins on the left and vertical fins on the right, while the adjoining north facade has vertical fins. He suggested further consideration of the best orientation for the fins and whether the north facade actually needs fins for solar shading. Mr. McGloughlin agreed that the brise-soleil on the north may be superfluous, explaining that it has been included at this early stage of design to show a sympathetic relationship with the older building; it will be reconsidered during design development.
Mr. Cook questioned the proposed site material of “grasscrete,” a permeable paving system with voids in which grass can grow. He said he has never seen this system working as successfully as shown in the renderings, and he observed that this system would likely be especially challenging to maintain with streetcars running over it. While expressing appreciation for the intent, he said he doubts it would be successful. Mr. McGloughlin said this system is continually being improved, and the design team will look for the most robust version available.
Ms. Delplace agreed that the presentation was well done. She said the proposal to use the grasscrete permeable pavers is noble, but she also raised concerns about its viability and durability, observing that the soil in Washington tends to be largely fill and the summer heat can be intense. She recommended instead looking to the site itself for hints on what would really work. Otherwise, she said she agrees with Mr. Cook that this is a good proposal. Mr. McGloughlin said the design team will reconsider the grasscrete in consultation with the project’s civil engineer, Alfred Faryar of Jacobs. Mr. Faryar added that a stronger design proposal is being prepared to address the concerns identified by the Commission members, such as the settlement and exposure of PVC rings seen in the presented photographs of existing conditions. Mr. McGloughlin added that he will be meeting with representatives of a company that may be able to provide an improved technology for this project.
Secretary Luebke summarized the Commission’s support for the project. Upon a motion by Mr. Cook with second by Ms. Delplace, the Commission approved the concept design with the comments provided, particularly regarding further study of the facade fins and the permeable pavers, and subject to confirmation by a quorum.
E. D.C. Department of General Services
1. CFA 17/NOV/22-4, Dorothy I. Height Elementary School, 1300 Allison Street, NW. Renovations and additions to building and landscape. Final. (Previous: CFA 16/JUN/22-5) The Commission acted on the submission earlier in the meeting without a presentation, preceding agenda item II.B.
2. CFA 17/NOV/22-5, Ward 8 Senior Wellness Center, 1700 Q Street, SE. New building and landscape. Final. (Previous: CFA 15/SEP/22-5) The Commission acted on the submission earlier in the meeting without a presentation, preceding agenda item II.B.
F. D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities
CFA 17/NOV/22-6, Walls of I-395 underpass, 500–600 4th Street, SW. Installation of public artwork titled “Gallery of Southwest.” Final. Secretary Luebke introduced the proposal to install murals along the concrete walls of the underpass where 4th Street, SW, passes beneath the Interstate 395 highway. He noted that the proposal has been developed in cooperation with the Southwest Business Improvement District (SW BID), which has identified the neighborhood’s underpasses as barriers that would benefit from public artwork and improved lighting to become cultural portals that would reconnect the areas that were separated by the insertion of the highway infrastructure. The installation, titled “Gallery of Southwest,” would include twelve murals by eleven artists; the existing structure of the underpass provides the twelve surface areas, each approximately twelve feet high and more than twenty feet wide. He asked Lauren Dugas Glover, the public art manager for the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities (DCCAH), to begin the presentation.
Ms. Dugas Glover said this project results from an annual DCCAH grants program titled Public Art Building Communities, which provides support for community proposals from individuals or organizations. The intent is to select projects that will enliven the city with public art installations; the identification of the location is typically followed by a solicitation for artists. Today’s proposal from the SW BID is one of many that were selected this year for funding. She introduced Jessie Himmelrich, the director of public space for the SW BID, to present the proposal.
Ms. Himmelrich said the SW BID works to make the Southwest community more connected and beautiful, and to encourage the neighborhood’s residents and businesses to thrive. The SW BID encompasses 500 acres south of the National Mall, including the Federal Center South area, the Southwest neighborhood, and the recent development of The Wharf. She said the proposed murals would contribute to knitting the community together, and the project includes enhanced lighting to create a gallery-type environment within the underpass. She described Southwest as a cultural destination with many museums and arts venues; the murals would bring new artistic styles and viewpoints into the public realm, which are intended to make public art more accessible and create a sense of pride within the neighborhood.
Ms. Himmelrich noted that the D.C. Office of Planning, in its Southwest Small Area Plan of 2015, identified this location as part of a pilot program to bring murals and improved lighting to many underpasses in the Southwest neighborhood. She presented context plans and area maps, indicating how the highway divides the residential neighborhood to the south from the area of large-scale buildings to the north. The underpass is therefore an important connection that can provide a needed gateway. She also presented a diagram of the area’s street lighting levels, noting that the low light level within the underpass makes it an uninviting space. The proposed public art and enhanced lighting would instead create a welcoming and comfortable space, as well as provide a sense of wayfinding.
Ms. Himmelrich described the multi-modal design of 4th Street, which includes protected bicycle lanes in addition to the roadway and sidewalks; people therefore move through the underpass at varying speeds, spending different amounts of time in this space. The large-scale murals are intended to be appreciated by this range of visitors, including pedestrians who may take more time to find something new in the murals each time they walk through the underpass, comparable to visiting an art gallery or museum. She said that the proposed lighting would contribute to the character of a gallery, while not being disruptive for drivers or bicyclists. She asked lighting designer Reinhardt Swart of SmithGroup to provide additional details of the lighting proposal.
Mr. Swart said the lighting would be provided by a single fixture type, mounted on armatures that are cantilevered from the side walls of the underpass. The fixtures would have dimmable LED lamps with a linear configuration that would extend the width of each mural. The lighting would wash diagonally downward onto the murals, providing brightness for these vertical surfaces; the brightness would be apparent as people approach the underpass at night, making the space more inviting. For comparison, he presented a nighttime perspective of using only the functional wall-mounted underpass lighting, which he said would be darker and would not emphasize the murals to give a sense of hierarchy for the space.
Ms. Himmelrich described the subject of the murals, which would be placed within the existing recesses along the walls of the underpass, with six installations on each side. The broad goal is to create a sense of neighborhood pride, with images of community, local heroes, the natural and built environment, and a celebration of the neighborhood’s past, present and future. The intent is for everyone to be able to see something that reflects their own experience in the area; the multiplicity of murals and artists will bring a variety of artistic styles, interests, and viewpoints to the installation, providing a more diverse and holistic representation of the neighborhood than could be achieved with a single mural or artist.
Along the west wall, the northernmost mural would be a stylized typographic representation of the neighborhood’s “SW” initials in a pattern suggesting waves of rippling water. The second and fifth murals would be representations of the natural and built environment. The two center murals would represent the neighborhood’s past and present, including an image of an iconic red rocking chair from the Southwest Duck Pond. The southernmost mural would depict children playing as they interact with the natural and built environment, conveying the neighborhood’s proud past and hopeful future.
Along the east wall, the northernmost mural would show a “deadrise” boat used for commercial fishing, signifying the longstanding fish market along the Southwest waterfront, an important part of the neighborhood’s culture and economy. The second and fifth murals would depict local heroes who have paved the way for the community—civil rights leader Dorothy Height, who lived in Southwest, and a portrait of a Black soldier based on a historic photograph by Southwest native Joseph Own Curtis. The two center murals would have stylized representations of music, relating to the longstanding jazz concerts at a nearby church, as well as a blue heron to symbolize the beauty of the nearby Potomac and Anacostia Rivers. The southernmost mural would be another stylized typography, with the letters “SW DC.”
Ms. Himmelrich presented several perspective views to illustrate the murals and lighting within the context of the underpass. She summarized the selection process for the artists, which included an international response from 46 artists for the initial request for qualifications. The responses were reviewed by a selection committee of Southwest stakeholders, based on each artist’s letter of intent, artistic content of previous work, and capacity for this project; fifteen finalists were selected. After further consideration of diversity in artistic styles, demographic diversity, connection to the community, and how they intended to represent the community, eleven artists were chosen for the twelve murals. She said that five of the artists are based in Washington, and four others are based within twenty miles of Washington; she described the group as very diverse, with the ability to represent the neighborhood in a unique way. She said that one artist, Chelsea Ritter-Soronen, was chosen to create the two murals at the center of the west wall because the two images create a strong dialogue.
Vice Chair Edwards thanked the project team for the presentation, and she invited questions and comments from the Commission members.
Ms. Delplace commented that the additional brightness would be a welcome change for the highway underpass. She asked if the lighting design process has included consideration of the color temperature or the brightness near the underpass, which may be important considerations in understanding how the proposal would fit within the neighborhood context. Mr. Swart responded that the design team has measured the existing light levels at each end; the lighting on the north is much brighter, approximately two to three times the brightness of the residential area on the south. He said the presented renderings are photometrically accurate, giving a sense of the true brightness on the artwork, although only placeholder artworks are depicted in the renderings. He added that the lighting level on the sidewalk surfaces has also been carefully studied. For the color temperature, he said the proposed LED would provide full-range RGBW light, and the “W”—the white tint—would have a 3000K temperature. He said this design would provide a good transition between the cooler lighting to the north and the warmer lighting to the south in the residential neighborhood.
Mr. Cook commented that viewing art can be enjoyable up close and also from a slight distance. He observed that some of the perspective renderings appear to depict the murals from approximately the middle of the street; this vantage point would not be available to pedestrians, who would have to view the murals from either a very short distance when standing on the adjacent sidewalk, or a very long distance from the opposite sidewalk while looking through several layers of cars. He acknowledged that this problem is inherent to the space, but he suggested the desirability of occasional opportunities for pedestrians to view the murals while the street is closed to traffic, such as during street festivals.
Mr. Cook asked how the murals would be applied to the walls. Ms. Himmelrich responded that the artists would paint the murals directly onto the concrete; she noted that the D.C. Department of Transportation has recently maintained and repainted the walls, and they are currently in pretty good condition. She said the staff of the SW BID would power-wash the walls and provide any additional preparation work prior to the murals being painted; the SW BID would also provide scaffolding and other supplies, with the goal of installing the murals in May 2023.
Mr. Cook asked about ongoing maintenance of the murals, which may be vulnerable to vandalism. Ms. Himmelrich said the SW BID already frequently removes graffiti around the neighborhood and would be able to extend this care to the murals; leftover paint would also be kept to allow for touch-ups if needed, based on consultation with the artists. Ms. Dugas Glover added that the DCCAH is funded to provide conservation for artworks installed in public space, working with the original artist and the original grant recipient if conservation is needed.
In support of Mr. Cook’s comment on the street configuration, Dr. Edwards asked if existing parking within the underpass could be eliminated to allow for wider sidewalks, providing an improved viewing distance for pedestrians. Ms. Himmelrich said the SW BID would support removal of all parking within the underpass, but this decision would have to be made by the D.C. Department of Transportation, which is continuing to develop plans for 4th Street. She added that the protected bicycle lanes were added within the past year, in conjunction with a reconfiguration of the right-of-way allocation, and some older photos in the presentation do not depict the current street conditions.
Secretary Luebke summarized the Commission’s support for the project; he said the comment about parking could be included as part of the requested final design approval. Upon a motion by Mr. Cook with second by Ms. Delplace, the Commission approved the proposed final design with the comments provided, subject to confirmation by a quorum. Vice Chair Edwards said she looks forward to seeing the completed installation. Ms. Dugas Glover expressed appreciation for the Commission’s diligence, questions, and support of the DCCAH programming.
G. D.C. Department of Buildings—Old Georgetown Act
OG 23-013, Georgetown University, 3700 O Street, NW. Partial demolition of Henle Village and construction of two new residence buildings. Revised concept. (Previous: OG 22-189, 15 Sep 2022) Secretary Luebke introduced the proposal for redevelopment of the Henle Village dormitory complex on the campus of Georgetown University. He summarized the previous reviews by the Old Georgetown Board (OGB) and the Commission. In June 2022, the OGB reviewed a proposal that included demolition of all the existing Henle Village complex to be replaced by a pair of residential buildings grouped around an elevated courtyard, with seven stories of dormitories above a stone base containing common and support areas. He said the OGB has been very supportive of the proposed scale, massing, and footprint of the buildings but asked for further development of their architectural language to relate more closely to the spirit of the university’s existing architecture. In September 2022, the OGB reviewed an updated proposal, which included some development of the elevations and retained the smallest of the existing buildings, known as Henle A; the OGB recommended approval of this design, with further refinement of the elevations, particularly on the east side. The Commission reviewed the revised design in September 2022 and requested further exploration of the courtyard, including its configuration, dimensions, and solar access throughout the year. The project returned to the OGB in early November with a design that addresses many of these concerns, including changes to the design of the east elevation facing the playing field of Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School. He said the new OGB report, for the Commission’s consideration today, recommends approval of the revised concept and provides several new comments.
Mr. Luebke said the current submission includes revised elevations and materials, along with two options for the design of the east elevation. To lighten the appearance of the massing, the exterior of the upper stories would have a panelized system instead of a masonry enclosure with punched windows. He noted that the OGB has recommended elimination of a roofed pavilion in the courtyard, describing it as an unnecessary feature. He said the OGB studied the dimensions of the courtyard and concluded that its design is adequate for solar access; the width is generally 62 feet, narrowing in some places to 43 feet, although these are generally areas without much fenestration. He said the Commission is being asked to decide whether to adopt the OGB’s report, with the opportunity to provide additional comments and recommendations.
Mr. Luebke asked Jonathan Mellon, an architectural historian with the law firm representing the university, Goulston & Storrs, to begin the presentation. Mr. Mellon emphasized that the Commission is being asked today to look again at two areas: the courtyard and the treatment of the east elevation overlooking the playing field. He introduced Kevin Smith and Ross McClellan of Robert A.M. Stern Architects to present the proposal.
Mr. Smith said the Henle dormitory complex, designed by John Carl Warnecke and the Ehrenkrantz Group, was built in 1975 toward the north end of the Georgetown University campus, adjacent to the Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School. He indicated the relation of the Henle complex to other residence halls, including Arrupe to the south and Darnall to the north, and its proximity to Georgetown University Hospital’s new surgical wing, now under construction. He said the Henle complex does not use the site’s full capacity for student housing, which has emerged as a critical need for the Georgetown campus. The current proposal would retain Henle A, a separate building at the north, in order to maintain the health of a particularly large heritage oak tree; two other heritage oaks located at the south end of the site would also be preserved.
Mr. Smith described the size, character, and solar access of the proposed courtyard, which would be raised approximately twelve feet above the adjacent main north–south pedestrian walkway through the campus. The courtyard would be connected to the campus circulation system at the north and with a broad stairway at the southwest; additional access would be provided from the building interior. The courtyard would comprise a series of informal spaces, including a large central area that would be 85 feet long, 73 feet wide, and 69 feet high from the courtyard level to the top of the proposed buildings. This large space would be flanked by two relatively smaller areas, 42 feet at their narrowest dimension; to ensure privacy for dormitory residents, windows in the residential rooms would not face each other across these narrower spaces. He presented solar studies and said the courtyard would receive plenty of sunlight throughout the day, even during winter, and people entering it would experience an emotional sense of release. He indicated the proposed structure that would occupy the center of the largest courtyard space; it is primarily intended to create an intimate space rather than to provide shade, although it is designed with a covering of slats. He added that the courtyard would be wider than the existing open space between the two buildings immediately to the south—a diagonal path that is generally well-liked on the campus and is less than forty feet wide for its entire length.
Mr. Smith described the character of the proposed building materials. Details of the west facade along the main campus walkway have been refined to resemble the organization and appearance of other campus buildings, which are typically brick buildings on ashlar stone bases. The proposed facade would generally be brick with cast stone trim, with an attic story of metal panels and brick and a cornice of brick finials terminating in cast-stone caps rising to break the skyline. The spandrels would have vertical brick soldier courses. Fenestration would be consistent on all facades, with inset window frames and a recess of approximately eight inches for each window opening in the brick facades. The two-story stone base at the front would be extended along the outdoor stairway leading up to the courtyard, becoming a one-story base around the courtyard.
Mr. Smith said the response to comments on the east facade has been to develop an architectural expression that repeats some details used on other facades, including more pronounced finials and smaller versions of the bay windows. Mr. McClellan presented an additional option for the east facade, prepared at the request of the OGB and labeled as Option 02, which would use a metal panel system between and above most of the top-floor windows, as proposed on the other facades. He said that Option 02 is the preference of the design team.
Mr. McClellan presented the details of the entrance facade at the southwest, noting that the OGB had requested more focus on the stone entrance portal beneath the large bay window. In the revised design, cast stone would fill the space beneath the bay window and between the two ashlar stone elements to create an inviting front door into the main lobby and student amenity space. He added that the project team is working with the university staff in refining the material palette, with the goal of finding a brick color that mediates between the varied colors of brick used in Henle A and the more muted shade of Arrupe Hall.
Vice Chair Edwards thanked the project team for its presentation, and she invited questions and comments from the Commission members. Mr. Cook observed that the color of the brick has evolved from what was shown in earlier renderings, in which the brick appeared to be a buff color; it looks redder in the more recent drawings, and he asked which color is correct. Mr. Smith responded that the buff color of the perspective renderings is more accurate, compared to the more abstracted elevation drawings. He said the intent is to have a brick color that fits within the relatively narrow color range of the other brick buildings on the Georgetown campus, particularly with the adjacent Arrupe and Darnall dormitories, which have bricks in the range of red, orange, and brown. Mr. Cook asked if the intent is to match the existing colors; Mr. Smith said nothing is available that would exactly match the existing buildings, so the goal is to find a brick that compliments them. He added that brick samples and mockups will be reviewed on site under various light conditions to select the color.
Mr. Cook noted the discussion of accessibility issues posed by the existing Henle residence halls to be demolished, and he asked whether any accessibility improvements will be made to Henle A, the one building that would remain. Mr. McClellan responded that the university is still considering how Henle A will be used, but he indicated two units on the ground level of this building that have barrier-free access. Mr. Smith said Henle A will likely have a similar program to what it has now, but accessibility would be improved to meet current code requirements and have a cleaner design. Mr. Cook emphasized the importance of ensuring that Henle A fits within the new design for Henle Village.
Mr. Cook asked for further information on the proposed structure within the courtyard. Mr. Luebke noted that the OGB report recommends eliminating this element, but the Commission can decide whether or not to adopt this recommendation. Mr. Smith said the OGB decided that a shade structure would be unnecessary because the buildings themselves would shade the courtyard. The design team suggests removing the slats but keeping the structure, which would create a smaller scale within the courtyard and would provide a more intimate and pleasant place for students to sit.
Ms. Delplace commented that she especially appreciates the solar shading diagrams, which enable a clearer understanding of the varied, changing conditions in the courtyard. She said she has no opinion on whether the structure within the courtyard should be eliminated; if it is retained, this structure does not need to be completely covered. She said if the slats are removed, the remaining structure would help to reduce the scale of the courtyard when seen from the windows above, and the space would feel more comfortable to occupy. She expressed support for the other proposed changes.
Secretary Luebke asked the Commission to consider other issues raised in the OGB report, including modification of the east facade to incorporate the panelized solution used on the other floors; he said the staff supports this change, presented as Option 02. He said the OGB has also given general ideas about continuing the sculptural quality of the architectural details as the project goes into final documentation. Regarding the courtyard pavilion, he said the Commission members seem to be advising that it does not need to be a shade structure, but it could be constructed to define the space and provide scale; he said the Commission should state its recommendation as part of the action. He observed that this project has been through a productive sequence of design review, and if the Commission members are otherwise satisfied, they can choose to delegate the final phase of documentation and permit review to the OGB.
Mr. Cook offered a motion to approve the OGB report, including support for Option 02 for the east facade, and to recommend retaining the proposed structure within the courtyard but without the overhead slats. The motion also delegated further review to the OGB. Upon a second by Ms. Delplace, the Commission adopted this action, subject to confirmation by a quorum.
H. U.S. Mint
CFA 17/NOV/22-7, Congressional Gold Medal honoring members of the “Ghost Army” of World War II. Design for a gold medal. Final. Secretary Luebke introduced the design alternatives for a Congressional Gold Medal honoring the “Ghost Army,” the two U.S. Army units during World War II that used various modes of deception to confuse enemy intelligence-gathering. More than 1,000 people served in these units, and their work continues to influence U.S. military operations. The medal will be presented to the Smithsonian Institution, which may lend it for display at other locations. He asked April Stafford, chief of the Office of Design Management at the U.S. Mint, to present the alternatives.
Ms. Stafford said the Mint has developed the designs in consultation with three Congressionally designated liaisons, including representatives of the Ghost Army Legacy Project. She presented seven alternatives for the obverse design and nine alternatives for the reverse.
Ms. Sullivan presented five alternatives for the obverse design and twelve alternatives for the reverse. She said that obverse #3 and reverse #5 were the preferences of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee, as well as all three liaison groups. She described obverse #3’s depiction of the four main methods of deception that were practiced by the Ghost Army: a telegrapher keying a Morse code message; a soldier sewing a false insignia onto a uniform; a loudspeaker; and soldiers carrying a fake inflatable tank. She noted that the liaisons have requested adding the inscription “Act of Congress 2022” to this design, which the Mint’s chief engraver has said would be feasible for placement near the top of the medal with some adjustment to the composition. She described reverse #5’s design, featuring the emblems of the two Army units within a field of running text describing the Ghost Army and its operations. She noted that the year “2022,” placed between stars at the right side of the composition, could be omitted if the year is added to the obverse; an additional star could be placed at this location.
Ms. Delplace said she has no objection to the presented preferences for obverse #3 and reverse #5, but she suggested consideration of obverse #4 as a handsome and compelling design, depicting soldiers carrying an inflatable decoy tank as airplanes fly above. She contrasted the clarity of obverse #4 with the density of information in obverse #3. Mr. Cook agreed, commenting that the presented preferences would be acceptable, but obverse #4 is easy to understand and compositionally strong, while obverse #3 has a large amount of information. He said that if obverse #3 is selected, the phrase "The Ghost Army" at the top of the composition should be centered instead of being skewed slightly to the right; he noted that this adjusted placement would correspond to the phrase “World War II,” which is centered at the bottom of the composition.
Vice Chair Edwards joined in supporting obverse #4 for its clarity, instead of the busy design of obverse #3, and she supported the choice of reverse #5. Secretary Luebke summarized the Commission’s recommendation for obverse #4 and reverse #5, with the additional advice for realignment of the upper inscription if obverse #3 is selected. Upon a motion by Ms. Delplace with second by Mr. Cook, the Commission adopted this action, subject to confirmation by a quorum.
At this point, the Commission returned to agenda item II.A for consideration of the appendices.
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. He noted the legislatively constrained timeline for action on some appendix cases, combined with this month’s unusual situation of lacking a quorum at the start of the meeting while also not having a meeting scheduled in the following month. He said the staff’s conclusion is that the Commission should take a provisional action on the appendices at today’s meeting, which can be confirmed by a quorum in the future.
Appendix I – Government Submissions Consent Calendar: Mr. Fox reported that no changes have been made to the draft consent calendar, which has six projects. Upon a motion by Mr. Cook with second by Ms. Delplace, the Commission approved the Government Submissions Consent Calendar, subject to confirmation by a quorum.
Appendix II – Shipstead-Luce Act Submissions: Ms. Batcheler said that one case listed on the draft appendix has been removed and is being held open for consideration in a future month (case number SL 23-028). The recommendations for three projects have been changed to be favorable based on the receipt of supplemental materials (SL 23-014, 23-026, and 23-027). Other revisions are minor wording changes and the notation of dates for the receipt of supplemental materials. She said the recommendations for five 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. Cook with second by Ms. Delplace, the Commission approved the revised Shipstead-Luce Act Appendix, subject to confirmation by a quorum.
Appendix III – Old Georgetown Act Submissions: Ms. Amos reported that no changes have been made to the draft appendix, which has 26 projects. Upon a motion by Ms. Delplace with second by Mr. Cook, the Commission approved the Old Georgetown Act Appendix, subject to confirmation by a quorum. (See agenda item II.G for an additional Old Georgetown Act submission.)
Secretary Luebke said the staff will contact the Commission members if any additional meeting or procedural vote is needed before the next scheduled meeting in January 2023.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 1:18 p.m.
Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA