Dear Mr. Sanchez:
The Commission of Fine Arts was pleased to have the opportunity this month to review two mockups for the Judiciary Square master plan for exterior lighting and the design of the perimeter fence. This letter reflects the comments of the Commission members as reported in the Commission's public meeting of 15 November.
In addressing the exterior lighting mockup, the Commission gives its general guidance that the proposed lighting is excessive and unnecessarily complex, a concern that may be resolved by reducing or eliminating many of the lighting features. While the Commission members support the concept of uplighting the facades, they recommend that the lighting be reduced in intensity and be warmer in color; and there is no need for additional accent lighting at the 5th Street entrance other than what is provided by the historic lamp standards. Regarding the highlighting of architectural elements, the Commission agrees that the treatment of the four monumental porches in antis is good in concept but that the lighting levels should be reduced; there is no enthusiasm for backlighting the stone grilles flanking these porches, which calls unnecessary attention to a minor detail. The Commission members are not conclusive about whether to omit the accent lighting at the arched windows at the second floor but agree that if it is to remain, another method must be found to reduce significantly the "hotspots" created by the fixtures used in the mockup. These should be studied further in another mockup—with the ability to control the accent lights—to determine whether these lights are desirable in the overall context of the project.
Regarding the mockup of the perimeter fence, the Commission appreciates the effort to create a more elegant treatment of the metalwork, which recalls the railing motif of the Courts buildings. However, the Commission members note the unfortunate similarity of the masonry in the piers to utilitarian concrete blocks; to alleviate this impression, they recommend that the size of the stone pieces be reconsidered if feasible, that the size of the joints be minimized, and that the color of the mortar be changed to match the stone color.
The Commission asks that another lighting mockup incorporating these changes be presented for review. As always, the staff is available to assist you.
/s/Thomas E. Luebke, AIA
Joseph E. Sanchez, Jr.
Capitol Projects and Facilities Management Officer
The District of Columbia Courts
500 Indiana Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20001-2131
cc: Michael McGill, GSA