2051 and 1951 Constitution Avenue, NW
Dear Ms. Varnon:
In its public meeting of 16 July conducted by videoconference, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed a revised concept design for an addition to the Federal Reserve Board–East Building at 1951 Constitution Avenue, NW, part of a larger project to renovate and expand the Federal Reserve Board’s headquarters campus. Citing the overall improvement of the design, the Commission approved the proposal with the following comments.
The Commission members supported the proposed revisions as responsive to their prior guidance to articulate the glazing system of the addition by extending the lines of the existing facade into the new elevations; they found that the refinements using a variety of translucent glass panels would be effective in reinterpreting the historic architectural patterns in a contemporary way. In particular, they noted the success of the design in relating the rhythm of the monumental windows in the historic building to the new, slightly projecting glass bays proposed in the addition; they also found that the more solid treatment at the hyphen and entrance on 20th Street, using stone instead of glass between the two architectural systems, was an improvement. However, they continued to raise concern about the potentially excessive transparency of the addition’s exterior, which they said may be exaggerated in the renderings; they recommended deliberate control of the interior space—by carefully designing the ceilings, prohibiting demising partitions near the perimeter, and managing the use of window shades—to prevent a chaotic, undignified expression on the exterior. As the design is developed, they suggested using a more opaque material at the implied pilasters between the bays, such as glass panels with a stone interlayer or marble panels, to modulate the extreme transparency conveyed in the renderings.
The Commission looks forward to further review of the design for the East Building project, as well as for the Eccles Building and the associated site work for both properties. Please coordinate continued review of the project with the staff which, as always, is available to assist you.
/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA
Director, Management Division
Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
Washington, DC 20551
cc: Rod Henderer, Fortus (Callison–RTKL)
Tom Jester, Fortus (Quinn Evans Architects)
Alan Ward, Sasaki Associates