Dear Ms. Hall:
In its public meeting of 19 May conducted by videoconference, the Commission of Fine Arts was pleased to hear an information presentation by the Virginia Passenger Rail Authority on the proposed expansion of the Long Bridge corridor, a 1.8-mile-long complex of bridges and embankments between Virginia and the District of Columbia. The Commission expressed general support for the project and provided the following comments for the development of a concept design.
The Commission members observed that this extensive new infrastructure would traverse several nationally significant landscapes, and they advised that the project as a whole should be considered a work of civic art, with a commensurate level of architectural detailing and material authenticity. For example, they commented that the proposed stone veneer should appear substantial enough to give the sense of supporting the full weight of the decks and train traffic above. In general, they said the new elements should be designed to be beautiful on their own; rather than attempting to screen the new construction with continuous vegetation, they instead recommended planting in drifts, which would reveal sections of the new stone-clad elements and provide train passengers with outward views. They expressed support for the new pedestrian bridge over the Potomac River, advising that its design should prioritize the experience of pedestrians and cyclists using the crossing; they also encouraged exploration of incorporating lighting into the bridge design, which would also help guide the selection of the bridge’s material colors.
The Commission looks forward to reviewing this project in the concept design phase. Please continue to coordinate with the staff in the preparation of future submissions and throughout the planning and design process.
/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA
Kym A. Hall, Area Director
Region 1 – National Capital Area
National Park Service
1100 Ohio Drive, SW
Washington, DC 20242
cc: Mark Colgan, VHB
Katherine Youngbluth, Virginia Passenger Rail Authority
Everett Lott, D.C. Department of Transportation