CFA 21/NOV/19-5


33 Riggs Road, NE
Washington, DC
United States

D.C. Department of General Services
D.C. Bilingual Public Charter School (former Keene Elementary School)
Building renovation and additions
Review Type


Dear Mr. Anderson:

In its meeting of 21 November, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed a concept design for the renovation of and additions to the DC Bilingual Public Charter School (the former Keene Elementary School), at 33 Riggs Road, NE. The Commission approved the concept with the following recommendations for the development of the design.

Noting the constraints of the site, the Commission members commended the skillful placement of the new wing, observing that it would make efficient use of the available space. They expressed support for differentiating the new construction from the old, and they suggested extending the articulation of the new facade across the rear entrance to better integrate the new and existing buildings. However, they observed that the overall design presents a busy and complex character, employing a confusing number of materials, colors, and architectural languages; they recommended reducing and simplifying these elements for a quieter appearance. In particular, they observed that the new wing’s rear facade is unnecessarily differentiated in relation to the other elevations, and they recommended using the same articulation on the rear as on the sides to unify it; they also suggested that the detailing of each facade could respond to its solar orientation.

Regarding the landscape design, the Commission members commented that the site design as presented is under-developed and defined primarily with labels without conveying the intended scale and character of the spaces on the site. They also questioned the extent of the site given over to parking, and they recommended reducing this as much as possible. To address these concerns, they requested the development of a conceptual plan that illustrates the proposed spatial definition of the site; they suggested using trees and larger plant materials to shape spaces and make connections, such as by creating green corridors extending outward to the surrounding open areas, guiding vehicular passage through the parking lots, and enhancing outdoor courts with shrubs or understory trees.

The Commission looks forward to the next review of the concept design. As always, the staff is available to assist you.


/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA

Keith A. Anderson, Director
D.C. Department of General Services
2000 14th Street, NW, 8th Floor
Washington, DC 20009

cc: Daniela Anello, DC Bilingual Public Charter School
Casey Smith, Hord Coplan Macht