St. Elizabeths East Campus, 2700 Martin Luther King Jr Avenue, SE (east of the Barn and Stables complex)
Dear Mr. Anderson:
In its meeting of 21 November, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed a concept design for a new multi-story building for the St. Elizabeths Single Men’s Shelter, to be located on the historic East Campus of St. Elizabeths Hospital at 2700 Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue, SE. Recognizing the accelerated timeline for this design-build project, the Commission approved the concept with the following comments.
The Commission members expressed general support for the siting and massing of the new building, which will provide housing for an underserved and vulnerable population. They commented that the main entrance facade, currently proposed to have a long entrance canopy, should be reconceived as a front porch with places for people to sit and linger when entering or leaving the facility. They questioned the proposed exterior-mounted vertical mechanical enclosures, suggesting their elimination in favor of adding more windows to the facades, especially on the wings housing the longer-term residents; if these enclosures cannot be eliminated, they advised giving them less prominence, such as by reducing their height and making them the same color as the facades. Regarding the proposed cladding, they suggested simplifying the color palette to give the building a calmer and more dignified appearance.
Regarding the site design, the Commission members observed that the existing landscape has a beautiful, wild quality, and they suggested that it could provide a healing character and have a therapeutic role in the social services programming of the facility. They encouraged augmenting this landscape with a large-scale bosque of trees to provide a shaded place for people to sit. In addition, they recommended moving the proposed stormwater retention basins to locations within the landscape where they can function effectively as bioretention areas, filtering stormwater and serving as wildlife habitats.
The Commission looks forward to further review of this important project. Please consult with the staff as the design is developed for the next submission.
/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: Carl Skooglund, Wiencek + Associates