Connecticut Avenue, NW, between Belmont Road and Calvert Street, NW
Dear Mr. Lott:
In its public meeting of 21 September conducted by videoconference, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed a second concept submission for the installation of pedestrian safety barriers on the William Howard Taft Bridge, carrying Connecticut Avenue above the Rock Creek valley. Expressing appreciation for the response to its previous review, the Commission approved the new Option 3B, providing the following comments for the development of the design.
The Commission members observed that the range of alternatives in Option 3—replacing the piers and railings of the bridge in the same design character but increased to a height of eight feet—would be more harmonious with the bridge’s historic appearance than the other options, which would add a new barrier system next to the existing railings. Among the Option 3 alternatives, they recommended the articulated treatment of Option 3B as the best adaptation of the historic design, and they urged more development of its details. Where new material is added to replace or extend the existing concrete piers, they recommended that the new material closely match the appearance of the existing masonry. They also recommended careful perspectival studies to understand people’s experience moving along the bridge, and of the views upward from the Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway, to inform the development of the barrier system’s horizontal and vertical elements at the increased height, the aesthetic sense of appropriate proportions, and the views outward from the bridge. Understanding the complexity of this undertaking on the historic bridge, some Commission members expressed willingness to further consider Option 2, which would add an eight-foot-tall wire mesh supported by metal stanchions, for its relative transparency and ease of maintenance.
The Commission looks forward to further review of this important project. Please coordinate the next submission with the staff which, as always, is available to assist you.
/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA
Everett Lott, Director
D.C. Department of Transportation
250 M Street, SE
Washington, DC 20003
cc: Wagdy Wassef, WSP USA
Dr. Richard Bebout, D.C Department of Behavioral Health