Dear Mr. Bonanno:
In its meeting of 19 September, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed a concept design for the planned alterations and additions to the former Newseum building at 555 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, for use by Johns Hopkins University (case number SL 19-240). The Commission approved the concept and provided the following recommendations for the development of the design.
The Commission members expressed support for the submitted design, particularly for the subdued stone frame surrounding highly articulated glazed openings on the Pennsylvania Avenue facade, which they characterized as handsome and compatible with the design of the adjacent Canadian Embassy. In their discussion of the facade development option presented in the meeting, they commented that this proposed treatment of the stone—a lively granite with a highly textured surface, strong horizontal reveals, varied coursing, and a random array of small window openings—presents a busy character that may detract from the clarity of the facade composition and compete with the multi-layered treatment of the glazed openings. Instead, they expressed a preference for the Tennessee Pink stone illustrated in the renderings, or for a similarly muted stone, and they recommended a more restrained treatment of the stone facade in general. They requested more information about the rationale for the proposed small windows as they relate to the building interior, as well as more accurate renderings of the proposed stone reveals. For the design of the site, they expressed support for the proposed treatment of the ground plane along Pennsylvania Avenue, with two generous ramps flanking the entrance.
The Commission looks forward to further review of the design for this important project on Pennsylvania Avenue. As always, the staff is available to assist you with the next submission.
/s/ Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA
Mitchell Bonanno, Chief Real Estate Officer
Johns Hopkins University
3910 Keswick Road, N3100
Baltimore, MD 21211
cc: Richard Olcott, Ennead Architects