300 12th Street, SW
Dear Mr. Millstein:
In its public meeting of 19 November conducted by videoconference, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed a concept submission for the redevelopment of the historic Cotton Annex site at 300 12th Street, SW, including the renovation of the historic building and the addition of a 13-story mixed-use apartment building (case number SL 21-039). Expressing strong support for the project, the Commission provided the following comments and recommendations for the development of the concept design.
The Commission members commended the general massing and design approach for the project, with lower light-colored volumes flanking the historic building and facing the National Mall, and they said it would be a successful project within its context. However, they expressed concern about the massiveness of the addition on the south and east sides of the site, recommending further revisions to the design to reduce its apparent bulk; they commented that the dark color proposed for the upper stories would only emphasize its size and would be unusual for a building so visible from the Mall, and they recommended less contrast for this portion of the building. For the light-colored masonry volumes flanking the Cotton Annex, they observed that the proposed height is intended to extend the massing of the historic building, and they recommended that these volumes align with a dominant horizontal datum in the historic entablature; they suggested that the facades could be differentiated at the top as an abstracted frieze recalling that of the historic building. To further reduce the building’s complexity and apparent mass, they recommended that the intermediary stepped-back volume at the 10th floor along C Street be eliminated, and that the light-colored masonry cladding at the corners be detailed to create a more volumetric expression.
For the landscape design, the Commission members recommended that the lawn panel, proposed to be at the same level as the northwest entrance plaza, be reconceived as an elevated planted area with a bordering seat wall or large curb; they said that this would also allow sufficient soil depth to support a bosque of six to eight smaller trees that would quickly provide a welcome shade canopy.
The Commission looks forward to further review of this prominent project in the city’s monumental core. As always, the staff is available to assist you in the development of the design.
/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA
655 New York Avenue, NW, Suite 830
Washington, DC 20001
cc: Jack Boarman, BKV Group
David Maloney, D.C. Historic Preservation Office