The meeting was convened by video conference at 9:03 a.m.
Hon. Justin Shubow, Chairman
Hon. Rodney Mims Cook, Jr., Vice Chairman
Hon. Chas Fagan
Hon. Perry Guillot
Hon. Steven Spandle
Hon. Duncan Stroik
Thomas E. Luebke, Secretary
Frederick J. Lindstrom, Assistant Secretary
A. Approval of the minutes of the 18 March meeting. Secretary Luebke reported that the minutes of the March meeting were circulated to the Commission members in advance. Upon a motion by Mr. Fagan with second by Mr. Stroik, the Commission approved the minutes.
B. Dates of next meetings. Secretary Luebke presented the dates for upcoming Commission meetings, as previously published: 20 May, 17 June, and 15 July 2021. He noted that the video conference format is likely to continue for the near future, and government-wide guidance may be forthcoming for the return to in-person meetings.
II. Submissions and Reviews
Secretary Luebke introduced the three appendices for Commission action. Drafts of the appendices had been circulated to the Commission members in advance of the meeting.
Appendix I – Government Submissions Consent Calendar: Mr. Lindstrom reported that the only change to the draft appendix is to update the recommendation for the proposed infrastructure modernization at the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s headquarters building in accordance with supplemental documentation; originally submitted with several alternatives, the proposal has now been simplified to include only the alternative that was supported by the staff. Upon a motion by Mr. Shubow with second by Mr. Fagan, the Commission approved the revised Government Submissions Consent Calendar.
Appendix II – Shipstead-Luce Act Submissions: Ms. Batcheler said that four projects from the draft appendix have been removed (case numbers SL 21-054, 21-084, 21-085, and 21-090); these are being held open for review in a future month. An additional project from the draft appendix had been removed in the updated version that was distributed the day before the Commission meeting, but this case is now being restored to the appendix with a conditional favorable recommendation, based on further consultation (case number SL 21-065). Other revisions are minor wording changes and the notation of dates for the receipt of supplemental materials. The recommendations for seven projects are subject to further coordination, and she requested authorization to finalize these recommendations when the outstanding issues are resolved. Upon a motion by Mr. Fagan with second by Mr. Spandle, the Commission approved the revised Shipstead-Luce Act Appendix. Secretary Luebke acknowledged the complexity of adding and removing cases near the time of the Commission meeting, but he emphasized that this process is helpful in achieving a resolution of issues so that projects can move forward.
Appendix III – Old Georgetown Act Submissions: Ms. Stevenson reported that no changes have been made to the draft appendix, which has 27 projects. Upon a motion by Mr. Spandle with second by Mr. Guillot, the Commission approved the Old Georgetown Act Appendix. (See agenda item II.F for an additional Old Georgetown Act submission.)
At this point, the Commission departed from the order of the agenda to consider items II.D.1 and II.E.1. Secretary Luebke said that the Commission had identified these as submissions that could be approved without presentations.
D. D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation
1. CFA 15/APR/21-3, Stead Park Recreation Center, 1625 P Street, NW. Playground renovation and building additions. Final. (Previous: CFA 16/JUL/20-3) Chairman Shubow said that the Commission members support this proposal, adding that they would like the design team to consider a more historic design for the windows in the historic building that will be part of the recreation center. He suggested double-hung windows with muntins, commenting that these would be more consistent with the historic building’s original design. Upon a motion by Mr. Spandle with second by Mr. Fagan, the Commission approved the final design with this comment.
E. D.C. Department of General Services
1. CFA 15/APR/21-5, Henry Smothers Elementary School, 4400 Brooks Street, NE / 1300 44th Street, NE. Building renovation and additions. Final. (Previous: CFA 15/OCT/20-10) Mr. Stroik reiterated the Commission’s previous comment to retain the prominence and operation of the historic front door at the center of the existing school’s south facade. He suggested emphasizing this historic entrance with such details as color, planting, and paving, so that it remains a major architectural element of the building; he also suggested that it continue to serve for entry and exit, notwithstanding the creation of a new entrance lobby as part of the school’s expansion. Upon a motion by Mr. Guillot with second by Mr. Cook, the Commission approved the final design with this comment.
The Commission returned to the order of the agenda with item II.B.
B. National Park Service
CFA 15/APR/21-1, World War II Memorial, West Potomac Park, 17th Street and Independence Avenue, SW. Install plaque with President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s D-Day Prayer. Revised concept. (Previous: CFA 21/JAN/21-1) Secretary Luebke introduced the submission from the National Park Service, in cooperation with the Friends of the World War II Memorial, of a revised concept design for the proposed Franklin D. Roosevelt D-Day Prayer Plaque at the World War II Memorial in West Potomac Park, including alterations to the memorial’s existing Circle of Remembrance and a new plaque inscribed with the text of the prayer delivered by President Roosevelt by radio on D-Day. He said that in January 2021, the Commission had reviewed a revised concept design and did not take an action; the Commission members had raised concerns that the plaque would not be large enough to display the text of the prayer, and that visitors reading it may be disrupted by people entering and leaving the circle. The Commission had requested the development of alternative design ideas, including a larger plaque supported by more substantial piers, the walks moved further apart, and the development of an alternative with the plaque located away from the entrance walks, possibly at the center of the circle.
Mr. Luebke said that the design team has returned with further development of a preferred design, keeping the plaque in the same location but lengthened to approximately ten feet and with modification of surrounding details; options will also be presented that respond to the Commission’s comments regarding typography, including font sizes and layouts. The submission also includes options for a proposed medallion to be located within the paving at the center of the circle, intended to further elevate the circle’s honorific quality; the design team is proposing a version of the World War II Medal of Freedom that features an allegorical female figure, similar to the medallion used in the ground plane treatment of the World War II Memorial’s Atlantic and Pacific Arches. He introduced Peter May, associate director for lands and planning of the National Capital Area of the National Park Service (NPS).
Mr. May said that the NPS is grateful to have the assistance of the Friends of the World War II Memorial, which has raised the funds for the plaque’s installation. He described the criteria that were developed to guide the evaluation of possible locations for the plaque. The most important was ensuring clear views to the plaque from the Mall, including from within the World War II Memorial, and the compatibility of the location with the memorial’s circulation, materials, and other details. He noted that the Commission had concurred with the selection of the Circle of Remembrance for the plaque and had agreed that its materials should be related to those of the memorial.
Mr. May said the design team had studied several locations within the circle for the plaque, including the entrance, the center, and the northeast side. The proposed design continues to locate the plaque at the perimeter, completing the circular form and providing the essential visual connection while also retaining the circle’s contemplative character and easy access, along with enough room for small groups of visitors. He said that two plan options were submitted for the Commission’s review in 2016, with the recognition that either could be advanced for final approval; the design process was then placed on hold while the Friends group raised sufficient funds.
Mr. May said that the Circle of Remembrance is now used for private reflection and as a place for small tours to interpret the World War II Memorial before entering its major spaces. He emphasized that the NPS views the addition of the prayer plaque as an opportunity to rejuvenate the circle and to strengthen its connection with the memorial. Although the focus is on displaying the prayer, the project also includes upgrades to the circle’s paving and benches. He introduced Jeff Reinbold, the NPS superintendent of National Mall & Memorial Parks, to continue the presentation.
Thanking the Commission and the Friends group, Mr. Reinbold expressed his support for the revised concept design, which he believes fully addresses the Commission’s previous comments. He said that over the next five years the NPS will be undertaking a major renovation of the Mall’s infrastructure. He observed that while the Mall is often regarded as a landscape of grand vistas and gestures, its smaller areas often have the most lasting impact on visitors. Mr. May then asked landscape architects Lisa Delplace and Kara Lanahan of Oehme, van Sweden to present the design.
Ms. Delplace recalled that four locations for the plaque at the Circle of Remembrance were explored in 2016, including placement at the center of the circle in the form of either a table-height structure or a column. This location was eliminated from consideration for several reasons, among them poor visibility and incompatibility with both visitation and circulation. Because the circle is located outside the main area of the World War II Memorial, a direct visual connection between the prayer plaque and the main area is vital; also, the prayer, whether presented horizontally or vertically, is too long for a circular format and requires a tabular presentation. However, she said that the design team agrees with the Commission’s previous comment that the center of the circle requires design emphasis, and options for addressing this will be presented.
Ms. Delplace said that two options for the plaque’s location were presented to the Commission in November 2016—one placing the plaque outside the circle and the other incorporating it into the circle’s perimeter; the Commission recommended this second option for further development. In 2017, the design team returned to the Commission with two concept designs for the perimeter location; the Commission approved Alternative B, while commenting that either would be acceptable. After consultation with the NPS and the Friends group. the design team decided that the simpler geometry of Alternative A would be more cohesive with the memorial and more appropriate for this location on the Mall. Summarizing the Commission’s comments from the January 2021 presentation, she said that the plaque has been enlarged and enframed to be in keeping with the circle’s geometry.
Ms. Lanahan presented the current alternative that has been developed for the plaque, along with the design options proposed for the center of the Circle of Remembrance. She described the context and original design intent of the circle: located northwest of the main precinct of the World War II Memorial, the circle was built to provide a tranquil area for private reflection. It provides views back to the main area of the memorial on the southeast, specifically to its Atlantic Arch, and it also allows views to Constitution Gardens on the north.
Ms. Lanahan presented the changes made to the design since the previous presentation. In general, the height of most elements has been lowered slightly to create a more welcoming appearance. The length of the plaque has been increased from seven feet to just over ten feet, and the angle of its surface has been reduced. The walls surrounding the circle have been lowered to a height of thirty inches, and the piers supporting the plaque would be approximately 39 inches high. A low granite wall has been added between the vertical supports, and the proposal is to inscribe its outer face with the name of both the circle and the memorial. This wall would complete the enclosure of the circle while allowing room for people in wheelchairs to sit comfortably in front of the plaque. The plaque, made of bronze, would be lifted above this wall, giving the plaque a feeling of lightness and floating that would identify it as a special element, along with establishing a visual relation to the cantilevered benches.
Ms. Lanahan presented photographs of a mockup that was recently set up on the site; she noted that the plaque in this plywood mockup was constructed with a straight instead of a curved alignment due to the limitations of the material. She said that the mockup clarifies the scale of the plaque and its relation to the circle and to the entirety of the memorial. The revised length of slightly over ten feet will allow four or five people to stand in front of it. She said that existing plantings would be modified to improve views to the main area of the memorial and to Constitution Gardens: a few trees would be replaced with shrubs, and most existing trees would be limbed up to open views. Most existing features, such as the lights and the path in front of the circle, would be retained. She presented a short fly-through video that illustrates the proposal, the broader views, and two options for the text layout on the plaque.
Ms. Lanahan said that in response to the Commission’s previous comments, the proposal now includes emphasizing the circle’s center by incorporating within the paving an interpretation of a World War II medal, similar to the treatment of the paving within the memorial’s Atlantic and Pacific Arches. She said that this type of medal was awarded to all veterans of World War II and to civilians who had performed notable wartime service. At the memorial’s two arches, the medal is rendered as a solid bronze plaque with an allegorical female figure in the center. Two options were developed for adapting this as a medallion at the center of the Circle of Remembrance: one with a diameter of six feet, the same as in the memorial’s arches, and the other with a diameter of nine feet. In both options, the medallion would be a granite element with bronze inlay. She observed that the nine-foot-diameter medallion may fit better within the larger space of the circle and would complement the size of the plaque. The surrounding pavement would be laid in a radial paving pattern, similar to that within the memorial’s arches. The paving materials would be the same as those used elsewhere at the memorial: a light gray granite—the memorial’s primary paving material—accented with a dark greenish-gray granite.
Ms. Lanahan then discussed the typeface for the plaque. Several national memorials that use both standard and custom fonts were studied as precedents, including the recently completed World War I Memorial, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, and the Korean War Veterans Memorial. Standard fonts are typically used for name walls and longer passages of text; custom fonts are designed for hand-carved inscriptions, titles, and short phrases, or to match existing historic lettering. As a result of this research, two fonts are recommended for this project: for the name inscription on the stone wall in front, Roman Claudian Variant, a recently developed custom font used elsewhere at the World War II Memorial; and for the long prayer text on the bronze plaque, a standard font that would complement the Roman Claudian Variant, would meet ADA accessibility guidelines for legibility, and would be feasible for casting in bronze. She presented three standard typeface options that meet these parameters: Perpetua, Caslon, and Garamond. She said that the design team’s preference is Perpetua, used at the World War I Memorial, because it is easily castable, highly legible, refined, and has what she described as a contemplative quality. She said the spacing between letters, lines, and words on the plaque can all be adjusted and will be studied in more detail with the fabricator.
Ms. Lanahan presented a comparison of two layout options for the prayer plaque, both using the Perpetua typeface. Option 1 uses letters 7/16 of an inch high, with the text laid out in six columns; the first column would be an introductory paragraph, and the last column would have the prayer’s final stanza. The title would be configured in two lines centered above the prayer; the longer first line of the title would extend across the four central columns of the prayer’s text. Option 2 uses half-inch letters, with the larger letter size resulting in a five-column layout on a slightly wider plaque. The title would similarly be in two lines centered above the text, with the longer line spanning the three central columns. This option includes a ribbon and stars to create a pause separating the introduction from the prayer itself, based on an existing motif used on the memorial’s Freedom Wall. For either option, she said that the recommended treatment for the plaque is to have raised lettering with a chemical patina, based on the extensive experience of the NPS with bronze plaques; the patina would provide a highly durable finish that is resistant to chipping, fading, and peeling. The plaque is proposed to have a relatively dark background, with the raised lettering in a lighter shade, and the text would curve with the plaque. She noted that the design team has studied the possible inclusion of a border for the plaque, and she indicated a detail of Option 2 that shows a border with a guilloche pattern, based on the memorial’s existing medallion border.
Ms. Lanahan presented the planting plan; she said that the plant palette would be primarily green and white, with an emphasis on white flowering plants to establish the idea of a floral memorial for the war dead and to symbolize peace. Shrub, perennial, and bulb layers would also provide fall color. The existing mature trees would be retained, and additional small flowering trees, such as the Chinese fringe tree, would be planted to fill in gaps and reinforce the sense of enclosure while keeping views open to Constitution Gardens. Existing trees would be underplanted with hardy groundcovers; existing groundcovers would be filled in, and a mix of spring and summer flowering bulbs would be added for visual interest. The planting design adjacent to the entrance walks has been revised as a low evergreen shrub border to avoid obscuring the inscribed wall while still creating a setting for the plaque.
Ms. Lanahan concluded with a summary of the proposed design revisions: the plaque and enframement have been substantially increased in size; the composition and scale of the site walls, enframement, and plaque have been adjusted to reinforce the significance of views into the circle; the typeface options include larger lettering and a radial composition; and an option for the paving design incorporates an image derived from a World War II medal.
Chairman Shubow invited questions and comments from the Commission members. Mr. Stroik asked if the design team has considered locating the plaque at the opposite side of the circle, facing Constitution Gardens; Ms. Lanahan responded that this location was considered but discarded because it would lack the necessary visual connection to the World War II Memorial.
Referring to a plan drawing that includes a central medallion, Mr. Guillot commented that the overall composition of the circle reflects a measured, meticulous organization of all its parts: the wedge shape of the walls, benches, paving, and plaque express the nature of a circular design and emphasize the focus on the bronze plaque. The pure form of a circle has no orientation; all its parts have the same level of importance and create an equal focus dispersed evenly across the entire form. However, he observed that the illustrated medallion design, with its human figure, would be oriented to one direction, and in the proposed layout it would be behind the backs of those reading the prayer; he questioned whether this central element is appropriate for the circle. He instead suggested embellishing the dark gray stone band that is shown surrounding the medallion; for example, it could be designed using abstract imagery that would evoke the D-Day operation and the huge flotilla of ships that crossed the English Channel to the Normandy coast. This treatment would reinforce the image of the pure circle and would not introduce a directional motif into this space, allowing visitors to feel they are truly occupying an uninterrupted circle where the prayer plaque has clear priority.
Mr. Guillot observed that the walls are illustrated as being lower around most of the space and higher at the prayer plaque. He suggested keeping the walls at the same height for the entire perimeter, mounting the plaque above the support walls instead of being bracketed by them. He said this would be a more respectful presentation of the plaque, avoiding the visibility of weathering and staining that eventually results when different materials touch each other.
Mr. Guillot expressed support for the typeface choice of Roman Claudian Variant for the lettering carved in stone, citing its relationship to the lettering at the main area of the World War II Memorial; he stressed the importance of tying the design details of the Circle of Remembrance to the rest of the memorial. While acknowledging that a ten-foot-wide plaque seems large, he supported this dimension if it would enable the half-inch height for the lettering, commensurate with the existing lettering at the main area of the memorial. For this wider option, he suggested placing the entire title on one line in order to save space, emphasize the arching form, and have the composition read less like a newspaper headline; he added that this refinement might allow the plaque to be slightly narrower.
Mr. Guillot commented that the power of the landscape design will depend on reducing the number of elements, materials, and gestures into a whole that will have a greater impact than the sum of its parts. He acknowledged the desire to create a more intimate landscape setting around the circle, but he observed that this design approach might only further separate the Circle of Remembrance from the rest of the memorial. For a more powerful design, he recommended reducing the number of additional trees, eliminating the proposed small shrubs and decorative plantings, and concentrating on the sweep of lawn with its large deciduous trees and the circle of granite with hints of bronze. He said this would relate the Circle of Remembrance with the surroundings as complementary parts of a single larger memorial idea, similar to how the design of the Circle of Remembrance emphasizes the pure circle over its parts. He added that this recommendation against creating a more detailed landscape around the circle should also be considered in relation to the entire expanse of the Mall. He observed that when visitors leave a main walkway on the Mall, they do not enter areas of small plantings; a landscaped garden as proposed would create too much contrast with the rest of the vast, open composition of the Mall. He emphasized that the rigor of a simpler landscape design would make the Circle of Remembrance appear like a small chapel, around which the irregularly placed tree trunks would express a largeness of scale in contrast with the machined circle, strengthening the intensity of that space; the power would lie in the beauty of this design and in how its parts work together, from large scale to small, all contributing to one idea. He called the proposal a gorgeous project that does not need extra decorative plantings to serve as a counterbalance to the crowded, noisy, public character at the central area of the World War II Memorial.
Mr. Fagan said he is intrigued by Mr. Guillot’s comments about the power of the circular form, particularly in relation to the design of the medallion. He said that the proposed scale for the medallion might be too large for the space and would make it compete with the prayer plaque. He observed that a medallion made entirely of bronze would be darker than the pavement and clearly visible. If a circular bronze inlay is preferred, other traditionally honorific forms could be used, such as a laurel wreath; or nautical imagery, such as a rope; or some other decorative feature used elsewhere in the memorial. Such a form would recapitulate the circle, and the medallion could be smaller than six feet in diameter and still be powerful. He suggested that the story of the D-Day landing could be told in the diminishing bands of granite within the outer circle, such as through a depiction of the Normandy coast. He said that the Circle of Remembrance should feel like a space of discovery, where visitors could gradually discover its purpose through exploring such details. He added that he admires the D-Day Prayer and is grateful the plaque is being added to the circle, allowing the prayer to become more widely known.
Mr. Fagan said he appreciates that the angle of the plaque has been lowered to improve its visual connection with the memorial, but he said this alteration means that it too will be an element to be discovered; lowering the walls would also result in less visual evidence of the plaque. He commented that the contrast of the circle’s white walls with the green lawn would highlight its material relationship within the larger memorial, and would also serve to attract visitors. He expressed interest in Mr. Guillot’s idea to emphasize the continuation of the circle by having all the walls be the same height, with the plaque floating above.
Mr. Fagan questioned the need for the identifying title on the outer face of the wall, “Circle of Remembrance / World War II Memorial,” commenting that it seems somewhat unrelated and would make the circle seem like an ancillary space to the memorial instead of a destination in itself. He suggested using only the date of D-Day—June 6, 1944—perhaps emphasized with a graphic device, such as a bronze star; the more limited information would let the focus remain on the words of the prayer. He expressed support for the Perpetua font, which he said has a nice, lengthy flourish and a traditional, almost artistic appearance. He agreed that raised letters are necessary for legibility, observing that there will be shadow and highlight on the sanded “gold bronze” patina beneath them.
Mr. Cook said he prefers the larger medallion, agreeing with Mr. Fagan that a laurel wreath might be a good image to use. He supported Mr. Fagan’s recommendation to use only the date on the outer wall to identify the circle because it would place the emphasis on Roosevelt’s prayer. He observed that two Americans were important to the D-Day invasion, President Roosevelt and also Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander who directed the operation; he noted that no reference to Eisenhower appears in the design, and he suggested adding some allusion to him in the medallion.
Mr. Spandle expressed support for Option 2 for the plaque, with the half-inch lettering. He said he is pleased to see that options for a border are being investigated, commenting that a border would be preferable to leaving the plaque with an undefined edge; he said he supports the guilloche pattern that was presented.
Mr. Spandle asked how the design of the benches in the Circle of Remembrance relates to the benches in the main area of the memorial. Ms. Lanahan responded that the materials used for the elements of the circle refer to those used elsewhere at the memorial, but the elements are smaller, simpler, and differentiated in their detailing; therefore, the proposed benches of the circle are a simplification of the memorial’s existing benches. Mr. Spandle observed that the circle’s benches appear quite severe, and he suggested adding a small amount of detail to lessen this character. Ms. Delplace said that one reason for the more intricately detailed benches at the main area of the memorial is because they are associated with the large scale of the walls behind them; since the circle’s design is pared down, its benches are conceived as floating within the space. She said it is important not to replicate the memorial’s central elements but to adapt them to the composition of the circle. While the rendering of the benches might be missing some detail, it indicates the scale proposed for the granite blocks and the articulation of their form. Mr. Spandle noted the desire for lightness, and he suggested that the benches would appear lighter by designing a shaped bracket for the ends to reduce their blockiness, without necessarily referring to the details from the main area of the memorial.
Mr. Stroik expressed support for Mr. Spandle’s comments about the benches. He said that because the benches form an important part of the Circle of Remembrance, and the circle is part of the World War II Memorial, its benches should be closely related to those seen elsewhere at the memorial. He agreed that an end bracket would help reduce their blocky appearance, and he advised further study. He also agreed with Mr. Fagan’s proposal to use only the date of D-Day to identify the circle because it would raise the question of what the date signifies, encouraging visitors to enter the space and discover the plaque. He likewise supported the use of the World War II medal design as the basis for the central medallion, commenting that the allegorical figure would draw people to enter the circle and then discover the prayer plaque.
Mr. Stroik asked Mr. Fagan to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using either the allegorical figure or a laurel wreath at the center of the Circle of Remembrance. Mr. Fagan said his main concern is that the design should not be a copy of the sculpted bas-relief in the memorial’s two arches; the proposed design—a linear interpretation of this medallion comprising strips of bronze and granite laid within the granite paving—would avoid this. Mr. Stroik commented that a solid bronze medallion at the center would fit in with the narrative and design of the circle, and he recommended substituting this for the proposed inlaid design. Mr. Fagan said that such a device could be successful, although it would be better at a smaller scale. He observed that the spaces within the memorial’s arches are large and vertically oriented, and a large, solid medallion as a paving accent is appropriate there. In contrast, the circle is a relatively small space with low walls, and the power of the circular form is such that it would be better not to overwhelm the space with a solid bronze medallion; however, reducing the diameter of the medallion would reduce its visual impact so that it would not compete directly with the bronze prayer plaque. He said that a bas relief similar to the existing medallions in the arches, or one based more directly on the original medal, would be very powerful. Mr. Stroik agreed that it could be a nice variation on the existing large medallions, and the design could establish a direct connection to the main area of the memorial by using an image that is even closer to the original medal.
Mr. Stroik asked what size is illustrated for the existing medallions in the arches; Ms. Lanahan said that a six-foot diameter is shown. She added that the area of the Circle of Remembrance is slightly larger than the square areas beneath the arches, even though lacking the vertical height of the arches. Mr. Stroik suggested that the medallion in the circle should be no wider than those beneath the arches; he suggested that the design team explore a range from three to six feet. Mr. Fagan said that on-site mockups would be the best way to judge how a medallion would work with the plaque, which should remain the primary element; a solid dark circle of bronze in the center of the paving would be visually powerful, perhaps even too powerful.
Mr. Stroik summarized that he supports the use of an all-bronze medallion, with either the same design as at the arches or another version of the original medal. Mr. Spandle and Mr. Cook agreed, and Mr. Cook added that there would be no point in using a bronze medallion that is too small; a larger medallion would be appropriate for the larger space of the Circle of Remembrance, and it would have the necessary gravitas. He asked for the design team’s preference; Ms. Lanahan said she also favors the larger version, shown as Option 2, because it would be in scale with the circle.
Mr. Stroik asked for clarification of the size of the square paving area within the memorial arches in comparison to the Circle of Remembrance. Secretary Luebke estimated that the outer footprint of the arch structures is approximately 30 feet square, while the diameter of the Circle of Remembrance is closer to 40 or 45 feet; Mr. Stroik said the inner area beneath the arches appears to be approximately 20 feet square. Ms. Lanahan said that one of the medallion options for the circle is the same size as the existing medallions at the arches, but this size seems much larger relative to the constricted square spaces beneath the arches; when these spaces are crowded, people are forced to walk over the medallions, making them difficult to see.
Mr. Fagan asked if the design team is open to the idea of a solid bronze medallion within the circle instead of a linear inlay. Ms. Lanahan said this would probably be acceptable; the intent is for the design to establish a relation to the main area of the memorial while not competing with it. Mr. May said the NPS prefers the inlaid version that was presented, for this reason and also for its easier maintenance—a solid bronze medallion would require more upkeep. Mr. Fagan asked if a new interpretation of the historic medal design in low relief would be a possibility. Mr. May said a lower relief would be somewhat easier to maintain, but anything on the ground and exposed to the elements will present maintenance issues because it cannot be polished daily and will lose some of its luster; however, he said the NPS could consider a design in solid bronze.
Mr. May also responded to the earlier comment about possibly including commemoration of Gen. Eisenhower in the circle. He said that this would be problematic because it would need to conform with the Commemorative Works Act; legislative authorization would be required to incorporate any specific commemoration of Gen. Eisenhower, which he observed is probably not practical at this stage. Regarding the suggestion to replace the title of the Circle of Remembrance with the date of D-Day on the circle’s outer wall, Mr. May said that he could not provide an immediate response; the NPS makes decisions about signage based on an understanding of how people use wayfinding information, so this is an issue to discuss with Superintendent Reinbold and his staff. Mr. Reinbold offered to consider the idea.
Mr. Guillot referred back to his earlier thoughts on the fundamental concept of the Circle of Remembrance and the purity of the circle as a form; he reiterated his opinion that there should be no strong orientation within the space of the circle. The presence of a bronze medallion would indicate that it is something of great importance; an allegorical figure on the medallion would emphasize a specific orientation, with the awkward result that the majority of people walking through the circle or sitting around it would be looking across the back of the figure and reading the words upside down, and visitors reading the plaque would have their backs to the medallion. He said the opportunity should not be missed to relate this focused center space specifically to D-Day, using a design that is non-directional, more abstract, and would play a suitable role in the circle without overwhelming the prayer; he emphasized that the center design should be something that will make this space a pure circle without undermining its character. He discouraged the idea of appropriating the allegorical figure as a placeholder simply because it is used elsewhere in the memorial, treating it as a decorative stamp. He asked the Commission members to consider what design would be proposed here if the medal’s allegorical figure had not already been used.
Ms. Delplace responded that the design team has spent much time on the question of the medallion and has explored several options. One reason that the proposed design seems compelling is that, although the prayer speaks about those who died on D-Day, the medal was given to everyone who died, and so its use at the Circle of Remembrance would honor them as well. Mr. Guillot asked for clarification of how the medal was awarded, expressing concern that using its image in the Circle of Remembrance might not be appropriate. He said that medals recognizing acts of heroism, as well as more widely awarded medals, are both important in American history; but those for heroism have their own separate story, apart from the story of the D-Day prayer. He emphasized that the circle is a beautiful complement to the memorial and a built stage for the prayer. The landscape would complement it because the circle is a simple, 360-degree expression, adding no extraneous element to the larger memorial; it honors D-Day, a key turning point in the war, and the addition of the medallion to this story would not be helpful. Ms. Lanahan reiterated that the prayer is an addition to an existing memorial, and the original design intent for the Circle of Remembrance was that it should be the quiet counterpart to the public memorial. She said part of this idea is that the circle is a place where people who do not have a grave to visit could mourn the person they lost, and the circle will still have a greater meaning than just the D-Day prayer.
Mr. Guillot reiterated the question of whether every American who died in World War II was awarded this medal. Ms. Rotondi clarified that the correct name for the source of the design is the World War II Victory Medal; every veteran who served the U.S. in uniform during World War II received this medal. Mr. Guillot observed that the awarding of the medal was a later act, while the main story here is the prayer plaque—a beautiful addition to this place of contemplation. He said he remains uncomfortable with the directional representation of the allegorical figure within a space that should have a much more subtle treatment, and he again questioned the appropriation of the medal’s image into a paving pattern.
Mr. Cook asked if the proposal would be improved by turning around the medal image, so that it would not face the backs of people reading the prayer. Mr. Guillot reiterated that the space is a circle, but the illustrated image on the medallion has a distinct orientation, so some people would always have their back to it. Mr. Cook said that most people in the circle would be sitting on a bench if they are not reading the prayer, so three-quarters of the seating would be facing the medallion at a more normal angle. Returning to his earlier suggestion about adding a reference to Eisenhower, Mr. Cook suggested using five stars and the initials DDE at the center, leaving visitors to figure out the reference. Mr. Guillot reiterated that any such addition would just dilute the idea of the circle.
Chairman Shubow said he supports using the medal as presented; he suggested polling the other members on this issue. Secretary Luebke said it may not be possible to solve the issue at this meeting. He observed that the members have raised numerous issues that need further consideration, and he suggested simply conveying the range of comments to the project team; Chairman Shubow agreed that this would be appropriate. Secretary Luebke summarized that this is an interim review, and the apparent consensus is to accept the proposal for the plaque and its location, and the typeface preferred by the design team; questions remain about the pavement, the additional detail for the bench design, and possibly small changes to the supports or mounting for the plaque. Ms. Rotondi said the authorizing legislation for the plaque expires in June 2021, and it would be helpful to have as much concrete direction as possible.
Mr. Cook suggested approving the revised concept design with the comments provided, including a consensus for the plaque as located and with the larger-scale option; adjusting the details of its enframement; refining the details of the benches; perhaps simplifying or eliminating the title inscription at the front; considering a less directional design for the medallion, possibly including some reference to the amphibious invasion of D-Day; and simplifying the landscape to focus on the lawn and large trees instead of a more detailed gardenesque treatment.
Secretary Luebke noted the unresolved question of whether the medallion should be a different, non-directional design; he asked Mr. May if the NPS could move forward with the project while the question of the medallion is left open for now. Mr. May responded that the legislation requires a final approval before the authorization expires in June 2021; he noted that in the past, the NPS has received such approvals from the Commission with some significant details still to be resolved. He said it would be acceptable if a letter from the Commission says that final approval has been given for the plaque, listing other improvements that require further refinement. Secretary Luebke clarified that the current submission is considered a revised concept, not a final design; Mr. May confirmed this status but said that the hope was for approval of the revised concept with delegation to the staff for review of the final design. Secretary Luebke said that another submission will be needed, with the goal of resolving the review process in May or June with a final approval or at least a delegation to the staff. Mr. May said that approval of the revised concept at today’s meeting would be helpful, noting that technically this particular design has not even received a concept approval.
Mr. Stroik offered a motion to approve the revised concept design with the comments provided, including further study of the identified issues. Upon a second by Mr. Cook, the Commission adopted this action.
C. D.C. Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development
CFA 15/APR/21-2, Parcel 15, St. Elizabeths East Campus, 1110 Oak Drive, SE (on the Blue Parking Lot). Interim retail pavilion and greenhouse. Concept. Secretary Luebke introduced the concept design for an interim retail pavilion and greenhouse that would replace a surface parking lot adjacent to the recently completed Entertainment and Sports Arena (ESA). The developer intends for this pavilion to activate the site, create retail demand, develop business concepts originated in the community, and provide jobs and educational opportunities. He said the proposal is developed by the architecture firm of Adjaye Associates in collaboration with Winstanley Architects & Planners. He described the proposed open-air, two-level wooden structure as a tall pavilion shelter with two bars of retail space, encompassing approximately 10,000 square feet. The simple post-and-beam structure would be constructed on top of the asphalt lot with minimal subsurface interventions; it is expected to remain on the site for three to five years, after which it would be disassembled and reconstructed elsewhere. He asked Latrena Owens, director of St. Elizabeths East development at the D.C. Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED), to begin the presentation. Ms. Owens introduced Folashade Oladipo, DMPED’s Capital City Fellow, to provided comments on behalf of the District.
Ms. Oladipo acknowledged other members of the project team attending the meeting, including James Park, development manager of St. Elizabeths East; Dan Tangherlini, managing director of Emerson Collective, a philanthropic partner for the project; and architect Joe Franchina, senior associate at Adjaye Associates. She said the 10,000 square feet of program space will bring people to the site, inform the public about the continuing redevelopment, and test and refine concepts and approaches that would inform the type and design of the future long-term retail and public spaces. She said the project is essential to creating an inclusive destination that speaks to the vibrant culture of the Congress Heights community, providing opportunities for local entrepreneurs, and offering quality food in an area bereft of such options. The concept design also includes plantings, a greenhouse, and stormwater retention areas to improve the appearance and environmental sustainability of the neighborhood. She said that DMPED supports the proposed interim retail concept submission and is focused on ensuring that Ward 8 residents benefit from the new development and its long-awaited amenities.
Mr. Tangherlini noted that the development team includes Redbrick LMD and Gragg Cardona Partners; he said that his firm, Emerson Collective, is a social impact organization with a mission to eliminate barriers that inhibit people from reaching their full potential. He said he is assisting the D.C. Government in redeveloping the long-unused space to provide a benefit to the community while celebrating its resilience and culture through timeless design. He said this type of project could be conceptualized as an “urban rehearsal”—the testing of materials, retail mix, job training strategies, and community needs and engagement. The project offers the opportunity to surpass the typical approach of recycled shipping containers, tents, or food trucks. He asked architect Joe Franchina to present the design.
Mr. Franchina noted that Parcel 15 is a relatively new parking lot adjacent to the ESA and the historic red-brick buildings that characterize the St. Elizabeths East Campus. He said the project team analyzed this context to understand the character and scale of the buildings, as well as the topography of the site, which slopes down approximately eight feet from west to east. The nearby historic buildings, some of which have recently been adapted for residential use, are approximately 35 feet tall and are characterized by H-shaped plans and double-height arched windows; these buildings, along with the 42-foot-tall ESA, informed the scale of the proposed pavilion, which would be in between these two heights.
Mr. Franchina said the project is conceptualized as a campus gateway and town square for the community because of its location close to the Congress Heights neighborhood, its Metrorail station, and Alabama Avenue. He presented a bubble diagram illustrating how the program could be disposed across the site; program areas include retail, education, a greenhouse, and gathering spaces, with an outer ring of plantings. Because permanent foundations would not be appropriate for this temporary project, a large platform would be constructed to provide a level surface across the sloping site for the new structure, which would be constructed of cross-laminated timber (CLT). Ramps and stairs would provide access to the first level, which would have two rectangular structures—one for retail, the other for education programs—arranged in an L shape around a central gathering space. The second level would have additional seating overlooking the first level and the campus; stairs and an elevator would provide access to the second level. This assemblage would then be topped by a tall, post-supported roof punctuated with skylights and solar panels that would provide power for the facility. The platform would leave uncovered the parking lot’s existing stormwater retention area, making it a landscape feature of the project; a greenhouse along the eastern edge of the project would help frame this retention area. The plantings throughout the site would be in containers, allowing them to be replanted on the site when a permanent structure is constructed. A separate structure on the lot would house an information center and toilets. He noted that the side of the pavilion along Oak Street would generally align with the ESA facade farther down the block.
Chairman Shubow thanked the presentation team and invited questions from the Commission members. Mr. Guillot requested clarification of the structural material, observing that it appears to be a uniformly light-colored wood. Mr. Franchina said that the structure would likely be clear pine-colored timber, with a different and possibly darker-colored product for the deck, which needs to be very durable. He clarified for Mr. Spandle that the pine roof would have a weather membrane. Mr. Guillot asked if the firm has designed similar structures. Mr. Franchina said his firm has completed many temporary and permanent pavilions; however, this is the first with a retail component. Mr. Spandle asked if the retail spaces would be conditioned or if they are designed with passive design principles; Mr. Franchina said they would be glazed and conditioned due to Washington’s hot and humid summers. Mr. Guillot offered his congratulations, commenting that it is an interesting and beautifully realized concept.
Mr. Cook said that the pavilion resembles the work of Edward Durell Stone; he commented that it would be elegant, especially for a temporary structure. Mr. Tangherlini noted that the D.C. Government challenged the project team to develop a meaningful design that honors the perseverance and persistence of this community, which has suffered from long-term divestment and neglect.
Mr. Stroik observed that the historic buildings are brick, and he asked if this material was considered for the new structure to help it harmonize with the campus. Mr. Franchina acknowledged that the that the proposed CLT structure is a different color than the red brick buildings, but the material allows for a structure that can be easily taken apart and reconstructed in a different location; it could also be considered a visual counterpoint to the many brick buildings. Mr. Tangherlini noted that the nearby ESA is also not brick; Mr. Stroik asked about the project’s budget, and Mr. Tangherlini said that it is approximately $5 million.
Mr. Fagan asked if there would be sufficient interest from business owners in starting a costly new business in a temporary facility. Mr. Tangherlini said people have expressed interest in testing retail concepts in the temporary spaces that could eventually relocate to a permanent space on the site or in the area. He noted that the project team is working with the Congress Heights Community Training and Development Corporation and the local Advisory Neighborhood Commission to identify community-based businesses that could have a presence at the facility. Ms. Owens added that business education programming would also be offered.
Mr. Guillot asked if the parking spaces lost from this site would be added elsewhere. Ms. Owens said that the nearby 750-space parking garage under construction is intended to be completed in February 2022, which aligns with the timeline for the proposed project. Mr. Guillot noted that the proximity to public transportation would help reduce parking demand. Mr. Spandle commended the clear and simple post-and-lintel structure, and he expressed support for its demountable design.
Chairman Shubow noted the apparent consensus to support the proposal. Upon a motion by Mr. Cook with second by Mr. Guillot, the Commission approved the concept design. Secretary Luebke added that the Commission may wish to delegate the review of the final design to the staff, since no major issues were raised; Chairman Shubow agreed to this delegation.
D. D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation
1. CFA 15/APR/21-3, Stead Park Recreation Center, 1625 P Street, NW. Playground renovation and building additions. Final. (Previous: CFA 16/JUL/20-3) The Commission acted on the submission earlier in the meeting without a presentation, following agenda item II.A.
2. CFA 15/APR/21-4, Swampoodle Park II, Vacant lot at L and 3rd Streets, NE (1100 3rd Street, NE). New neighborhood park. Concept. Secretary Luebke introduced the concept design for a park to be created on a vacant lot at the northwest corner of 3rd and L Streets, NE; the project is a cooperative effort between the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation and the NoMa Parks Foundation, and it is named for the nearby developing neighborhood in the area north of Massachusetts Avenue. The historic name for the broader area was “Swampoodle,” coined in the 1880s in reference to the swamps and wetlands in the vicinity of Tiber Creek before the railroad tracks were expanded through this area in conjunction with the construction of Union Station. Immediately to the south of the site across L Street is a small new playground and dog park, referred to as Swampoodle Park I, that was approved by the Commission in June 2017. The site lies within the rapidly redeveloping residential area between NoMa to the west and Union Market to the northeast, and the two Swampoodle parks would become companion open spaces to serve the growing neighborhood.
Mr. Luebke said that the proposed design by Lee & Associates is intended to accommodate visitors with passive recreational spaces that can be activated to support a range of programs and events. The park would have a terraced perimeter around a fenced upper zone that includes a plaza, synthetic play area, programmable area for events, and vending. The materials and detailing, such as paving and seat walls, are generally proposed to match those of Swampoodle Park I across the street; the planting palettes would be related, and crape myrtles would be planted to unify the entrances of the two parks. He asked Brent Sisco, the capital project planning and design officer for the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation, to begin the presentation.
Mr. Sisco said that the new Swampoodle Park I has been very popular with the surrounding community, particularly during the pandemic. The current proposal was presented at a community meeting earlier in the week, and the neighborhood is excited to have the opportunity for additional outdoor space. He introduced Robin-Eve Jasper, president of the NoMa Parks Foundation, to provide additional background information.
Ms. Jasper expressed appreciation for the past advice of the Commission and staff on the projects of the NoMa Parks Foundation. She said that the redeveloping neighborhood was originally envisioned as an office district, but an emphasis on residential use began to emerge a decade ago. Due to the lack of existing public open space in the NoMa area, her organization began to focus on the acquisition and development of park sites to serve the needs of the residential neighborhood through a public–private partnership, working with D.C. Government agencies and the community. The siting of the neighborhood’s new open spaces is intended to align with axes and corridors that connect to different parts of the neighborhood. She said that her organization had tried unsuccessfully to acquire the site for Swampoodle Park II in conjunction with the site for Swampoodle Park I several years ago, but the owner only recently agreed to sell the property, and the acquisition was completed in September 2020. The proposed park will help to fill out the initial vision for a substantial concentration of public space at this dense corner of the neighborhood. She said that the open space at this location will serve the historic row house neighborhood to the east as well as the newer multifamily buildings to the west and north.
Ms. Jasper said that the permanent name for the new park will be determined through a community process of nomination and voting, and subject to approval by the D.C. Council and mayor; the current working name for the project is Swampoodle Park II. She noted that the selected design firm, Lee & Associates, also designed Swampoodle Park I, which should be helpful in providing a strong sense of design continuity between the two open spaces. She said that Swampoodle Park I addresses the community’s most urgent needs for a children’s play area and a dog park; the proposed Swampoodle Park II would provide more passive spaces that would provide flexibility for programming that could range from yoga classes to community dinners to small unamplified performances. She introduced landscape architect Adrienne McCray of Lee & Associates to present the design.
Ms. McCray recalled the community engagement process for designing Swampoodle Park I, and she said that this second park provides the welcome opportunity to fulfill some of the community’s programmatic desires that were not included in the first park. She presented an aerial photograph of the neighborhood, indicating the site for the proposed park and its relationship to Swampoodle Park I. She also indicated the public artwork installation a block to the west along L Street, within the underpass below the railroad tracks. She presented photographs of the existing conditions and described the immediate context. A large windowless side wall of the adjacent D.C.-owned building along the eastern segment of the site’s northern edge has been embellished with a mural. She said that this building is expected to remain; behind it, the view is open to the back yards on the interior of the block. The western edge of the site is occupied by an unembellished blank side wall of an adjacent building, which is planned for redevelopment although no schedule or design information is available. She noted the site’s elevated grade in comparison to L Street and Swampoodle Park I, with a berm extending along the site’s L Street frontage; two staircases within the berm connect the L Street sidewalk to the elevated grade of the site. The site has at-grade access along 3rd Street, which provides a primary connection to the developing Union Market area. The site is almost entirely paved with asphalt; the few trees seen in the photographs are on an adjacent property, although their roots likely extend to the park site, and this will be taken into consideration in the design process. She added that the existing perimeter fencing seen in the photographs would be removed. She presented solar analysis diagrams of the site, observing that the south-facing park will have access to extensive sunlight.
Ms. McCray said that the project’s primary goal is to provide additional public open space for neighborhood access, in accordance with the mission of the NoMa Parks Foundation. The project is also intended to provide opportunities for people to experience art and culture, primarily through programmed activities and possibly through physical design elements. The park will provide opportunities and activities for a range of users, from small children to senior citizens; the design approach calls for animated, interactive, and highly programmed spaces. An additional goal is to relate the park’s design to Swampoodle Park I across the street.
Ms. McCray presented the streetscape component of the proposal. She noted that the park design encompasses the edge of the public street rights-of-way to enlarge the small site area, a strategy that was also used in the design of Swampoodle Park I. The material palette and design vocabulary would relate the two parks, including the paving, edge walls, and natural wood capping. The site would have three entrances from the adjacent sidewalk; the at-grade entrance along 3rd Street would provide barrier-free access, while the two entrance points along L Street would have steps. At the center of the L Street frontage would be an amphitheater space with seat walls, taking advantage of the grade change along the sidewalk and providing views toward Swampoodle Park I.
Ms. McCray described the central oval space that would draw people into the park from the entrances; the oval would be divided into a hardscape plaza on the south and a synthetic turf field on the north. The plaza would provide seating and a gathering space, while the turf field would encourage small children to play. The northern edge of the oval would be defined by mounding and a line of canopy trees, and an area of longer-blade turf would extend into the northern part of the site for more passive uses; the far northern part of the site would have benches. The western side of the site would be an activity plaza, and the backdrop at the northwest corner of the site would be a boxcar storage unit that could be used for vending or activities as well as program-related storage. She said that at various times the plaza could have performances, outdoor games, or movable chairs and tables. She noted that the park’s design allows for zones that could be used separately by different groups of users. She indicated an existing site stair at the western end of the L Street frontage that would be retained as one of the park’s entrances.
Ms. McCray presented the proposed plantings, which would relate to those of Swampoodle Park I but be adapted to the more abundant sunlight on this side of the street. Large shade trees would be located alongside areas of planting, and she said that large-caliper trees would be selected so that the park will quickly have an established landscape character. As a special feature along the park’s northern edge, a row of espaliered magnolias would be placed along the side wall of the adjacent building. Additional trees would provide screening of the site’s north and west edges near the boxcar. Bioretention plantings would be placed along the site’s L Street frontage to capture stormwater runoff.
Ms. McCray indicated the perimeter fencing system that would be placed around the park to provide safe playing areas for the younger children. She noted the park’s emphasis on accommodating toddlers, in comparison to the play equipment appealing to older children that is located in Swampoodle Park I. She said that the fencing design in both parks would be similar, but the fence in Swampoodle Park II would be shorter along the street frontage, approximately three feet high; she indicated a segment of the fencing along L Street that would rise to a taller screen wall with posts, providing a visual counterbalance to the large play equipment across the street in Swampoodle Park I. The top of the fence is designed with a ledge that could accommodate people using laptop computers; a power supply and Wi-Fi would be provided for the park. Along the park’s north and west property lines, an eight-foot-tall metal fence would be installed, planted with climbing vines.
Ms. McCray presented perspective views and sections to illustrate the proposed design and the relationship between the two parks, along with precedent images for some of the proposed features. She said that the standard site furnishings of the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation would be used, and wood benches are proposed throughout the park. The paving materials would match those of Swampoodle Park I, and the turf would be part of the stormwater management. She concluded with an array of photographs of the proposed plant palette.
Chairman Shubow invited questions and comments from the Commission members. Mr. Guillot observed that the site may seem like a blank slate, but it actually has challenges of topography, context, and existing conditions. He expressed appreciation for the project’s intentions and for the thorough and thoughtful presentation, including the park’s role in the neighborhood and its appeal to a range of users; but he questioned the apparent intention to block the large existing mural with magnolia plantings, describing the mural as an appealing feature that contributes to the setting. Ms. McCray responded that the community discussions included whether to keep the mural, replace it with a new mural, or introduce more plantings. She said that a potential solution could be to maintain the mural’s visibility by adjusting the spacing of the proposed trees.
Mr. Cook commended the proposed design as beautiful; he cited the creative use of the topography to provide an amphitheater and protect the park from the street. Mr. Guillot observed that Swampoodle Park I is much more densely designed with equipment in comparison to the proposed Swampoodle Park II. Ms. McCray confirmed that the proposed park is intended to be more passive and to accommodate a wider range of users, with less emphasis on play equipment and without the dog park feature; the new park would serve as an extension of the small amount of passive space and seating in the first park. Mr. Guillot asked if the multi-level play equipment in Swampoodle Park I is for dogs; Ms. McCray clarified that it is for children, although the dog park area does include a smaller agility structure for dogs.
Chairman Shubow summarized the consensus of the Commission to support the proposal as a very successful design; he suggested approval of the concept and delegation to the staff for review of the final design. Upon a motion by Mr. Cook with second by Mr. Guillot, the Commission adopted this action, Chairman Shubow reiterated the Commission’s appreciation for the proposal.
E. D.C. Department of General Services
1. CFA 15/APR/21-5, Henry Smothers Elementary School, 4400 Brooks Street, NE / 1300 44th Street, NE. Building renovation and additions. Final. (Previous: CFA 15/OCT/20-10) The Commission acted on the submission earlier in the meeting without a presentation, following agenda item II.A.
2. CFA 15/APR/21-6, Eastern Market Metro Park, 8th Street & Pennsylvania Avenue, SE. Two public art works. Concept. (Previous: CFA 16/JAN/20-m, Park renovation) Secretary Luebke introduced the concept design for the installation of two public art works within the newly redesigned Eastern Market Metro Park. He noted that the Commission approved a revised concept design for the park in June 2019 and delegated to staff the final review, which was completed in January 2020. The park comprises six parcels created by the intersections of D, 7th, 8th, and 9th Streets, and Pennsylvania and South Carolina Avenues, SE. This site is one of the open squares on Capitol Hill originally established in the L’Enfant Plan; it was shown in the 1901 McMillan Plan as a rectangular landscaped park. The location has been a transportation hub since the early days of the city: first as a stagecoach stop, then as a streetcar stop, and now as public transportation hub for Metrorail and buses. Facing the park across 7th Street is one of the city’s historic Carnegie libraries, planned for renovation and expansion in the near future. He said the park’s project team solicited proposals for two artworks to be installed in the park’s two largest parcels. The first artwork—Found You! by sculptor Beth Nybeck of Kansas City, Missouri—would consist of three overscaled metal rabbits that appear to be playing a game of hide-and-seek. The second installation—Loveful Hands by sculptor Jay Coleman of Washington, D.C.—would be a single bronze sculpture depicting a pair of hands gesturing to form the shape of a heart. He asked David Wooden, a landscape architect with the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation, to begin the presentation. Mr. Wooden said the proposed designs have been extensively reviewed with neighborhood stakeholders, and he introduced designer Federico Olivera-Sala of Moya Design Partners to present the proposal.
Mr. Olivera-Sala said that the park is located at a prominent intersection and composed of various-sized parcels with different ownerships; the approved park design is intended to unify the open space. He noted that the first phase of the park, which includes Parcels 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6, has been completed and is a success with the community; the second phase of construction includes Parcel 4, which is the site of the existing Metro station entrance and the proposed artwork Loveful Hands. He said the complex configuration of streets and intersections results in multiple viewsheds and pedestrian crossings; analysis of these conditions resulted in the proposed locations for the sculptures so that they would not conflict with viewsheds or pedestrian movement. For Parcel 1, located north of Pennsylvania Avenue between 8th and 9th Streets, he indicated the proposed placement for the three sculptures that comprise Found You! He noted that the work was commissioned after the park was designed, resulting in small areas of disturbance to accommodate the footings and electrical connections for the sculptures. He added that Parcel 4 to the southwest has more underground utilities, putting additional constraints on the placement of Loveful Hands.
Ms. Nybeck said she is a large-scale metal sculptor and public artist whose work is intended to be engaging and interactive for large communities; often, her artwork incorporates elements of storytelling and whimsy. She described her work Found You! as intended to take a playful approach to the tension and deep polarization in the United States. She said she thinks people often find reasons to be divided and forget that there are many areas of common ground. The artwork therefore uses imagination and a spirit of lighthearted playfulness to offer a reason for people to come back together—to find the light and life that we have inside of us. The artwork itself is composed of three rabbit sculptures posed and arranged to suggest they are playing a game of hide-and-seek—a child’s game of discovery that is evocative of the joy in discovering someone else for the first time. She said that taking the time to invest in and discover one another brings great joy; getting to know and understand someone who is new and different is a fundamental part of our humanity. The standing rabbit is covering its eyes with its paws and counting down, while the two other rabbits are posed moving through the park as they run to find a hiding place.
Ms. Nybeck said that the pieces would be constructed of 12-gauge perforated stainless steel triangles and quadrilaterals; the perforations would be arranged in a random pattern and would have a quarter-inch diameter, ensuring that even a toddler’s finger would not be able to fit through a hole and get stuck. The height of the rabbits would be 60, 65, and 80 inches, large enough so they have their own presence and do not disappear into the landscape, but appropriately scaled so as not to appear gigantic or scary. The goal is for the rabbits to be iconic, inviting, and engaging; they are tactile and invite touch, but climbing on the sculptures would be discouraged. The sculptures would be installed on concrete footings that emerge two inches above grade to the top of the grass, giving the base a minimal appearance but still protecting the artwork from turf maintenance. The artworks would be located near existing electrical conduits that supply power for the pieces’ internal illumination without much disruption to the park landscape. In addition to allowing for nighttime interaction and engagement, the internal illumination represents the light and life that shines through others when we find and discover one another.
Chairman Shubow invited the Commission members to discuss Ms. Nybeck’s proposal before proceeding to the second artwork. Mr. Fagan asked where the pieces would be fabricated; Ms. Nybeck said they would be made in her Kansas City studio. Mr. Fagan said the sculptures make him happy, and he expressed support for the artist’s intention to fabricate the works herself, commenting that the material finish would be important since the pieces are tactile and public. He recommended double-checking the diameter of the perforations to ensure they are small enough to prevent children from getting their fingers stuck. He also strongly encouraged using domestically sourced steel, which would be of a reliably high quality for public contact and long-term durability.
Mr. Cook asked Ms. Nybeck to provide more detail on the artwork as a gesture of peace, acknowledging that the nation is in a bad place and needs to be pulled together. Ms. Nybeck responded that she wants to create a piece that is not in any way divisive; rabbits were chosen because they are known as gentle, soft, and timid, rather than as threatening predators. In addition, people would hopefully be engaged in a children’s game of discovery. While there will be a plaque that briefly describes the artwork, it can also be beneficial to let the public interpret and enjoy artwork on their own. The subject matter is intentionally straightforward, as most people—especially children—would not need an explanation or extra invitation to approach and engage with the artwork, particularly sculptures of animals. Mr. Cook suggested that there be an interpretive description of the artworks, since they are in an important area near Pennsylvania Avenue and Eastern Market but proximate to a playground, which might lend people to think these are play structures. He asked about Mr. Shubow’s personal experience of the park; Mr. Shubow said he visited the playground two weeks ago with his children and found it inviting, and he commented that the sculptures would make a very nice addition to the park. Mr. Cook said that the sculptures look playful and fun.
Chairman Shubow summarized the consensus of the Commission members to approve Found You! He suggested taking a formal action on both sculptures after the second part of the presentation.
Mr. Coleman said this project would be his second sculpture in the round, and the proposed sculpture Loving Hands may more closely resemble a peace monument than the park’s other artwork. He said he originally approached the project as a sculptor focused on accuracy and displaying his technical skills; however, he changed his approach to that of a person emerging from the Covid-19 pandemic and national unrest of the past year. His proposed artwork is intended to communicate the love that the project team and local community have for residents and visitors; the work is meant to exude love and create a place where visitors can come to share stories or feelings of unconditional love. He developed the proposed concept of hands forming the shape of a heart, which he said represents a merging point between contemporary communication icons like emojis and hashtags used in social media and the ancient and timeless material of bronze. In addition, he had previously intended to create a more abstract piece to remove the figural and engage in a broader public conversation, but subsequently decided that the power of a human expression would be desirable. As a portrait artist, he understood that a face would suggest a specific nationality or ethnic background to the viewer; however, hands would be more universal. The heart gesture made by the hands, which would be based on his own, is not perfect and does not look machine-made, but it is a heart shape that can be perceived. He said bronze was selected for its durability, iconic image, and inherent visual power; a French brown patina would differentiate the sculpture from the green patina seen on many other statues in the city. He noted the relationship of Parcel 4 to both the nearby U.S. Capitol, where the weightiest world decisions are made, and the lively Eastern Market, which has its own rich history. He said it was difficult to develop a concept and aesthetic that would please everyone, but he feels good about the proposed design.
Mr. Colman said that the wrists of the sculpture have been elongated since an earlier iteration of the design, giving the piece more height while not appearing overbearing. He also studied the sculpture’s orientation relative to the sun and the heart-shaped shadow it would cast, which has resulted in the piece being reoriented to face more eastward, instead of directly facing the Metrorail portal or the bus stop shelter on Pennsylvania Avenue. The sculpture would be as large as possible given the budget, underground constraints, and pedestrian movement across the parcel. He said it is not a large piece that would be seen from far away, but rather a piece that would have to be engaged in the landscape, which he said gives it an inclusive nature.
Chairman Shubow invited questions and comments from the Commission members. Mr. Fagan asked where the artwork would be cast and if domestic bronze would be used. Mr. Coleman said that the work would be cast with domestically sourced bronze at Laran Bronze in Pennsylvania, where all his other bronze works have been cast based on the recommendations of sculptors Joanna Campbell Blake and Ray Kaskey. He noted that the bronze details designed by Mr. Kaskey for the World War II Memorial were cast at this foundry. Mr. Fagan expressed support for this choice, advising that the bronze could get hot enough in the sunlight for unknown content to off-gas if the material is not of a high quality. Mr. Stroik asked for clarification of the concern; Mr. Fagan confirmed that it is more difficult to control the content of metal used to cast a sculpture in another country. He cited his personal experiences of heating bronze to burn off wax and encountering off-gassing because of the unknown composition of the metal. Mr. Coleman said that the bronze used by the foundry does not contain lead, making it very safe for public art; this bronze was also used for some of his previous work that the public regularly touches and engages with, even on the hottest summer days.
Mr. Stroik asked if the sculpture base could be made of a material such as granite, marble, or limestone instead of concrete. Mr. Coleman said that the increased detailing of the hands has used a good portion of the project’s budget; he acknowledged that concrete is not necessarily his first choice, but it will make a solid base that does not draw focus or detract from the beauty of the sculpture. He added that the concrete base constructed for his previous work is warm and nicely polished, making it inviting to the public. He said the sculpture’s message of unconditional love, which is difficult for most people to practice, requires a strong base upon which that love can be built; a solid concrete or granite-looking base is therefore an integral component of the artistic concept. He said the base could be finished once it has been installed to have more texture or graining, but he likes the clean look of the base as proposed. Mr. Stroik expressed support for the design, but he strongly suggested that the project budget be increased to allow for a natural stone base.
Mr. Guillot commented that the siting and scale of Loveful Hands would make it a welcoming centerpiece of the parcel. He asked if the artist had considered extending the wrists and forearms, thereby eliminating the base and allowing people greater access for interacting with the sculpture. Mr. Coleman responded that due to time and budget constraints, along with the gravity of the project, he did not consider some concepts that would likely exceed the budget. He said that a part of being an artist for him is working closely within the budget so problems do not arise after developing a strong artistic concept; this ensures that desired sculptural elements are not changed later due to budget constraints. In addition, given the varying safety concerns of a neighborhood in a major city, he did not want the prospect of people hiding in the sculpture, or seeking shelter underneath at night and then being burned by the piece as it heats up in the sunlight. Mr. Guillot acknowledged these issues, and he congratulated the artist for designing what will be a successful and handsome piece of public art. He said that the sculpture will work well in the selected location, commenting that public art can often feel remote; this piece, however, is a familiar gesture of love, similar to Robert Indiana’s well-known LOVE sculpture, and that it will likely make people smile when they see it—a response that can be hard to evoke nowadays. Mr. Cook agreed that the piece makes him smile, along with the other proposed sculptures. He said he understands the concerns regarding safety if the piece did not have a base; he also suggested that the design is like putting love on a pedestal, where he said it should always be.
Chairman Shubow said he strongly concurs with these comments and agreed he would like the base to be as high-quality as possible. He said that the sculpture will be a great and highly accessible addition to the park; noting that he often uses the adjacent Metro station, he said that such a sculpture would brighten his day. He supported approving the proposal and delegating the final review to the staff. Mr. Stroik said he recognizes the budget concerns, but he encouraged the project team to make this sculpture as wonderful an addition to the park as it can be. He observed that Mr. Coleman has much appreciation for and expertise regarding the human form and suggested bringing some of that artistry to the base and its seating surface, perhaps a shape or form that would be comfortable and appropriate to the subject matter. He reiterated his suggestion to use stone, as it would be comfortable, low-maintenance, and durable. He said that even wood or a metal bench surface could be explored.
Chairman Shubow suggested a consensus to approve the proposed artworks with the comments provided, and with the final review delegated to the staff. Upon a motion by Mr. Cook with second by Mr. Fagan, the Commission adopted this action.
F. D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs—Old Georgetown Act
OG 19-186, Multifamily residential, 3220 Prospect Street, NW. New five-story building. Concept. Secretary Luebke introduced the concept proposal for a new building to be constructed on the site of an existing surface parking lot located a half-block west of Wisconsin Avenue. He said that a previous concept proposal for a retail building on this site was approved in 2015, with an extension given in 2017, but the all-retail proposal was then abandoned in favor of a mixed-use project with four levels of residential units above a retail base. The current version of the proposal is for an entirely residential building; it has been reviewed many times by the Old Georgetown Board and is now being presented for its first review by the Commission. He said that the Board’s guidance has included changes in the height, massing, scale, and material; the Board’s concerns included how the building would affect views, fit in with the scale of the neighborhood, and make the transition from the commercial character extending westward from Wisconsin Avenue to the residential character farther to the west along Prospect Street. The current proposal is for a four-story building plus fifth-floor penthouse, as seen from Prospect Street, along with a lower level below the grade of Prospect Street. He said that the general massing resembles the form developed by the architecture firm Hickok Cole; the current architect is Eric Colbert & Associates.
Mr. Luebke provided additional details of the Board’s review process for the project. The appropriate scale and character for the building has been considered carefully; across Prospect Street to the north is another large development of comparable height, constructed in the 1960s, and the Board has been concerned about an overly crowded character along this block, particularly for the pedestrian experience. Visibility studies have been developed for the project, and the Board has considered the palette of materials, the design of the projecting bays along the Prospect Street sidewalk, and the design of the large vehicular door that provides access to both the loading dock and parking garage. He said that these issues have been resolved to the Board’s satisfaction: the size of the vehicular door has been minimized, and options have been developed for the Prospect Street facade, with the Board preferring Option A for the projecting bays, which are entirely brick. The Board has asked for further adjustments to the oriel window above the vehicular door in response to the door’s reduced size, and requested further study of the brick detailing. For the stepped-back fifth story, the Board has requested that its appearance be minimized from the street, including a deeper step-back dimension and a reduction in the size of the projecting overhang. The Board now recommends that the Commission approve the proposed concept, with the remaining issues to be resolved in subsequent submissions. He asked the site’s owner, Michael Weaver of Weaver & Sons, to begin the presentation.
Mr. Weaver said that his family has owned much of this site for five generations, and the current intent is to develop it with an apartment building. He said that the design team has worked on numerous apartment buildings in historic areas of Washington, and the proposal results from extensive coordination with the Commission’s staff and the Board. He introduced architect Eric Colbert to present the design.
Mr. Colbert presented the three current options for the Prospect Street facade in comparison to an earlier design, indicating the changes that have been made and the options that remain for consideration. In all of the options, in response to the Board’s guidance, the color of the fourth and fifth stories is lighter than in the earlier design; the windows are now configured primarily in pairs rather than in groups of three as previously proposed; the rusticated effect of the base extends across the entire Prospect Street facade instead of only at the east; the width of the bays has been adjusted to be two feet wider than the space between bays; and the range of brick colors has been simplified to a single type of red brick, as requested by the Board, with the final decision to be based on review of an on-site panel. He said that Option A would compose the facade and the four projecting bays entirely in brick; Option B would articulate the projecting bays with metal facade elements; and Option C would further articulate the bays with projecting oriel windows at the second and third stories. He presented elevations and street-level perspectives to illustrate each of the three options.
Mr. Colbert presented height studies of the proposed building in comparison to its neighbors. He indicated the reduced size of the vehicular door—previously nineteen to twenty feet wide and fifteen feet high—which is now shown as twelve feet wide and fourteen feet wide, based on consultation with D.C. Government officials. He presented the west elevation, indicating the adjacent row house that is set far back from Prospect Street; the partially exposed west facade has therefore been articulated to have a sense of liveliness. The south facade is on the interior of the block, which does not have an alley; the southern half of the block is commercial buildings that front on M Street.
Mr. Colbert presented section drawings, indicating the proposed fifty-foot height to the top of the fifth story; he noted that this height was established early in the Board’s review process. On the section through the vehicular ramp, he indicated the below-grade service area that will accommodate the required access and turnaround for a thirty-foot-long truck without obstructing the sidewalk. On the site plan, he indicated the setback from the Prospect Street property line to give a more expansive character for the street. He presented the interior plans, describing them as having a conventional double-loaded corridor layout. He said that the Board’s request for an increased step-back at the fifth floor is still being studied and will be addressed in a future submission.
Mr. Colbert presented images of the possible brick selection, with a medium red color for the primary volume and medium gray for the fourth story; in response to guidance from the D.C. Historic Preservation Office staff, more variety may be achieved through increased rustication or a less uniform brick color, which will be studied further. The exterior of the stepped-back fifth story would be gray metal panels. He presented photographs of the context, noting that the adjacent commercial building is owned by the Weaver family. He observed that the existing parking lot slopes up from Prospect Street with a retaining wall and fence occupying much of the frontage, creating an odd effect for the streetscape, while the proposed building will have a more traditional relationship to the sidewalk. He concluded with photographs and computer simulations of the view from the south side of M Street, with the proposed building slightly visible above some of the lower commercial structures on the north side of M Street.
Chairman Shubow invited questions and comments from the Commission members. Mr. Stroik asked if the brick detailing around the windows has been studied with consideration of the historic neighborhood context, perhaps using soldier courses or jack arches to add a sense of texture. Mr. Colbert said that this has been studied, and Secretary Luebke noted that the brick detailing is a key issue that the Board has identified for further review.
Mr. Spandle asked for clarification of the facade plane and step-back depth along Prospect Street. Mr. Colbert responded that the step-back is approximately five feet; Secretary Luebke clarified that the step-back is approximately three feet from the fourth story, which is stepped back two feet or less from the building’s base. Mr. Spandle asked why a different brick color is proposed for the fourth story. Mr. Colbert said that the intent is to reduce the perception of the building’s scale, with the lighter color contributing to the sense that the upper floors are receding. Mr. Guillot asked for clarification of the building’s entrance. Mr. Colbert indicated its location toward the west end of the Prospect Street facade, near the vehicular entrance.
Mr. Guillot asked if the Commission is being asked to choose from among the options for the bay treatment. Secretary Luebke noted that the Board has already expressed a preference for Option A, following a lengthy review process; he said that the Commission would typically confirm the Board’s recommendation unless there is a strong objection to it. Mr. Guillot asked how the decision will be made on the inclusion of oriel windows; Mr. Colbert clarified that the Board’s preference is not to include them.
Mr. Guillot acknowledged the architectural skill in designing a large building that gives the impression of being a composition of several smaller buildings that are consistent with the historic scale of row houses in the neighborhood, a design approach that is seemingly favored by the Old Georgetown Board. But he raised the larger issue of whether this design approach is appropriate, questioning who it helps and whether it is sufficiently truthful. He said that the resulting design has the appearance of nine buildings with one front door, apparently intended to appeal to a person walking along the sidewalk. Mr. Colbert said that the bays and detailing are intended to relate to the row-house scale; Mr. Guillot commended the success in achieving this goal, particularly with the predominant use of a single brick color.
Mr. Spandle commented that the proposed building would be an appropriate addition to the neighborhood, particularly in comparison to the similarly sized building across Prospect Street, and he said this infill project would be better than the existing parking lot that is merely a void within the dense context. He supported the Board’s recommendation for Option A.
Mr. Cook asked if the Commission would have the opportunity for further review as the brick detailing is developed. Secretary Luebke said this is an issue of developing the details; the Commission’s action could request a further presentation after the Board’s review. Mr. Cook said this is an important building and site, and the Commission should look carefully at the details; he expressed support for the comments of the other Commission members and for the architectural skill in integrating the building with the residential neighborhood context. He suggested that the Commission approve the concept submission with the comments provided, and with the request for further review of the details. Secretary Luebke summarized the issues already raised by the Board, which are consistent with the Commission’s comments; he said the Board will review the project during the design development phase, and the proposal can then be presented again to the Commission.
Mr. Stroik suggested that the next review include more information about the coping at the top of the walls, the cornice, the windows, the rustication of the base, and the treatment of the front door; he said that all of these elements seem successful at this stage but need careful detailing. He commented that the front door should be more prominent for such a large building, with a design language that is consistent with the building. Upon a motion by Mr. Stroik with second by Mr. Cook, the Commission approved the concept submission with the comments provided. Chairman Shubow expressed appreciation for the presentation and noted the Commission’s desire to see the project move forward. Secretary Luebke said that the next step will be a submission for further review by the Board; when the remaining issues are resolved with the Board, a revised concept submission could be reviewed by the Commission, and if satisfactory the Commission could then delegate review of the final design to the Board.
G. United States Mint
CFA 15/APR/21-7, 2022–2025 American Women Quarter Dollar Coin Program. Designs for a common obverse and two of five reverse designs for the 2022 issues. Final. Secretary Luebke introduced the initial submission for a four-year series of circulating quarter-dollar coins, succeeding the America the Beautiful series that is concluding this year. The new series will include a redesign of the obverse, with George Washington to remain as the subject, and twenty reverses that convey the accomplishments of American women. Today’s submission includes design alternatives for the common obverse and for two of the five reverses that will be issued in 2022; future submissions will address the remaining three reverses for 2022 and the five reverses per year for 2023 through 2025.
Mr. Luebke said that numerous organizations are advising the Mint on the design of these coins; among them is the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee, which has not yet reviewed these designs, so its recommendations are not available. He asked April Stafford, the stakeholder relations manager in the U.S. Mint’s Office of Design, to present the alternatives.
Ms. Stafford said that the Secretary of the Treasury approved the selection process for determining which women will be featured on the coins; the process includes consultation with the National Women’s History Museum, the Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues, and the American Women’s History Initiative of the Smithsonian Institution. The resulting designs have been reviewed by experts from the Smithsonian, the museum, and family members or representatives of the honorees; she noted that this review process has shown a strong preference for designs that incorporate the honoree’s image, in order for the coin to highlight the women themselves as well as their achievements.
George Washington (obverse)
Ms. Stafford said that the obverse design, to be used for all twenty coins in the series, will be a new design featuring President George Washington. She presented eleven alternatives, noting the varied range from traditional portraits to showing Washington on horseback. While ten of the alternatives are newly developed, alternative #1 is a historical design that was originally developed by the prominent American sculptor Laura Gardin Fraser for the redesigned quarter that was minted beginning in 1932, the bicentennial of Washington’s birth. Although Fraser’s design was recommended at that time by the bicentennial committee and by the Commission of Fine Arts, the Secretary of the Treasury instead selected a design by John Flanagan, which remains in use for the circulating quarter’s obverse. She noted that Fraser’s design was used more recently for a non-circulating commemorative coin issued in 1999 for the bicentennial of Washington’s death.
Ms. Stafford said that the authorizing legislation for this program, the Circulating Collectible Coin Redesign Act of 2020, calls for additional redesigns after the completion of this four-year program honoring women. The Commission is currently being asked to recommend the obverse design for the four-year program, but she invited additional comments about which designs might be suitable for the subsequent redesign of the quarter’s obverse.
Mr. Stroik commented that Fraser’s design, alternative #1, is beautiful and should be used for the circulating quarter. Mr. Fagan agreed, citing its depth and power; he described alternative #1 as a mirror of the familiar Flanagan design, and he said it would be easily recognized by the public as a version of the quarter. He said that the composition is strengthened by having President Washington’s head overlap the lower part of the letters of “Liberty” at the top of the coin, contributing to the sense of a beautiful and classic American coin design. He suggested alternative #1 for long-term use, expressing regret that this design might only be used for the initial four-year program. Mr. Stroik and Mr. Shubow joined in supporting these comments.
Mr. Guillot commented that the apparent strength of alternative #1 may result from its graphic presentation, which has a three-dimensional quality compared to the other alternatives having the character of pencil sketches. He agreed with Mr. Fagan’s comments on the strength of this composition. Mr. Fagan observed that the success of the sketched alternatives would be dependent on their translation into the bas-relief format of coinage, which would be particularly challenging for the designs using frontal or three-quarters poses for the portrait. He said that alternative #7 is compositionally strong, while reiterating his support for #1 as a classic design.
Mr. Stroik asked about the small lettering “LGF”—the artist’s initials—at the base of the portrait in alternative #1. Ms. Stafford said that coins produced by the Mint typically include small lettering for the initials of both the designer and the sculptor; Fraser had served both roles in the creation of alternative #1. Joe Menna, the chief engraver for the Mint, clarified that the initials are normally added at a later stage of the design process, and would not be seen during the Commission’s review; but Fraser had included the initials in her original sculpture, which is why they appear in the presented image for alternative #1. Secretary Luebke noted that the traditional method for coin design was to prepare a sculptural tondo in plaster, perhaps a foot or more in diameter, which is the apparent source for alternative #1; the modern method is digital preparation of a graphic image. Ms. Stafford and Mr. Menna said that alternative #1 is a composite digital image that was created through scanning of the historic materials held by the Mint for Fraser’s design; the appearance is close to a finished sculpted coin, while the other alternatives are linework.
Chairman Shubow noted the consensus to support obverse alternative #1; he suggested taking a formal action on all three sets of alternatives at the conclusion of the Mint’s presentation.
Maya Angelou (reverse)
Ms. Stafford summarized Dr. Maya Angelou’s contributions as a poet, singer, memoirist, and civil rights activist. One of her well-known autobiographical volumes, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, depicts her transformation during adolescence into a confident young woman responding to racism and prejudice.
Ms. Stafford presented seven alternative designs, noting the general preference of the Smithsonian’s experts for designs depicting Angelou instead of representing only the book itself; Angelou is depicted in alternatives #2 and #4. She cited a review comment that omitting Angelou’s portrait from the coin design would be problematic considering the history of black women in portraiture. She said that Angelou’s son, Guy Johnson, prefers alternatives #2 and #3.
Mr. Shubow offered support for alternative #2, citing the juxtaposition of Angelou’s outstretched arms against the silhouette of a bird with its wings spread. Mr. Guillot, Mr. Spandle, and Mr. Stroik joined in supporting alternative #2. Mr. Stroik said that he supports the preference of other reviewers to include the honoree’s portrait in the design, which unfortunately limits the consideration to alternatives #2 and #4.
Mr. Fagan said that the bird silhouette in alternative #2 appears large, perhaps due to the angle of the view, the juxtaposition with the scale of the human figure, and the lack of detailing of feather edges along the silhouette; the resulting appearance is of a bird of prey instead of the intended depiction of a songbird. He suggested adjustments such as a teardrop shape for the body, a slightly tapered tail, and repositioning the silhouette so that it is not directly centered behind Angelou. He observed that the portrait of Angelou would be very small within this composition and may not be legible. He suggested consideration of alternative #3, depicting a bird flying away from its cage; he observed that bird wings are a powerful feature for a coin design. As adjustments to alternative #3, he suggested deemphasizing the cage by moving it slightly farther to the right while still making the cage and door recognizable, and adjusting the depiction of the bird to be more clearly a songbird as described for alternative #2. He said that the lack of a portrait of Angelou in alternative #3 would not be problematic, since she is so closely identified with her poem about a caged bird.
Mr. Stroik acknowledged the concern that the small portrait in alternative #2 would be inadequate; he said that a simple design with a good portrait may be preferable. Mr. Cook commented that the portrait in alternative #4 is a better likeness than the portrait in alternative #2; he expressed regret that the son’s preference is for alternative #2, perhaps resulting from insufficient consideration of the small scale that will result in her face being illegible. He said that alternative #2 could be acceptable if the portrait could be enlarged while still having the gesture of outstretched arms; he also suggested improved articulation of the wings, perhaps positioning them to frame Angelou’s face. He summarized that the composition of alternative #2 is successful but the scale of the elements is a concern.
Ms. Stafford welcomed the Commission’s suggestions for improving the designs; she noted that they were developed by the artists on a tight schedule, in response to legislation enacted in January 2021 for coins to be issued in 2022. She also noted the design concern of including the honoree’s portrait on the reverse while also featuring George Washington’s portrait on the obverse, with the potential risk of creating the perception of a two-headed coin. Mr. Menna added that the legibility of Angelou’s face in alternative #2 is less important than her broad gesture that expresses a sense of freedom, reinforced by the silhouette of the flying bird behind her; the forms are symbolic rather than specifically representational. He said that alternative #4 has a strong portrait, although the drawing techniques such as shading may not convey an accurate sense of the coin’s appearance; while this design could easily be sculpted, the issue of the small scale is similar to alternative #2. He agreed that the compositional balance of alternative #3 could be improved by repositioning the cage and giving more emphasis to the bird in flight.
Mr. Fagan suggested focusing on refinements to alternative #2. Among the adjustments to the detailing of the bird, he suggested changing the curved beak to be shaped more like a cone, consistent with the intended depiction of a songbird, and with the tail less widely fanned in order to emphasize the oblong body. Mr. Guillot said that the details should be developed to be reminiscent of a dove; he summarized that the composition of alternative #2 is successful in equating Angelou with the songbird, although the desire for a strong portrait might suggest an adaptation of juxtaposing only Angelou’s head with the bird’s head, with the sun’s rays at the outer edge. He noted that the presence of her name in the composition will help people understand that she is the subject, even though the portrait will not be recognizable at the scale of the coin.
Mr. Cook suggested addressing the scale issue in alternative #2 by slightly enlarging Angelou’s figure, so that her outstretched fingers are touching the edge of the coin; the size of the bird could remain as shown, with the refinements that have been discussed. He said that this adjustment may allow for the portrait to be recognizable and would give her more importance within the composition, while still avoiding the potential problem of a two-headed coin. Chairman Shubow summarized the consensus to recommend reverse #2 for the Maya Angelou coin, with the comments provided.
Sally Ride (reverse)
Ms. Stafford summarized Dr. Sally Ride’s career as an astronaut and leader at NASA; in 1983 she became the first American woman to fly in space, and she served on several NASA task forces and commissions in the subsequent decades.
Ms. Stafford presented five alternative designs, again noting the general preference of the outside experts for designs that include a portrait. She said that alternative #1, depicting Ride beside a space shuttle window with a view of the Earth, is the preference of the Smithsonian experts and of Ride’s partner, Tam O’Shaughnessy. The placement of the inscription “E Pluribus Unum” above the outline of North America is intended to signify that Ride was the first among U.S. women to be in space, and her name is also included. Ms. Stafford said that a modification requested by Ms. O’Shaughnessy is to add an inscription such as physicist, astronaut, or educator to highlight Ride’s work.
Mr. Cook offered support for alternative #1, commenting that it is clearly the best option and is preferred by the other reviewers; he added that the pose beside a spacecraft window is commonly preferred by astronauts. Mr. Guillot agreed in supporting alternative #1. Mr. Fagan, Mr. Spandle, and Mr. Shubow said that the window was not clearly recognizable, perhaps due to its large scale; Mr. Guillot said that the space shuttle windows are larger than those on commercial airplanes, perhaps causing the confusion. Ms. Stafford said that the window is intended to be a general representation, and it could be refined for clarity.
Mr. Shubow observed that alternatives #2 and #3 depict Ride floating in space with her hair spread out, a familiar image from her spaceflight. He questioned whether the portrait in alternative #1 is a good likeness; Mr. Guillot said that it is well executed and very recognizable, especially due to the hairstyle. Mr. Shubow suggested modifying Dr. Ride’s uniform in alternative #1 by adding the NASA badge, which he said she typically wore during spaceflights, positioned over the heart. Mr. Guillot asked about the badge shown in alternative #1; Megan Sullivan of the Mint responded that this representative badge is an enlargement of a small feature from the mission patch. Mr. Shubow noted that astronauts typically wore two badges—the mission badge and the rectangular NASA badge with the iconic “worm” logo. Ms. Stafford offered to consider adding the NASA badge upon obtaining the legal permission for its use. Mr. Shubow observed that two badges are shown on the uniform in alternatives #2 and #3, and he said that the addition of the NASA badge would make it more clear that she is an astronaut. Mr. Fagan agreed, commenting that the coin design needs to tell a story, which includes conveying that Ride was an astronaut; he observed that alternative #1 does not have the additional inscriptions seen on several other alternatives for identifying Ride’s contributions. He said that additional detailing of the design is needed, perhaps through coordination with photographs from her spaceflight. Chairman Shubow noted the consensus to recommend reverse #1 for the Sally Ride coin, with the comments provided.
Chairman Shubow invited a motion to adopt the three recommendations for the Mint submission. Upon a motion by Mr. Guillot with second by Mr. Cook, the Commission recommended obverse #1 depicting George Washington, reverse #2 for Maya Angelou, and reverse #1 for Sally Ride, with the comments provided.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 3:05 p.m.
Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA