The meeting was convened by videoconference at 9:05 a.m.
Hon. Billie Tsien, Chairman
Hon. Hazel Ruth Edwards, Vice Chairman
Hon. Peter Cook
Hon. Rodney Mims Cook, Jr.
Hon. James McCrery
Hon. Justin Garrett Moore
Hon. Duncan Stroik
Thomas E. Luebke, Secretary
Frederick J. Lindstrom, Assistant Secretary
Mary Catherine Bogard
A. Administration of oath of office to Peter Cook, Hazel Ruth Edwards, Justin Garrett Moore, and Billie Tsien. Secretary Luebke introduced the four new members who were appointed by President Biden on 9 June 2021 to four-year terms on the Commission, and he administered the oath of office to them. He summarized Mr. Cook’s work as an architect in Washington, D.C., currently as a design principal at HGA, with past projects that include a D.C. branch library and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture; his leadership roles with the National Organization of Minority Architects at the local and regional level; and his work with the Mayors’ Institute on City Design and the General Services Administration’s Design Excellence Program. Mr. Luebke described Dr. Edwards’ role chairing the Department of Architecture at Howard University, where she previously worked as a campus planner; her past work as the founding director of the Master of City and Regional Planning program at the Catholic University of America; and her committee work with the American Institute of Certified Planners, which elected her to its College of Fellows in 2018. Mr. Luebke summarized Mr. Moore’s work as the program officer for the Humanities in Place program of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, based in New York; his fifteen years of public service in New York, including four years as the executive director of the New York City Public Design Commission; and his teaching and social enterprise work. Mr. Luebke described Ms. Tsien’s work as a founding partner of the award-winning firm Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects, which has designed academic and institutional buildings across the U.S. and abroad, including the Obama Presidential Center in Chicago; her teaching position in architecture as a Professor in Practice at Yale University; and her service as president of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Mr. Luebke welcomed the new members to the Commission. He noted that these appointments mark the end of service on the Commission for Justin Shubow, Chas Fagan, Perry Guillot, and Steven Spandle.
B. Election of new leadership. Secretary Luebke said that the first item of business is for the Commission to select a member to replace Mr. Shubow as the Commission’s chairman. Mr. P. Cook nominated Ms. Tsien, and Mr. McCrery nominated Mr. R.M. Cook; both nominees agreed to serve. Mr. Luebke called for a vote on Ms. Tsien’s nomination, which received a majority with four votes. Mr. Luebke noted that Ms. Tsien becomes the 12th chairman since the Commission’s establishment in 1910, and the first woman in this role. The Commission members joined in congratulating Ms. Tsien.
Mr. Luebke asked if the Commission wishes to vote on the Vice Chairman position, currently held by Mr. R.M. Cook. Mr. Moore nominated Dr. Edwards; Mr. McCrery nominated Mr. R.M. Cook to remain in this position and asked about the procedure for filling a position that is not vacant. Mr. Luebke noted that there is some precedent for this situation, and the Commission has not established rules for the process; a vote of the majority would be sufficient. He deferred to Ms. Tsien, as chairman, to continue the consideration of the nominations and to call the vote; Dr. Edwards received a majority with four votes.
C. Approval of the minutes of the 20 May meeting. Secretary Luebke reported that the minutes of the May meeting were circulated to the Commission members in advance. The Commission approved the minutes; Chairman Tsien commented that these provide a very thorough record of the meeting and offered her congratulations for the work in preparing them. Mr. Luebke said the minutes will be posted on the Commission’s website.
D. Dates of next meetings. Secretary Luebke presented the dates for upcoming Commission meetings, as previously published: 15 July, 15 September, and 21 October 2021. He noted that no meeting is scheduled in August, and the September meeting is scheduled on a Wednesday to avoid conflicting with a religious holiday. He anticipated that the Commission will continue to be meet by videoconference for at least the coming month, perhaps returning to in-person meetings in the fall.
E. Appointment of Ashley Robbins Wilson, FAIA, to the Old Georgetown Board. Mr. Luebke asked the Commission to approve the appointment of Ashley Robbins Wilson to the Old Georgetown Board, for a three-year term from September 2021 through July 2024. He summarized Ms. Wilson’s thirty years of experience as an architect with a focus on historic preservation. She has been the architect on the staff of the National Trust for Historic Preservation for the past nine years, overseeing the conservation and preservation of architecture and landscapes for the National Trust’s properties. She was a professor in the historic preservation program at Clemson University, had her own architectural practice, and worked in the office of the architect for the University of Virginia; her experience includes projects on the National Mall and for Georgetown’s Tudor Place and Dumbarton Oaks. She has also chaired the historic resources committee for the American Institute of Architects, which elected her to its College of Fellows.
Chairman Tsien called for a vote on the nomination, and the Commission approved Ms. Wilson’s appointment. Mr. Luebke noted that Ms. Wilson will replace Mary Katherine Lanzillotta, who has served five years on the Old Georgetown Board; he emphasized the large number of cases reviewed by the Board each month.
F. Report on the approval of one object proposed for transfer to the permanent collection of the Freer Gallery of Art. Secretary Luebke requested the chairman’s approval of the Smithsonian Institution’s proposal to transfer a sculpture from the Freer Gallery of Art’s study collection to its permanent collection; the approval of the Commission’s chairman is required by a codicil to the will of Charles Lang Freer, the original benefactor of the museum. The sculpture is a Chinese lacquered figure standing on lotus blossoms and waves, corresponding to a typology known as the feminization of the bodhisattva, or the white-robed Guanyin. The work is attributed to the Shen Shao’an Family workshop from the 17th to early 18th century.
Mr. Luebke noted that the Commission often has an opportunity to visit the Freer Gallery to inspect an artwork, but this is not currently feasible due to the videoconference format; he suggested that Chairman Tsien, if satisfied with the proposed transfer, could delegate the formal paperwork to the staff.
Mr. Moore commented that the Smithsonian’s report on this artwork has only limited information on the object’s provenance; he requested that more thorough information be provided for future submissions, in keeping with a growing awareness of the importance of this issue in ensuring an honorable history of ownership. Mr. Lindstrom noted that this sculpture has long been owned by the Smithsonian as part of the Freer’s study collection, and the Smithsonian has an established policy for evaluating provenance as part of its acquisition process. Mr. Luebke said that the staff would convey the Commission’s concern to the Smithsonian; Chairman Tsien supported this response.
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 no changes have been made to the draft appendix, which has eleven projects. Mr. Moore offered a comment on the proposed interpretive sign panels at the newly constructed Benjamin Banneker Academic High School. He said that the overall design of the sign panels is good, but he questioned the text on the seventh panel, which refers in a one-sided manner to the impact of urban renewal; he suggested a more complete description of the history of urban renewal in communities such as the Shaw neighborhood, where the high school is located. He acknowledged that the text on the signs is not final and is being reviewed by others, but he suggested including this concern in the Commission’s action. Mr. Luebke said that the staff could add this concern to the recommendation supporting the final design submission, without necessarily requiring a further submission; Chairman Tsien supported the inclusion of this comment. The Commission approved the Government Submissions Consent Calendar subject to this modification.
Appendix II – Shipstead-Luce Act Submissions: Ms. Batcheler said that two cases listed on the draft appendix have been removed and are being held open for consideration in a future month (case numbers SL 21-109 and 21-115). One case previously held open has been added to the appendix to note that it has been withdrawn by the applicant (SL 21-084). The only other revisions are minor wording changes and the notation of dates for the receipt of supplemental materials. She noted that the recommendations for nine projects are subject to further coordination with the applicants, and she requested authorization to finalize these recommendations when the outstanding issues are resolved. The Commission approved the revised Shipstead-Luce Act Appendix. (See agenda item II.E for an additional Shipstead-Luce Act submission.)
Appendix III – Old Georgetown Act Submissions: Ms. Bogard reported that the recommendation for one project has been revised to clarify the recommendation regarding a historic paint analysis (case number OG 21-184). She noted that the Old Georgetown Board reviewed 45 projects at its meeting earlier in the month; many of these are being held open for further review, and the appendix has a total of 24 projects for the Commission’s action.
Mr. McCrery noted that one case involves an addition to the greenhouse at Dumbarton Oaks (OG 21-082); he asked if this is the same as the Orangery. Mr. Luebke and Ms. Bogard clarified that the Orangery is attached to the southeast corner of the main house, adjoining the formal garden; the greenhouse is a separate building to the northwest, adjoining the north lawn of the garden. Mr. Luebke noted that the project involves renovation, additions, and a lower level for the greenhouse, but its exterior will be largely unchanged except at the rear. Mr. McCrery observed that the recommendation includes multiple provisions, which he acknowledged may be appropriate for a concept-level review. Mr. Luebke emphasized that Dumbarton Oaks is an important resource for the city; the greenhouse project has been reviewed several times by the Old Georgetown Board, involving many technical issues such as adequate egress, vertical circulation, and accessibility for the new interpretive space within the renovated building. He said that the Board is satisfied with the current version of the design.
The Commission approved the revised Old Georgetown Act Appendix.
B. D.C. Metropolitan Police Department
CFA 17/JUN/21-1, District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Memorial, 300 Indiana Avenue, NW (at the Henry J. Daly Building). Rehabilitation of historic fountain and new memorial wall and ramps. Revised concept. (Previous: CFA 20/MAY/21-3) Secretary Luebke introduced the second revised concept submission for the rehabilitation of the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) memorial fountain and its expansion with a new commemorative inscription wall and access walkways. The existing memorial fountain is located at the northwest corner of the site of the Henry J. Daly Building, MPD’s headquarters, that forms part of the Municipal Center complex at the south end of Judiciary Square; the building and fountain were completed in 1941. The fountain was designed by noted architect and artisan John J. Earley using his distinctive exposed aggregate concrete; it is a contributing element to the historic building and the Pennsylvania Avenue National Historic Site.
Mr. Luebke said that the fountain and surrounding plaza are in poor condition and lack barrier-free access. The proposed rehabilitation would honor fallen MPD police officers with the inscription of their names in a new commemorative wall; it would be the local counterpart to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial (NLEOM) located a block to the north in Judiciary Square. In July 2018, the Commission approved a concept design for the expansion of the memorial with a long curving wall that would form a backdrop for the freestanding fountain; the wall would taper up from grade at the outer edges of the site to a commemorative section at the center. The Commission then reviewed a revised concept submission in May 2021, necessitated in part by a reconfiguration of the proposed ramps due to further study of the underground utility locations; he said that the Commission had supported the overall composition but did not take an action. Among the Commission’s concerns was the compatibility of the scale and character of the proposed curving wall compared to the formal design character of the Daly Building and the fountain; the Commission had found that the wall’s strong, extended form may detract from the commemorative focus. Accordingly, the Commission had recommended refining the design to emphasize the central precinct of the fountain and give greater commemorative weight to the central part of the added wall, such as a tabular stone element with the inscribed names that is comparable in width to the fountain plaza. The Commission had also suggested that the new curving sloped walks, providing barrier-free access to the fountain and plaza, could have a simpler design comparable to other walks in Judiciary Square. For the graphic design of the new memorial wall, the Commission found the proposed alternation of names and dates to be confusing and suggested finding a clearer logic for the layout. For improved legibility of the MPD medallion and explanatory text, the Commission had suggested placing these elements on an inset bronze tablet that would be distinct from the names and dates inscribed in the adjacent stone.
Mr. Luebke said that the current submission is intended to respond to the Commission’s previous concerns. He asked architect Hany Hassan of Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners to present the current revised concept design.
Mr. Hassan emphasized that the purpose of this memorial is to commemorate the MPD officers who have sacrificed their lives protecting others; he noted that three more officers have died during the review process. He presented a photomontage of the officers being commemorated.
Mr. Hassan presented plans illustrating the context and site, noting the crisp geometry of the Daly Building and the elongated octagonal fountain framed by benches. He indicated the historic D.C. Court of Appeals courthouse across the street; some of the open spaces adjoining the courthouse feature curving walks that are characteristic of Judiciary Square. Currently, a visitor is required to ascend three steps from the sidewalk to the fountain plaza; the previously approved design therefore incorporated sloping walks to provide barrier-free access, creating a space for the memorial that is worthy of its purpose.
Mr. Hassan presented three alternatives for designing the inscription wall that would be placed between the south edge of the memorial precinct and the Daly Building, centered on the fountain and plaza. In each alternative, the center of the wall would have the MPD medallion and explanatory text, flanked by the names and dates identifying the fallen officers; the fountain would be restored; and shade trees would be added in response to the Commission’s previous advice. The “revised original concept” extends the wall symmetrically along the curving walks, tapering downward into the ground as the walks descend toward the sidewalk; he said that this design emphasizes the curving walks that are characteristic of the wider Judiciary Square context, and the elongated inscription wall would serve to integrate the walks and landscape with the central fountain area. He described this solution as welcoming to visitors, creating a sense of place, and strengthening the presence of the fountain which currently seems somewhat lost in the context. The next alternative, labeled “Option 1,” limits the extent of the wall to approximately the width of the existing plaza, as suggested by the Commission in the previous review. The length of the tilted portion of the wall bearing inscriptions would align with the distance between the plaza’s benches; flanking abutments would extend to screen the full width of the Daly Building’s mechanical areaway behind the wall. He said that this alternative focuses on the fountain, framing it more tightly and reflecting its geometry; the effect is to establish a contemplative zone and to create a stepping sequence from the sidewalk to the Daly Building. The last alternative, labeled “Option 2,” is similar to Option1 but would chamfer the inner corners of the abutments to relate more directly to the fountain’s octagonal geometry, relating the memorial more closely to the fountain than to the Daly Building.
Mr. Hassan described the proposed treatment of the wall in greater detail. The material would be granite, similar to the existing base of the Daly Building; the inscribed face would be tilted at 47 degrees for easier reading of the inscriptions. A bronze shield at the center would have the distinctive shape of the MPD badge; within the shield would be a logo and additional text identifying the memorial. He illustrated the proposed layout of names and dates, with room for future expansion of these inscriptions as needed; he said that the layout has been simplified in response to the Commission’s previous comments, with the name to the left and the date to the right for each officer, rather than the symmetrical layout with the placement of names to the left and right by alternating even and odd years, as previously presented.
Mr. Hassan concluded with a side-by-side comparison of the three alternatives, noting his own preference for the revised original concept. Citing his extensive design experience with Judiciary Square’s architecture and landscape, he emphasized that the revised original concept has the advantage of giving the memorial fountain a presence as part of Judiciary Square, improving on the current sense that the fountain is lost and easily overlooked, and therefore more suitably honoring Washington’s fallen officers. He added that any of the alternatives could be developed successfully.
Chairman Tsien invited questions and comments from the Commission members. Mr. McCrery expressed appreciation for the presentation and for the thoughtful work in improving the previously presented concept. He observed that some of the presented drawings show raised curbs along the curving walks, while others show the walks to be flush with the abutting lawn. Mr. Hassan clarified that the existing raised granite curbs would remain along the sidewalk edge, with a height of approximately 5.5 inches; the granite edges along the walks would be simple borders that are flush with the walking surface and the lawn. Mr. McCrery asked for further details of the inscribed names in the granite wall and the additional text on the bronze shield. Mr. Hassan said that the names and dates would be incised with 5/8-inch-high lettering, comparable to the lettering size for the names at the nearby NLEOM; the lettering on the bronze shield would be raised and would be approximately half as tall. He added that the logo would similarly be raised above the surface of the bronze shield.
Mr. P. Cook asked about the existing diagonal walk that crosses the western part of the site; Mr. Hassan responded that this was created for pedestrian convenience, and it would be removed. Mr. P. Cook asked about the slope of the proposed walks, intended to provide barrier-free access to the fountain plaza. Mr. Hassan responded that the rise would be less than five percent, and handrails would not be necessary; he described the rise as gentle and subtle, providing approaches to the memorial that will feel very natural within the landscape.
Mr. R.M. Cook asked if Mr. Hassan has any preference between Option 1 and Option 2. Mr. Hassan said that he prefers Option 2 because it relates better to the fountain’s octagonal geometry as well as to the building’s base. Ms. Tsien expressed support for Mr. Hassan’s initial preference, the revised original concept, observing that it makes a place in addition to respecting the fountain as an object. She said that this design has a more welcoming character, and the result is a sense of place for the names as well as for people to enter and occupy. She commended the outcome, observing that it comes in part from responding to the Commission’s previous advice, and she said that the previously recommended improvements to the landscape and shade trees have also helped the design.
Mr. Stroik supported Ms. Tsien’s comments, and he asked about the height of the inscription wall; Mr. Hassan said that it would be four feet high, which Mr. Stroik said may be too low. Mr. Hassan responded that the height has been studied carefully; the issues include providing sufficient space for the inscribed names and dates, visual screening for the building areaway behind the inscription wall, and respecting the existing windows of the Daly Building facade. The proposed height aligns with the bottom of these existing windows to avoid obstructing them; people on the sidewalk or within the memorial space would be able to see the full height of the windows, including the sills. He added that the profile of the wall is intended to convey a sense of thickness and substance for the granite, commensurate with the subject of the memorial, while also putting people a slight distance from the mechanical areaway and its aluminum railing, which is in poor condition. He noted that the revised original concept is the most successful alternative for screening the areaway because of the longer extent of the memorial wall within the landscape; he added that a renovation of the building is being planned, which may result in an improved appearance for the areaway.
Ms. Tsien asked about the finish and fabrication of the granite inscription wall. Mr. Hassan responded that it would be solid stone, and the surface texture will be developed to give the wall a greater sense of volume and interest; the tilted surface containing inscriptions would be polished, while other parts of the wall may be honed. Mr. McCrery expressed appreciation for the thoughtful consideration of the stone finish, which he said is applicable to any of the presented alternatives.
Mr. McCrery offered support for Option 1, commenting that it is the most successful in framing the names and dates of the fallen officers, focusing attention on the inscriptions and the central shield that are the purpose of the memorial. He said that Option 2 would be his second choice, and both of these options respond well to the Commission’s previous comments. He acknowledged that the design also needs to relate the memorial to the larger landscape and architectural setting; he said that Option 1 clearly relates to the entirety of the original fountain, plaza, and approach steps in front of the wall, as well as to the architecture of the Daly Building behind the wall. He described the visitor’s visual progression in Option 1 from the sidewalk to the steps, landscape, fountain, and then to the memorial wall; he said the result is very successful as an intervention and as an overall composition. He characterized the revised original concept as having the appearance of a later intervention, which is less successful as an overall composition.
Chairman Tsien asked how the Commission should proceed. Secretary Luebke suggested reaching a decision on which alternative to pursue; he observed that the overall configuration of the wall and ramps seems to be the primary issue from the Commission’s comments. Chairman Tsien noted that Option 2 has not been cited as a preference, and she asked for further comments in choosing between Option 1 and the revised original concept.
Mr. Moore expressed appreciation for the thoughtfulness in developing these alternatives. He said that the revised original concept is a strong design and will potentially work better as the need for inscribing additional names may grow over time; with the elongated wall of this alternative, the later names would be visible from and easily accessed along the approach walks. He recommended this alternative as the most welcome, generous, and inclusive, observing that it does not put primary focus on the three steps as the approach to the memorial plaza. He said that the ground-level perspective view illustrates how the revised original concept provides a sweeping view along the memorial features as a visitor approaches along one of the curving walks, while the comparable view for Option 1 gives a sense of blockage created by the framing abutments. Mr. P. Cook agreed with these comments, as well as the earlier comment that the revised original concept would create a stronger sense of place. He said that another issue to consider is that the memorial will be the site of occasional group gatherings for ceremonies, perhaps a couple of times per year, in addition to individual visitors throughout the year; he said that a larger group would work better with the revised original concept due to the symbolic embrace of the extended wall.
Dr. Edwards joined in expressing appreciation for the thoughtful alternatives and for the comments of the other Commission members. She agreed that creating a sense of place is important, as seen in the drawings for the revised original concept, and she commented that this alternative would be the best for accommodating both quiet contemplation and a flow of visitors. Mr. R.M. Cook said that he defers to the design team’s preference for Option 2, which he described as a beautiful design that responds to the Commission’s previous advice. Mr. Hassan clarified that his first choice is the revised original concept; Option 2 is his second choice, and his last choice is Option 1.
Chairman Tsien suggested a vote to determine the Commission’s recommended alternative. Mr. Moore offered a motion to approve the revised original concept for further development. Upon a second by Mr. P. Cook, the Commission adopted this action; Mr. McCrery and Mr. R.M. Cook voted against the motion, and Mr. Stroik abstained.
Citing the ground-level perspective view of the revised alternative concept, Mr. McCrery requested that the three-dimensional curvature off the wall be studied carefully to avoid awkward points of transition as the wall becomes parallel with the building; he noted that this concern was raised in the previous review, and sudden swerves in the wall would undermine the larger vision for this feature. Mr. Hassan responded that the wall would be detailed to be continuous in its design, with no interruptions or breaks. Mr. McCrery observed that the aerial perspective in the presentation illustrates the intended continuity, and the design should be developed in this manner.
Secretary Luebke observed that the project can move forward with the direction provided by the Commission; while some issues remain to be resolved, such as the finishes and the inscription text, the project can move relatively quickly toward a final design. He asked whether the Commission wants to see the project again for further review, or for review of the text on the shield; the Commission could wait to see the next submission before deciding whether to waive a further presentation. Alternatively, the Commission could delegate further review to the staff, which will verify that the final design is consistent with the Commission’s guidance. Mr. Stroik said that the staff has been excellent in continuing the review process and resolving the details; he supported delegation of further review. Chairman Tsien agreed, and Mr. Luebke said that the staff could bring the project back to the Commission if necessitated by any unresolved issues.
C. Smithsonian Institution
CFA 17/JUN/21-2, Smithsonian Institution Building (Castle) and the Arts & Industries Building, 1000 and 900 Jefferson Drive, SW. Revitalization of the Historic Core - Building renovations and modernizations. Concept. Secretary Luebke introduced the proposal for revitalizing the historic core of the Smithsonian Institution’s South Mall Campus, including the Smithsonian Institution Building (known as the Castle), the Arts and Industries Building (AIB), the Enid Haupt Garden and the underground Quadrangle Building beneath it, and other interstitial landscape spaces. He noted that in April 2018, the Commission reviewed and approved the master plan for the South Mall Campus, addressing all of the Smithsonian’s properties along Independence Avenue and Jefferson Drive between 7th and 12th Streets, SW. Both the Castle and the AIB are National Historic Landmarks, as well as contributing buildings to the National Mall Historic District. The Castle, designed by James Renwick and completed in 1855, originally housed all of the Smithsonian’s operations, research, administrative offices, lecture and exhibition halls, library, laboratory, and storage, as well as living quarters for the Secretary’s family. The Castle’s last major renovation was in 1968, and the building requires environmental, mechanical, electrical, and structural upgrades, including seismic retrofits to avoid potential earthquake damage. The AIB, designed by Adolf Cluss and Paul Schulze, was completed in 1881 to house and display objects from the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia; it is considered to be one of the best remaining U.S. examples of 19th-century museum design inspired by international exposition architecture. Its exterior envelope was rehabilitated in the early 2010s, including structural enhancement, roof replacement, and masonry restoration; it has subsequently been used for events intermittently. Similar to the proposal for the Castle, the AIB design would restore and adapt the historic interior spaces for exhibition and public use. The project scope also includes the construction of a below-grade Central Utility Plant (CUP) and enhanced loading dock to link and serve both of the historic buildings and the adjacent underground museums. He asked Ann Trowbridge, Associate Director for Planning at the Smithsonian, to introduce the presentation.
Ms. Trowbridge congratulated Ms. Tsien on her election to the chairmanship of the Commission. She said the proposal is a major component of the long-term plan for a more sustainable and resilient future for the Smithsonian. She noted that these two historic buildings have survived the large-scale reimagining and reconfiguring of the Mall that resulted from the McMillan Plan. She asked Kevin Gover, the Under Secretary for Museums and Culture at the Smithsonian, to continue the introduction.
Mr. Gover said that the revitalization of the historic core, as well as the creation of the two new museums recently authorized by federal law, are a priority for the Smithsonian over the next decade. He said he is working with Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie Bunch to help steer these projects, which promise to transform not only the Smithsonian’s architectural legacy but also how it achieves its mission to increase and diffuse knowledge in ways that include all Americans. He said that as the Smithsonian prepares to mark its 175th anniversary over the next year, appreciation is growing for the central role that the two historic buildings have played in the development of the Smithsonian, as well as the promise for the future resulting from their revitalization. He said a major goal of the project is to return these two buildings to public use as much as possible by prioritizing exhibition and gathering spaces rather than offices and building support areas; this would transform the buildings from being just recognizable symbols of the Smithsonian into vibrant, relevant, and integral pieces of a visitor’s overall Smithsonian experience. He noted that as the former director of the National Museum of the American Indian, he knows the power of architecture and symbols, such as the new Native American Veterans Memorial on the Mall, in providing context and being part of the stories we tell. He thanked the Commission for its consideration of the project on behalf of the entire Smithsonian Institution, and he introduced architect Matt Chalifoux of EYP/Loring to present the design.
Mr. Chalifoux said he would provide some background information and then focus on the design issues for each component of the project. He indicated the project site on the south side of the east–west National Mall axis between the Washington Monument and U.S. Capitol, as well as the boundaries for the Smithsonian’s South Mall Campus and the historic core within it. He noted that some other projects included in the 2018 master plan for the South Mall Campus are underway; the current proposal does not differ greatly from the approach outlined in the master plan, aside from certain issues discovered during detailed investigation of the site and buildings. He said the proposal focuses on giving back to the public a substantial proportion of the historic buildings and providing back-of-house systems and services to support the buildings and visitors.
Mr. Chalifoux said that the period of significance for the Castle is 1847–1910; there is a long history of changes and modifications to the building, some caused by disasters such as fires, others in response to changes in programmatic needs. He identified the naming convention for each part of the Castle: the center section is called the main hall; the two parts flanking the main hall are the east and west ranges; and the two outermost parts are the east and west wings. He noted that the main hall and the east range and wing have been altered the most over time. He indicated the areas of the building that are projected to be open to the public, primarily in the main hall and the west range and wing, which he said have the finest decorative spaces in the building. The program in the east range and wing would remain primarily administrative; this is where the office of the Smithsonian’s secretary is located.
Mr. Chalifoux said that repair and restoration of the Castle’s exterior masonry has been an ongoing project for the Smithsonian, and the proposal would continue this work by completing comprehensive work on the exterior. He said it is fortunate that the Smithsonian has collected a large stockpile of materials from other buildings, including the Castle’s characteristic Seneca sandstone, which would be used to restore the exterior. In addition, all of the building’s roofs would be repaired, with the majority replaced, to provide better thermal performance and overall protection. He said a majority of the windows were replaced during a renovation in the 1980s¬ and 90s, with a few existing windows that predate the renovation. The proposal would replace all of the non-historic windows to meet thermal and security requirements; the historic windows would be repaired, and a secondary protection system would be added. He said this work would be modeled on the 2014 exterior renovation of the AIB, when new windows were installed using the original windows as models. Carefully placed rooftop appurtenances for mechanical systems have been added to the Castle in recent years, but these are undersized for the proposed increase in public use; new equipment would be located in keeping with the past design approach of hiding the appurtenances behind existing architectural elements such as towers.
Mr. Chalifoux said one challenge of the project is accommodating the required life safety and egress modifications to allow for continued occupancy of the fourth floor of the east wing. Currently, this area has only a single means of egress; if it were blocked in an emergency, occupants would need to go through windows and walk across a sloped roof to exit through the main hall. Adding an internal staircase to allow for exit through the basement was considered; however, this would impact historic spaces within the building and take away program space. The proposed alternative is to construct an external passageway on the roof of the east range, connecting the fourth floor of the east wing to the main hall; this passageway would stay mostly within the footprint of the existing louvered penthouse, which is no longer needed and would be removed. He acknowledged that this new connecting structure would impact the exterior appearance of the building, and therefore the design objective is to minimize its visibility by moderating its footprint and height, as well as by using compatible materials; the existing roof is primarily slate and copper, and these would be used to clad the new connecting structure. Glazed hyphen structures would connect the passageway to existing windows at the east wing and main hall to minimize the physical impact on the historic masonry walls. He said that a more traditional design for the passage is the preferred option, with the connector structure having a similar appearance to other rooftop elements. He presented elevation drawings illustrating how the proposed connecting structure compares with the existing penthouse; the new structure would be twice as tall to give the necessary headroom and accommodate the level change between the fourth floors of the east wing and the main hall. He presented ground-level perspective views of the rooftop from the north and south sides of the building, indicating the visibility of the proposed structure compared to the relative lack of visibility for the existing penthouse.
Mr. Chalifoux described the proposal for the Castle’s base, emphasizing that the proposal includes structural modifications to isolate the base in order to prevent earthquake damage. He said that many changes have been made around the base of the Castle over time; for instance, several areaways have been expanded or modified to accommodate programmatic use and egress points. The proposal is to regularize the configuration of the areaways to accommodate the new seismic joint while giving the base of the building a consistent appearance, thereby minimizing the visual impact of this new intervention. With the widened areaways, additional windows would be added to the south basement level to bring in more light; adding egress doors would also be explored, which he said would essentially be designed as windows that use the existing detailing to accommodate a new passage. He noted that the areaways would have limited visibility because some of the existing dense landscape would be retained, particularly on the south side; the seismic joint would not be visible from either the interior or exterior since it would be below grade and would be hidden within the landscape. He cited an example in Salt Lake City, where the joint is surrounded by plantings or camouflaged to look like it is a part of the building facade. External stairway risers can also be constructed over the joint, allowing the ground to move freely beneath during seismic activity.
Mr. Chalifoux said that the master plan had projected lowering the existing basement floor of the Castle several feet to open the space for public occupancy, and this concept is carried forward. The current proposal also calls for a full-height mechanical floor (level B1) below the basement to accommodate mechanical equipment and infrastructure; this would be a modification of the master plan based on a better understanding of what is needed to make the building work. He said the B1 level would be linked to the underground construction proposed to connect the Castle and the Quad Building below the Haupt Garden; the B1 level would align with an existing floor of the Quad Building, allowing for expansion of the loading dock and establishment of a single-level underground connection between the new CUP and all of the South Mall Campus buildings.
Mr. Chalifoux then presented the proposal for the AIB. He said the building’s period of significance spans from its opening day in 1881 to 1902. As originally designed, it was an open sequence of exhibition halls that allowed for the easy flow of visitors through the interior. Around the turn of the 20th century, the interior was significantly altered, with the addition of mezzanines and enclosed galleries to create more exhibition space; after its use as the Smithsonian’s primary museum venue ended, the interior was further partitioned for office space and other functions. The proposal is intended to return the interior to resemble its 1902 configuration. He said a critical component of the project is the enlargement of the existing partial basement level to accommodate back-of-house functions, allowing for above-ground spaces to be returned to public use. Regulating the building’s interior environment for museum use has been a continuing challenge, and the extent of alterations required to meet current museum environmental standards would do great damage to both the interior and exterior. The intent is therefore to allow the building to dictate what it can accommodate, and to minimize the construction of areas that require precision climate control; currently, this level of control is proposed for only one of the four interior courts. He said the existing outside air intakes are located in openings that were formerly clerestory windows, and the proposal is to group these intakes mostly on the south clerestories of the building in order to free space for programming and to restore clerestory windows in the more public areas of the building. Additionally, new areaways are proposed for the west side of the building to accommodate air intake and exhaust for the mechanical spaces; the areaways would be screened with plantings.
Mr. Chalifoux said that like the Castle, the AIB would need modifications to accommodate modern life safety and egress requirements for the basement and upper levels, particularly the second and third levels of the four corner pavilions. The proposal therefore includes a second stair at each corner pavilion to connect the upper levels with the basement; egress doors would be added to the basement level, under historic window openings and below the decorative brickwork. He noted the existing historic stair and door at the northwest corner, requiring the proposed egress door to be moved over one bay to avoid impacting this historic fabric. Two doors would also be inserted into existing window openings flanking the main entrance on the north to allow for the separation of entering and exiting visitors; he noted this would require alterations to the landscape.
Mr. Chalifoux said that remotely located cooling towers would be needed to supplement the equipment of the proposed CUP. The design team has studied alternative solutions, including ways to minimize the towers’ size, and the proposal is to locate a new cooling tower array in the southwest corner of the service yard of the National Museum of Natural History across the Mall. The enclosure for the array would have a similar appearance to the existing cooling tower enclosure on the east side of the Natural History service yard, which is designed to look like the base of the museum building. He noted that the service yard is one level below the Mall, which limits the visibility of this area. He said that an existing steam tunnel runs underneath the Mall, but it is unfortunately too small to accommodate the piping required to connect the cooling towers with the new CUP; the proposal is therefore to bore underground and make a direct connection.
Mr. Chalifoux said that the existing mature landscape has been studied closely, and the intent is to change it as little as possible or to reconstitute it to look similar to its current appearance. He said that some plantings have grown to such a size that they are physically impacting the Castle; any new plantings would be selected to give more space to the Castle. He indicated all of the proposed elements that would be accommodated within the landscape, including the areaways, accessibility improvements, and perimeter security elements. He noted that there are many past perimeter security studies for this area that will be considered when designing the new security elements, with the goal of finding creative ways to minimize their visual impact; this could include using elements such as light fixtures or street furniture as part of the security barrier to minimize the use of bollards and fencing.
Mr. Chalifoux said barrier-free access to the buildings is a priority, and the design concept for achieving this goal is similar at all four entrances to the Castle. Rather than constructing invasive ramps with handrails, gently sloped walkways would be used, keeping the profile of interventions as low as possible. At the north entrance, two sloped walkways would be constructed on either side of the portico; at the south entrance, the existing ramp would be replaced with a sloped walkway designed to function as an extension of the existing pedestrian pathways in the Haupt Garden. He said a similar strategy is proposed for the AIB’s north entrance: the existing terrace would be adjusted and the existing accessibility elements would be replaced with wide sloped walkways, eliminating the need for handrails and thereby lessening the visual impact of the alterations.
Mr. Chalifoux said the south entrance of the AIB has never been modified for barrier-free access and is only seventeen feet from the Independence Avenue curb line, resulting in a very tight area in which to incorporate possible improvements. Because of the proposed future use of the building, it is anticipated that this would be an entry point for special events, particularly in the evening with vehicular passenger drop-off along Independence Avenue. The proposal is to create an elevated entrance landing flanked by two 4.5-foot-wide sloped walkways, which is the largest dimension that can be accommodated without restricting the sidewalk excessively. Additionally, the tree boxes and street furniture along the curb would be adjusted to better frame the entrance. He indicated the proposed new areaways and egress points at the AIB’s west entrance, within the Haupt Garden, along with other elements associated with these interventions such as handrails and steel grates. He said that the Fountain Garden is one component of the Haupt Garden that would be particularly impacted by the construction of the CUP beneath it; this feature would be carefully documented and disassembled, eventually being rebuilt with salvaged material after construction of the CUP. He noted that parts of the Fountain Garden are not operational, and this project provides the opportunity to have working water features once again. He said the existing mature vegetation would be replaced with plantings that are in the spirit of the existing character while still accommodating new below-grade improvements.
Chairman Tsien thanked the project team for a well-done presentation and invited questions and comments from the Commission members. Mr. McCrery asked for more description of the existing and proposed penthouse structures on the Castle. Mr. Chalifoux indicated which existing louvers and penthouse structures would be removed in the proposal: the structure in the location of the proposed rooftop egress corridor; the louvers in the triple windows on the east end of the main hall; and another small, doghouse-sized penthouse. Mr. McCrery asked for additional information on the proposed infrastructure that would be placed on the roof behind the north and south towers; Mr. Chalifoux said these would be expanded penthouses whose cumulative size is based on the projected needs of the HVAC systems. He clarified that the CUP would provide service for the entire South Mall Campus, while these penthouse systems would be only for the Castle. Mr. McCrery said the Commission would eventually need to understand the appearance of these rooftop appurtenances. For the proposed egress corridor, he said that he prefers the option with a traditional vocabulary; he asked for more information on the two glazed hyphens that would connect the passage to the historic building wings. Mr. Chalifoux said the hyphens would be glazed to maintain the visibility of the historic building’s masonry walls. Mr. McCrery suggested that the hyphens be studied further, and he asked if the passage could span the entire distance between the two wings, eliminating the hyphens. Mr. Chalifoux said the two proposed entry points do not align, requiring the passage to jog, and he agreed that further study of the materials and detailing is needed. Mr. McCrery asked where the level of the fourth floor is in relation to the east range’s roof level. Mr. Chalifoux said the fourth floor is somewhat lower than the roof level, and the fourth floor of the east wing is lower than the fourth floor of the main hall; therefore, some ramping will be required within the proposed passage.
Mr. P. Cook complimented the presentation and expressed support for the intent of the rooftop passage structure. He observed that the public is able to see buildings along the Mall from a substantial distance, resulting in ground-level perspective views that are close to elevation drawings; he suggested developing additional perspective drawings to show the view from the center of the Mall, which would assist in evaluating whether the rooftop structures are visible from the Mall and if the glass hyphens should be retained or eliminated from the design. Mr. Chalifoux responded that the issue of visibility would be studied further; he said initial site visits have shown that the visual prominence of the roofscape diminishes the further one gets from the building. He said the design concept is informed by the idea that the roofscape is background, while the historic Seneca sandstone facades and tower profiles are foreground.
Mr. Stroik agreed that the building can be seen approximately in elevation from the Mall. He asked for the size of the Castle and for more information on the existing stairways within the building that would be used for egress. Mr. Chalifoux said the Castle has a little under 100,000 square feet of usable space, including the basement. Regarding the stairways, he said the rooftop passage would connect the east wing to the stair in the main hall’s north tower; this stair would be modified to be code-compliant for egress. There is also an existing stairway tucked into the octagonal tower on the south side of the building that is already code-compliant and would also be used for egress; as a result, no new interior stairways are proposed.
Mr. Stroik expressed strong support for the sloped walks that would provide barrier-free access to the AIB, but he asked if other options had been considered for the Independence Avenue entrance. Faye Harwell of Rhodeside & Harwell, the project’s landscape architect, said other options were considered; two ramps with steeper slopes would be much shorter but would require handrails, while L-shaped ramps would intrude farther into the sidewalk. She said there are very minor details that could be adjusted in the proposed option, such as bringing the center stair closer to the building to align with the face of the ramp wall, but the space is very tight and further study is needed to make the design more elegant. She said that a mechanical lift is a possibility, but lifts have a very utilitarian appearance and often break down. She added that the sidewalk may be widened sometime in the future in conjunction with improvements to Independence Avenue. Mr. Stroik agreed that the space is very tight, but for a public building of this size, the design of this entrance appears merely functional; he expressed support for considering a lift. He asked if consideration would also be given to sloping the entire sidewalk and removing the stairs at the center, which would bring the ramp wall to the curb. Ms. Harwell said this is an interesting idea, but that the grading and security requirements along this edge would have to be carefully studied; any construction within public space also has to be approved by the D.C. Government.
Mr. McCrery urged the project team to work with the D.C. Department of Transportation to ensure that everything possible is done to make this substantial and important project successful. He suggested moving the westernmost streetlight shown in the drawings of the south entrance, or adding an additional streetlight, to make the poles symmetrical; lights for illuminating the entrance could also go on these poles. Ms. Harwell said that only the tree pits have been adjusted at this point in the design process, since this can be approved relatively easily by the D.C. Government. Ms. Trowbridge said that the Smithsonian is currently in consultation with the D.C. Department of Transportation; improvement of the nearby crosswalk is also a priority. Mr. Moore agreed that further study of the area is needed, commenting that the proposed six-foot-wide clear path between the entrance ramps and the tree pits is extremely tight; adjustments to the spacing of the trees and streetlights should be considered, as well as other methods to increase space for pedestrians.
Mr. R.M. Cook asked for the elevation of the water table in relation to the basement of the Castle. Mr. Chalifoux said it is generally at the B2 level, and keeping the new construction above this line is intended to reduce the need for mechanical pumps to remove water; it also simplifies the design of the basement’s perimeter wall. He noted that the lowest level of the existing Quad Building is deeper than this, but the project team is trying to avoid adding any new mechanical equipment below the B2 level to improve resiliency.
Mr. Stroik expressed support for transforming the Castle basement into useable space for visitors, and he requested that the walls of the areaways visible from inside the building be clad with the same Seneca sandstone used on the more prominent facades. Mr. Chalifoux said that the treatment of the areaway walls, as well as the building walls exposed as a result of the excavation around the base, requires further study; he said he hopes there will be enough salvaged stone to accomplish this. He added that exposed walls at the base of the AIB are faced with black gneiss. Secretary Luebke noted that the existing areaways are narrow, and the proposal seeks to widen them substantially, especially on the south side of the Castle. Mr. Stroik asked why the Castle’s south areaways would be expanded to a uniform width of twelve feet. Mr. Chalifoux said the final dimension is still being determined, but achieving a regular geometric layout for the seismic isolation joint is the goal, since having the joint run in a straight line is preferable to having turns; the wide dimension is intended to account for the building projections on the south side. Daylighting studies are also needed to determine the final width of the areaway. He noted that the areaways on the north side of the building would be narrower since there would be more functional program space in the basement in this location and daylighting the space is not as necessary. He added that the Castle’s north facade and its base are more visible and closely accessible to the public, while the base of the south facade is obscured by dense plantings; the proposal intends for the south facade to play a greater role in the composition of the Haupt Garden, which needs to be balanced with preserving the character of the plantings. He clarified for Mr. Moore that the interpretive signage shown near one of the fountains in the Haupt Garden is temporary and would not be replaced; Mr. Moore expressed support for this decision.
Chairman Tsien asked Secretary Luebke to summarize the public comments received regarding this project. Mr. Luebke summarized a letter submitted by Judy Scott Feldman, Ph.D., who chairs the National Mall Coalition—an all-volunteer, non-profit organization of architects, art historians, urban planners, and concerned citizens founded in 2000 to advance long-range planning for the Mall in the tradition of the visionary 1791 L’Enfant Plan and the 1901 McMillan Plan, and to ensure the Mall’s continue vital public role in the capital and in American democracy. He said the letter states the Coalition’s support for this revised and simplified plan for the South Mall Campus, expressing appreciation for the reduced scope from the previous master plan and agreeing with the technical need to modernize the buildings for flood and earthquake protection. However, the Coalition is concerned about some aspects of the plan, some of which seem unnecessarily costly, and does not accept without question the fragmented planning that threatens the National Mall as a work of civic art.
Mr. Luebke summarized three main points articulated in Ms. Feldman’s letter. The first is that several goals of the South Mall Campus could be simplified or eliminated altogether if the plan was coordinated with alternatives provided by the Coalition’s proposal for an underground multipurpose facility. Bus parking and water containment components of this facility could be constructed underneath the entire middle section of the Mall; it could also accommodate1,000 geothermal wells to provide more than enough heating and cooling for the Smithsonian campus. In addition, the Smithsonian’s proposed cistern could be replaced by the underground facility proposed by the Coalition, which is specifically designed to function as a stormwater reservoir that is capable of holding up to 30 million gallons of floodwater—the output amount of a 200-year flood. The final element of the Coalition’s underground proposal is the creation of a National Mall visitor center, and this would allow the Smithsonian to eliminate a number of components in its proposal.
Mr. Luebke said the second point in the letter is a criticism of the jurisdiction-based, piecemeal planning effort. Stormwater planning is an urgent threat not only to the Smithsonian but to the entire Mall and Federal Triangle complex, which was made evident during a flood of the area in 2006. The letter states that renewable energy is a mandate for all public buildings, and irrigation needs to extend not only to the Mall but to the Smithsonian’s gardens and other public land. The letter urges dealing holistically and collaboratively with these long-term needs, and the Coalition’s proposed underground facility would combine all of these elements. He said the letter’s third and final point is that the Smithsonian’s planning goals and design concepts are limited and restricted to the Mall areas under the Smithsonian’s control, but the long-range planning for the Mall must not be inhibited by such jurisdiction-based thinking; the result could destroy the unified design symbolism that is the legacy of the L’Enfant and McMillan plans. Federal and D.C. planning agencies are committed to preserving the historic planning legacy of these plans, and the Coalition urges the Commission to assist the Smithsonian in making its plan a model of the kind of comprehensive planning that will sustain the National Mall long into the future.
Mr. Luebke said the Coalition’s letter goes on to recall that at the turn of the 20th century, the Mall was fragmented and overgrown, with railroad tracks at the foot of Capitol Hill. By the mid-20th century, the vision of the 1901 McMillan Plan was emerging, creating a great public open space that has become a dramatic stage for the American democracy we have today. He said the letter concludes that there is a regretful lack of a comprehensive plan for the Mall. The American Latino Museum and the Women’s History Museum are currently seeking sites on and off the Mall, and other museums are in the pipeline. What is needed is a cogent, forward-looking vision that outlines how the Mall may grow, enhancing its dignified beauty and symbolism.
Chairman Tsien said the letter is very thoughtful and asked what the Commission could do to help bridge divisions between jurisdictions. Secretary Luebke responded that the Commission is governed by its authorities, and the interjurisdictional goal may require the establishment by federal law of an entity that would oversee these various property owners, including the D.C. Government, federal executive-branch agencies such as the National Park Service (NPS), the Smithsonian, and the General Services Administration (GSA), and legislative-branch involvement through the Architect of the Capitol. He said each group has its own role and goals, which contributes to the fragmentation, and the issue of whether there should be a higher-level planning entity to coordinate these efforts has been raised numerous times over the last decade. He noted that the Commission’s specific role is design review, while the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) has both a planning and review role. He said there have been many discussions about the Mall, and recent work has included beautification and restoration of the lawn panels themselves, which was advocated by the National Mall Coalition and completed about a decade ago. He noted that a regulatory body such as the Commission of Fine Arts works similar to a court, reviewing cases that are filed by others; he said the Commission’s interest can certainly be conveyed and the members could be involved in more discussions. Ms. Trowbridge added that the Smithsonian already collaborates extensively with Mall stakeholders; for example, agencies including the Smithsonian, the NPS, the National Archives, the National Gallery of Art, and the GSA are already working on a study regarding solutions to flooding in the vicinity of the Mall. She noted that the NPS has a different role on the Mall than the Smithsonian, but the agencies often collaborate.
Mr. McCrery said that the mission of the Commission of Fine Arts does not appear to be confined only to responding to what is submitted for review, but that the Commission could encourage the executive and legislative branches to have a broader or more comprehensive view of the Mall. Secretary Luebke said the Commission has in fact initiated planning efforts that have taken a broader look at the Mall, such as the National Capital Framework Plan from 2005–2009 that was co-sponsored with NCPC. He clarified that the Commission does not manage long-range planning efforts, but it does participate in such planning.
Mr. Moore noted that the AIB is a being considered as a site for one of the museums recently authorized by Congress, and he asked if the CUP would be designed to accommodate all of the potential different uses for the building or just one standard for interior conditioning. Mr. Chalifoux said the CUP is being designed to serve the entire South Mall Campus and to be responsive to the program specified by the Smithsonian. Ms. Trowbridge added that the Smithsonian is about to begin site evaluation studies for the new museums, and she confirmed that the AIB is on the list of potential sites. However, the key issue is that the AIB does not lend itself to conditioned spaces suitable for museums, and it would therefore be a major challenge to locate a new museum in the building. Secretary Luebke noted that the Commission is generally consulted on the siting of new museums; Ms. Trowbridge said that the Smithsonian would return to the Commission to discuss the site selection process.
Mr. Stroik said the proposal is doing many good things for these notable and noble buildings that are part of Washington and our history; he said he has happy memories of visiting both buildings as a child. He suggested consideration of designing an interior egress route in the Castle, which would be the logical answer for this very large building, rather than constructing the rooftop passage as proposed. He said that substantial work is being shown to connect the wings, but if one considers the roofscape significant—particularly the historic triple window for the main hall—then he recommends finding a way to create an interior egress route, even if it means losing some square footage; this would result in a nicer stair, less convoluted egress, and the preservation of the roofscape and historic building facades.
Ms. Tsien said she understands the issues related to finding an egress route and the insertion of a new stair into an existing building; she said the triple window is very beautiful, and she questioned whether the rooftop passage is the best solution. She commented that there is a prevailing belief that glass is invisible or much more transparent than it actually is; the required detailing makes glass appear clunky and call attention to itself much more than is anticipated. She said that if the passage were clad in copper and made small enough to take the space of the central triple-window in the tower, it would appear quieter than the proposed glass. Mr. McCrery agreed, commenting that glass can be as reflective and noticeable as a signal mirror reflecting light. He expressed support for Mr. Stroik’s suggestion to develop an interior egress solution, as well the suggestion to continue refining the design of the rooftop passage, because this important, conspicuous, and much-loved building merits the extra effort. He acknowledged that an internal staircase would be challenging, and this solution might require dispensing with the current staircase and creating two new staircases located as far apart as possible; however, it could also present more interesting planning and program possibilities for the interior of the east wing. Mr. P. Cook said he largely agrees with the comments so far, and that he supports the aspiration of the glass hyphen structures; unfortunately, the reality may not match the aspiration. Dr. Edwards said she agrees with this comment.
Mr. McCrery suggested crafting a motion to act on the submission. Secretary Luebke said the concept design is essentially a plan for several projects, and he asked Ms. Trowbridge if each project would be submitted separately or if they would be combined in a final design submission. Ms. Trowbridge said that the presented improvements encompass the entire scope and it is likely to stay that way, with construction anticipated to begin in 2023; however, a few components would likely be expedited, as is typically done with large projects. Secretary Luebke said the Commission members should decide if they are fundamentally supportive of what is being proposed, and if there are any major issues that they would like addressed in addition to the comments provided regarding the roof appurtenances, issues of egress, and the areaways.
Mr. McCrery offered a motion to approve the concept design with the request that several elements of the proposal be addressed in more specific detail and be submitted as a revised concept design. These include comments regarding the HVAC and egress rooftop appurtenances on the Castle; the cooling towers to be located across the Mall; and the request to study a second internal egress stair in the Castle’s east wing, instead of adding a rooftop egress passage. Mr. Moore added to the motion the request for further study of the Independence Avenue entrance of the AIB, as well as the request that a further developed landscape design be included. Mr. Stroik agreed with the Secretary’s suggestion to add the further development of the perimeter security design to the list of elements that should return in a revised concept submission. Upon a second by Mr. R.M. Cook, the Commission adopted this action.
D. U.S. General Services Administration
CFA 17/JUN/21-3, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, St. Elizabeths West Campus, 2701 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, SE. New ten-story office building for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. Final. (Previous: CFA 15/OCT/20-3) Secretary Luebke introduced the proposed final design for a new headquarters office building for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) on the St. Elizabeths West Campus, submitted by the General Services Administration (GSA) on behalf of the Department of Homeland Security. He said the concept design for the building was approved in October 2020; the Commission had expressed overall support for the design, commenting that the building will successfully accommodate the 630,000-square-foot program without overpowering the context of the National Historic Landmark campus, and that the building’s modern architectural language would be in keeping with recent redevelopment on the campus and complement the adjacent historic buildings. The CISA building would be composed of a series of stacked bars surrounding a central court; each bar would be slightly offset from the others, and the building’s low massing would relate to the scale of the nearby powerhouse. The foundation would help to stabilize the steeply sloping topography, and the landscape design includes a series of contiguous sloped paths that would transform the adjacent ravine into an accessible, park-like area in the middle of the campus. He said that in the previous review, the Commission members had recommended using high-quality materials, avoiding panelized facade systems; they had also expressed support for the proposed landscape design, asking for more information on the intended character of the meadow areas within the ravine and for options on its treatment. He noted that the project is consistent with the amendment to the West Campus master plan that was approved by the Commission in September 2020. He asked Kristi Tunstall-Williams, deputy director of the regional Office of Planning & Design Quality at GSA, to begin the presentation.
Welcoming the new Commission members, Ms. Tunstall-Williams provided background on the project. Upon taking over the West Campus from the D.C. government in the late 2000s, GSA was charged with transforming this nineteenth-century hospital campus into a modern headquarters and workplace for the Department of Homeland Security. She noted the many local and national stakeholders with an interest in the headquarters consolidation—including Congress, historic preservation advocates, and the mental health community. She said the project is the first to be pursued under the recently approved master plan amendment; the master plan had originally envisioned restoring and reusing more of the historic campus buildings, but the cost became prohibitive due to their condition and unforeseen problems with the steep slopes.
Ms. Tunstall-Williams said the CISA building will play an important functional role in a topographically challenging part of the campus, serving to stabilize the slope instead of inserting a large caisson wall across the campus. She said the concept has been well received in the historic preservation review; while a building of this scale might be considered out of character for a landmark campus, the project team has worked to minimize its impact in close consultation with the preservation community, as well as with the staffs of the Commission, the National Capital Planning Commission, and the D.C. Historic Preservation Office. She noted the complexity of the campus and the difficulties of judging the topography and the proximity of buildings from the plan drawings. She introduced architect Toby Hasselgren of ZGF and landscape architect Hallie Boyce of OLIN to present the design.
Mr. Hasselgren said the master plan set three overarching goals for new buildings: mitigation of their large scale; tying them into their context; and interweaving buildings and landscapes. An additional important issue is views to and from the buildings. Specific goals for the CISA headquarters are the creation of an efficient, high-performance building that will also convey a sense of identity as part of the St. Elizabeths West Campus. The massing of the CISA building has been designed as a series of relatively thin stacked bars around a central courtyard; the strategy of bars was chosen for efficiency and to admit as much daylight as possible while reducing solar heat gain and glare. He noted that the massing has been reduced by lowering the height and making the bars slightly thinner than in the previously presented version. The north bar would descend the hillside into the ravine, helping to stabilize the slope that requires remediation. Photovoltaic panels would be located on the topmost roof; the visible lower roofs would be treated as green roofs. The program requires a connection with the existing parking garage to the northwest, which is proposed as a pedestrian bridge.
Ms. Boyce said that the historic St. Elizabeths campus forms part of the topographic bowl that surrounds the city of Washington and the confluence of the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers. The site has dramatic views of the city and the rivers, to the north and particularly to the west, which are an important consideration. The campus includes a flat plateau that was developed as an arboretum, along with steep slopes that have been managed as meadows and woodlands. The new design for the campus has drawn inspiration from these typologies to create a landscape with multiple functions. The CISA building is designed to stabilize the slope through the extension of its walls into the site to function as retaining walls; the proposed landscape extends the realm of the building into its setting and creates a series of “outdoor rooms” for enjoyment by employees and visitors. The landscape is designed to capture stormwater, provide year-round seasonal interest, and create habitats, including a pollinator habitat as required by GSA standards. An accessible walk composed of a series of switchbacks would extend through the ravine, connecting the new building with several historic structures at the bottom of the ravine; the pedestrian circulation would allow people to move through and between outdoor rooms, with a strong connection to the south lawn of the plateau area and to the historic administration buildings that surround it. Vehicular circulation would begin at the drive surrounding the south lawn, with a drop-off area south of the CISA building and a loading area to its west, adjacent to the woodland and hidden from view. Fire access would be provided on the east, south, and west sides of the building.
Ms. Boyce said that a new woodland would be established south of the CISA building, which would extend an existing woodland on the west; more than 500 new trees would be planted to provide shade, frame views, and add seasonal interest. The amount of lawn area would generally be minimized, although she noted that lawns are characteristic of the historic campus so small lawn areas would be located on the east side of the site adjacent to the existing large lawn. She added that the plantings are considered part of the stormwater management system, and the focus of the design is to create a meadow landscape of grasses and perennials in order to filter water, minimize or reduce maintenance, and encourage habitat. Riparian plantings would be used in bioretention areas located at the bottom of the ravine and to the south of the building; the rest of the landscape would be planted with groundcovers, particularly beneath groups of trees.
Mr. Hasselgren described how the immediate context and historic building materials provided conceptual inspiration for weaving the CISA design into the site—how it would sit on the plateau, inhabit the ravine, and respond to the adjacent woodland. He said that many of the existing buildings on the plateau are set on hillsides and frame broad vistas; they are built primarily of brick, with some terra cotta and precast concrete, and their design is characterized by modularity and a repetition of design elements. The proposed CISA building would be clad in terra cotta, and the massing of staggered, overlapping bars would create a sense of depth. Cantilevering would help to indicate entrances; the ends of the bars, where building geometries overlap, would be cantilevered approximately ten feet from the walls to create special places with extensive glazing protected by metal fins.
Mr. Hasselgren said that the building’s north facade would descend to stabilize the ravine, with terracing used to help mitigate its ten-story height. He described how the ravine presents a stark contrast to the plateau, with buildings such as the icehouse that dig into the earth for a firm connection. This character, as well as the need to stabilize the slope, inspired the incorporation of dark granite walls that would extend from the base of the new building into the landscape. He added that the existing woodland has areas of dappled light amid the repeated verticals of tree trunks, which inspired the design team to create filtered views and a sense of transparency in the new building.
Mr. Hasselgren noted that at the previous review, the Commission had recommended more development of the courtyard facades; studying a curvilinear alignment for the new path through the ravine; further information about the character of the meadow areas; and using high-quality materials, with the suggestion to avoid the use of a panelized facade system. The design team subsequently conducted a careful inventory of existing materials in the context and has refined the facade design. The terra cotta pieces, eight inches high by three feet wide, would be mounted on a precast concrete backup system. The proposal is to achieve variation in the perceived color of the terra cotta by varying the surface textures; the individual pieces would all be the same color, but their surfaces would be either combed, wire cut, finely raked, or left smooth to animate the facades and give them a less machined, industrial appearance.
Describing the courtyard facades, Mr. Hasselgren said that the first floor would be treated as a single large public floor, at the same level as the south lawn and upper terrace. It would contain open office space and areas for collaboration, classrooms, a café, and other spaces to create a sense of activity and transparency around the courtyard. A covered arcade around the courtyard plaza would provide a space for impromptu meetings and additional café seating. He said that visitors to the secured CISA building would enter from an unsecured location in the nearby parking garage. They would cross via a small pedestrian bridge extending over the landscape and connect to the CISA building’s lowest level.
Finally, Mr. Hasselgren described the existing condition and proposed preservation of the historic brick powerhouse and smokestacks within the ravine. These structures would remain unused but would be stabilized; the masonry on the smokestacks would be repaired and repointed, and the patterned brick on one of the smokestacks would be restored. The later, non-historic additions of lighting, steel compression bands, and platforms on the smokestacks would be removed, and new aviation safety lights would be attached.
Ms. Boyce described the landscape design in more detail, beginning with the ravine that she said is designed as a holistic composition. The zigzagging path would lead up the slope from a plaza at the bottom of the ravine, negotiating the 44-foot grade change and incorporating a series of green terraces with tree plantings and low groundcovers; these would be places for people to pause and enjoy the views, and an outlook at the top would provide views of the Potomac River. At the bottom of the ravine are the historic icehouse and powerhouse; the landscape around these buildings would be simple, to emphasize their facades. The bioretention area would occupy the center of the ravine; seasonal plantings and seats would be located beneath the trees. A meadow area would be created at the west end of the plaza, composed of a matrix of grasses and of perennials that would bloom throughout the year; the meadow would help to stabilize the slope, infiltrate water, and create a pollinator habitat. A series of stairs connecting the bends of the sloped path would provide a more direct connection between the ravine and plateau. She indicated the corner of the site where a bosque of trees would be established, with moveable seats as well as planters incorporating fixed seating.
Ms. Boyce noted the Commission’s previous request to consider a more curvilinear form for the sloped path. She noted that the presented design follows stringent regulatory guidelines; slopes are at 4.75 percent or less to avoid having to introduce handrails, which would obtrude into the views. She said the design team studied several curved options, but these presented problems: the curved paths had awkward relationships to the landings; the slopes between curved paths would be too steep for planting; and the design of stormwater measures and lighting would be too complicated. She said that the proposed straight alignment of the path segments was generated from the geometries of the ravine plaza and of the relation between the CISA building and the historic buildings; the path would extend these geometries up to the south lawn area. She added that the D.C. Historic Preservation Office has written a letter in support of the straight path alignment, commenting that it relates to the industrial heritage of the ravine’s buildings.
Ms. Boyce said the new woodland area south of the CISA building would be planted with native tree species, including tulip poplars, oaks, maples, and beeches, with a dense carpet of groundcovers. A slight depression or swale would be located in the center of the woodland for drainage; paths would run through woods, crossing the swale on a wooden bridge, and seating would be provided at places along the paths as well as on the bridge.
Ms. Boyce indicated the entrance drive at the east side of the building, with a grouping of shade trees to be planted nearby. At CISA’s request, four temporary parking or drop-off spaces would be provided along with four permanent parking spots at the east side of the building; she said that the amount of parking is limited to avoid interrupting the landscape.
Chairman Tsien opened the discussion to questions and comments from the Commission members. She observed that the renderings depict stone laid in an ashlar pattern on both the building and the retaining walls; she asked for further information about the construction of the stone walls, and whether they would consist of cladding over concrete backup walls or some other system. Mr. Hasselgren responded that the concept is to marry the architectural walls with the landscape walls so that they have an integral appearance; the landscape walls would probably be cast in place, but no decision has been reached yet on the construction of the building walls. He added that the pattern of the stone and its thickness will be designed to visually merge the two types of wall together, but the exact specifications of the stone have not yet been determined. Ms. Boyce added that the stone veneer and concrete walls would be backed by mechanically stabilized earth (MSE), using a layering system of soil to hold back the structural loads that would be pressing on these retaining walls; the MSE walls would do most of the structural work. She said the striated pattern for the stone veneer would comprise five rows of stones of different heights, picking up on the idea of layering while breaking down the scale of these high walls.
Mr. P. Cook asked what material is proposed for the walks; Ms. Boyce responded that the ravine walks would be poured-in-place concrete, while the ravine plaza would be paved in granite, probably in a mid-gray tone such as Jet Mist. Mr. P. Cook asked for clarification of the terra cotta color. Mr. Hasselgren said that the design team studied the terra cotta on site and found that the pieces were more orange than desired; the intent is to find a color that is a little darker than the shade depicted in the presentation, to be in keeping with the existing materials palette in the vicinity. Noting that this area of the District has been economically depressed, Mr. P. Cook asked for more specific information on how the design team has engaged with the community. Mr. Hasselgren responded that the team has had extensive engagement with the consulting parties in at least ten separate meetings, and community members have been part of all these discussions; Ms. Boyce added that these meetings were part of the master planning process.
Mr. Moore observed that the roof plane of the neighboring Coast Guard headquarters building has been treated as a fifth facade or an additional landscape; he commented that the presentation did not always make clear what is proposed for the roof of the CISA building, and he asked for further information. Mr. Hasselgren said the highest of the several roofs will be covered with photovoltaic solar arrays, and all lower roofs will be treated as green roofs. Mr. Moore asked if any large bulkheads or other elements would extend above the roof. Mr. Hasselgren said that this has been minimized; there will be a couple of elevator overruns rising above the roofline, and there may be antennas or other minor elements required, but these will be carefully incorporated into the overall composition. Mr. Moore asked if the solar arrays would be visible from below, noting that they are not depicted in the drawings; Mr. Hasselgren responded that these are still being engineered, but the intent is for the arrays to create an interesting profile against the sky. Mr. Moore agreed that the arrays should be carefully designed if they are visible, or set back on the roof if their design is more utilitarian.
Mr. Moore expressed appreciation for the exploration of curvilinear design options for the ravine path. Observing that trees have been located near the path in many places, he commented that their shade will be valuable in making these paths comfortable, but he asked how the growth of these trees might affect the path and other built spaces; he suggested further consideration of the effect of mature trees on path maintenance and whether they would interfere with views and visibility. Regarding the woodland path, he noted the inclusion of occasional small benches along it, and he asked how wide it would be; Ms. Boyce responded that the woodland path would be seven feet wide, increasing to fifteen feet at the footbridge.
Ms. Tsien commended the site planning and the building’s massing, but she questioned whether the desired tonal variation of the terra cotta facades can be achieved solely through textures, or whether it will require different colors of terra cotta. She observed that the wonderful characteristic of old brick, such as the brick of the campus’s historic buildings, is its imperfections, but she commented on the difficulty of making the terra cotta elements appear other than perfect. She emphasized the importance of mocking up the facade pieces to make sure the desired effect is possible; she recommended seeing these elements laid out in the factory, perhaps viewed from above. She summarized that the decision is theirs, but she reiterated the importance of mockups. Mr. Hasselgren said the design team shares these concerns and agrees on the necessity of mockups; Ms. Tunstall-Williams acknowledged that a mockup will be essential before the material selection is confirmed.
Mr. Stroik observed that the proposed CISA building, intended to house an important federal agency, would be large and formally complex; he asked why the proposal is to cover it with terra cotta instead of simply using brick. Mr. Hasselgren said that the intent is to design a modern interpretation of the modularity of brick; he added that terra cotta is more efficient than brick at covering large areas, and it is present elsewhere on the campus, including the roofs of historic buildings and on the facades of the new addition to the Center Building. Ms. Tunstall-Williams added that the initial master plan included design guidelines for the entire St. Elizabeths West Campus; much thought was given to differentiating new from old while making it complementary, and the conclusion was to allow for the materials palette on the campus to include modern interpretations of existing historic materials. She said the design team for the CISA building decided terra cotta was more appropriate than brick, for the reasons Mr. Hasselgren gave and also because brick is not well adapted for the large scale of the new buildings.
Mr. McCrery asked about the type of roof on the historic powerhouse; Ms. Tunstall-Williams responded that it is a flat roof, which originally had clerestory windows below it that will be recreated. Dr. Edwards asked about the accessibility for physically challenged people using the ravine walk and its outdoor meeting spaces, and whether other seating areas will be provided such as at the bottom of the ravine. Ms. Boyce responded that alcoves will be provided with seating areas on the level adjacent to the CISA building’s north entrance; these areas will have seat walls beneath shade trees, with views to the historic ravine buildings. Mr. Moore suggested adding spaces for companion seating to the seating areas in the ravine.
Mr. P. Cook asked about the lighting plan for the ravine path. Ms. Boyce said that a low rail with integral lights is proposed along the ravine side of each segment of the path to provide a wash of light across the paved surfaces; this would improve safety and wayfinding without interrupting views from the top or bottom of the ravine. Mr. McCrery observed that all images of the landscape show people on walks but not in landscaped areas; he asked if people would be able to occupy places in the landscape, such as a lawn where people could sit. Ms. Boyce responded that a generous lawn would be available for sitting; Ms. Tunstall-Williams explained that most of this lawn area will be on the plateau adjacent to the CISA building’s east entrance, facing the historic administration buildings.
Ms. Tsien asked if the CISA site will be open to the public; Ms. Tunstall-Williams said that as the headquarters campus of the Department of Homeland Security, it will have a high level of security and will not be publicly accessible. She added that there are regularly scheduled weekend tours of the campus for the public, as part of historic preservation agreements; these have been stopped temporarily during the pandemic but may soon resume on some limited basis.
Mr. Stroik observed that the CISA building’s floor area will be half the size of the Empire State Building; he asked the design team for thoughts on how the proposed design expresses its national purpose. Mr. Hasselgren responded that the design has a rigor and honesty that expresses the program, and the reimagining of its elements gives it a sense of cohesiveness, in spite of its composition of layered bars. He acknowledged that the architectural language is not traditional but said it would have gravitas in its heft, and in the way it meets and anchors into the ground. Ms. Tunstall-Williams said there is also a cohesiveness within the context of the landscape; the scale and prominence of this building’s location give it the monumentality and presence expected of a federal building. Noting the large, clearly visible entrances at both the plateau and ravine levels, she said that the approach to the main entrance has the formal gravitas of a federal building, perhaps more than would be found in a more urban location. She added that both entrances will create places for employees to gather and interact with the building and its landscape.
Mr. Stroik noted the great federal buildings in downtown Washington, which have become difficult to visit in recent years, and he cited the civic quality of the Pentagon; he expressed concern whether the CISA building could be differentiated from a structure in an office park of an affluent suburb. Mr. McCrery said this is a larger question for the GSA: nothing about the design for the CISA building suggests that it would be occupied by the Department of Homeland Security rather than Amazon, for example; and this design could just as easily be built in another country as in the United States. He commented that this is a challenge and a limitation inherent in buildings designed in styles descended from the International Style.
Ms. Tunstall-Williams responded that another challenge is presented by this building’s location on a National Historic Landmark campus. Rigorous design guidelines, policies, and consulting process must be followed, and the consulting parties are reluctant to support designs that would draw too much attention at the expense of the broader historical context of buildings and landscape. She said that consulting parties have referred to the CISA proposal as a handsome building which, although monumental in scale, will be somewhat relegated to a background role because the historic buildings have the primary significance. She acknowledged that the design process is a difficult balance.
Ms. Tsien said she sees the CISA building as a member or participant in a larger campus instead of as a focal building, and she questioned whether any new building on the West Campus should be a focal building within this historic context. She emphasized that this design will nonetheless be more than a background building. Ms. Tunstall-Williams agreed, noting that the campus has evolved through successive periods with a shared design vocabulary while evoking the different eras.
Mr. Moore offered a motion to approve the final design subject to the resolution of several remaining issues delegated to the staff: further study of the detailing of the stone on the retaining walls and the base of the building; further development of landscape elements, particularly seating areas, tree placement, and lighting; further development of the roofscape to resolve plantings, solar installation, and bulkheads; and review of a mockup of the terra cotta facade. Upon a second by Mr. P. Cook, the Commission adopted this action, with Mr. McCrery and Mr. Stroik abstaining.
E. D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs—Shipstead-Luce Act
SL 21-125, 555 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW (The Newseum). Building alterations and additions to adapt for use by Johns Hopkins University. Final. (Previous: SL 20-034, November 2019) Secretary Luebke introduced the proposed final design for building alterations and additions to adapt the former Newseum building for occupancy by Johns Hopkins University (JHU) to consolidate its Washington-based programs in a single location. He noted that JHU bought the building in January 2019, and the Newseum closed its operations later that year. The design team is being led by Ennead Architects, formerly the Polshek Partnership, which was the original architect for the Newseum building nearly twenty years ago. He said that the Commission approved the concept design in September 2019 and then approved a revised concept design in November 2019. Subsequently, the Commission has approved a couple of preparatory permit submissions for partial demolition and structural alterations that have been on the Shipstead–Luce Act Appendix, but these did not involve design issues.
Mr. Luebke described the massing as composed of three bars originally occupied by the Newseum and a residential bar at the rear, facing D Street; no changes are proposed for the residential portion of the building. He said the Newseum interior is being reconfigured for JHU through the introduction of new floor slabs in what had been a large cubic atrium space; new classrooms and flexible workspaces will be constructed. The large stone tablet inscribed with the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution has been removed from the front facade along Pennsylvania Avenue, and the proposal is to redesign the facade with a new enclosure system featuring Tennessee Pink marble, a large setback area of glass with an interlayer of copper mesh, a projecting volume with low-iron glass, and louvers with copper mesh. He said that the introduction of bronze and copper into the materials palette is intended to help reinforce the identity and branding of JHU; the redesigned facade would also maintain the monumentality of Pennsylvania Avenue, the existing elevational alignments with the adjacent Embassy of Canada, and existing setbacks on Pennsylvania Avenue. He asked Shane Dettman, director of planning services at the local office of the law firm Holland & Knight, to begin the presentation.
Mr. Dettman said that after acquiring the former Newseum, JHU has been transforming the museum into a modern, state-of-the-art university building that will house all of the university’s D.C. programs, currently located in several buildings near Dupont Circle. He said this consolidation in one space will give JHU the opportunity to increase its engagement with Washington’s wider academic community and with the local community through expanded programming and events. He described JHU’s goals for this project: to create a collaborative learning environment and long-term flexibility to support and expand programs; to improve the building’s circulation; to increase natural light; and to promote wellness. He said a major focus of the architectural redesign has been to improve the relationship of this building to its context by using a palette of materials informed by other buildings in Washington’s monumental core, particularly those along Pennsylvania Avenue. He emphasized that the design respects the significance of its location on Pennsylvania Avenue and the symbolic importance of this street to Washington and as a national symbol. He said that JHU has been in consultation with the staffs of the Commission, the National Capital Planning Commission, the D.C. Historic Preservation Office, the National Park Service, and the General Services Administration—agencies that all have jurisdictions related to this project—and he said the current final design proposal is consistent with the revised concept submission approved by the Commission in November 2019. He introduced architect Billy Erhard of Ennead and landscape architect Lisa Delplace of Oehme van Sweden to present the design, as well as Lee Coyle, director of planning and architecture for JHU, to respond to questions.
Mr. Erhard described the strategies that have guided the transformation of the Newseum’s design, particularly the front facade on Pennsylvania Avenue, for its new occupant. Taking cues from the immediate context, the project will add a greater amount of stone cladding; use new materials that are warm in tone to tie the facade to its neighborhood; and encourage increased activity along the streetscape by moving the main entrance to the center of the facade and adding a low, broad plinth that will invite people to enter. He presented diagrams illustrating how the new design will retain the original massing, setbacks, and general relationship to the context, particularly to the alignment and overall proportions of the Canadian Embassy, which is located immediately to the east; he indicated the project’s relationship to the West Building of the National Gallery of Art, directly south across Pennsylvania and Constitution Avenues, and noted the historic Andrew W. Mellon Fountain that occupies a small island in the complex roadway intersection between the two buildings.
Mr. Erhard said the redesigned facade would incorporate three big moves: a stone rainscreen; behind it, a recessed curtainwall; and a projecting glazed volume. As with the Newseum facade, the new facade for JHU would use the same Tennessee Pink marble as the National Gallery of Art, redesigned as an extensive rainscreen that would clad a large area of the facade. Some of the stones would be shaped, with their front planes shallowly angled inward to resemble a chevron in plan, creating a subtle and random pattern across the facade; it would be animated by the sunlight moving across it over the course of the day. Behind the rainscreen would be an inset curtainwall with a sawtooth profile, each bay set back approximately fourteen inches. The glazing of the large curtainwall units would be covered by fins containing an interlayer of copper mesh to add warmth to the color, another feature that would change with the light and animate the streetscape; these would replace the existing fins, which have a cool white interlayer. Finally, a projecting glass volume would extend from the eastern end of the facade, halfway up the building containing a large, flexible space that can be subdivided for different purposes; it would have a low-iron, very transparent glass to allow clear views into and out from the building, further connecting it with the streetscape. Horizontal louvers with the same interlayer of copper mesh would shade the interior and reduce glare while maintaining visibility and the sense of openness. Secretary Luebke presented material samples that were submitted for the review.
Mr. Erhard said that bronze metal details would be used for the building’s most public areas to add richness and create a warm and welcoming appearance. Bronze would be used for vertical panels cladding the entrance vestibule, including its walls, soffits, and column covers. A bronze-anodized aluminum material—a close match to the true bronze in appearance, color, and texture—would be used in less visible areas, such as the interface between the marble facade and the sawtooth curtainwall, and for the coping on top of the marble panels. Other materials include dark-gray Jet Mist granite and mid-tone neutral Deer Isle granite; Deer Isle granite is frequently used in Washington buildings as a base cladding material, and it would be used here where the building meets the ground. Mr. Stroik asked if these materials would be used throughout the exterior; Mr. Erhard responded that the marble, granite, and bronze would appear primarily on the Pennsylvania Avenue facade, and the building’s other bars would generally retain their existing materials.
Mr. Erhard provided further details on the copper mesh interlayer that would be used for both the sawtooth curtainwall and in the horizontal fins. The interlayer is a plastic material with a metallized ink applied on its exterior face. The interior face would be a flat black in the curtainwall, which would increase the visibility from the interior; the horizontal louvers would have color applied on both sides of the mesh, with the warmth of the copper mesh balancing the cool tone of the original facade.
Mr. Erhard described the treatment proposed for the Tennessee Pink marble panels, which intentionally differs from the treatment used for the West and East Buildings of the National Gallery of Art. The marble of these two monumental structures has a lightly sandblasted finish, giving a muted color and the appearance of a soft texture with a slight sheen. For the JHU building, the project team has worked closely with the quarry and is proposing a light honed finish, which would bring out the grain and color of the stone and give it a soft appearance, with little sheen or reflectivity. Each marble panel—carved from a single block—would be two feet high, six feet long, and three to four inches thick, depending on whether that panel would be shaped with angled faces; he noted that the proposed thickness is substantial. He said the marble panels would form an open-jointed rainscreen system to allow ventilation and drying of the space between the rainscreen and the curtainwall, improving the building’s performance and longevity. The rainscreen would have solid rather than mitered corners to enhance the building’s monumental appearance.
Mr. Erhard said the proposed signage includes the name “Johns Hopkins University” carved into the stone directly above the front entrance; the name would also appear on the east side of the vestibule box, which he noted is typical along Pennsylvania Avenue to allow pedestrians to see the building identification when approaching from the direction of the Capitol and Union Station. The building number, “555,” would be carved on the low seat wall in front and to the right of the main entrance.
Mr. Erhard indicated the sidewalk setback area that would be located between the main building volume and the Canadian Embassy, adjacent to the sidewalk plinth. Because of the desire to enliven the streetscape, JHU will be identifying a retail vendor to occupy this space and open a food service establishment, perhaps a cafe, to serve JHU students, staff, and the public; he anticipated that a retail sign will be added to the facade at this location.
Mr. Erhard said that the exterior lighting is designed to enhance the character of the new facade and to signal the identity of JHU by providing visibility into the building at night; he emphasized that the lighting would also respect the existing light levels in this part of the monumental core. Illumination would be installed around the edge of planters and seat walls to create a welcoming atmosphere and to clearly indicate the entrance. He noted that the facade would include several terraces at different levels, all designed as extensions of interior spaces; these areas would be lit at night to ensure students feel safe, and also to indicate this continuity of interior and exterior space.
Ms. Delplace presented the landscape design, including the green spaces and terraces that would be located along the facade at levels 1, 2, 6, 7, 8, and 9; she said the emphasis is on providing the maximum amount of green space inside and out. Levels 8 and 9, the two largest terraces, would provide outdoor space for the adjacent interior conference rooms. These terraces have elevator and stair overruns, intake bulkheads, and mechanical panels; all these existing features are incorporated into the landscape design, surrounded by planters. Level 9 would be deeply recessed; its bulkheads would divide the terrace space into three different areas for events and collaborative working space. Level 8 has a similar but simpler design, with new configurations of plantings in existing planters.
Ms. Delplace said that the plantings are designed be enjoyed from both inside and out; some interiors will have planters twinned with terrace planters to create the impression of a continuous landscape. The smaller, narrower terraces on the lower levels would have most planting set against the building and windows, creating what she described as the impression of window boxes. On all the terraces, sloped planters would define spaces and help guide circulation, and linear planters would define the terrace edges. Planters would be grouped along the sides of skylights and other elements to create continuous planting areas, into which spaces would be notched for seating and tables. The planters would contain mixed evergreen and perennial plantings, most between eight and fourteen inches tall; She noted that a plant palette has been developed that will be successful for the exposed terraces. Vines would be grown on mesh handrails and other vertical surfaces to help obscure bulkheads and other utilitarian structures from view.
Ms. Delplace said the proposed materials include gray granite pavers and concrete pavers, with occasional wood decking, all materials that appear elsewhere in the building or on the site. The pavers would create a continuous pattern, unifying the subdivided spaces on each terrace. The planters would be made of wood and bronze-anodized aluminum.
Ms. Delplace then described the landscape treatment for the broad expanse of sidewalk along Pennsylvania Avenue and for the short stretch of building frontage around the corner on 6th Street; she noted that this surrounding area is subject to oversight by several jurisdictions. The street trees are willow oak, and all would remain or be replaced in kind. The standard Pennsylvania Avenue square ironspot paver would be continued from the sidewalk in front of the Canadian Embassy to extend in front of the JHU property and would also wrap around the corner at 6th Street for a seamless treatment; at the secondary entrance on 6th Street, a change in the sidewalk paving material would indicate the change from federal to D.C. jurisdiction. Bronze materials in the landscape would form a visual foundation along the base of the building. Large planters would be used on three sides of the new granite plinth at the primary entrance on Pennsylvania Avenue to indicate the access ramp and changes in grade, and to add human scale and visual interest; the locations of planters and drainage has been adjusted to accommodate underground structures. On 6th Street, additional granite planters with low seating would be used. She illustrated how the landscape treatment will be in scale with the Mellon Fountain across Pennsylvania Avenue.
Chairman Tsien opened the review to questions and comments from the Commission members. Mr. Stroik noted the significance of an architectural firm having the opportunity to redesign its own building; however, he observed that this museum building was an expensive project that was well done and yet only lasted eleven years. He asked how the redesign would ensure that it will not go out of style in a similarly short period of time. Mr. Coyle responded that all of the JHU Washington programs will be consolidated in this building, along with other programs from the Baltimore campus; he emphasized the university’s commitment to this building, which represents the future of JHU in the Washington for many decades to come. Mr. Stroik acknowledged the university’s programmatic and financial commitment to the site, but he observed that the structure is undergoing a total redesign, and he asked how they will ensure it will not need to be redesigned again in another decade. Mr. Erhard said that the existing building, designed and built to house a museum collection, had varying floor heights, and one of the main efforts of the new construction is the provision of regular floor heights on each level; through this work, and also by creating raised access flooring, the new design will make the interior space more flexible so that it will be able to accommodate changes as JHU programs change over the years. Regarding the new exterior materials and details, he said that the design team has tried to be careful and rigorous in the detailing of the Tennessee marble panels, such as by specifying the correct thickness to create a rainscreen that will age well and look good for many years.
Mr. Stroik asked what material was used for the First Amendment tablet that has been removed; Mr. Erhard said it was Tennessee Pink marble. Mr. Stroik acknowledged the difference between the old and new designs, but he commented that the redesign retains a certain compositional quality that responds to its context, specifically to the proximity of the Canadian Embassy. He said the new facade, even after the removal of the First Amendment tablet, will retain the overhang and general appearance of the original. He said he has always thought of this site as the point where the design of Pennsylvania Avenue begins to fall apart urbanistically, as the nation’s primary symbolic roadway. He expressed support for the desire to animate the streetscape, noting that this often involves creating glass-fronted spaces for occupancy by cafes, but he questioned whether this strategy would be successful here. He asked how this design will repair some of the design difficulties of the avenue from the viewpoint a pedestrian. Mr. Erhard responded that the design team has tried to consider several issues. With its new use as an academic building, it will be in use most of the day until late in the evening, with a constant presence of students coming in and going out; he said this location for the university will bring new, constant activity to this corner, which should strengthen its urban character.
Mr. McCrery praised the improvements in the new design. He expressed appreciation for the staggered effect of the original facade, which will be retained to allow the projecting rectangular volume of the new facade to have prominence. He cautioned that Tennessee Pink marble panels are now being removed from the National Air and Space Museum because of warping, and the proposed shaping of the stones on the new panels may result in a similar outcome for the JHU building. Mr. Erhard emphasized that the design team has worked closely with the quarry and the engineers to determine the stone specifications; Mr. McCrery agreed that a minimum of three inches is a good thickness for the stone panels. He commended the decision to give the panels a light honed surface treatment, agreeing that it would be attractive; he advised trying to avoid any sheen on the surface, which would diminish the desired shadow effect of the chevron pattern. He asked what would be inscribed on the large bronze panel next to the main entrance; Mr. Erhard said it would have the JHU seal and a list of all the schools and programs located in the building.
Mr. McCrery asked for details about the plans for the commercial space at the east end of the ground floor, such as whether this business would be owned and operated by JHU, or whether it would be rented out, and how much control JHU would have over what type of restaurant or cafe would be there. Mitchell Bonanno, the chief real estate officer for JHU, responded that the intent is to engage a local business to offer food service to both the university community and the public, providing an amenity to attract passers-by and enliven the street and the Pennsylvania Avenue corridor, including after normal business hours. The retail space would have entrances from both the building and the sidewalk, and he noted that JHU has been working closely on these plans with the Penn Quarter Neighborhood Association. He added that the building will have three other food-service locations—a more formal sit-down restaurant on 6th Street; a coffee bar intended mainly for students inside the building; and a catering operation on the upper floors with a kitchen.
Indicating several planters on the landscape plan, Mr. Moore asked if these would serve as security barriers or merely screening devices. Ms. Delplace responded that they are partly for security; she indicated the line of planters to provide a security barrier for the sidewalk area in front of the Canadian Embassy. She said the strategy of the Pennsylvania Avenue design has been the consistent use of paired trees, double-sided benches, and planters along the roadway. Additional security barriers are needed in a few locations on the site, such as the base of the ramp west of the entrance; a double row of trees would be planted there for increased protection. Mr. Moore observed that the planters do not appear in the renderings showing pedestrian-level views of the area, and he recommended further study of this landscape feature. He said all the effort to create a welcoming, inclusive, and accessible entrance would be undermined by the number of obstructions; he advised revisiting the design of the security perimeter to see if there are places where a different approach could be used, such as bollards, in order to maintain accessibility and the sense of openness at the entrances. He acknowledged that this is part of a larger issue about perimeter security, but he emphasized that the renderings do not show the full picture and should be reconciled with the planned location of security elements. He said the purpose of providing multiple ways into the property is to make it more accessible, with an easy, uninterrupted flow of space, and he suggested that this could be addressed more elegantly.
Mr. Moore asked whether the nighttime lighting will be coordinated with the relevant jurisdictional authorities concerning the appropriate lighting levels; he noted that the monumental core has hierarchies for lighting. Mr. Erhard confirmed this and said that the design team has taken light readings at nearby buildings, including the Canadian Embassy, the National Gallery of Art buildings, and the Federal Trade Commission headquarters, to ensure that the proposed lighting is within these limits and not brighter than the U.S. Capitol.
Ms. Tsien said this project is a great opportunity for Ennead to redesign one of the buildings of its predecessor firm, Polshek Partnership, and she called the proposal a credit to James Polshek. She supported the use of Tennessee Pink marble for the rainscreen, commending the use of solid stone corners instead of mitering; she observed that mitered corners in a stone rainscreen always look too weak and transparent, while these solid corners would provide the appearance of strength. Mr. Erhard thanked her and said that the solid corners looked great in the mockup.
Mr. R.M. Cook offered a motion to approve the proposed design with the comment provided concerning the placement of the planters. Upon a second by Mr. McCrery, the Commission adopted this action.
F. United States Mint
Secretary Luebke introduced the four sets of submissions from the U.S. Mint. He noted that the design alternatives have also been reviewed by the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee, a group administered by the Mint that has been advising the Department of the Treasury since the 1920s.
1. CFA 17/JUN/21-4, Congressional Gold Medal to honor Merrill’s Marauders. Design for a gold medal with bronze duplicates. Final. Secretary Luebke introduced the design alternatives for a Congressional Gold Medal honoring the 3,000 soldiers of the 5307th Composite Unit Provisional, known as Merrill’s Marauders, that operated in the jungles of Burma and nearby areas during World War II. The unit was notable for its repeated successes and for its long period of jungle fighting; it included a diverse range of volunteers, who are being recognized for their bravery and outstanding service. He asked April Stafford of the U.S. Mint to present the design alternatives.
Ms. Stafford said that the Mint has been working closely with a group of five liaisons to identify appropriate concepts and ensure historical and technical accuracy; these include two veterans of Merrill’s Marauders, two sons of veterans, and the president of the U.S. Army Rangers Association. She presented twelve alternatives for the obverse design and fourteen alternatives for the reverse design; the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) and the liaisons agree in preferring reverse #11 as the obverse design, and obverse #5C as the reverse design. She noted that the design of medals allows for some flexibility in interchanging obverse and reverse designs. Reverse #11 depicts a group of soldiers and a mule crossing a river in Burma; she said that the liaisons have recommended adding the unit’s designation, “5307th Composite Unit Provisional,” below the inscription “Merrill’s Marauders” toward the top of the composition. Obverse #5C features the patch of the Merrill’s Marauders unit at the center; above it is a Bronze Star, which was awarded to every member of the unit for bravery, and the background depicts the Burmese jungle and mountains. Other inscriptions include the dates and locations of the unit’s operation and the names of five key battles. She said that several of the liaisons have suggested adding a supply plane and parachute in the background sky, as a reference to the critical supply drops for the unit; the CCAC supports this modification. She added that the Mint’s engraving staff has confirmed that all of the modifications discussed should be feasible to execute.
Chairman Tsien asked if the Commission’s role is to act on the suggested pairing. Secretary Luebke responded that the Commission could choose to agree with this preference, particularly because it results from review by another expert panel and the liaisons; the Commission could instead choose to recommend other designs or provide any other response. He added that the presented preference may seem confusing because of the interchange of obverse and reverse designs, but the pairing has a logic of placing human figures on the obverse and emblems on the reverse.
Mr. McCrery noted the length of the suggested additional inscription for the obverse—“5307th Composite Unit Provisional”—and questioned whether it would fit well in the suggested location below the shorter circumferential text, “Merrill’s Marauders,” at the top of the composition. He suggested instead that the circumferential text “Deep Behind Enemy Lines” at the bottom be moved up to this position, allowing the longer text for the unit designation to be placed in an arc along the bottom. Joe Menna, the Mint’s chief engraver, responded that any modifications to the text could likely be accommodated, subject to further study by the Mint’s technical experts on potential mechanical difficulties in the manufacturing process for the medal; he said that sometimes a tiny element, such as the serif on a letter, can cause the die to crack. He agreed that Mr. McCrery’s suggested modification seems reasonable.
Mr. McCrery asked how the suggested supply plane and parachute would be incorporated into the reverse design. Mr. Menna responded that the solution being considered is to slightly lower the horizontal text of the unit’s dates, allowing more room to add elements in the sky area above. The added elements could be composed to be emerging from behind the unit patch that occupies the center of the composition, which he said would create a dynamic interplay with the elements within the patch that include a diagonal lightning bolt, a star, and a stylized sun. He said that the development of a solution relates to the underlying structure and architecture of the medal’s design, which should be anchored within the overall format of a circle.
Mr. McCrery offered a motion for the presented pairing—reverse #11 for the obverse, and obverse #5C for the reverse—with the modifications that were discussed. Upon a second by Mr. R.M. Cook, the Commission adopted this recommendation.
Mr. Stroik expressed his appreciation for Mr. Menna’s participation in the Commission’s review of the Mint submissions. Mr. Moore asked how silhouette areas shaded in black on the drawings would be executed for a medal, such as for reverse #1. Ms. Stafford responded that areas depicted in black would typically be incused into the surface; Mr. Luebke clarified that this would be executed as a deep, straight cut. Mr. P. Cook asked about the size of medals; Ms. Stafford responded that the Congressional Gold Medal has a diameter of three inches. Mr. Luebke noted that the various submissions from the Mint encompass a range of sizes, which could be a factor as the Commission considers issues such as graphic legibility.
2. CFA 17/JUN/21-5, 2022 Purple Heart Hall of Honor Commemorative Coin Program. Designs for five-dollar gold, one-dollar silver, and half-dollar clad coins. Final. Secretary Luebke introduced the design alternatives for the three-coin set of commemorative coins honoring the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor, which commemorates the sacrifice of approximately 1.8 million Americans in military service who were killed or wounded in enemy action. The origins of the Purple Heart go back to 1782, when George Washington established the Badge of Military Merit to recognize the meritorious actions of soldiers during the Revolutionary War. A new design was commissioned in 1931, reviewed four times by the Commission, and the modern-day Purple Heart was first awarded in 1932 on the 200th anniversary of Washington’s birth. He noted that the surcharge from coin sales will be used to support the National Purple Heart Honor Mission, the organization that operates the Hall of Honor. He asked April Stafford of the U.S. Mint to present the design alternatives.
Ms. Stafford noted that commemorative coins are limited to two sets per year, and both sets scheduled for issue in 2022 are being presented today. She said that most of the alternatives are being presented as pairings of an obverse and reverse design that have been developed by an artist to convey a coordinated story across both sides of the coin, at the request of the Mint; some additional designs are for just the reverse. The presentation will include the recommendations of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) and of the Mint’s liaison, the executive director of the National Purple Heart Honor Mission. She added that the Mint is considering the application of color to one coin in the set, either the silver or clad coin depending on the suitability of the design; she invited comments from the Commission on this option.
Five-dollar coin (gold)
Ms. Stafford presented seven pairings of obverse and reverse designs for the gold coin, along with two additional alternatives for the reverse. She noted the preference of the CCAC and the liaison for pair #4 (with designs PH-G-O-04 and PH-G-R-04); this obverse features the Purple Heart medal, and the reverse depicts the historic Badge of Military Merit and George Washington’s signature.
One-dollar coin (silver)
Ms. Stafford presented six pairings of obverse and reverse designs for the silver coin, noting the preference of the CCAC and the liaison for a new pairing of obverse #2A and reverse #1. The obverse design features the Purple Heart medal, the inscription “Combat Wounded & Killed in Action,” and five stars representing the branches of the military; the reverse depicts a World War I scene of a wounded soldier on a stretcher being bandaged by a nurse.
Half-dollar coin (clad)
Ms. Stafford presented four pairings of obverse and reverse designs for the clad coin, noting the preference of the CCAC and the liaison for pair #1 (with designs PH-C-O-01 and PH-C-R-01). The obverse design depicts the lower half of an amputee using crutches, with the Purple Heart medal to one side; the reverse depicts a young boy in front of the silhouette of a Marine, with the negative space of the silhouette emphasizing the sense of loss experienced by the families of Purple Heart recipients. An inscription extends across both sides of the Coin: “All Gave Some | Some Gave All.”
Chairman Tsien noted that the Commission members have no specific questions or comments on the designs. Mr. Moore offered a motion to approve the designs preferred by the CCAC and liaison for each of the three coins; upon a second by Mr. McCrery, the Commission adopted these recommendations.
Mr. McCrery suggested discussing the Mint’s proposal to consider applying color to one of the coins. Ms. Stafford clarified that the proposal would be to add a purple color to the Purple Heart medal on either the silver or clad coin; the decision may result from a financial analysis as well as the advice of technical experts and the Mint’s engraving staff, which would have to do some research on the technique. Ms. Tsien asked if the application of color has been done before; Ms. Stafford said that the Mint did this recently for the first time with a National Basketball Hall of Fame commemorative coin. Mr. McCrery asked for an image of this coin; Ms. Stafford said that none is included in the presentation, but she could check for an available image.
Joe Menna, the Mint’s chief engraver, added that the technical issues are likely solvable, but a more important issue is aesthetics: the Purple Heart medal being highlighted would have to be sufficiently large within the coin design to make the color application appear to be aesthetically meaningful. Ms. Stafford emphasized that the Mint is committed to using color only when it contributes to the aesthetics, not merely because it is technically feasible. She added that the Mint’s marketing department has decided that color would only be applied to a small proportion of the mintage for a particular coin, not to the entire issue. The purpose of using color would be to promote more awareness of the coins and increase sales; she noted that commemorative coins typically generate many millions of dollars in revenue for the designated recipient organization.
Mr. McCrery commented that aside from aesthetics and business considerations, his philosophical objection is that the actual Purple Heart medal and ribbon should display the purple color, while their depiction on the coin is merely a facsimile; he opposed as inappropriate the use of color to make the coin’s depiction appear to be the actual medal and ribbon. He emphasized that the genuine purple medal is earned by people who bear the sacrifice and wear the medal; this honor should not be confused with the collectible novelty of these commemorative coins. Ms. Stafford acknowledged this concern and said that the Mint is giving very careful consideration to whether color should be used. Mr. McCrery clarified that his concern is based on the hallowed significance of the Purple Heart medal; the basketball coin is in a different category, and the use of color seems appropriate for that program.
Chairman Tsien requested that these comments be included as part of the Commission’s response to the submission.
3. CFA 17/JUN/21-6, 2022 Negro Leagues Baseball Commemorative Coin Program. Designs for five-dollar gold, one-dollar silver, and half-dollar clad coins. Final. Secretary Luebke introduced the design alternatives for the three-coin set of commemorative coins honoring the 100th anniversary of the first of baseball’s Negro Major Leagues. The designs are intended to relate to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and its mission to promote tolerance, diversity, and inclusion; the surcharge from coin sales will be used to support the museum’s exhibits and educational outreach programs. The museum is located in Kansas City, Missouri, where the first league was established in 1920 by the owners of eight independent African American teams; additional leagues were formed across the nation, continuing until 1960, and more than 2,600 African American and Hispanic baseball players participated in the leagues. He asked April Stafford of the U.S. Mint to present the design alternatives.
Ms. Stafford said that the presentation will include the recommendations of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) and of the Mint’s liaison, Bob Kendrick, who serves as president of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. She said that Mr. Kendrick has identified numerous designs as being strong, while not providing a specific preference for each coin; she added that all of the CCAC’s preferences are among the designs supported by Mr. Kendrick. She also noted that most of the alternatives are being presented as pairings of an obverse and reverse design that have been developed by an artist to convey a coordinated story across both sides of the coin, at the request of the Mint; some additional designs are for just the obverse of a coin.
Five-dollar coin (gold)
Ms. Stafford presented thirteen pairings of obverse and reverse designs for the gold coin, along with two additional alternatives for the obverse. She noted the CCAC’s preference for pair #5 (with designs NLB-G-O-05 and NLB-G-R-05) and the liaison’s support for pairs #1, 4, and 5, along with obverses #8 and 12.
Mr. Stroik commented that this set of alternatives has many good ideas, such as the combination of the pitcher and batter in pair #1. However, he said that his preference is to honor a particular person when possible, and he suggested consideration of one of the obverses featuring Andrew ‘Rube’ Foster, such as #8 or 11. Mr. McCrery agreed; citing his own experience playing baseball, he said that some of the designs incorrectly depict how a bat is held, confusing a right-handed and left-handed grip. He suggested consideration of obverse #9A that depicts Mr. Foster along with his signature, which would be more meaningful than seeing his name in typeface and results in a powerful design. He said that obverse #9A clearly conveys the coin’s subject of Negro Leagues baseball, which is not apparent in other designs.
Mr. P. Cook agreed with these comments and joined in supporting obverse #9A. He recalled his father’s enthusiasm for the leagues, supporting the local team of the Homestead Grays in Washington, D.C. Mr. Moore also expressed his support for obverse #9A or any of the designs featuring Mr. Foster, in comparison to the designs depicting anonymous players who are sometimes not even recognizable as African American.
Dr. Edwards commented that the choice of obverse #9A does not necessarily require a pairing with reverse #9A, which depicts the diamond of a baseball playing field. She expressed support for a reverse that depicts the tipping of a cap, such as reverse #4. Mr. McCrery and Mr. Moore agreed; Mr. McCrery added that the tipping gesture is accurately portrayed in reverse #4, and he described the tradition of this gesture as a player’s response to cheering from the fans. Mr. Stroik asked if the Commission could recommend a pairing that was not illustrated in the presentation; Mr. Luebke said that the Commission could recommend any combination it chooses.
Mr. Moore observed that the Commission’s preferred pairing, obverse #9A and reverse #4, results in a difference in fonts that should be resolved. Secretary Luebke summarized this guidance for the gold coin.
One-dollar coin (silver)
Ms. Stafford presented eleven pairings of obverse and reverse designs for the silver coin, along with four additional alternatives for the obverse. She noted the CCAC’s preference for pair #1 (with designs NLB-S-O-01 and NLB-S-R-01) and the liaison’s support for pair #1 along with obverses #2, 3, 4, 9, and 12.
Mr. McCrery commented that silver pair #1 is a strong choice; he observed that the placement of the denomination on the reverse gives the impression that the baseball’s cost is $1, which he described as a clever design feature that could remain. Mr. P. Cook asked if the portrait of obverse #2 is intended as a specific baseball player, noting that this was a decisive factor in the Commission’s selection for the gold coin’s obverse. Ms. Stafford responded that any portrait not specifically described in the presentation is intended to be representative of all the Negro League players. Mr. Stroik and Mr. McCrery agreed that pair #2 is a strong set, particularly due to the obverse’s inscription “The Soul of Baseball” and the “NL” insignia on the player’s uniform. Ms. Stafford noted that reverse #2 has the inscription “Where History Touches Home!” which the liaison had initially encouraged but more recently has not supported; his concern is that this phrase relates more to the present-day museum than to the actual history of the Negro Leagues. She said the liaison has suggested replacing this inscription with the phrase “Their Legacy Plays On.”
Dr. Edwards suggested consideration of silver obverse #3 due to its depiction of a batter about to swing; Mr. McCrery noted that the bat is being held correctly, and the lettering on the uniform identifies the Kansas City Monarchs. Mr. Moore asked if the identification of a single team might be problematic for a set of coins intended to commemorate the entirety of the Negro Leagues. Mr. Stroik said that the reference to a specific team may give a sense of personality to the coin, comparable to the selection of Mr. Foster to be featured on the gold coin.
Mr. McCrery suggested returning to consideration of pair #2, commenting on the strength of the artwork for the obverse portrait. Several Commission members agreed, joining in support of the inscription “The Soul of Baseball” on the obverse. Dr. Edwards said that she does not support reverse #2; Mr. Stroik agreed and suggested pairing obverse #2 with reverse #8. Mr. McCrery suggested reverse #6 and similar designs that show a pitcher completing a pitch, with the ball in the foreground appearing to come toward the viewer. Mr. Moore and Mr. Stroik agreed that this is an artistically strong composition. Mr. McCrery noted that a pairing of obverse #2 with reverse #6 would result in both sides of the coin depicting a ball being thrown.
Mr. McCrery suggested consideration for the reverse of using obverse #9, which was among the liaison’s preferences; it depicts a full team of nine players standing in a row. Mr. Stroik joined in supporting obverse #9. Mr. McCrery added that the inscription in the lower part of obverse #9 is compelling: “We are the Ship | All Else the Sea.” Ms. Stafford said that some adjustments for required inscriptions would be needed if an obverse design is selected for the coin’s reverse, such as inclusion of the denomination and “E Pluribus Unum.” She noted that one of the nine players is a woman; Mr. Moore commented that this would result in a nice message by depicting this team together with the reverse text “E Pluribus Unum.” Mr. McCrery agreed.
Chairman Tsien asked if the Commission’s recommendation for a new pairing would create any problem for the Mint, such as delaying the production schedule. Ms. Stafford responded that a new pairing could certainly be accommodated, and minor modifications are a routine part of the Mint’s process. She noted that the advice of the Commission, along with advice from all other parties consulted, is provided to the Secretary of the Treasury for a decision on selecting the design. Mr. Stroik emphasized that the Commission is providing a recommendation to the Mint, rather than making a conclusive decision on the design.
Chairman Tsien suggested confirming the Commission’s recommendation for the silver coin; Dr. Edwards suggested obverse #2 for the obverse, and adapting obverse #9 for the reverse with the understanding that the inscriptions would be adjusted as needed, such as the inclusion of “E Pluribus Unum” for the reverse. The Commission members joined in supporting this recommendation.
Half-dollar coin (clad)
Ms. Stafford presented ten pairings of obverse and reverse designs for the clad coin, along with one additional alternative for the obverse. She noted the CCAC’s preference to use gold pair #1 (with designs NLB-G-O-01 and NLB-G-R-01) rather than any of the designs presented for the clad coin, and the liaison’s support for clad pairs #1, 3, and 3A, along with obverses #6 and 7. She added that clad pair #2, although not among the listed preferences, was given great attention by the CCAC and the liaison. She also noted the liaison’s support for gold pair #1, as described earlier during the presentation of the gold coin alternatives, and the liaison’s comment that the designs in clad pair #1 are strong but not necessarily as a pairing.
Mr. McCrery said that the presented alternatives for the clad coin include interesting designs, particularly clad reverse #2 that features the insignia of numerous baseball teams. Ms. Stafford noted that further discussion with Mr. Kendrick, the Mint’s liaison, has clarified that this set of insignia does not represent the full number of teams in the Negro Leagues, and his suggestion is to modify the design to include only the eight teams that comprised the original league from 1920. She said that the CCAC liked clad pair #2 but concluded that it would be better suited for a medal, which is larger than a coin and allows for higher relief. She added that a medal is not allowed as part of the commemorative coin program, but the Secretary of the Treasury is empowered to authorize the issuance of a medal, which could be done in conjunction with the commemorative coin set in order to complement and extend the theme.
Mr. McCrery offered support for clad obverse #2, obverse #5, and reverse #3 and 3A, which depict hands clasping a bat. Mr. Moore observed that clad reverse #1 features a row of standing players, similar to the Commission’s recommended design for the silver reverse, and should therefore not be considered further for the clad coin. Mr. P. Cook suggested consideration of clad obverse #1, showing a player sliding into home plate, paired with clad reverse #2, which features team insignia. Mr. Moore noted that reverse #2, with twenty insignia, would be subject to the revision described by Ms. Stafford to reduce the number of insignia to eight. Mr. R.M. Cook asked about the total number of teams and the possibility of including the insignia of each team on reverse #2; Ms. Stafford said that this was not discussed, but comments from others have been that the presented design has about the highest number that could be feasible. Mr. Kendrick clarified that the total number of teams was nearly a hundred during the forty-year history of the Negro Leagues, with many teams emerging, folding, and relocating. He said that a reduction to the insignia of the eight original teams would help to focus the commemoration on the founding of the first league in 1920, which is the event that the coin set is supposed to be celebrating.
Mr. McCrery noted that the Commission members have not settled on an obverse design, and he suggested further consideration of the strong depiction of a pitcher and thrown ball that was presented earlier as silver reverse #6 and 6A. He said that this design effectively conveys the powerful sensation of a very fast pitch. He added that the stitched seam of the baseball relates to the detailing of the circular edge that defines the coin’s border, and some of the text within the border could be changed if this reverse design is used for the obverse.
Mr. Moore asked if Mr. Kendrick expects the intended audience for these coins to find more resonance in the team insignia of reverse #2 or one of the options depicting a pitcher. Mr. Kendrick responded that marketing materials to explain the design will be developed in the future, but he expects that people will generally not be familiar with the significance of the insignia for the eight teams that formed the first league; more generally, he said that most people seeing these coins will not be familiar with the Negro Leagues. He added that education of the public will be necessary, and this is the purpose of the museum he heads. The related design issue is for the Mint to be successful in selling these coins, which will raise funds to support the museum.
Chairman Tsien suggested resolving a consensus for the clad coin, and several Commission members suggested deferring to the choices of Mr. P. Cook. He suggested a consensus for clad reverse #2, which he acknowledged is based on a sense of nostalgia concerning the origins of the Negro League. Mr. Moore supported this choice, with the expectation that an option would be studied to reduce the number of insignia to correspond to the original eight teams of the first league, with this option and the current design to be compared. Mr. P. Cook added that his second choice for the reverse would be clad reverse #5, featuring a large baseball; he described this as a relatively clear design. He declined to offer a preference for the obverse, and Mr. Moore suggested relying on the preference of those who have more experience playing baseball. Secretary Luebke noted that the Commission could choose not to make a recommendation, or could recommend more than one design.
Mr. McCrery reiterated his support for silver reverse #6 as the obverse for the clad coin; he emphasized the composure, confidence, and calmness in the pose of the pitcher, who seems to be looking at the viewer and daring the batter to swing at the pitch. He said that in addition to the good artwork, the strength of the design also comes from the composition, such as the strong diagonal from the pitcher’s head to the right knee, the balance of the body on the vertical left leg, and the position of the baseball slicing through the border edge. Mr. P. Cook said that he is convinced by these arguments. Mr. McCrery noted that the resulting recommendation would be for two reverse designs, requiring adjustment of the inscriptions; Mr. Luebke said that this would be a routine modification to the designs, and the Commission’s recommended pairing draws on precedent by placing a human figure on the heads side of the coin and the emblematic insignia on the tails side.
Mr. McCrery summarized the apparent consensus for the clad coin: using silver reverse #6 as the obverse design, and clad reverse #2 as the reverse design, with the expectation that reverse #2 will be studied further to be recomposed with only eight insignia. He added that if the resulting reverse design is unsatisfactory, then the Commission’s next choice would be clad reverse #5. Mr. P. Cook supported this consensus.
Mr. McCrery offered a motion to formalize the consensus that was discussed for each of the three coins in the Negro Leagues Baseball set. Upon a second by Mr. R.M. Cook, the Commission adopted these recommendations.
4. CFA 17/JUN/21-7, Prominent American Women and the 19th Amendment Commemorative Quarter Dollar Coin Program. Three reverse designs for the 2022 issues. Final. (Previous: CFA 15/APR/21-7, Common obverse and two 2022 reverse designs) Secretary Luebke introduced the design alternatives for the three remaining reverses of the circulating quarter to be issued in 2022; the program of coins honoring prominent American women includes five coins per year from 2022 through 2025, for a total of twenty reverse designs. He noted that in April 2021, the Commission reviewed the first two of the 2022 coins, honoring poet Maya Angelou and astronaut Sally Ride, as well as the common obverse for the series featuring a portrait of George Washington. The current submission is for reverse designs honoring Wilma Mankiller, Adelina Otero-Warren, and Anna May Wong. He asked April Stafford of the U.S. Mint to present the design alternatives.
Ms. Stafford noted that the Mint has developed the designs in consultation with the Smithsonian Institution, the National Women’s History Museum, other subject matter experts as appropriate, and family members or representatives of the women being honored. She presented the obverse design that was recommended by the Commission in the previous review, with a portrait of George Washington by the prominent American sculptor Laura Gardin Fraser; the same design was recommended by the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC). She also presented the reverse designs previously recommended by the Commission for Maya Angelou and Sally Ride, as context for the continuation of the series being presented today]]. She recalled the advice that emerged from several of the expert consultants during discussions of the earlier designs: each reverse should depict the woman being honored and should include her name.
Ms. Stafford said that in 1985, Ms. Mankiller became the first woman to serve as principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, which has provided advice on the design alternatives. Ms. Mankiller worked to improve the Cherokee Nation’s health care, education system, and government; she remained an activist for Native American and women’s rights until her death in 2010. She was honored with numerous awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1998.
Ms. Stafford presented three alternative designs, noting that alternative #1B is the preference of the CCAC and of the family representative. This design depicts Ms. Mankiller, wearing a traditional shawl and gazing forward into the future. Other features include the seven-pointed star of the Cherokee Nation, and inscriptions identifying her as the principal chief both in English and, at the suggestion of the Cherokee Nation representatives, in the Cherokee language.
Mr. McCrery asked about any significance associated with the different necklaces worn by Ms. Mankiller in alternatives #1B and #2. Pam Borer, the Mint’s design manager for this program, responded that the family representative prefers the necklace depicted in alternative #1B, which is a clay necklace that she often wore. She added that the diamond pattern on the edge of the shawl is of personal importance to the Cherokee Nation and to Ms. Mankiller.
Chairman Tsien suggested that the Commission support the preference of the family for alternative #1B, noting that Ms. Mankiller was alive until relatively recently. Mr. McCrery and Mr. Moore agreed; Mr. McCrery added that alternative #1B is a good design, and Mr. Moore said the inclusion of Ms. Mankiller’s title in the Cherokee language is a strong design feature.
Ms. Stafford described Ms. Otero-Warren’s importance as the first Hispanic woman to run for election to the U.S. Congress, and as the first woman to serve as superintendent of the school system in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Ms. Otero-Warren was a leader in the women’s suffrage movement in New Mexico, promoting the use of the Spanish language to reach out to Hispanic women and spearheading the lobbying effort for New Mexico’s ratification of the 19th Amendment. In her work to improve education for the people of New Mexico, she promoted bicultural education and the preservation of cultural practices among the state’s Hispanic and Native American communities.
Ms. Stafford presented four alternative designs, noting that alternative #3 is the preference of the CCAC and of the family members. This design depicts Ms. Otero-Warren on the left; to the right are three yucca flowers, the state flower of New Mexico. An inscription in Spanish identifies her work seeking the vote for women. She noted the request by the family members to replace the first name Adelina with the nickname “Nina,” by which Ms. Otero-Warren was known; the CCAC supports this change.
Mr. Moore commented that alternative #3 is a strong design; the other Commission members joined in supporting this alternative.
Anna May Wong
Ms. Stafford described Ms. Wong’s importance as the first Asian-American film star in Hollywood, appearing in more than sixty movies and on stage and television; her first famous film, Shanghai Express, was released in 1932. Although her casting was often limited to supporting or stereotyped roles, she had the lead role in one of the first movies filmed in Technicolor. Her work helped to promote a more positive image of Chinese Americans to mainstream American audiences during a period of racism and discrimination.
Ms. Stafford presented nine alternative designs; she noted that alternative #1 is the strong preference of the CCAC, while the family representative—Ms. Wong’s niece—has supported alternatives #5 and #10, with no specific comment on alternative #1. Ms. Stafford added that the recommendations of the Commission and of the CCAC are typically relayed to the Mint’s liaisons for consideration before all of the recommendations are forwarded to the Secretary of the Treasury for the final decision on selecting a design.
Ms. Tsien, citing her own experience as an Asian-American woman, expressed support for alternative #10 because it avoids an exotic Orientalism. She commented that this design’s strong frontal depiction of Ms. Wong best conveys her importance as an actress, activist, and moviemaker. Mr. P. Cook said that alternative #1 appears overly cute, attempting to relate the pose and inscriptions to suggest that the United States of America is presenting Ms. Wong. Mr. McCrery agreed, commenting that alternative #1 looks more like a movie still than like a portrait of Ms. Wong, as intended for this coin.
Mr. McCrery supported Ms. Tsien’s preference for alternative #10. Ms. Stafford noted the family representative’s concern that the small circles at the edges of this design, intended as marquee lights, may not be legible. Ms. Tsien suggested consideration of omitting the lights, citing the strength of the face as the most important feature. Mr. R.M. Cook agreed and asked if the consensus is to recommend omitting the lights; Ms. Tsien said that she is indifferent, and Ms. Stafford clarified that the family representative was asking for more information on the lights rather than recommending their removal. Joe Menna, the Mint’s chief engraver, said that the lights would be sculpted as protruding hemispheres that would have the effect of reflecting light; he expressed confidence that this feature would be successful. Ms. Tsien expressed support for this solution, commenting that the protruding lights would be better than the recessed dimples that she had been envisioning. Greg Weinman, an attorney with the Mint, relayed a comment from the family representative that alternative #10 is a more realistic depiction of Ms. Wong’s face. Mr. McCrery suggested a recommendation for #10, and the other Commission members agreed.
Chairman Tsien summarized the consensus of the Commission for each of the Prominent American Women coins that were presented: alternative #1B for Wilma Mankiller, #3 for Adelina Otero-Warren, and #10 for Anna May Wong. Upon a second by Mr. McCrery, the Commission adopted these recommendations.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 5:21 p.m.
Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA