Minutes for CFA Meeting — 20 April 2023

The meeting was convened by videoconference at 9:00 a.m.

Members participating:
Hon. Billie Tsien, Chair
Hon. Peter Cook
Hon. Lisa Delplace
Hon. James McCrery
Hon. Justin Garrett Moore
Hon. Duncan Stroik

Staff present:
Thomas E. Luebke, Secretary
Sarah Batcheler, Assistant Secretary
Jessica Amos
Kay Fanning
Daniel Fox
Carlton Hart
Tony Simon

I. Administration

A. Approval of the minutes of the 16 March meeting. Secretary Luebke reported that the minutes of the March meeting were circulated to the Commission members in advance. Upon a motion by Mr. Moore with second by Mr. McCrery, the Commission approved the minutes.

B. Dates of next meetings. Secretary Luebke presented the dates for upcoming Commission meetings, as previously published: 18 May, 15 June, and 20 July 2023.

II. Submissions and Reviews

A. Appendices

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. Fox reported that only minor wording changes have been made to the draft consent calendar, which has eight projects. Upon a motion by Mr. Cook with second by Ms. Delplace, the Commission approved the revised Government Submissions Consent Calendar.

Appendix II – Shipstead-Luce Act Submissions: Ms. Batcheler reported that one case listed on the draft appendix has been removed and is being held open for consideration in a future month (case number SL 23-087). The recommendation for one project has been changed to be favorable based on revisions to the design (SL 23-088). Other changes to the draft appendix are limited to minor wording changes and the notation of dates for the receipt of supplemental materials. The recommendation for one project is subject to further coordination with the applicant, and she requested authorization to finalize this recommendation when the outstanding issues are resolved. Upon a motion by Mr. McCrery with second by Mr. Stroik, the Commission approved the revised Shipstead-Luce Act Appendix. (See agenda item II.H for an additional Shipstead-Luce Act submission.)

Appendix III – Old Georgetown Act Submissions: Ms. Amos reported that the only changes to the draft appendix are to note the receipt of supplemental materials; the appendix includes a total of 38 projects. Upon a motion by Ms. Delplace with second by Mr. McCrery, the Commission approved the revised Old Georgetown Act Appendix. (See agenda item II.H for an additional Old Georgetown Act submission.)

At this point, the Commission departed from the order of the agenda to consider three projects that the Commission had identified as ones that could be acted on without a presentation.

C. American Battle Monuments Commission

CFA 20/APR/23-2, Netherlands American Cemetery, Margraten, Netherlands. Construction of new public restroom and parking lot facilities. Concept. Secretary Luebke said the staff has consulted with the applicant and is supportive of the proposed design. If the Commission is satisfied with the proposal, it could approve the concept submission and delegate further review to the staff; the delegated action would be reported as part of a future Government Submissions Consent Calendar. Upon a motion by Mr. Moore with second by Mr. Cook, the Commission approved the submission and delegated review of the final design to the staff.

H. D.C. Department of Buildings

Shipstead-Luce Act

SL 23-086, 1735 New York Avenue, NW. American Institute of Architects national headquarters. Renovations and alterations to building and landscape. Permit. (Previous: SL 23-053, 19 Jan 2023) Secretary Luebke noted that this project has been reviewed by the Commission several times, in addition to extensive consultation with the staff. He said numerous design issues have been resolved, and additional documentation is needed to resolve the remaining issues. He added that an arborist’s report was received recently. He suggested that the Commission could approve the final design submission with the condition that the documentation will be finalized with the staff. Upon a motion by Mr. Cook with second by Mr. Moore, the Commission adopted this action. Mr. Luebke observed that the lengthy review process has resulted in a successful project.

Old Georgetown Board

OG 23-163, Dumbarton Oaks, 1703 32nd Street, NW. New two-story building. Revised concept. (Previous: OG 22-122, 16 Jun 2022) Secretary Luebke noted that this project has been reviewed extensively by the Old Georgetown Board, which now forwards it with a recommendation to approve the revised concept. He said the Board’s report has been circulated to the Commission members; the report supports the design and encourages the selection of wood windows, if possible, and a zinc-colored material for the exterior of the egress stair. He added that the Commission could delegate further review to the Board. Mr. McCrery commented that wood windows are always possible, and he said the Commission should emphasize this recommendation. Upon a motion by Mr. McCrery with second by Ms. Delplace, the Commission adopted the Board’s report with this comment, and with further review delegated to the Board. Mr. Moore recused himself from the vote.

The Commission returned to the order of the agenda with item II.B.

B. National Park Service

CFA 20/APR/23-1, Fallen Journalists Memorial, various sites within the District of Columbia. Site selection for new memorial. Concept. Secretary Luebke introduced the site selection study, submitted by the National Park Service (NPS) on behalf of the Fallen Journalists Memorial Foundation, for a new memorial honoring journalists who have been killed in the course of their professional duties. This memorial was authorized by Congress in 2020 and subsequently received authorization to be located within Area I as defined by the Commemorative Works Act. The stated goals for the memorial are to commemorate, educate, and inspire the public, and to be a place of reflection; its program will likely include a commemorative element and other features, such as a gathering place, benches, and interpretive signage. The site selection study initially evaluated 24 sites under multiple criteria, including suitability to accommodate the program and perceived tranquility. Three sites were identified as finalists for further analysis: a triangle park at Maryland and Independence Avenues and 3rd Street, SW, near the U.S. Capitol; the east end of Freedom Plaza, on Pennsylvania Avenue at 13th Street, NW; and Edward R. Murrow Park, which is composed of two separate triangle parks on either side of Pennsylvania Avenue between 18th and 19th Streets, NW.

Mr. Luebke asked Peter May of the NPS to introduce the case, noting that this would be Mr. May’s last presentation to the Commission before his retirement. He recognized his long association with Mr. May and thanked him for his years of acting as an indispensable steward of design, process, and the public interest. Mr. May responded that it has been his honor to present cases to the Commission over the past 15 years, attending probably more than 100 meetings, being involved with several hundred presentations, and working with designers and co-applicants through the Commission’s review process. He acknowledged that some of these reviews were contentious, but he emphasized that all resulted in improvements to the designs. He said he remains deeply indebted to the work of Secretary Luebke and the Commission staff for their combined efforts to help move projects to approval, and he expressed his appreciation for the opportunity to work with the Commission and its staff.

Mr. Stroik said that although he has not been a Commission member for long, he appreciates Mr. May’s professionalism, his willingness to freely discuss issues, and his openness to other opinions. He asked him if there is one project he is particularly proud of. Mr. May responded that many memorial projects have required hard work, but the more basic projects may have had a greater impact; one that was particularly important for the NPS was the improvements to the turf panels of the National Mall, a complex review process that resulted in huge improvements that have benefited everyone. Chair Tsien offered her thanks also, observing that in posing the question the Commission is continuing its tradition of being both challenging and supportive.

Mr. May then introduced the presentation of the site selection study for the Fallen Journalists Memorial. He said this has been a robust process on the part of the foundation and its consultants, resulting in a short list of two sites; of the two, he believes that the site on Maryland Avenue is clearly superior to the others in its potential to fulfill the objectives for the memorial, and he expressed the hope that the Commission will agree. He asked Barbara Cochran, president of the Fallen Journalists Memorial Foundation, to begin the presentation.

Ms. Cochran said the study has benefitted from the guidance of Mr. May and his staff. She introduced the members of the project team, which includes Alan Harwood and Claire Sale from AECOM and the architecture critic Paul Goldberger, a consultant to the foundation. She began by saying that freedom of the press is under attack, both figuratively and literally, across America and throughout the world. The sponsoring foundation was started on the first anniversary of the June 28, 2018, attack on the newsroom of the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland, in which five people were killed. Since then, more than 300 journalists and media workers around the world have been killed while doing their jobs, including five more in the U.S.

Ms. Cochran said the foundation believes the location of this memorial will underscore the significance and value this nation places on freedom of the press and those who have died in service to that cause. She said this was the intention of Congress when it endorsed the recommendation of the Secretary of the Interior to locate the memorial in Area I, which is reserved for works of preeminent and lasting historical significance. Locating this memorial where it will be encountered by millions of visitors annually will serve to educate vast numbers of people about the role of a free press as a pillar of democracy. She emphasized that this function is even more important with the closing of the Newseum several years ago. She said that a location within view of the Capitol will underscore the place freedom of the press holds in the U.S. Constitution, as enshrined in the First Amendment; it will also symbolize the watchdog role that journalism plays in holding a government accountable to its citizens. She said the Founding Fathers deemed a free press to be independent of and on a par with the institutions of the U.S. government, which is recognized throughout the world as a defining characteristic of American democracy. The foundation therefore believes that locating the memorial on an unattached island parcel within close proximity of each of the three branches of government will emphasize the essential role that journalists play in holding those institutions accountable to their citizens. She asked Ms. Sale to present the site selection study, to be followed by remarks from Mr. Goldberger.

Ms. Sale said the foundation has developed goals for the memorial related to commemoration, inspiration, and education. It is intended to be a global beacon for freedom of the press; to inspire young people to consider a career in journalism; to raise awareness about the risks to a free press; to educate the public on the role of journalists in documenting history from diverse perspectives; and to convey the breadth of the forms of journalism protected by the principles of a free press. The site selection study considered how the memorial program could further these goals through the development of the memorial as a place of reflection, a site for commemorative events, and a gateway to learn about the role of journalism in a functioning democracy. She reviewed the many criteria for site selection, including prominence, visibility, thematic nexus, tranquility, accessibility, suitability for the program, and independence from other buildings and from federal agencies. The initial inventory of 24 sites included many located west of the White House and in the area between the White House and Capitol. Chair Tsien asked Ms. Sale to focus on the primary sites.

Ms. Sale said the two remaining finalist sites are the triangle park at Maryland and Independence Avenues southwest of the Capitol, and Edward R. Murrow Park on Pennsylvania Avenue west of the White House. The Maryland Avenue triangle park is primarily turf, with mature trees at the southwest corner. Immediately across Maryland Avenue is the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI); the park has direct views of the Capitol to the northeast and the Eisenhower Memorial to the southwest. Other nearby memorials include the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial and the Native American Veterans Memorial, which is on the grounds of the NMAI. Because the site is located in the vicinity of the Mall, it has good pedestrian access and will be able to attract many visitors. It possesses thematic links not only with the Capitol but with the Voice of America, the largest international broadcaster, which is located in the Wilbur Cohen Building directly across Independence Avenue; she noted that the very name of Independence Avenue resonates with the memorial’s goals.

Ms. Sale described how the Maryland Avenue park could function as a location for this memorial. The assumption is that a memorial on this site would be oriented toward the view of the Capitol; she presented a diagram illustrating the area on the site from which the Capitol dome would be visible, although she noted views from much of the site’s eastern side would be obscured by the trees of the U.S. Botanic Garden across 3rd Street. Part of the site lies within the 160-foot right-of-way of Maryland Avenue, and this block of the avenue could be closed temporarily for special events. Two Metro stations, L’Enfant Plaza and Federal Center SW, are located nearby.

Ms. Sale then described Edward R. Murrow Park, which comprises two triangular parcels on either side of Pennsylvania Avenue between 18th and 19th Streets, NW. The park is named for Edward R. Murrow, the prominent mid-20th-century journalist, although his name is not readily apparent on the site. The context is a business district that does not attract many tourists; however, it is adjacent to the buildings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, and the George Washington University School of Media and Public Affairs is located two blocks to the west. The primary view is along Pennsylvania Avenue, although the White House is not visible. She noted the presence of open lawn on the northeast triangle and mature trees on the southwest triangle. The southwest triangle also has a circular plaza with seats, and a pedestrian walk leads east through the park to Pennsylvania Avenue.

Ms. Sale then analyzed how Murrow Park could be adapted for the memorial. Of the two triangular parcels, the one to the southwest has a more open view to the federal enclave around the White House, and it includes the plaza and mature trees. Areas of both triangles lie within the right-of-way of Pennsylvania Avenue. Existing crosswalks at each corner provide good pedestrian access across the roadways, and the site is near two Metro stations. She added that H Street on the south side of the southwest triangle could possibly be closed temporarily for special events.

Ms. Sale summarized the strengths and limitations of both sites. She said the Maryland Avenue triangle park is the foundation’s preferred location because of its view of the Capitol and its proximity to the Mall and visitors. It is the more open site, although the existing mature trees of the Botanic Garden may obscure views to the Capitol. She said that Edward R. Murrow Park possesses the thematic relation to Murrow; its mature trees offer shade but may constrain development of a memorial. It has less proximity to tourist destinations and less visitor traffic than the Maryland Avenue site.

Ms. Sale asked Mr. Goldberger to discuss the development of a design for the memorial. Mr. Goldberger said this is a challenging, highly conceptual project that will probably be as much a work of landscape as of architecture; he emphasized that it will certainly not be a conventional building. He emphasized the excitement involved in searching for a design that will convey the urgent importance of the First Amendment and represent freedom of the press, while also honoring those journalists who have given their lives for this principle. He said this memorial will require an architect of unusual imagination who will be able to create a design that respects the context of the preferred site and its view to the Capitol, a connection critical to conveying the importance of a free press.

Mr. Goldberger said the foundation has decided not to hold an open competition, nor a typical invited competition that includes only a few familiar names. Instead, with the assistance of journalists, critics, and the deans of architectural schools, a list is being developed of more than 100 architects of diverse backgrounds, experience, and design approaches. Later this year, letters will be sent to everyone on the list informing them of the project and asking for an expression of interest and a statement of qualifications. A small number of possible designers will then be interviewed, and finally three to five architects will be asked to submit proposals. He said the foundation is confident that this process will result in an inspirational design commemorating the importance of the press and of free and open communication that is worthy of its subject and respectful of its site.

Chair Tsien thanked Mr. Goldberger and asked the Commission for their thoughts and observations.

Mr. Stroik said he is struck by the possibilities offered by Edward R. Murrow Park, noting Murrow’s importance as a pioneer of modern journalism and as a symbol of First Amendment rights. He said this park would be a great site for the memorial, which could add beauty and meaning to the park while drawing more visitors. The memorial would also create an inviting place for those who live and work in the neighborhood. He asked if the foundation wants the memorial to include any specific elements, such as figural sculpture. Ms. Cochran responded that the foundation remains completely open to ideas and has no specific requests, although the representation of a specific figure could soon appear dated because journalism changes so quickly and has been so greatly transformed by new technologies over the last several decades.

While acknowledging the amount of work the NPS and the project team have invested in the site selection, Mr. Moore said he wants to take a step back and comment on the process. He recognized the great challenge of thinking comprehensively and contextually about Washington’s evolving commemorative landscape. Although this sort of a methodical process leads to the identification of excellent sites, it necessarily faces the difficulties of not being able to know future commemorative needs.

Mr. Moore said the project team’s preferred site on Maryland Avenue has many excellent characteristics, but its direct proximity to the NMAI raises a question of thematic relationships. While there is not currently a proposal for the commemoration of Indigenous American history, he observed that the location of this prominent space adjacent to the NMAI and within our national commemorative landscape suggests it should be reserved for other themes, approaches, and stories. He said this issue gains added concern from the suggestion that a memorial here might be a work of architecture; noting the strong, distinctive design of the NMAI, and the proximity to the Botanic Garden, he said the site strongly suggests a landscape solution, and a building on it would be very challenging. He acknowledged the excellence of the site for commemoration, but he questioned this memorial’s thematic and contextual appropriateness for a location with close physical proximity to the NMAI and for a memorial that might be designed with a more architectural solution.

Mr. Moore agreed with Mr. Stroik that the Murrow Park site, although more embedded within the urban fabric of Washington, is still centrally located. He said it presents great opportunities, particularly with the robust open design selection process. He said the Freedom Plaza site, with its multiple layers of thematic interests and its proximity to the National Press Club, may also be a good candidate. He acknowledged that this site presents a number of challenges, such as the General Casimir Pulaski statue at the east end and the low fountain at the west, which is already incorporated into the plaza’s landscape. Noting the compelling process outlined by Mr. Goldberger, he said Freedom Plaza may be a great opportunity for developing a creative memorial design that adds another layer of meaning to the existing space. He encouraged consideration of these two sites as locations that would provide true opportunities for this project, while the Maryland Avenue site should be considered as an important space in the nation’s capital city for other significant histories and stories.

Mr. McCrery said he has similar questions concerning the issue of architecture versus landscape; he said he agrees with Mr. Moore on the importance of this issue but does not share his reservations about themes and thematic relationships. Observing that the presentation included little discussion about the presence and scale of architecture; he commented that both sites would present compelling architectural challenges, particularly resulting from setbacks that will result in unique footprints and three-dimensional envelopes for any building.

Mr. McCrery observed that the Murrow Park site could possibly make use of both of the triangle parks, which could result in a design with an interesting architectural and artistic dialectic; he noted that dialectic is a necessary and wonderful component of a free press. He observed that both of the presented sites will have only very small footprints available for construction, which could perhaps be considered a strength. He asked if this limitation has been given due consideration, and he noted that the presentation included no discussion of program. Although it may be considered premature, he said the Commission’s site selection review would benefit from having some information about program.

Finally, Mr. McCrery suggested considering a site across the Mall from the Botanic Garden—specifically the triangular site at the foot of Capitol Hill, directly south of the Department of Labor. This is a larger site than the two that were presented, although he acknowledged that its buildable footprint would be small because of the tunnel beneath it; he said the appropriateness of this site may depend on issues of size, components, and program.

Mr. Cook said he agrees with Mr. McCrery’s comments, emphasizing the importance of the Commission being able to evaluate the physical components of a building proposal in relation to the physical nature of a particular site. He recommended that the project team consider the kind of experience to be created—such as a space for intimate contemplation and tranquility, or a tall memorial. Such decisions will inform the architecture and will be important in evaluating the site.

Mr. Stroik asked Mr. Goldberger for additional thoughts on memorial competitions and the intent to consider a large number of designers before narrowing the field to only a few. Mr. Goldberger said he is trying to devise what is essentially a hybrid scheme that will have the advantages of an open competition—that is, the opportunity to discover an unknown or unrecognized designer of great gifts and important ideas. He said the most successful modern-day example of this for a memorial in Washington is Maya Lin’s design for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Although the foundation does not want to undertake the complex, time-consuming, and logistical challenges of conducting that kind of competition, there is a strong feeling that the foundation should not invite only well-known architects. Therefore, a wide range of people were invited to join an informal nominating board, which has recommended the names of designers. The hope is this hybrid format will combine the opportunities offered by an open competition with the more focused and efficient nature of an invited competition.

Chair Tsien observed that in many ways landscape is leading the design, as Ms. Cochran said. Mr. Goldberger noted that at the beginning of his remarks he had said the memorial design will be as much a work of landscape as it is a work of architecture; perhaps he should have said more directly that the memorial will not be a building per se. For the reasons pointed out by several members of the Commission, he said none of the sites under consideration are appropriate for an actual building; although the memorial program is not yet fully developed, it will not require such a building. He added that if in the future the foundation holds public program, it would borrow public spaces for them somewhere else in the city. He noted that another advantage of the Maryland Avenue site is the proximity of the NMAI auditorium, which could be an appropriate venue for events such as panel discussions. He acknowledged Mr. Moore’s concerns about the issues of thematic connection to its context but said that nevertheless there is a lot of opportunity for neighborly connections across different themes and missions. Ms. Cochran added that the memorial has been thought of as a kind of garden space, one reason why these two sites were the final choices.

Ms. Sale clarified that the site south of the Department of Labor mentioned by Mr. McCrery is under the jurisdiction of the Architect of the Capitol, so it would be very difficult to obtain permission to use it. Ms. Cochran emphasized the importance of the memorial site having a view of the Capitol, which embodies the connection between the government and the press; the Maryland Avenue site would allow for a memorial that makes this connection, with members of Congress being able to see the memorial and therefore remain aware of it. She said the foundation takes seriously the goal to educate and inspire, and it is important that the memorial be on a site in Area I where it can be seen by the greatest number of people; she reiterated that the foundation regards the Maryland Avenue site as the most appropriate.

Mr. Goldberger agreed that the most important thematic and visual connection is with the Capitol dome itself because it symbolizes freedom of the press in a far more powerful way than any other kind of adjacency. He said the fact that the preferred site is across Independence Avenue from the Voice of America is nice but almost incidental because it is possible the VOA might someday move; also, it is better that this memorial should not be mistakenly connected to any particular journalistic entity. He recalled that a location near the Washington Post building was proposed early in the site selection process; one of the reasons it was deemed not desirable was because the foundation did not want the public to think this is a memorial to the Washington Post rather than a memorial with a much broader purpose concerning the principle of the freedom of the press and honoring journalists of various media from all over the world. He emphasized that the desired theme is the symbolism provided by the Capitol as much as it is a connection to any individual journalist or journalistic entity.

Chair Tsien said that clearly a great deal of thought, care, and analysis has gone into the site selection process; while she appreciates Mr. Moore’s comments about the need for other kinds of voices on specific sites—particularly on the site adjacent to the NMAI—she said it may be more valuable for the Commission to give guidance on the two presented sites. She noted the sponsor’s very strong preference for the Maryland Avenue site and the importance of the visual relationship between this site and the Capitol dome. Regarding Murrow Park, she said the name of Edward R. Murrow and its association with this park is important but may become more obscure over time. Mr. McCrery agreed, clarifying that he had only suggested considering the site near the Labor Department if the intent was to include a large architectural component. He said that now it is clear the memorial will be primarily a landscape design and, given Mr. Goldberger’s response to Mr. Moore’s discussion of thematic connections, he strongly supports the project team’s preferred site at Maryland Avenue.

Ms. Delplace said everyone has provided eloquent commentary about the process. She observed that the city’s triangle parks, particularly the one on Maryland Avenue, have the extraordinary benefit of enormous trees that have been saved through the very careful crafting of buildings and landscape. Although she initially thought this site was very appealing for all the stated reasons, she said it would be tragic to lose its characteristic massive tree canopy. She expressed support for envisioning the memorial as more of a landscape than an architectural design, although she said it will be a very difficult balance at the Maryland Avenue site because of the presence of these mature trees; she described the tree canopy as the strongest and most beautiful thing about this site. However, the canopy will not exist forever, which means the project team will have to make a very compelling case in designing a memorial that addresses the scale issues of this extraordinary area, and particularly the backdrop of the NMAI building. She complimented the project team for its exceptionally thoughtful analysis.

Ms. Delplace observed that the primary driver for site selection was initially not clearly stated, but it has become obvious that the most important consideration is the relationship between the Capitol and the press. Careful consideration is therefore necessary for how the trees of the Botanic Garden may obstruct this view, now or in the future; this issue may affect the site’s potential and the development of a design, including consideration of how the goals for the memorial could be achieved even without a clear view of the Capitol.

Chair Tsien asked if the project team has anything to add. Mr. Goldberger said he appreciates the reminder about the trees, and this will be kept in mind. Responding to Mr. Moore’s comment about Freedom Plaza, he agreed this site has a great deal of appeal on many levels, but he said the logistical challenges presented by the Pulaski statue, along with some issues concerning the existing plaza and fountain, suggest it would be too challenging to complete a memorial here within a reasonable period of time.

Mr. McCrery offered a motion to approve the selection of the triangle park located at Maryland and Independence Avenues, SW, as the site for the Fallen Journalists Memorial. Upon a second by Mr. Stroik, the Commission adopted this action.

Mr. Moore voted against the motion, citing his concern about the NPS process and the broader agency infrastructure lying behind all this work. He said he wants to raise a point about the importance of the intentional, thematic proximities of the increasingly rare prominent sites available for commemoration in the national capital and to emphasize that such selection should not be done on a case-by-case basis. He said he believes the current process is not appropriate, and he suggested that it should instead be a coordinated effort to give everyone involved in the creation of national memorials a public process that is thoughtful, well-researched, and as inclusive as possible to help determine appropriate sites for different national stories. He said that coming from a bureaucratic background, he realizes this will be a lot of work, but he emphasized its vital importance. He expressed support for the foundation’s advocacy for a very important story, but he emphasized that he does not believe the current process for identifying memorial sites is conducted in a responsible way. Chair Tsien thanked Mr. Moore for his eloquent commentary, which she said is valuable because the Commission has recently been asked to review many new memorials proposed for many different locations.

Mr. May responded to the issues raised by Mr. Moore. He said this challenge is a recurring theme in the site selection process for national memorials in Washington. While the NPS is bound by the process established in the Commemorative Works Act, he noted that twenty years ago, the CFA and other agencies collaborated on the Memorials and Museums Master Plan, which attempted to identify sites in a way that remained neutral about thematic organization and appropriateness. He acknowledged that addressing memorial themes continues to be a struggle, and recently the National Capital Planning Commission has taken the lead in driving broader thematic content and vision for memorials. He said work has been proceeding on an update to the Memorials and Museums Master Plan, and the concerns raised by Mr. Moore will likely be a strong consideration in that future development. In addition, he said several agencies have been collaborating on a project called “Beyond Granite,” which is an attempt to broaden the commemorative and artistic themes of the Mall and to use contemporary displays to tell other stories; this project is ongoing, and the Commission will see some of its results later this year. Chair Tsien thanked Mr. May for his response.

C. American Battle Monuments Commission

CFA 20/APR/23-2, Netherlands American Cemetery, Margraten, Netherlands. Construction of new public restroom and parking lot facilities. Concept. The Commission acted on the submission earlier in the meeting without a presentation, following agenda item II.A.

D. U.S. Department of the Navy / U.S. Marine Corps

CFA 20/APR/23-3, Marine Barracks Washington Annex, 7th and L Streets, SE. Construction of new six-story housing and support facility (P-158). Concept. (Previous: CFA 17/NOV/22-2) Secretary Luebke introduced the second concept submission for a new residential building at the Marine Barracks Washington Annex. When this project was previously reviewed in November 2022, the Commission did not take an action and provided comments to improve the building’s civic presence and the daily experience of the enlisted personnel who will live here. He said the Commission members had raised questions concerning the building’s character, proportions, and architectural embellishments, and the quality of the space between the proposed and existing buildings. The project team has returned with a revised design, including refinements to its spatial articulation and its stylistic relationship to the existing adjacent building. The floor plans have been reworked to clarify interior connections between the old and new buildings at the first- and second-floor levels; the corner tower element has been eliminated in favor of a symmetrical facade arrangement, with two end pavilions and a higher, more prominent center pavilion with a large pediment. He said the documentation of the context has also been expanded to illustrate the character of the existing building and its distance from the proposed building.

Mr. Luebke asked Lt. Alexander Cinq Mars, the public works officer for Marine Barracks Washington, to begin the presentation. Lt. Cinq Mars noted that the proposed bachelor enlisted quarters at the Annex site would replace an older, outdated building several blocks to the northeast. He introduced design manager Theresa Perala, who asked lead architect Buck Monroe to present the revised design.

Mr. Monroe described the site and context, noting that the project is located on the Sousa Annex of the Marine Barracks Washington, on the opposite side of Interstate 695 from the main Marine Barracks post. The primary access points to the complex are the main gate on 7th Street to the east, the security gate on K Street to the south, and from the parking garage to the west, known as Building 26. He indicated the existing Building 25 adjacent to the proposed building site; the layout for the new building results from design limitations imposed by pre-established site development agreements, historic viewshed corridors, existing underground utilities, and the proximity to Building 25.

Mr. Monroe said the project team has worked with Marine Barracks Washington staff on reorganizing the program of the first and second floors to provide a more welcoming pedestrian approach that will also accommodate operational and training functions. The new building would connect to Building 25 through internal circulation at the first and second floors. The locations of the major spaces on these floors of the new building have been reversed; for example, on the first floor, the dining hall, kitchen, and loading dock were moved from the east to the west end of the building in order to improve pedestrian circulation and provide safer pedestrian access to the new main entrance of the complex. The stairway adjacent to the kitchen has been shifted west to align with the west end wall, and circulation between the two structures has been revised to be more logical and better integrated. Because of the military’s force protection requirements and the constraints of the site, the new landscape plan is limited in scope, but it will enhance the site where feasible; the reconfigured site features, such as the athletic field and jogging path, would be increased in size as much as possible.

Mr. Monroe said that, as a result of the Commission’s comments, the new building design includes architectural features that recall details of the existing Building 25. The redesign of the central main entrance pavilion of the new building results from the reconfiguration of the floor plans, and the development of the interior layout has been affected by the revised exterior design. For example, because the elevator shaft was expanded to accommodate a third elevator, some windows on the north facade were eliminated; requirements for the penthouse equipment room led to an increase in the height of the central gable; and the larger scale of the central entrance pavilion has resulted in the elimination of the proposed northwest corner tower to create a more balanced and symmetrical massing.

Mr. Monroe presented a series of exterior views of the north and east elevations; he emphasized that the new facade design relates to the existing Building 25 in its use of similar architectural features, materials, and details. The new building would be stepped back at the third floor to provide open space between the two structures—43 feet at the west end and 54 feet at the east—ensuring adequate daylight and air for residents. He concluded by observing that the existing complex is a varied collection of different masses, and the new addition will provide a strong central block for the enlarged complex.

Chair Tsien invited comments and questions from the Commission members.

Ms. Delplace asked whether any further expansion is planned for the Marine Barracks Annex site. Lt. Cinq Mars responded that no other buildings are planned, although some new minor structures, such as lighting towers, may be added as part of modifications to the athletic field. He said existing viewsheds and underground utilities limit any additional construction; future projects may include the renovation of Building 25, as well as the installation of raingardens at the site’s southwest corner near the parking garage to comply with stormwater management requirements; however, these projects would not affect the viewsheds.

Ms. Delplace observed that the rendering of the new building’s front elevation seen from the north makes it appear quite “brutal,” and she asked about trees and other plantings along the north side of the new building. She noted that trees had recently been planted in this area, and she asked about any additional plantings; Mr. Monroe said none are planned.

Indicating the proposed site plan, Mr. McCrery observed that it suggests the size of the athletic field would be reduced. He asked for clarification of the different colors and lines on the site plan. Mr. Monroe responded that they indicate viewshed corridors; Secretary Luebke added that these corridors are protected no-build zones. Mr. McCrery asked for further information about the proposed site treatment between the new building and the athletic field. Mr. Monroe said that many things need to be accommodated in this narrow area. Some of the underground utilities currently located here would be moved to an alley, which will also be used for an access drive and emergency egress. A retaining wall would be built to address the grade difference between the building’s first floor and the level of the athletic field. He also indicated the proposed changes to the circulation: sidewalks and stairs would provide pedestrian access to a walkway extending across the site in front of the new building, connecting with the interior circulation of the complex through the new building’s main entrance; pedestrian crosswalks across 7th Street would connect to a new sidewalk to be built within an existing green space. Freestanding brick piers would be installed at the top of the stairway that would descend to ground level in front of the new building. The jogging path would be rerouted to increase the size of the athletic field as much as possible, and a secondary fence would have a gate to allow public access to the field.

Mr. Stroik observed that the new design has clarity, but the proposed building is still very large. He asked whether more windows could be added to the side facades, commenting that the west facade in particular would benefit from having additional windows to modulate its stark appearance. Mr. Monroe responded that the illustrated vertical stack of window openings at each end of the building would be located at the ends of the long central corridors; additional windows are not proposed because the adjacent spaces include an egress stair on the south and a two-person residential room on the north, which has a specific layout of wall space and closets that would be disrupted by adding windows along the end facades. Mr. McCrery commented that windows could nonetheless be added to these residential rooms.

Ms. Delplace recalled that in the previous review, the Commission members had discussed not only the scale and massing of the proposed building but also the experience of the people who will live here. She commented that the buildings and landscape of the historic main campus of Marine Barracks Washington, including the Commandant’s House and the officers’ housing along 8th Street, possess a beautiful quality that allows that complex to fit gracefully within its Capitol Hill neighborhood. While acknowledging the required security restrictions for the annex site, she said she remains concerned about the size of this massive new building, which lacks any connection to its landscape. She said the annex site should have the same timeless quality as the historic officers’ quarters and the entire block between 8th and 9th Streets. She emphasized her concern that the annex’s central building complex—which would roughly double in size with the proposed building—and the adjacent parking garage are not sensitive responses to the surrounding community, including the community on the other side of Virginia Avenue. Noting that the presence of utilities is apparently the only reason for not proposing additional trees, she strongly requested that the project team provide a better explanation of the restrictions determining why certain things can or cannot be done, and she requested further study of whether the design could address utilities, setbacks, and the new architecture in a more creative, graceful way that would also be more sensitive to this Capitol Hill community. She expressed support for the intent to retain the athletic field.

Mr. McCrery expressed strong support for Ms. Delplace’s comments. He emphasized that the project team should study both the exterior street facades of the Marine Barracks, and also those facing the interior courtyard for inspiration on how to achieve these aesthetic goals for the new design.

Chair Tsien summarized that the Commission members do not seem to support approval of the concept but instead would prefer the project team to consult with the staff on the setbacks, the landscape architecture, and the addition of fenestration to help the design be in character with the context. Secretary Luebke observed that the design shows much positive improvement since the previous review. Given the considerable site constraints and the large program, he said the proposed volume and disposition of the pieces are probably resolved. He said the staff is concerned that the proposed central pediment over the main entrance is too large and shallow to be believable as a crowning element, and its composition could be further studied.

Chair Tsien suggested helping the project to move forward by approving the concept while providing comments for advancing the design. Secretary Luebke summarized that the Commission members do not appear to object to the traditional design character but would like to see a more development of the composition of the elevations. He asked if the Commission wants the project team to return with a revised concept that would include further study of the facades and of the fundamental treatment of the site. Chair Tsien supported this guidance, along with a request for serious consultation with the staff to address these issues before the next submission.

Upon a motion by Mr. McCrery with second by Mr. Moore, the Commission approved the general concept design with the request for a revised concept submission that addresses the comments for further study of the design of the facades and the site.

E. National Capital Planning Commission

CFA 20/APR/23-4, Monumental Core Streetscape Project, National Mall and West Potomac Park, from 3rd to 23rd Streets, NW/SW. Update of the Streetscape Manual for the National Mall – small-scale elements. Information presentation. (Previous: CFA 17/FEB/22-2, vertical and surface elements) Secretary Luebke introduced the information presentation on a component of the Monumental Core Streetscape Project, a planning initiative managed by the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC). The broader initiative includes three documents—the Urban Design Streetscape Framework, the Streetscape Design Guidelines, and the Streetscape Construction Manual—that are being developed or updated to provide guidance for the Monumental Core’s many stakeholder agencies. He said today’s presentation will focus on the small-scale elements comprising the streetscape, as part of the update to the Streetscape Design Guidelines; the Commission previously reviewed the vertical and surface elements in February 2022. He noted the more recent discussion of the Monumental Core Streetscape Project in March 2023 during the review of a Smithsonian proposal to install fences around tree boxes; the guidance for tree box fences, as well as for trees, is part of the vertical elements that were previously reviewed.

Mr. Luebke said the overall goal of studying these components is to promote a coordinated and consistent public realm for this highly significant and symbolic streetscape. The project is being developed by an interagency working group, which includes the staff of the Commission and other federal and D.C. agencies. He noted that this wide-ranging working group was discussed the previous month in conjunction with coordinating the Smithsonian’s design for the tree box fencing; the Commission’s guidance was to consider the National Mall as a continuous public space.

Mr. Luebke asked Elizabeth Miller, director of NCPC’s physical planning division, to begin the presentation. Ms. Miller confirmed that today’s presentation is intended to elicit comments from the Commission members, with no formal action needed. She introduced urban planner Jeff Jamawat of NCPC to present the streetscape design guidelines for small-scale elements.

Mr. Jamawat said the broader Monumental Core Streetscape Project, led by NCPC, is a multi-phased update of the Streetscape Manual, which was originally issued in 1992. This technical document includes construction details and specifications, along with streetscape design guidelines; its purpose has been to inform a coordinated and consistent streetscape treatment for roadways in the vicinity of the National Mall, and it has been used by the Commission of Fine Arts staff as well as by NCPC and other agencies. After three decades, a comprehensive update is needed to incorporate current best practices; the initiative for the update has been underway since 2018. He described the project’s interagency working group, which includes eleven federal and local agencies. Additional input is provided by subject-matter experts including arborists, landscape architects, and historic preservation specialists; additional expertise for some of the small-scale elements has been provided by the fire department and Pepco.

Mr. Jamawat provided a further overview of the initiative’s components. The vertical elements contribute to the identity of the Monumental Core as a whole, while the small-scale elements contribute to neighborhood identity. The project’s urban design and lighting studies have provided a foundation for developing the Streetscape Design Guidelines, and the updating process is ongoing for the Streetscape Construction Manual. An updated memorandum of understanding will serve to formalize the collaboration among the agencies. He described the Urban Design Streetscape Framework, which has included identifying three categories of streets corresponding to their role in the Monumental Core, as well as eleven “character areas” defined by their unique land uses, urban design, and architectural and landscape character.

Mr. Jamawat described the scope of the Streetscape Design Guidelines, which address the public space area between the curb and the property line; the guidelines are applicable for major construction projects but are not intended to address routine maintenance work. He acknowledged the Commission’s previous guidance on the vertical and surface elements and said that a detailed response has been included with the current submission, describing how the Commission’s comments have been addressed; the topics include socially oriented design, resilience and disaster response, and the shape of trees. He noted the Commission’s previous concern with the design of perimeter security; guidelines for this topic will be developed separately, and an assessment is currently underway to evaluate existing perimeter security installations. He also noted the Commission’s previous suggestion to address vending activities along the National Mall; he said the regulation of vending is handled by the D.C. Government, and vending trucks on the roadways are not within the public space area addressed by the streetscape guidelines. He added that most vending activities are not allowed near the National Mall, and the issue is therefore the enforcement of existing regulations.

Mr. Jamawat addressed the Commission’s review in March 2023 of the Smithsonian’s tree box fences. He said NCPC, like CFA, has approved the Smithsonian’s pilot project at the National Museum of Natural History and has urged the Smithsonian to coordinate its wider project with the interagency working group that is convened by NCPC; the topic will be discussed at this group’s meeting in May 2023 to evaluate whether the Smithsonian’s design is acceptable for use throughout the Monumental Core, or whether a new or modified design is needed.

Mr. Jamawat then presented the ten small-scale elements of the streetscape, which have been grouped as either furnishings or civic infrastructure. The furnishings, which provide functional amenities for pedestrians, include benches and waste receptacles. He said these elements contribute vitality to public space, and their design may be adapted in response to the unique qualities of the character areas. The guidelines call for these elements to be compatible with other streetscape elements.

Mr. Jamawat presented images of the many bench designs that are seen around the Monumental Core; the materials include wood and metal. The National Park Service’s standard bench design is most prevalent along the National Mall, while a proprietary commercial bench design is used along Pennsylvania Avenue and at President’s Park. The guidelines for benches will address the context of the different character areas, with an overall goal of distinguishing the Monumental Core from the surrounding urban fabric. The guidelines also encourage collaboration with the interagency working group when agencies propose to introduce a new bench design. He summarized the organization of the bench guidelines into the topics of placement, appearance, and function.

Mr. Jamawat said the guidelines for waste receptacles include those designated for recycling. As with benches, many designs for waste receptacles are seen around the Monumental Core, including some that are branded with the name of a university or a business improvement district. He presented a map illustrating the location of waste receptacles, coded for the different styles; he noted that the design used along Pennsylvania Avenue is also seen in modified form along Constitution Avenue and on the Mall. The new guidelines encourage co-locating trash and recycling receptacles, encourage locating the receptacles at high-traffic pedestrian locations such as at street intersections or crosswalks, and also identifying which style of receptacle should be used at various locations within the Monumental Core. He added that the D.C. Government is introducing a new type of waste receptacle as part of its “Zero Waste” program, and the guidelines will be adjusted if necessary.

Mr. Jamawat then presented the eight small-scale elements that are categorized as civic infrastructure, which provide utility-related services for emergency services or the general public. The general guidance is for these elements to be compatible with other streetscape elements. For bicycle racks, he illustrated the several types that are seen in the Monumental Core; the guidelines recommend the U-shaped rack design because these racks are more versatile and secure. He noted that the interagency working group has identified areas with a high demand for additional bicycle parking, as illustrated on a map.

Mr. Jamawat presented the guidelines for post-and-chain barriers, which can serve to guide pedestrian movement, to protect trees and other vegetation, and sometimes to manage curbside activities. The guidelines encourage placing post-and-chain barriers at the back edge of the sidewalk to avoid inconveniencing pedestrians.

Mr. Jamawat described the emerging technology of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations. Three types of charging stations are currently in use, with different speeds of charging. The slowest type is for overnight residential use, and the fastest type is too bulky for the streetscape; the guidelines allow the installation of only the middle type, which charges a vehicle in a few hours and is suitable for use by the general public within the streetscape. The guidelines have been developed in consultation with the D.C. Department of Transportation and resources from other jurisdictions, in an effort to recognize current best practices. He said the Monumental Core currently has two EV charging stations, and more are anticipated in the future as they become more common in streetscapes nationwide. The guidelines encourage coordination with other curbside uses, minimization of intrusion into public space, and cross-collaboration to integrate EV charging with other streetscape elements if appropriate.

Mr. Jamawat presented the guidelines for multi-space parking pay stations, which are distributed around the Monumental Core. The criteria include accommodating people of different abilities and improving the pedestrian experience.

Mr. Jamawat described the guidelines for water stations, which can include drinking fountains as well as taps for filling water bottles. Several types of water station currently exist in the Monumental Core, including a historic style at the U.S. Capitol grounds. The guidelines support increasing the availability of water stations. He also presented a map of the locations for fire hydrants, which are typically green and may have reflective color bands installed by the fire department to indicate the hydrant’s water pressure.

Mr. Jamawat described the range of utility boxes in the Monumental Core, which may have equipment for traffic or communications; for functional reasons, these are typically located near street intersections. Other utility boxes for electricity or water service are typically located closer to buildings. He presented a map of the locations for utility boxes, with heights ranging from one to six feet, and sometimes with a battery pack attached. He said the D.C. Government is currently trying to co-locate smaller units into six-foot-tall utility boxes. The guidelines encourage a green color for utility boxes that are set within a landscape, with the goal of blending them into the surroundings; however, a gray color is necessary in locations with more exposure to sunlight, in order to reduce the solar heat gain that can affect the equipment.

Mr. Jamawat described the guidelines for cellular communications infrastructure, which has been emerging as increasingly necessary amenity. The installations from commercial companies include rooftop antennas, mobile antennas, and stand-alone poles. The D.C. Government adopted guidelines in 2019 for placing this infrastructure within D.C.-controlled public space. The guidelines include a map showing potential locations for additional antenna poles within the Monumental Core, to be located beyond the Mall. He added that the guidelines are also being coordinated with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Mr. Jamawat concluded by describing the next steps for the project. The guidelines are currently available for public comment, and two public meetings will be held in May. The NCPC staff will then address the comments; after adoption, the guidelines will be bundled into a comprehensive package. The cellular communications component will follow later this year, including further coordination. A later phase of the project will be the update of the Streetscape Construction Manual, which will include technical drawings and may include the Smithsonian’s design for tree box fences.

Chair Tsien invited questions and comments from the Commission members. Ms. Delplace complimented the comprehensive scope of the presentation. Noting that the update is occurring after thirty years, she said that best practices have greatly evolved, including some entirely new technologies such as infrastructure for electric vehicles and cellular telephones. However, she observed that evolving best practices were not discussed for some small-scale infrastructure; for example, waste receptacles are now being designed with more consideration of preventing access by pests, as well as protecting the receptacles from rain and snow. She said this emerging best practice should be considered along with the historic precedents for waste receptacles in the Monumental Core.

Ms. Delplace said that in her preview of the submission materials, she saw a guideline to place benches at 200-foot intervals in the most popular areas along the Mall, with a maximum bench length of eight feet; Mr. Jamawat confirmed this guidance. Ms. Delplace said these rules would not result in adequate seating for the large number of visitors to the Monumental Core, particularly in Washington’s summer heat; she cited the common situation of a young family trying to find shaded resting place under a tree. She recommended closer attention to visitor needs, particularly along the Mall. She added that the guidance to design benches without armrests is also problematic. Ms. Miller said this guideline resulted from extensive discussions about how to balance different needs; she clarified that armrests would be discouraged but not prohibited.

Ms. Delplace recommended a more comprehensive consideration of the various streetscape elements as a collection of furniture, which is how people perceive them in the landscape, instead of considering each element in isolation. She observed that the appearance of newer elements seems to be unrelated to the appearance of existing elements, potentially resulting in an uncoordinated appearance instead of a cohesive space—the same problem the Commission had previously identified in relation to the Smithsonian’s proposal for tree box fences. She said that without a more comprehensive understanding, a cluttered appearance would result from a combination of multiple elements.

Mr. Moore expressed appreciation for NCPC’s effort to have the early conversations that have informed some of the work. He said that he has been involved with addressing similar issues in New York City, and he offered several observations that may be helpful. He supported the convening of an interagency working group to consider the issues raised in this project, but he suggested thinking more comprehensively about which agencies and types of expertise should be included in the discussions, with the goal of bringing in additional viewpoints. For example, information technology and communications may benefit from the expertise of a local agency or perhaps the Federal Communications Commission. The benefits of such conversations may include improving the guidelines and also increasing everyone’s awareness of questions and concerns. Similarly, in light of Ms. Delplace’s comment on current best practices for waste receptacles, the process may benefit from including the expertise of the local sanitation workers. He also noted Mr. Jamawat’s reference to enforcement as a response to vending activities; he suggested that the process include the agencies that are responsible for this enforcement, which clearly has a relationship to the aesthetics of the Monumental Core. The conversation may result in a better understanding of why enforcement has proven to be difficult. Similarly, representatives of the vendors and the tour bus drivers should be included in the discussions, rather than simply call for enforcement to address vending and parking issues. He suggested developing a thoughtful planning and design solution to locate vending in an appropriate location with a well-configured layout; he observed that this issue involves the livelihoods of the community of people involved in vending.

Mr. Moore commented that the cellular communications and EV charging infrastructure are especially challenging because so many factors are unknown. Even with good plans and guidelines, the implementation mechanism can be problematic. He recalled the effort in New York to develop a franchise approach to co-locate the infrastructure of multiple private-sector entities, to be arranged through the government’s leadership; the project was intended for EV charging and also for 5G cellular infrastructure, which involves many installations and multiple private-sector franchisees. Particularly with the many franchisees involved, he said the complexity of the issues goes far beyond simply providing guidance that each element should be coordinated in isolation. He said the Commission needs more information about the planned process in order to provide context for the design guidance. He described the presented approach as too conceptual and not substantive enough; for example, on a presented slide, the seemingly meaningless guidance for EV charging stations was that they should be coordinated, compatible, and complimentary, although more helpful guidance for co-location was also mentioned. He emphasized that clarification is needed concerning who the guidelines are intended for, what these parties’ level of responsibility is, and whether the guidelines would be enforced as regulations. He added that New York’s intensive effort at coordinating and co-locating multiple franchisees ended up failing; the broader regulatory framework allowed the franchisees to design their own installations, and the result has been a hodge-podge appearance for the streetscape.

Mr. Moore concluded by expressing support for Ms. Delplace’s comments on the provision of public seating; he encouraged writing the guidelines to be as inclusive as possible.

Mr. McCrery said he supports the comments provided by Mr. Moore. He recommended that NCPC consider establishing policies addressing the relationship and hierarchy among the streetscape elements, with particular attention to protecting the important large-scale elements. For example, he cited street trees as an important feature of the Monumental Core, and he suggested a policy that the installation of small-scale infrastructure elements would not be allowed where it would require the removal of a street tree. He also agreed with Mr. Moore that NCPC’s reliance on enforcement by others is an insufficient response to the Commission’s previous concern about the appearance of parking and vending on the Mall; he said the problem remains apparent on the Mall, with parked vehicles intruding on the beautiful view. He observed that the number of parking spaces across the Mall’s center panels is relatively small, and preserving these few parking spaces is not worth the negative impact on this magnificent landscape. He suggested working more closely with the appropriate police or traffic agency to enforce a no-parking rule along the central part of the Mall.

Chair Tsien expressed appreciation for the presentation and for the very informed and thoughtful comments of the Commission members. She recognized the massive scope of the project and said the comments may help to inform NCPC’s work. Secretary Luebke said the staff will write up the comments. He added that Washington attempted to achieve coordination of communications infrastructure similar to the effort described by Mr. Moore for New York; and the outcome in Washington was similarly unsatisfactory. He recalled that some Commission members may have been involved in the Commission’s past review of this planning for communications infrastructure.

Ms. Miller asked to respond to some of the Commission’s comments. She said she sympathizes with Mr. Moore’s description of the unsuccessful effort to coordinate streetscape infrastructure in New York. An encouraging step for developing the Monumental Core guidelines is the leadership role that is being taken by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, an acknowledgement of the Monumental Core as a special place that may require a unique infrastructure solution. She said this additional level of expertise may provide the opportunity for developing a successful solution in Washington. She said that NCPC also has an additional team of people studying the issues raised by communications technology, and a group of representatives from approximately twenty agencies has been meeting regularly to address the range of issues, including towers, poles, rooftop installations, and temporary augmented service. She said NCPC will return to the Commission to present the further development of this initiative.

The discussion concluded without a formal action.

F. D.C. Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development

CFA 20/APR/23-5, Parcel 15, St. Elizabeths East Campus, 1110 Oak Drive, SE. Construction of new five-building mixed-use development and associated landscape. Concept. Secretary Luebke introduced the concept design for a mixed-use complex on Parcel 15 of the St. Elizabeths East Campus; the parcel is on the southeastern section of the campus, adjacent to the Congress Heights Metro station. The master plan for the East Campus was adopted by the D.C. Government in 2012, and it provides guidance for all development on the campus. The parcel includes two contributing historic buildings, constructed in 1943, that would be demolished in accordance with the master plan and associated design guidelines. The applicant, the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED), notes that this project is essential to the D.C. Government’s goals for affordable housing, job creation, place-making, and tax revenue.

Mr. Luebke said the proposal includes office, residential, hotel, and retail space. The five distinct curvilinear building volumes would be disconnected at the ground level, creating rounded lobby spaces at grade; the volumes would then extend upward and eventually connect at the roof level. The effect creates the appearance of a more enclosed precinct, but with permeability at the ground level. He said that to meet several sustainability goals for the project, the design includes mass timber construction and carbon-sequestered concrete. Other sustainable measures include operable windows, geothermal wells, rooftop solar panels, and green roofs. A one-level parking garage would extend beneath the complex. The grade level would include a 1.8-acre landscape; the outdoor space would be organized around a central plaza with intersecting pathways and a canopy for outdoor events, as well as trees to provide shade and reduce the heat island effect. Covered areas would be provided for cafes and sitting.

Mr. Luebke said this is the first time the Commission is reviewing the project. Previously, the Commission reviewed a proposal in April 2021 by the same architect, Adjaye Associates, for an interim retail pavilion and greenhouse on the parcel, which is now built; the pavilion will eventually be disassembled and stored to allow for the proposed new construction. He asked Dan Tangherlini, managing director of special projects at the Emerson Collective, to begin the presentation.

Mr. Tangherlini said he is attending the videoconference from the completed pavilion, which is now called Sycamore & Oak; the project will be officially opened by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser in May. He said the temporary pavilion embodies the overarching goal to create something that contributes to the sustainability of the community, and this conception of sustainability is promoted by the interim project in several ways. The first is sustainability through economic opportunity. The pavilion will host thirteen Black-owned businesses, all led by entrepreneurs from east of the Anacostia River, with many from the Congress Heights neighborhood itself. He added that the interim project was built by a minority-owned contractor and largely minority-owned subcontractors. He said the interim project also embodies the promise of planetary sustainability through the selection of building products that contribute to carbon sequestering, while using innovative materials, such as sustainably harvested mass timber. The pavilion will also help measure community interest, engagement, economic aspirations, and how the built environment can contribute to the community, as well as contribute to planetary sustainability through conscious material choices and the application of technology. He said the Congress Heights zip code has the youngest population in D.C., which means that it is literally the future of the city. He asked architects David Adjaye and Joe Franchina of Adjaye Associates to present the design.

Mr. Franchina began with an overview of the 2012 master plan for the St. Elizabeths East Campus. He indicated Parcel 15 on the campus map and the existing conditions on the site, which include a parking lot and the two historic buildings that would be demolished for the project. He said the master plan broadly envisions boxy buildings encircling the campus, with the remaining historic buildings serving as the spine that keeps the campus intact. He indicated other buildings on the campus, such as newly constructed town houses, the new men’s shelter, the new office building on Parcel 17, and the Entertainment and Sports Arena (ESA), as well as the restored historic buildings on Parcel 11; he noted the varying architectural styles and characters of these buildings. A new library is also proposed to be constructed to the south of Parcel 15 at the existing Metro station. He said the heights of new buildings on Parcel 15 are permitted by zoning to be 80 feet to the top of the parapet, with a total allowable height of 100 feet including stepped-back penthouse space. He indicated the building heights suggested by the master plan for other buildings on the campus, noting that the tallest buildings are suggested for the easternmost parcels of the campus.

Mr. Franchina said the current proposal is intended to be one of community activation, inclusion, equity, and opportunity; the buildings would have a mix of residential, hotel, office, and retail uses. The intent is for this site to link to the larger campus through connections to the Metro station and the ESA, with the overall goal of making it an “inclusive territory” for people to engage. He said the interim pavilion would be a “rehearsal activation” for the site to test the ideas of local businesses, the community, and the participation and interaction of people in the local community. Ideally, the pavilion will be used by the community, which will then provide direct feedback. He said the new project would be sequenced so the historic buildings would be demolished first, leaving the pavilion in place while the site is developed with new buildings. The pavilion includes job training, a fitness center, retail incubation spaces and opportunities, a food hall, gathering spaces, performance spaces, photovoltaic panels, and water reclamation infrastructure; these uses would be tested to see what is possible, what works, and what is available for the community, as well as to get everyone excited and involved in working together on this site.

Mr. Adjaye said the design team’s approach has been to look at the project and the opportunity of the site in a very specific way. He said that at first, thought was given to the relationship of the site with the “historical sentiments” of the campus; the master plan had suggested that Parcel 15 would be part of a transition zone between new development on 13th Street and other projects on the campus interior. However, the project team is envisioning a development that would create another transitional campus landscape that is analogous to the open urban space on the existing campus but with a new, distinct character that is about experimentation with concepts that are being tested at the pavilion. This includes the use of innovative materials, as well as the creation of a community that works by being porous and mobile on the ground plane, which then becomes connected at the highest building level. He said the project also presents the opportunity to use the geometry of the site to create a building complex that starts to use not only the rectangle but also a curvilinear form in timber—allowing experimentation with the creation of geometries as well as being rigorous with the building systems, which need to be cost-effective as well as exemplary.

Mr. Adjaye said the campus’s historic Maple Quadrangle and Continuing Treatment Complex have their own specific relationship to the larger landscape. The goal is not to copy this, as Parcel 15 has a different condition, but to interpret the notion of a building that creates its own urban lining with a generous and open internal landscape space. Therefore, the largest open space on the parcel would be at the heart of the site, open toward the south to get as much sunlight as possible, and connecting to the other nearby developments proposed in the master plan. The landscape is intended to be an “urban lung” that creates a generous moment in this part of the campus. He presented a diagram of the site illustrating potential pedestrian circulation desire lines through the development, such as from the Metro and future library. He indicated the rectangular landscape proposed south of Parcel 15, compared to the more meandering landscape of Parcel 15 that would guide people to building entrances or through the development to other parts of the campus. He said the footprints of the new buildings would be like pebbles in a stream of movement, creating a series of nodes and anchors.

Mr. Adjaye said the development’s proposed 650,000 square feet would be distributed across ten building levels, plus a below-ground parking facility and rooftop urban farm. The parking structure would use a double-slab roof system, allowing for the creation of a landscape pit that can accommodate mature plantings as well as accommodating the lobbies for the various buildings. He noted that the floor plates would become progressively larger on higher floors, which he said is required for marketing and leasing the property. The buildings would be connected by a continuous roof, where they would share amenities. He said the roof-level connection would make clear that this is not a series of parcels with individual owners but rather a shared facility that generously allows rooftop views to the city and landscape to be experienced by everyone who lives in and visits the complex. The roof would also have a solar harvesting system interspersed with rooftop farming plots. He presented a solar orientation diagram, indicating that the site’s internal landscape is designed to maximize solar access.

Mr. Adjaye then presented the architectural design of the buildings. He said the project offers an opportunity to look at the different typologies that can be created with a cross-laminated mass timber frame, including residential architecture features such as balconies, generous planters, shading systems, and a permeable and transparent ground plane. To create this ground plane, a hybrid structural system would be used: the timber frame buildings would sit on a concrete structure with large spans, with many energy harvesting systems in between. Each building would use radiant systems and sun shading; the exterior building shades are inspired by the idea of vernacular awnings, appearing as articulated eyebrows and eyelids of different densities and widths depending on the building’s orientation. The shades and other projecting facade structures would also serve to visually unite the individual buildings—a family of distinct but related elements. He indicated the axes and gateways that would splice through the site to create framed views or vignettes to the urban landscape. He said he is excited about the possibility of being able to create a stepping building that grows as it goes up, which helps deal with issues of managing stormwater, while creating a luminous lower level and a continuous canopy at the roof that encapsulates the entire form.

Mr. Adjaye then provided an overview of the landscape design. He said the corner of the building at 13th Street and Sycamore Drive would be eroded to create an informal plaza with the architecture hovering above; entering at this corner would lead into the central part of the landscape and then meet the desire lines for connections to the ESA and the wider campus. He emphasized the goal of creating great permeability at the ground plane, which will allow for an exciting public realm. He said the design team has worked through many options but is still open to hearing the Commission’s comments. He asked landscape architect Sara Zewde of Studio Zewde to present the landscape in more detail.

Ms. Zewde said the civic potential of the landscape has been an important starting point for the design approach. Responses were analyzed from a community survey regarding the future of Parcel 15; what emerged was that the project should convey a sense of safety, provide economic opportunity, and have a place for gathering. She said the project team participated in the area’s annual “Go-Go Santa” event, which allowed for one-on-one conversations with neighborhood residents. People were asked to complete the following statements: “My favorite memory of this neighborhood is…”; My favorite place to play or thing to do outside is…”; and “My neighborhood comes together to…”. Responses were analyzed to help develop the program of the landscape. She presented a checklist of priorities for the landscape, developed by the design team, including that it support music and dancing, allow social interaction in the street, permit active recreation, and provide places for small moments such as sitting and talking, playing chess or checkers, and recording TikToks and other social media posts. Eating and programming were also found to be important, particularly in light of the goal to create a sense of safety.

Ms. Zewde said that in addition to community engagement, the design team conducted a site analysis. She said it became clear that the St. Elizabeths campus is a significant heat island, which is counterintuitive since it contains so much lawn; this condition likely results from the lack of shade cover. She said the design team uses the term “ambient green” to describe the site: it looks green, but it has the comfort level of a tough urban environment. When developing the landscape in concert with the architecture, the design team identified an emerging crossroads: taking into account the Metro station, the ESA, the open space proposed to the south of the parcel, and the residential campus helped to clarify this space at the heart of the parcel and led to the proposal for a clear and legible gathering place at this crossroads. She said the structure and angling of this central space mimics the angling of nearby Alabama Avenue, which is intended to stitch the site into the neighborhood south of the avenue.

Ms. Zewde said that having play areas is also critical for this neighborhood; opportunities for play structures or seating are therefore integrated into the “ribbons of movement” in the central plaza, allowing for those small moments described earlier. The ribbons would lead to the central gathering place, which would mostly be open and sunny, with a shady edge in order to provide maximum flexibility. She noted the significant grade change from the high point of 181 feet on the south toward the low point of 167 feet at the northeast corner; however, the site would be gently sloped to allow for barrier-free access. She presented rendered vignettes of the proposed landscape, indicating the shaded ring around the central space. A water feature could be turned off to accommodate large programs, such as the annual Go-Go Santa event. She said precedents for the site materials include granite pavers and stabilized gravel, which would be used to identify or clarify the walkway ribbons, pockets of play, seating areas, and the central gathering space.

Ms. Zewde cited the horticultural legacy of Dorothea Dix at St. Elizabeths as an important part of the site’s future, relating to the understanding of plantings as critical to the therapeutic value of the campus. The project name Sycamore & Oak was a launching point for developing the plant palette. She said the plantings should be “bulletproof” in order to accommodate the number of people that will be here, but at the same time, the approach to shade, seasonality, ground cover, and the under-story emphasizes native pollinators and diversifying the plant palette relative to the legacy of the campus. She said she is looking forward to the story of the trees on the site being another layer of community engagement, as well as their role in clarifying the central gathering place and the ribbons of movement.

Mr. Adjaye presented section and perspective drawings to illustrate how the proposed architecture would accommodate the presented landscape strategy. Seen from the corner of Sycamore and Oak Drives, the development would appear to be composed of a series of separate pavilions. The building at this corner would be residential, and the architecture would emphasize balconies and shaded spaces indicating the inhabited nature of the building; commercial space on the ground floor would add liveliness along the street. Farther east would be office buildings with islands of ground-floor space situated on either side of the broad opening into the development, signaling a threshold to St. Elizabeths and the interior landscape. At 13th and Cherry Streets would be a hotel building, which would have a port-cochere at the corner; the form of the urban block would unfold gently and seamlessly as it transitions from residential to hotel on this side of the block. The corner closest to the Metro station would have a ground-floor hub underneath the buildings, providing sightlines into the park. On the office building’s facade, the “eyelids” on the southern exposure would be extended into fins on the east, typifying a kind of movement in which the architecture unfolds across the facades and the sunlight progresses across the building. He added that a threshold would be created in this location by the ground-floor ovoids of commercial space. A translucent building canopy would project into the landscape, signifying the location of the central gathering space; from this location, the site of the future library near the Metro station would be visible. Similarly, the ESA would be visible through the gap in the buildings on the northern side of the development.

Mr. Adjaye summarized that the proposed building complex has a monumental scale that is broken down into vignettes at the urban level. He presented views of the framed gateway at the south of the project, both from within the new development and from the nearby green space and office building being developed on Alabama Avenue. He noted that the Washington Monument and U.S. Capitol would be visible from the buildings’ common roof deck. He concluded with a bird’s-eye view of the proposed development that includes basic representations of the potential future development of the campus as suggested in the master plan. He indicated the major axes and eye-level views that would be created by the proposed development, and he noted the variety of architectural styles on the campus that create a unique urban moment.

Chair Tsien thanked the project team for its thorough and thoughtful presentation, and she invited questions and comments from the Commission members. Mr. Moore said this project would be a transformative opportunity for the neighborhood and city; it would have a variety of uses within and users of the proposed landscape, and he emphasized the importance of understanding the intentions of the urban design and planning considerations—for example, the tenancy and long-term survival of the ground-floor retail spaces, particularly as it relates to smaller businesses. He said small independent businesses would likely be the operators of some of the spaces, and therefore questions of affordability and adaptability are important. He asked for the vision and long-term structure and affordability of either the tenancy or ownership of the retail spaces.

Mr. Tangherlini said these questions are why the project team is so excited about the opportunity to have the interim retail village activation, and why partnerships with the D.C. Government and the Congress Heights Community Training and Development Corporation have been established. The goal is to recruit businesses that would have at least three years to incubate and build up a business and the economic capacity to then move into the new development. He said the near-term opportunity is to grow businesses and entrepreneurs at the same time the proposed project is going through the approval and construction processes. He agreed that adaptability is an interesting concern; the interim pavilion has modular wall products so that the size of the retail modules can change as businesses grow or needs change. He said this sense of modularity and transformation is something that the project team would like to explore for the current proposal, which would allow the development to evolve with this community. He said ownership and affordability is also a deeply interesting subject to the project team; it is the reason his organization—which is focused on social impact, not real estate development—was brought onto the project. He said the project team is exploring models for various forms of ownership and participation. The initial focus would be on the thirteen entrepreneurs who will own their businesses at the interim pavilion.

Mr. Moore said he is raising these questions because he sees the spatial and built infrastructure of the project to be the fundamental planning and design question, and particularly how these elements will contribute to the success of a smaller business and their adaptability over time. He said he will defer to the local Commission members on some issues, but he finds the proposed urban context challenging, along with the types and configurations of retail spaces, especially for small businesses; these conditions include large setbacks from the street and isolated, non-continuous clusters of retail spaces. He emphasized the importance of the scale of the businesses in relation to more dominant building features, which will affect the long-term viability of the development. He said consideration should also be given to how businesses are clustered, the actual configuration and footprint of the spaces, the relationship between trade and service spaces, and even the height, scale, and dimensions of the retail spaces. He added that the social interactions of the street, which are facilitated by the design of the buildings and associated public infrastructure, are also important components of the long-term success of a business. Important planning and design considerations would include visibility, proximity, connectivity, and variety, as these are the ingredients for the long-term adaptability and success of a city and its residents.

Mr. Moore said he also questions the perimeter of the project. He acknowledged that the development has the challenging dynamic of negotiating the different scales of the city, the campus, and the individual buildings, and he recognized that the project does not attempt to create the false sense of a collection of buildings that were constructed over time. However, he questioned the development’s relationship to people outside it, such as those coming from the neighborhood or Metro station. For example, those coming from the Metro would have to enter the development at the side rather than directly, through narrow passages between the buildings. He said the important spatial and visual connections at this corner are insufficient at the scale of urban design, and these should be made more generous and open to better connect the interior of the compound with the outside. He acknowledged that the project is well-intentioned in its goal to create a socially and environmentally equitable place, but he reiterated that the questions he raises relate to the long-term success of the project in ten, thirty, or one hundred years. He said history has taught lessons about these types of projects, such as the multi-block megaprojects constructed in New York over the past several decades. He summarized that the proposal demands a long-term view, and the project team should consider the long-term space and infrastructure needs for the neighborhood rather than what is compelling only in the near term.

Ms. Delplace expressed appreciation for the succinct and well-organized presentation. She noted Ms. Zewde’s reference to the therapeutic landscape concept that is part of Dorothea Dix’s horticultural legacy, commenting that this concept also included the site topography. However, she said the proposed tree canopy seems like a departure from some of the stated sustainability goals, such as how plants respond to conditions in the long term. She said that maintaining the rigorous rows of trees that line all the walkways would be difficult, as the loss of one tree would create an undesirable gap, appearing like a missing tooth. Ms. Zewde responded that the general idea is to maximize shade, not necessarily to line the paths with trees; the design is intended to feel more organic and integrated with the architecture, and the density of trees will likely be thinned as the design progresses. Ms. Delplace agreed that this would be a wise choice. She said the types of trees being proposed will require a mathematical calculation of soil volume, beyond what is needed for individual trees, but rather for all of the trees for their collective long-term health. She noted the importance of heritage trees to a community, as people will often recall when these trees were small, and she emphasized that this should be considered when planting the oaks, maples, and sycamores. She said that providing sufficient soil volume and allowing the ephemeral landscape to change over time would be important. She added that oak trees tend to have a long taproot, which can be problematic when planted on a structure; this can be addressed by careful consideration of where the trees are sited, such as just off the structure.

Mr. Cook said his comments relate to the more general operations of the campus. He expressed confidence that this will be a beautiful and lovely place to spend time. However, the region has had a proliferation of semi-public or public-private spaces that encourage people to stay only if they have purchased something from the retailers, such as an expensive beverage; otherwise, they are moved along. He noted that the St. Elizabeths campus has been fenced off from the community for generations; it is a space that people have walked around but not been able to enter. He said he is concerned about how the new development will be operated, especially in conjunction with the proposed private residences and likely pricey restaurants, and he wants to be sure that people will be welcomed into and feel welcome within the development. He asked if the development would be physically fenced and if the space would be monitored or policed for loitering.

Mr. Tangherlini said these questions underscore why the Commission members should visit the interim retail village and understand its goals. By starting with entrepreneurs from the community, there will be a connection and a welcoming, inclusive nature to the development. He said the success of the site would be driven in part through programming and a sense of people feeling welcome. While the buildings and access would be new to the community, the people who will run the businesses and manage the site for the development team—through the Congress Heights Community Training and Development Corporation—are literally the neighbors of the community. He said what is more interesting is how people from other parts of the city who have not normally been able to benefit from the creativity and tremendous energy and entrepreneurship that exist in the Congress Heights community will be inspired to come to the development. He added that Mr. Cook’s concern is actually the fundamental question that has been driving the development of the interim retail village, which has been termed an “urban rehearsal.”

Mr. Cook commented that the project is reminiscent of the Watergate complex, which he has visited perhaps once in more than 25 years of living in the Washington area. Mr. Tangherlini said this is an amazing question, explaining that the Watergate was designed without a big open door that says “welcome” like the one on the south side of the proposed development; it is not oriented toward New Hampshire Avenue, and all of the “cool stuff” is on the inside and private. In contrast, the proposed development takes the cool stuff and puts it in the middle in a big park that is visible from Alabama Avenue and invites you in.

Mr. Adjaye said the Watergate is always referred to in discussions of this project, but the porosity of the proposed design is significant. The project could have been aligned to Sycamore Drive as a bar building with shops along the street, but the design sacrifices that typical condition and instead opens up the southern exposure to create a destination. With such a large open gateway into the site, which almost holds out its open arms, the design team concluded that opening the site more to the sides felt gratuitous, out of scale, and just strange. The proposal therefore uses a more human scale—“a 5.6-meter-high moment” at the threshold that is a compression, with the pavilion that focuses your eye and then opens up into the large scale. He said the design team evaluated other options but concluded that they did not seem to work. He added that the idea of porosity and the lessons learned from large-scale community developments from the 1960s⁠–1980s were incorporated into the design; rather than jettisoning these developments outright, their successes were considered in developing the proposal.

Mr. Adjaye said the complex ovoid shapes at the ground level would serve as building lobbies and retail spaces, where a complete enclosure for a retail space might not be required. The design therefore limits the geometric delineation of retail units, which would only be accents for urban kinds of moments, or urban articulation for places that can accommodate it. He said there is still a lot of work to do, but he is trying to give a sense of why the design does not have storefronts based on a retail analysis. He said that some on the project team have disagreed about how the retail street should work, taking the view that perhaps the development would be a destination because it is a transition between the hard urban condition of 13th Street and the softer St. Elizabeths campus and landscape.

Mr. McCrery complimented the project team for its commitment to experimentation, which he said everyone on the Commission seems to support. He suggested giving continued consideration to increasing the porosity of the development; in doing so, the magnificent interior building canopy would become a more powerful architectural feature. He said the premier example of this type of development is Rockefeller Center in midtown Manhattan, in which people do not realize they are on private property when entering from 5th Avenue. He acknowledged that Rockefeller Center is a very linear space, which he is not recommending for this project, but he encouraged the project team to consider how this sense of public ownership of private space can be accomplished.

Mr. Moore agreed with these comments and said he would also include, in addition to porosity, the idea of proximity-the interaction and connectedness that people feel in an urban community, which can be translated to the campus environment of public green spaces and buildings. He said the wider opening at the south actually relates to the corporate office park on Alabama Avenue; however, the project could connect to the true urban desire lines from the neighborhood. He suggested exploring some adaptation of the design to balance porosity with public engagement in a way that is generous, welcoming, and communicates well. He said it is a problem when a sign must communicate that a place is open to the public, and good buildings do not need this kind of sign; in contrast, signs proliferate on the complexes of recent decades that have been referenced. He agreed that there is room to continue experimenting and incorporating what has been learned from the community. Ms. Zewde said the legibility of movement through the site as defined by the ground plane is something that will help the space be seen as public.

Chair Tsien observed that the Commission members have expressed their admiration for the architecture and design, while they have also expressed their concerns regarding the sense of access for people. She said she has found that in the end, the issue is more about the programming than about the architecture. As much as she would like to believe it, most people do not visit a place for the architecture, aside from architecture students; rather, people go to a place for what they can find there. She criticized Hudson Yards, a recent megaproject on the west side of Manhattan, as essentially a place only for those who feel comfortable shopping at luxury retailers. She said that having become a grandmother recently, she has been visiting many playgrounds, and if anything can bring in people, it is playgrounds. She encouraged using the landscape to make the connection to the street, such as by having a public amenity like a playground extending toward southward; this gesture would indicate that the space is open for enjoyment. She clarified that this recommendation is perhaps too specific, but she emphasized the idea of using the power of landscape to draw people in. Mr. Tangherlini said a playground is being developed at the interim retail village with Kaboom, a community-based playground activation team, with the goal of creating a permanent design that can be brought to the new development. He said the project team agrees that playgrounds, like the planting and growth of trees, can play a role in connecting to a personal history.

Chair Tsien suggested a consensus to approve the concept design with the comments provided, which she observed are related more to the planning than the building design. Secretary Luebke asked if the Commission would like the project to return for review at the design development phase, noting that the current proposal has been developed beyond the typical concept design phase. He said the comments have been more general than specific, and have concerned the design of the landscape as it relates to the street and public experience. He said an additional review before a final design submission would reduce the risk of the design proceeding in a direction that the Commission would not be happy to support.

Acknowledging that the architecture in the current submission is very developed, Mr. Moore suggested requesting a revised concept submission that brings the landscape and urban design to the same level of development. He said changes to the design at the urban scale may impact the architecture, but not in a way that would be radically different from what was presented, and he agreed that development of the landscape in response to comments from the Commission may be too open-ended to return only as a final design. Chair Tsien asked if review of the final design could then be delegated to the staff, assuming that the revised concept submission is found to be responsive to the Commission’s advice; Secretary Luebke said this would be a possible scenario, but he noted that the Commission can always request an additional review before the final documentation is submitted.

Mr. Moore offered a motion to approve the concept design, including the general configuration and layout of the architecture as presented, along with the comments provided on the landscape and on the urban design as it relates to public access and interaction. Upon a second by Mr. Cook, the Commission adopted this action.

At this point, Mr. Stroik departed for the remainder of the meeting.

G. D.C. Department of General Services

CFA 20/APR/23-6, Truesdell Elementary School, 800 Ingraham Street, NW. Renovations and additions to building and landscape. Concept. Secretary Luebke introduced the proposal to expand Truesdell Elementary School, submitted by the D.C. Department of General Services on behalf of D.C. Public Schools. The full-block site slopes downward from northwest to southeast, with the existing school complex occupying the north side of the block. The school was constructed in three phases: the original building was completed in 1936 and expanded in the later 1930s, and then a classroom addition was built in 1965. However, the school complex is only connected at the first floor, leading to circulation problems resulting from the many unconnected levels. The proposed solution is to demolish the 1965 addition and construct two new additions, one containing classrooms extending east of the historic building along Ingraham Street, and the other at the south containing special-use spaces, such as the combined cafeteria, gymnasium, and auditorium. A new, clear circulation pattern would allow people to move easily among the two classroom structures to the north, the central courtyard, and the third structure to the south.

Mr. Luebke asked project manager Gabriella Pino-Moreno of D.C. Public Schools to begin the presentation. Ms. Pino-Moreno said the school is projected to serve 717 students. She introduced architect Brian Gruetzmacher of VMDO to present the proposal.

Mr. Gruetzmacher said the design is intended to create a safe and healthy learning environment that will take advantage of both the site and the building in order to create learning opportunities; the building would include numerous connections to the outdoors. The design is intended to honor the historic building and the neighborhood context, and to meet sustainability goals through achieving certification in NetZero energy, LEED, and WELL Gold.

Mr. Gruetzmacher described the site’s location in the Brightwood Park neighborhood, within a context of two-and-a-half-story row houses. He noted that because of the lack of nearby parks, the school grounds function as a neighborhood park outside of school hours. The historic 1930s building is located in the site’s northwest corner, with the 1965 classroom addition to its east. He said the floor levels of the different structures do not align, and the school complex does not have any elevators, a condition that presents many challenges for accessibility; however, the site’s downward slope toward the south provides the school’s interior with good access to full sun throughout the day.

Mr. Gruetzmacher said the 1930s building, labelled as Building A, is a three-story red brick structure with a green standing-seam metal roof; this building would be retained. The 1965 classroom addition, along with a smaller kitchen addition, would be removed and replaced by two new additions: Building B to the east of the historic building, and Building C one level lower to the south. The complex would be linked by subtle, minimal connections, including a glass-enclosed bridge connecting the upper level of Building C with Buildings A and B to the north. The building volumes would be oriented east–west to maximize the north and south exposures; solar access would also be enhanced by taking advantage of the slope to step down the roofs of the buildings toward the south; this configuration will help to avoid casting shadows on the facades, and will also increase the roof area available for solar panels. A single large green space at the center of the complex would promote outdoor learning and play. At the front of the school along Ingraham Street, the landscape is designed to be welcoming; additional open outdoor areas would surround the school complex. The entrance gate for community access would be located at the west near the playground, and a large playing field would be located to the south on the same level as Building C. Many new trees would be planted throughout the site. He indicated the original main entrance at the center of the historic building’s north facade along Ingraham Street; rising from the roof above is a white-painted wooden cupola. The proposed new main entrance at Ingraham Street, marked with a cantilevered entrance canopy, would be located between Buildings A and B.

Mr. Gruetzmacher said the design has been influenced by the scale and rigor of the historic school building, including its regular fenestration pattern of identical windows. The new additions would be treated as simple brick masses with punched openings, with occasional small areas of accent color to enliven the facades. Building B would be red brick with a standing-seam metal roof and punched window openings similar in size and proportion to the windows of the historic school; the roof would be angled to optimize the energy production from its rooftop solar panels.

Mr. Gruetzmacher said Building C would have a roof constructed of steel and timber; it would have a prominent roof overhang on the west side, facing the community entrance into the grounds, and a fifteen-foot-deep overhang on the long south side to help shade this facade from direct sun, provide protection adjacent to the playing field, and create additional roof area for solar panels. The walls of the multipurpose space in Building C would have expanses of glass infill, with areas of colored terracotta baguettes arranged in a consistent rhythm.

Mr. Gruetzmacher said the renovation of the historic building would include pointing and cleaning of the mortar to prevent air infiltration. The metal roof and the deteriorated wood of the bay window would be replaced in kind; the existing windows were recently installed and would remain. Solar panels would be added on south-facing roof surfaces, which are not visible from the street. Three stone stairs on the west side would be repaired, and a disused concrete stairway in the space for the future courtyard would be removed.

Chair Tsien thanked Mr. Gruetzmacher for his thorough presentation. She expressed appreciation for the design’s skillful use of the sloping grade, and the consequent reduction in scale and height, which she said are well illustrated by the sectional drawings. She added that such use of a site’s grade is not often seen in projects reviewed by the Commission, and it is refreshing to have the sectional drawings, which help to clarify the design. She invited questions and comments from the Commission members.

Referring to the rendered views of the two proposed roof overhangs on Building C, Mr. Cook commented that they appear overscaled and too high; he questioned whether they would provide either shade or protection from the rain, and he recommended further study of these elements. He asked whether the front door of the historic building would remain in use. Mr. Gruetzmacher responded that the historic entrance door and its exterior stone stairway would be preserved without much alteration, but would no longer function as a primary entrance; it would be available as an entrance for teachers, and possibly for some students in the mornings, and it would also be used as an exit.

Ms. Delplace asked for more information about the current and projected number of students for the school. Ms. Pino-Moreno responded that the current enrollment is approximately 430 students, expected to grow to 717 students within ten years. She noted that projected enrollment determines the proposed size of the school, and the intent is to accommodate the anticipated enrollment. Ms. Delplace questioned whether the proposed site design would have the capacity to provide sufficient outdoor classrooms and play areas for 700 children, ranging in age from infants to fifth graders. She commended the proposal but suggested consideration of ways to plan for future expansion of site programming, even if it is not implemented now. She noted that the outdoor spaces can be expanded at a later time, more easily than expanding a building; however, she emphasized that the current proposed program configuration for the outdoor spaces does not appear to be large enough, and more space may be required for achieving this program.

Secretary Luebke summarized that the Commission members seem fairly supportive of the proposal, with few comments or criticisms on its spatial and architectural characteristics; the suggestions include further study of the roof overhangs and the capacity of the site plan. He noted that the project team has been responsive in addressing some issues in consultation with the staff. Mr. Cook offered a motion to approve the concept design with the request that the project team, in consultation with the staff, study the overhangs and the capacity of the proposed outdoor classroom and play areas, and return with a final design submission. Upon a second by Mr. Moore, the Commission adopted this action.

H. D.C. Department of Buildings

Shipstead-Luce Act

SL 23-086, 1735 New York Avenue, NW. American Institute of Architects national headquarters. Renovations and alterations to building and landscape. Permit. (Previous: SL 23-053, 19 Jan 2023) The Commission acted on the submission earlier in the meeting without a presentation, following agenda item II.A.

Old Georgetown Board

OG 23-163, Dumbarton Oaks, 1703 32nd Street, NW. New two-story building. Revised concept. (Previous: OG 22-122, 16 Jun 2022) The Commission acted on the submission earlier in the meeting without a presentation, following agenda item II.A.

I. U.S. Mint

Secretary Luebke noted that all four submissions from the U.S. Mint were reviewed earlier in the week by the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC). Today’s presentations have been updated to highlight the CCAC’s preferences, as well as the preferences of the various liaison groups associated with each submission.

1. CFA 20/APR/23-7, 2024 Harriet Tubman Commemorative Coin Program. Designs for obverse and reverse. Final. Secretary Luebke introduced the design alternatives for a set of three commemorative coins honoring Harriet Tubman to recognize her achievements in helping enslaved people reach freedom before and during the Civil War, and for her further achievements after the Civil War. These non-circulating coins will be sold by the Mint, with the proceeds benefitting two historic sites related to Tubman and her work. He asked program manager Roger Vasquez of the U.S. Mint to present the alternatives.

Mr. Vasquez summarized the authorizing legislation for the coin program, and he described the lifetime achievements of Harriet Tubman. She was born enslaved on a Maryland plantation, circa 1822, and attained freedom in 1849 with the assistance of the Underground Railroad network. Over the next decade, she returned to Maryland thirteen times as part of the Underground Railroad to help other people reach freedom. She continued her work during the Civil War as a nurse, scout, and spy for the Union Army; she recruited African-American soldiers and led an armed expedition, the Combahee River raid, that resulted in freeing more than 700 enslaved people in South Carolina. Tubman continued her advocacy for 54 years after the Civil War, working to assist formerly enslaved people and campaigning for women’s suffrage and access to health care. He emphasized her renown as a visionary, a leader, and a beacon of liberty for all, with a life characterized by unwavering determination in the pursuit of freedom.

Mr. Vasquez described the design intent for the three coins to convey three periods of Tubman’s life and work: the one-dollar silver coin for the period before the Civil War; the fifty-cent clad coin for her achievements during the Civil War; and the five-dollar gold coin for her later years after the Civil War. He said the Mint, in developing the design alternatives, has consulted with liaisons from the two organizations that will receive funds from surcharges on the sale of these coins: the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the Harriet Tubman Home in Auburn, New York. He noted that some of the design alternatives, if selected, may require improvement of Tubman’s portrait; the Mint will coordinate with the artists, the liaisons, and the Mint’s chief engraver to refine the portraits while staying close to the selected compositions. He said the liaisons have identified many preferred designs, and the presentation will focus on the more concise preferences of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC).

For the silver coin, with a 1.5-inch diameter, Mr. Vasquez presented six obverse and six reverse designs. The CCAC’s preferences, also supported by the liaisons, are obverse S-O-01 and reverse S-R-01. The preferred obverse features a portrait of Tubman extending her hand to the viewer; the preferred reverse has silhouetted figures crossing a bridge that is formed by clasped arms, and the sky above includes the Big Dipper constellation pointing to the North Star.

For the clad coin, with a 1.205-inch diameter, Mr. Vasquez presented seven obverse and six reverse designs. The CCAC’s preferences, also supported by the liaisons, are obverse C-O-04 and reverse C-R-05. The preferred obverse features a portrait of Tubman with two boats in the background, representing the Combahee River raid; the preferred reverse depicts Tubman holding a spyglass, symbolizing her work as a scout and spy for the Union Army, with a row of military tents in the background. He said the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center cited this pairing’s connection to the historically significant Combahee River Raid.

For the smaller gold coin, approximately the size of a nickel, Mr. Vasquez presented six obverse and six reverse designs. The CCAC’s preferences, also supported by the liaisons, are obverse G-O-04 and reverse G-R-01A. The preferred obverse features a portrait of Tubman in her later years with a look of determination, confidence, and defiance; the liaison from the Harriet Tubman Home has requested that the scarf on Tubman’s head be adjusted to show more of her hair. The preferred reverse depicts Tubman’s hands holding another person’s hand, symbolizing Tubman’s lifelong effort to help people; this reverse also includes a list of Tubman’s seven core values—faith, freedom, family, community, self-determination, social justice, and equality—which the liaisons support as a design feature.

Chair Tsien invited questions and comments from the Commission members. She noted the potential confusion in evaluating the large number of alternatives that appear to repeat many design features.

Before addressing the specific designs, Mr. Moore made some general comments on the Mint’s submissions. He emphasized the importance of the Mint’s efforts as a public entity to develop coins and medals that convey a wider reflection of the nation’s people, histories, cultures, experiences, and expressions. However, he observed that the process has been challenging, with a constrained and conventional typology for the representations, artwork, and design expressions. He said that the Mint and any other entities involved in the process need to consider how to diversify the pool of artists engaged in this work, going beyond the current diversification of who is represented on the coins and medals. He acknowledged the Mint’s Artistic Infusion Program, which was created to attract a broader pool of artistic talent, but he said that this program should engage a greater diversity of artists and expressions. He observed that the participating artists, as displayed on the Mint’s website, appear to represent a somewhat narrow demographic group that the Mint should try to expand. The design issues to be addressed include how people are depicted, as well as the imagery and symbology that express our collective, complex, and layered histories and cultures.

Mr. Moore said his cumulative impression from reviewing the Mint’s submissions is that the nation is not being represented well, and the need is to reflect a wider range of artistry, design, and expression. He acknowledged that the Mint’s control of the process may be limited, but he urged conveying this advice to any other entities that are involved. He said the Artistic Infusion Program could be the vehicle for addressing these concerns by expanding the group of people who are interpreting the important histories and historical figures of the Mint’s programs. He summarized his frustration at the recurring questions of inappropriate designs during the Commission’s review process, and he observed that concerns are also being raised by the CCAC and the liaison organizations regarding issues such as portraiture and the presentation of the subjects. He said that as an African American, that sometimes viewing the designs makes him uncomfortable because of the substantial problems with the depictions.

Regarding the specific designs for the silver coin honoring Tubman, Mr. Moore expressed support for obverse S-O-01, commenting that the portrait is a good depiction of Tubman in her youth. Noting that she was only in her 20s and 30s during her work before the Civil War, he emphasized the importance of developing and detailing the portrait to clearly portray her as a young Black woman, which will convey a powerful message beyond the mythical figure that she has become. He did not support reverse S-R-01, the preference of the CCAC and the liaisons. He observed that the silhouette theme is reminiscent of the work of artist Kara Walker, who creates powerful art with silhouettes that are layered with meaning and characterization, but this depth of meaning is not conveyed in the coin design; he said the depiction in S-R-01 would be perceived as challenging by many African Americans. He said that alternative S-R-07 raises similar concerns, and he suggested consideration of S-R-02 or S-R-08 for the reverse.

Ms. Delplace expressed support for Mr. Moore’s comments, observing that the imagery of the designs has sometimes been problematic in the past and continues to be challenging. She agreed in supporting obverse S-O-01 for the silver coin. For the reverse, she expressed a strong preference for S-R-08, citing the strength and simplicity of the design featuring clasped hands and a broken chain; she commented that this design is not cluttered with the iconography of some of the other alternatives.

Mr. Vasquez noted that the design of S-R-08 was recently used in a slightly different format for the Mint’s American Innovation series, where it successfully symbolized the Underground Railroad for the Ohio coin; the Mint chose to include it as an alternative for Tubman because of the design’s strong depiction of the theme. He said the design would be re-sculpted to fit the format of the Tubman coin. Ms. Tsien said the reuse of a design would be problematic and disturbing; Mr. McCrery agreed, commenting that he was intending to support S-R-08 until being told of this repetition, and he emphasized that Tubman deserves an original design. Mr. Moore also agreed in opposing the reuse of the design.

Mr. McCrery said he strongly supports obverse S-O-01. For the reverse, he commented that S-R-08 is clearly superior to S-R-02, because it conveys the strain and struggle of escaping from slavery; he observed that the chain is broken but the shackle remains on the wrist, poetically conveying that the escape to the North was only a partial step in the process of attaining freedom. He added that S-R-02 does not convey this struggle, instead implying that people could simply put their hands together to snap the chains. He suggested that reverse S-R-08 could be somehow adapted into a new design.

Ms. Tsien said she agrees with the comments of the other Commission members, particularly with the guidance that the obverse should show Tubman as a young woman, not necessarily as her mythic image. She also supported the suggestion to heavily rework S-R-08 rather than recycle a design that has previously been used for another coin. For reverse S-R-01, while not supporting the use of silhouettes, she commented that the motif of the North Star is a beautiful background feature; she suggested consideration of including this as part of the reworking of S-R-08, which could add to the understanding of breaking the chain. She also suggested detailing S-R-08 to convey that the hands and arms are of a Black person, if possible.

Chair Tsien summarized the consensus to support obverse S-O-01 and a reconceived original version of reverse S-R-08 for the silver coin, with the comments provided. Upon a motion by Mr. Moore with second by Mr. McCrery, the Commission adopted this action.

Mr. McCrery suggested confirming a general sense of the Commission to support Mr. Moore’s wider comments concerning the Mint’s process for attracting artists and developing designs. He suggested that the Commission request a report or a set of goals and next steps for addressing this issue. Chair Tsien expressed support for making this request and asked what form the response should take. Secretary Luebke noted the Commission’s past concerns with the designs being developed through the Artistic Infusion Program. He suggested that the staff prepare a separate letter, not associated with any specific submission, to convey these concerns to the Mint. Chair Tsien supported this procedure, and Mr. McCrery agreed that the issue should not be confined to a particular submission.

The Commission then considered the design alternatives for the clad coin. Mr. Vasquez emphasized the importance to the liaisons of selecting designs that would clearly tie Tubman to the Civil War, and particularly to the Combahee River raid, resulting in their preference for obverse C-O-04 and reverse C-R-05. Ms. Tsien questioned the merit of obverse C-O-04, observing that the composition merely looks like a person with boats in the background. She expressed support for the clear descriptive inscriptions such as “Civil War Nurse Scout Spy” and “Combahee River Raid Leader,” as seen on reverse C-R-05. Mr. Vasquez noted that these inscriptions are shown in various combinations on several of the obverse and reverse alternatives; he also noted that obverse C-O-06 is the same design as reverse C-R-05, except for a different combination of the standard coinage inscriptions.

Mr. McCrery suggested selecting a pairing that does not include a portrait on each side of the coin. He offered support for obverse C-O-06, which would require selecting a reverse design other than C-R-05. He recommended consideration of reverse C-R-01, which he said effectively conveys the difficult geography of the river and coast area. Ms. Tsien expressed support for this pairing; she suggested removing the inscription “Combahee River Raid Leader” from obverse C-O-06, observing that an inscription on reverse C-R-01 references the site of the raid more meaningfully in combination with the hand pointing to the map of the Combahee River area. The remaining obverse inscription of “Civil War Nurse Scout Spy” would emphasize the variety of roles that Tubman had in the Civil War. Mr. McCrery and Mr. Moore supported this modification, and Mr. McCrery suggested consideration of moving the inscription “Liberty” to the lower border of obverse C-O-06 in place of the removed inscription. Upon a motion by Mr. McCrery with second by Ms. Delplace, the Commission recommended obverse C-O-06 and reverse C-R-01 for the clad coin, with the modification to the obverse inscriptions.

The Commission then considered the design alternatives for the gold coin. Ms. Tsien observed that the portraits in the first two obverse alternatives appear to be photographs. Mr. Vasquez clarified that the artist for these alternatives has a rendering style that has a more photographic appearance; he said the Mint generally discourages this technique because the artwork, while having a good appearance, does not translate well into a low-relief sculpture.

Mr. Moore offered support for obverse G-O-04 and reverse G-R-01A, consistent with the preferences of the CCAC and the liaisons; he also supported the presented comments about showing more of Tubman’s hair and refining the portrait as needed to provide a better likeness. He suggested using photographs and other documentation of Tubman’s appearance in her later years, and he cautioned that the Mint should take great care in creating a good likeness. He observed that reverse G-R-01A suggests a conversation among hands at different stages of life; he compared this depiction of helping hands to the image of a hand breaking free from chains on the coin representing the earlier part of Tubman’s life, and he said that the evolution of this motif would convey a strong story for this set of coins. He noted that this reverse design also includes the list of Tubman’s core values, as supported by the liaisons.

Ms. Delplace agreed in supporting reverse G-R-01A. However, she said that she finds all of the obverse alternatives to be unsatisfactory. She said the photographic technique of obverses G-O-01 and G-O-01A would be difficult to convey on coinage; the expressions on obverses G-O-02, G-O-05, and G-O-06 are too stern; and the portrait of obverse G-O-04 appears to depict Tubman at a very advanced age, far beyond her most active years immediately after the Civil War. She agreed in supporting the composition of obverse G-O-04 but recommended a less aged portrait. Mr. Vasquez confirmed the intent to depict Tubman at a different stage of life on each of the coins, while acknowledging that her life after the Civil War spanned roughly fifty years; he said she could be portrayed at a younger age than shown on obverse G-O-04 while still accurately representing her life after the Civil War.

Chair Tsien expressed support for depicting Tubman at different stages of her life, noting the Commission’s early comment that the silver coin should clearly present Tubman as a young woman. She joined in supporting reverse G-R-01A, citing the strength of the design and the list of Tubman’s values, and she suggested using this selection as the basis for deciding on a recommendation for the obverse. Mr. Moore commented that the pairing for each coin should have a consistent age for Tubman’s hands on the reverse and her portrait on the obverse. Mr. McCrery agreed with Ms. Delplace that the portrait in obverse G-O-04 is not yet acceptable, with problems beyond the presented intent to show more of Tubman’s hair. Emphasizing the importance of this coin set, he suggested that the Commission not approve this obverse design, but instead request a revised design that responds to the comments provided.

Secretary Luebke observed that obverse G-O-06 has a portrait conveying a character of dignity with a more ageless appearance, and Tubman is wearing clothing that is clearly from the late 19th century. Mr. Moore, noting the small size of the gold coin, observed that Tubman’s portrait would be very small within the composition of obverse G-O-06; he said an improved version of obverse G-O-04 could result in a very strong design, with Tubman’s character legible at the scale of this coin. He added that obverse G-O-06 is a more conventional depiction of Tubman, while this coin provides the opportunity for a newer expression at an appropriate scale. Chair Tsien agreed, and she suggested adopting the consensus of the Commission. Upon a motion by Mr. Moore with second by Mr. McCrery, the Commission recommended obverse G-O-04 with refinements, including adjustments to the head scarf and the age of the portrait, which the Commission can review in a follow-up submission, and recommended reverse G-R-01A with the comment to coordinate the age of Tubman’s portrait on the obverse and her hands on the reverse.

2. CFA 20/APR/23-8, 2024 Greatest Generation Commemorative Coin Program. Designs for obverse and reverse. Final. Secretary Luebke introduced the design alternatives for a set of three commemorative coins honoring the service and sacrifice of American soldiers and civilians in World War II, a group known as the Greatest Generation. These non-circulating coins will be sold by the Mint, with the proceeds benefitting the Friends of the National World War II Memorial, an organization that works with the National Park Service on behalf of the World War II Memorial on the National Mall; the design of the memorial is the basis for many of the design motifs for the coins. He asked senior design specialist Megan Sullivan of the U.S. Mint to present the alternatives.

Ms. Sullivan said that the authorizing legislation for the coin program—which includes a five-dollar gold coin, a one-dollar silver coin, and a half-dollar clad coin—stipulates that the designs may feature elements of the National World War II Memorial. The memorial, which opened to the public in 2004, honors the 16 million who served in the U.S. armed forces, the more than 400,000 Americans who died in the war, and all who supported the war effort within the U.S. by joining the workforce, planting victory gardens, and cooperating with the rationing programs. More broadly, the memorial honors the commitment of the American people to the common defense, as well as to the causes of peace and freedom from tyranny throughout the world; the memorial is intended to inspire future generations by deepening appreciation of the World War II generation’s accomplishments in securing freedom and democracy, while symbolizing national unity for a common cause. Sales of the coins will help to support educational and commemorative programs, as well as the maintenance and repair of the memorial.

Ms. Sullivan said the Mint has consulted with the Friends of the National World War II Memorial as the liaison organization in developing the design alternatives, and the designs have also been reviewed by the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC). For the nickel-sized gold coin, the smallest in the set, she presented four obverse and seven reverse designs. The CCAC’s preferences, also supported by the liaison, are obverse G-O-03 and reverse G-R-01A. For the silver coin, the largest in the set, she presented nine obverse and eleven reverse designs. The CCAC’s preferences, also supported by the liaison, are obverse S-O-02B and reverse S-R-01A. For the clad coin, which will be slightly smaller than the silver coin, she presented seven obverse and six reverse designs. The CCAC’s preferences, also supported by the liaison, are obverse S-O-03—a design originally proposed as an obverse for the silver coin—and reverse C-R-07.

Mr. McCrery questioned the design approach of depicting features of the World War II Memorial on these coins, as seen in many alternatives; he described this as a confusing effort to memorialize a generation by memorializing a memorial of that generation. He therefore discouraged the design alternatives that are based on the World War II Memorial’s architecture, and he instead encouraged designs focusing on people. Ms. Sullivan acknowledged this concern, while noting that the authorizing legislation specifies that the coins should be emblematic of both the World War II Memorial and the service and sacrifice of the American soldiers and civilians; additionally, the legislation designates the liaison organization, which has expressed a preference for designs that include some imagery from the memorial.

Chair Tsien suggested focusing on the presented alternatives for the five-dollar gold coin. Ms. Delplace expressed support for Mr. McCrery’s comment; she suggested consideration of obverse G-O-04, observing that it includes elements of the memorial while not providing a pictorial representation of it. For example, this design includes rows of stars that refer to the memorial’s wall of gold stars while not directly depicting it; more generally, this design refers to the importance of the gold star for the World War II generation. She suggested considering obverse G-O-04 in conjunction with discussing the reverse alternatives.

Mr. Cook asked if the number of stars in obverse G-O-04 has any significance, perhaps related to the numerical meaning of the stars on the memorial’s wall. Mr. McCrery clarified that the memorial’s intended mathematical relationship between the number of stars and the number of war dead has been disproved, and the wall of stars should not be interpreted as having a special numerical meaning. He commented that obverse G-O-02 is a clearer design, featuring a torch representing an eternal flame; Mr. Cook agreed, commenting that this straightforward, balanced design is especially appropriate for the small size of the gold coin. Ms. Tsien cited the inscription on obverse G-O-02—“They Answered the Call”—as a clear reference to the people of the Greatest Generation. She suggested pairing obverse G-O-02 with one of the reverse designs, and she noted that obverse G-O-04 is essentially repeated as reverse G-R-04. She commented that reverse G-R-01A, the preference of the CCAC and the liaison, would be an appropriate pairing with obverse G-O-02; Mr. McCrery and Mr. Moore agreed.

Mr. McCrery offered a motion to recommend obverse G-O-02 and reverse G-R-01A for the gold coin; he added that the triangular folded U.S. flag on the reverse is incorrect as presented, and this feature should be studied carefully to ensure that it depicts a properly folded 48-star flag. Upon a second by Mr. Moore, the Commission adopted this action.

The Commission then considered the design alternatives for the one-dollar silver coin. Mr. McCrery offered support for the preferences of the CCAC and the liaison: obverse S-O-2B and reverse S-R-1A. Ms. Tsien agreed, observing that both of these designs are quite complex, which results in an appropriate pairing. Upon a motion by Mr. McCrery with second by Mr. Moore, the Commission recommended obverse S-O-02B and reverse S-R-1A for the silver coin.

The Commission then considered the design alternatives for the half-dollar clad coin. Ms. Sullivan noted that the preference of the CCAC and the liaison for the obverse is to use an obverse design that was presented for the silver coin—obverse S-O-03—instead of the obverse alternatives presented for the clad coin; their preference for the reverse is C-R-07. Ms. Tsien observed that C-R-07 features a perspective view of the memorial, which Mr. McCrery had discouraged in his earlier comments. Mr. McCrery offered support for reverse C-R-01, featuring a plowshare that symbolizes farming as part of the nation’s home front contributions to the war effort. He acknowledged that the plowshare may not be clear, but the composition is nonetheless the strongest of the reverse alternatives.

Ms. Tsien observed that several alternatives for the clad coin feature houses or a mourning child; she discouraged these designs because they represent only a slice of the nation’s population and localities. She offered support for using the silver obverse S-O-03, also preferred by the CCAC and the liaison, which features an allegorical figure and a broken sword; for the reverse, she suggested adapting the clad obverse C-O-05, which has a composition of industrial and farming implements. Mr. McCrery agreed, observing that this pairing would result in a poetic combination of implements that are broken or in use. Ms. Tsien offered a motion to recommend silver obverse S-O-03 for the obverse of the clad coin, and clad obverse C-O-05 for the reverse of the clad coin. Upon a second by Mr. McCrery, the Commission adopted this action.

3. CFA 20/APR/23-9, Congressional Gold Medal honoring the members of the “Six Triple Eight.” Design for gold medal. Final. Secretary Luebke introduced the design alternatives for a Congressional Gold Medal honoring the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, known as the Six Triple Eight, which was a U.S. Army unit of more than 800 Black women who served in England and France during World War II. The 6888th cleared a backlog of more than 17 million mail items for U.S. troops at a rate of nearly 200,000 per day. The authorizing legislation calls for striking a single gold medal, and bronze duplicates will be available for sale to the public. He asked senior design specialist Megan Sullivan of the U.S. Mint to present the alternatives.

Ms. Sullivan described the history of the 6888th, which sorted the backlog of letters and packages intended for American servicemembers across Europe; prior to this effort, the lack of reliable mail service was hurting the morale of the military, and mail delivery was especially challenging because the servicemembers were changing location frequently. The battalion commander, Maj. Charity Adams, devised a process to resolve the problem in half the time that the U.S. Army had projected, and her likeness is portrayed in some of the design alternatives.

Ms. Stafford said the Mint has developed the designs in consultation with three liaison organizations, two of which have provided preferences for the design alternatives; the designs have also been reviewed by the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC). She presented five alternatives for the obverse design and four alternatives for the reverse design; the preferences of the CCAC and the liaisons are obverse O-03 and reverse R-03, although these designs would need some modifications, including refinement of facial features and adjustments to the uniforms. She noted that the diameter of the Congressional Gold Medal is three inches; the bronze duplicates will be available at diameters of three inches or approximately 1.3 inches. Chair Tsien observed that the relatively large three-inch size allows for some complexity in the medal design.

Mr. McCrery offered support for obverse O-03, the preference of the CCAC and the liaisons, with the understanding that it would be refined as described in the presentation. He recommended adjusting the background U.S. flag in obverse O-03 to correctly show the 48-star flag that was current during World War II, which has a simple grid of stars instead of a staggered pattern. He and Mr. Moore also observed that a reference to “6888th” is included in the perimeter text but it is not featured prominently.

Ms. Tsien and Mr. Cook joined in supporting obverse O-03. Mr. Cook also suggested support for obverse O-01, commenting that this design shows the women actively engaged in their work, while obverse O-03 is a posed line-up. Agreeing with this comment, Mr. Moore expressed a preference for obverse O-01, citing its emphasis on the actual work performed by the battalion rather than simply a military formation. He said he could also support obverse O-03 if this is the preference of the other Commission members; however, he said this design would need significant improvement in the portraiture. He noted his concern with poor portraiture during the review of the Harriet Tubman coin series earlier on today’s agenda, although he said obverse O-03 is less problematic in its representation.

Mr. McCrery suggested using obverse O-01 as the reverse design, commenting that it more successfully conveys the battalion’s work than reverse R-03, which was the preference of the CCAC and the liaisons. Mr. Cook commented that he does not support any of the presented reverse designs; Ms. Tsien said this problem could be addressed by using one of the obverse designs instead, and she agreed with Mr. McCrery’s suggestion to use obverse O-01 as the reverse design. Mr. McCrery recommended coordinating the inscriptions with the pairing of obverses O-03 and O-01 by eliminating the duplication of “6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion” and adding the battalion’s motto—“No Mail, Low Morale”—that appears in several of the other design alternatives. Ms. Tsien supported this recommendation; she suggested keeping the “6888th” text in obverse O-01, which is larger and more legible than on obverse O-03.

Chair Tsien summarized the consensus of the Commission to recommend obverse O-03 for the obverse, with the “6888th” text replaced by the battalion’s motto, along with the additional refinements described by the Mint; and for the reverse, to recommend the design presented as obverse O-01. Upon a second by Mr. McCrery, the Commission adopted this action.

4. CFA 20/APR/23-10, Congressional Gold Medal honoring the Service Members who Perished in Afghanistan on August 26, 2021. Design for gold medal. Final. Secretary Luebke introduced the design alternatives for a Congressional Gold Medal honoring the thirteen members of the American military who died in a bombing at the Kabul airport during the evacuation from Afghanistan in 2021. He noted that the authorizing legislation calls for striking a single gold medal, and bronze duplicates will be available for sale to the public. He recalled that Congress has limited the number of Congressional Gold Medals to two per year. He asked senior design specialist Megan Sullivan of the U.S. Mint to present the alternatives. Ms. Sullivan clarified that the past limit of two Congressional Gold Medals per year has been eliminated; for example, four medals were authorized at the beginning of 2023, as the previous Congressional term was ending, so additional submissions will be forthcoming.

Ms. Sullivan summarized the authorizing legislation and described the suicide bombing in Kabul on August 26, 2021, which reportedly killed as many as 200 people, including thirteen Americans who were members of the U.S. Army, Navy, and Marine Corps. As specified in the legislation, the Mint has developed the designs in consultation with liaisons from the American Gold Star Mothers, the Gold Star Wives of America, and the Special Operations Association of America. She presented eight alternatives for the obverse design and six alternatives for the reverse design. She noted the preferences of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee, with the agreement of all three liaisons: obverse O-06 and reverse R-06. She also noted that all of the reverse alternatives include the names of the thirteen U.S. servicemembers, sequenced for the lengths of the names to fit within the composition.

Mr. McCrery asked about the meaning of the row of stars toward the top of obverse O-06. Ms. Sullivan responded that these thirteen stars represent the thirteen fallen U.S. servicemembers. Mr. McCrery offered support for obverse O-06 and reverse R-06, as preferred by the CCAC and the liaisons. Mr. Cook agreed in supporting reverse R-06, but he questioned the choice of obverse O-06. While acknowledging the symbolism of the thirteen stars, he observed that this design features five silhouettes of servicemembers, a number that has no apparent significance. He also observed that the airplane appears to be resting on the large group of anonymous, faceless people seen from the back at the bottom of the medal. He said the composition of this obverse has merit, but its message is unclear. He added that he does not support any of the other obverse designs as a better alternative. Ms. Delplace agreed, commenting that the depiction of the airplane and the people on the tarmac conveys a problematic message.

Ms. Tsien expressed dissatisfaction with the presented reverse designs, describing them as crude and hardly more than cartoons. Mr. McCrery added that the obverse designs also seem cartoonish; Ms. Tsien agreed. Mr. Cook suggested refining obverse O-06, perhaps by adding more silhouettes of servicemembers and removing the large group of people at the bottom. Secretary Luebke noted that the Commission could choose not to recommend any of the submitted designs; alternatively, the Commission could recommend extensive revisions to a design, as suggested by Mr. Cook.

Mr. McCrery agreed with the concern about the faceless group in the foreground of obverse O-06. However, he observed that the evacuation process involved an enormous demand for the very limited space in the departing airplanes, resulting in the concentration of Afghanis and of American servicemembers that became a target for the terrorist bombing. He said the depiction of these conditions—the plane, the landscape, and the throng of people—would be deeply meaningful for the people who will likely be most interested in seeing this medal. He suggested addressing Mr. Cook’s concern by personalizing the people depicted in the crowd, while leaving the representation of the servicemembers as silhouettes. Mr. Cook questioned whether this solution would be effective at the scale of the medal.

Mr. Moore observed that obverse O-05 depicts an evacuation scene in which the people are more clearly depicted. He agreed with the concern that obverse O-06 depicts anonymous figures for such a recent historical event; he said that obverse O-05 would better convey the sacrifices involved in helping people evacuate under such challenging circumstances. He also acknowledged Mr. McCrery’s observation that the symbols and representation should be meaningful to the medal’s intended audience, as shown by the support of all three liaison organizations for obverse O-06; he commented that this design is not successful as presented, but he offered support for revising it to provide a better representation of the people within the crowd.

Mr. Cook agreed that obverse O-05 is an interesting alternative: it clearly depicts the U.S. servicemembers providing humanitarian assistance, along with the faces of the Afghanis, and the airplane in the background has its cargo door open as a welcoming gesture. He said that he would be willing to support this obverse design.

Ms. Tsien said she has ambivalent feelings about the Afghanistan situation. She commented that obverse O-06 has the advantage of not depicting people as saviors, while it symbolizes the people who were killed and conveys the conditions of the evacuation; she said that this design allows more flexibility for people to have their own views about the situation. She characterized obverse O-05 as seeming more like propaganda; while acknowledging that a purpose of medals may be to deliver a message, she emphasized her strong preference for the more open-ended message of obverse O-06.

Chair Tsien suggested a motion to recommend obverse O-06 and reverse O-06, with the request for revising the obverse to more fully depict the people on the ground instead of treating them as embellished “stick figures.” Mr. Moore supported this advice, and Mr. McCrery said it would result in a more beautiful medal. Upon a second by Mr. McCrery, the Commission adopted this action with votes in favor by Chair Tsien, Mr. McCrery, and Mr. Moore. Ms. Delplace and Mr. Cook voted against the motion; Ms. Delplace said the designs and messaging need more work, and she is unable to support any of the presented alternatives. Chair Tsien suggested conveying the Commission’s concerns about the designs and the lack of a strong endorsement.

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 3:39 p.m.


Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA