Minutes for CFA Meeting — 16 November 2023

The meeting was convened by videoconference at 9:01 a.m.

Members participating:
Hon. Billie Tsien, Chair
Hon. Hazel Ruth Edwards, Vice 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
Kay Fanning
Daniel Fox
Carlton Hart
Vivian Lee
Tony Simon

I. Administration

A. Approval of the minutes of the 19 October meeting. Secretary Luebke reported that the minutes of the October meeting were circulated to the Commission members in advance. Upon a motion by Mr. McCrery with second by Mr. Cook, the Commission approved the minutes. Mr. Luebke said the document will be available on the Commission’s website.

B. Dates of next meetings. Secretary Luebke presented the dates for upcoming Commission meetings, as previously published: 18 January, 15 February, and 21 March 2024. He noted that no Commission meeting is scheduled in December.

Secretary Luebke noted that the previously publicized draft agenda had included an additional administrative item on the potential for a shutdown of federal operations when the current appropriations end in the coming weekend. This issue now appears to be resolved with the Congressional passage of another temporary appropriations bill.

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. Hart reported that no changes have been made to the draft appendix, which includes eight projects. Upon a motion by Ms. Delplace with second by Mr. Moore, the Commission approved the Government Submissions Consent Calendar.

Appendix II – Shipstead-Luce Act Submissions: Ms. Lee reported that the recommendations for three projects have been revised to be favorable based on further consultation with the applicants (case numbers SL 24-010, 24-022, and 24-038). Other revisions are limited to minor wording changes and the notation of dates for the receipt of supplemental materials. The recommendations for eight projects are subject to further coordination with the applicants, and she requested authorization to finalize these recommendations when the outstanding issues are resolved. Upon a motion by Mr. Cook with second by Mr. McCrery, the Commission approved the revised Shipstead-Luce Act Appendix. (See agenda item II.G for an additional Shipstead-Luce Act submission.)

Appendix III – Old Georgetown Act Submissions: Mr. Fox reported that no changes have been made to the draft appendix, which includes 31 projects. Upon a motion by Ms. Delplace with second by Mr. McCrery, the Commission approved the Old Georgetown Act Appendix.

At this point, the Commission departed from the order of the agenda to consider items II.D, II.E, and II.G. Secretary Luebke said that the Commission had identified these submissions as ones that could be approved without presentations.

D. Smithsonian Institution

CFA 16/NOV/23-3, Smithsonian Institution Building (The Castle), 1000 Jefferson Drive, SW. Revitalization of the Historic Core – Phase 2, building and landscape renovations and modernizations. Final. (Previous: CFA 15/SEP/22-2) Secretary Luebke noted that the Commission had approved this project at the concept stage, followed by numerous consultation meetings, and the staff is now in the process of inspecting the material samples that have been submitted. Chair Tsien endorsed the secretary’s suggestion that the Commission approve the final design and delegate review of the remaining design issues and details to the staff. Upon a motion by Mr. Moore with second by Mr. Stroik, the Commission adopted this action. Chair Tsien expressed appreciation for the thorough presentations of this project in the past reviews.

E. D.C. Public Library

CFA 16/NOV/23-4, Southeast Neighborhood Library, 403 7th Street, SE. Renovations and additions to existing building. Final. (Previous: CFA 20/JUL/23-4) Secretary Luebke noted that the Commission had provided comments during previous reviews, and the staff has worked with the project team to resolve the design issues. Ms. Delplace recommended simplifying the landscape design, which she described as “a very complex plan on a very complex site.” She said that maintenance would likely be problematic, and the number of plant species should be reduced. Mr. Cook agreed that easier maintenance should be a consideration in simplifying the landscape design. Chair Tsien suggested approving the final design and delegating review of the remaining issues to the staff. Upon a motion by Mr. Cook with second by Dr. Edwards, the Commission adopted this action. Mr. Stroik voted against the motion, citing his comments from the review of the project in January 2022.

G. D.C. Department of Buildings—Shipstead-Luce Act

SL 24-037, Single family residence, 4660 Broad Branch Road, NW. Renovation and addition. Concept. Secretary Luebke said the site is an irregularly shaped lot on the steeply sloped and wooded edge of the Broad Branch stream valley; the staff has identified some issues to be addressed as the concept design is developed. Chair Tsien said the Commission members have examined the submission drawings and have expressed concern that the components of the house’s massing should be better related to each other; she cited the overhang on the front elevation and the protruding light-gray massing adjacent to the front entrance. She said the Commission agrees with the staff’s design concerns, and she suggested approval of the concept with support for the staff in working with the architect to resolve the massing issues. Upon a motion by Mr. Cook with second by Dr. Edwards, the Commission adopted this action. Mr. McCrery did not support the motion; while agreeing with the comments provided, he described the design quality as very poor, and he said the perimeter of federal parkland deserves better design treatment than currently proposed. Chair Tsien suggested including this concern as the staff consults on the development of the design.

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

B. U.S. Department of the Army / Arlington National Cemetery

CFA 16/NOV/23-1, Arlington National Cemetery, Section 16, Arlington, Virginia. Removal of the bronze elements of the Confederate Memorial. Information presentation. Secretary Luebke introduced the presentation on removing the bronze elements of the Confederate Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery. In 1901, Congress authorized Confederate remains from this cemetery and other locations to be reinterred in a designated area of the cemetery: Section 16, located at the upper western side of the cemetery near Joint Base Myer–Henderson Hall. At the time, the United Daughters of the Confederacy raised funds to erect the memorial, commissioning the design by sculptor and Confederate veteran Moses Jacob Ezekiel for a 32-foot-high bronze statuary group set on a granite base. The memorial was installed in 1914 at the center of Section 16, surrounded by Confederate graves arranged in concentric circles around it.

Mr. Luebke said today’s presentation to the Commission is pursuant to Public Law 116-283 of 2021, which directs the Secretary of Defense to implement a set of recommendations that were developed regarding the military’s commemorations of the Confederate States of America or people who served with the Confederacy. One of the adopted recommendations is for removal of this cemetery’s Confederate Memorial—specifically, to remove the memorial’s bronze elements while leaving the granite base and foundation in place to minimize the risk of disturbing the surrounding graves. He said the Commission is not being asked to approve the Army’s removal of the memorial, which has already been decided; the legislative requirement is for the removal to be planned and coordinated with the Commission of Fine Arts.

Mr. Luebke said that public input in this process is occurring as part of the ongoing federal regulatory processes for historic preservation and environmental review. He noted that the Commission received a copy of a letter addressed to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation from a representative of the Defend Arlington group; the letter describes the group’s objections to the National Historic Preservation Act review process, which it believes has been flawed. To give the information presentation, he introduced Caitlin Smith, a cultural resources program manager for the Army National Military Cemeteries, which manages all military cemeteries, including Arlington National Cemetery.

Ms. Smith provided background on the project, noting that the removal of the Confederate Memorial is a non-discretionary action mandated by Congress; with today’s presentation, the Army is seeking advice and comments from the Commission in an advisory capacity. She noted the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act directed the establishment of a Naming Commission to decide how to handle the military properties and assets that commemorate the Confederate States of America; the Naming Commission recommended deconstruction and removal of the bronze elements, and Congress mandated the Secretary of Defense to implement the Naming Commission’s recommendations. As such, she noted the removal of the Confederate Memorial by Arlington National Cemetery is a non-discretionary action mandated by Congress.

Ms. Smith described the memorial and the surrounding section of the cemetery, indicating the 441 white marble headstones organized in a circular arrangement with the Confederate Memorial as the focal point. This section also includes one private marker for Mr. Ezekiel, who is interred adjacent to his sculpture. The memorial consists of several components: a large female figure at the top represents the South; four urns under the female figure each represent one year of the Civil War; a frieze located beneath the urns is decorated with 14 shields representing the 11 Confederate states and the three border states; and below the frieze, a bronze bas-relief with 32 sculptures portrays mythical gods alongside Southern soldiers and civilians, including two enslaved African Americans. She said the bas-relief depicts the sculptor’s own interpretation of antebellum Southern society as it related to enslavement and the Civil War.

Ms. Smith said the Army’s intended removal process is to carefully deconstruct, crate, and transport the bronze components to a secure, temporary storage facility pending a final disposition determination, which will be decided in the future. The granite pedestal on which the memorial sits will be left in situ. The appearance and condition of the granite surface beneath the memorial is unknown, and she said the Army will make any necessary temporary repairs to ensure that the remaining granite base is watertight and safe for visitors. While the disassembly work occurs, the surrounding landscape, graves, and headstones will be protected, and fencing will encircle Section 16 to protect the surrounding area and to ensure the safety of staff and visitors. After the memorial’s removal, the site and its landscaping will be restored.

Ms. Smith said the Army is currently executing a coordinated compliance effort for the National Environmental Policy Act and National Historic Preservation Act. The Army is analyzing the environmental impacts of the project, and she noted that the memorial is eligible to be listed in the National Register of Historic Places. For the historic preservation process, the Army initiated stakeholder consultation earlier in 2023 and the Army has been coordinating with the state historic preservation office––the Virginia Department of Historic Resources––and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, as well as consulting parties and the public. As part of the historic preservation review, a survey of the memorial was prepared in 2022, consistent with the standards of the Historic American Buildings Survey for documenting sculptural objects; the survey generated a photogrammetric model of the memorial, which was then used to create scale plans and elevations. She added that the memorial is located either within or near multiple historic districts and properties, including Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington House, Fort Myer, and Arlington Memorial Bridge; the Army found adverse effects to several historic resources and is developing mitigation to address them, which will likely include requirements for documentation, interpretation, and compliance with disassembly and storage performance standards.

Chair Tsien expressed appreciation for the presentation and invited observations and comments from the Commission members. Mr. McCrery asked about the Commission’s role in the historic preservation review process; Secretary Luebke responded that the Commission does not have a direct responsibility in this process, nor in the environmental review process, and the Commission is not a signatory to the resulting agreements, but information about the status of each process may be helpful to the Commission.

Mr. McCrery agreed with the decision to remove the bronze elements, but he questioned the intent to retain the granite plinth. He said that leaving the granite plinth, which itself lacks any iconographic content, would create the “presence of absence” and may lead to speculation and possibly the need for re-interpretation. While acknowledging the Army’s desire to reduce potential land disturbance around the memorial, including the sculptor’s own grave, he nonetheless noted the expert excavation skill of the cemetery’s staff; he strongly recommended that the Army consider a more appropriate proposal to remove the entire granite plinth along with the sculpture, and then to restore the lawn and the landscape. He suggested that planting a large specimen tree in the middle of Section 16—without any dedication—would be an appropriate replacement for the memorial within the cemetery landscape.

Mr. Stroik thanked the Army for the presentation and asked about the disposition of the bronze elements after the memorial has been dismantled, suggesting that they might be reassembled for display in a museum or a garden. Ms. Smith responded that the Army has been focused on meeting the legislative requirement to remove the bronze elements by January 1, 2024; in the near term these elements will go into storage, and she said the Army will continue to consider the issue of longer-term disposition.

Mr. Moore said he agrees with Mr. McCrery’s strong recommendation to remove the base. He observed that the nationwide issue of reconsidering past memorials has often resulted in an undetermined and unresolved condition in public landscapes for extended periods. He also observed that the specific design of this base and plinth is a significant mark in the landscape of Arlington National Cemetery, rising nearly three feet above grade. He said that the memorial’s base, while not as significant as the bronze elements, is itself still part of the commemorative work; he therefore recommended further study and consideration of what happens to the base after the reparative action of removing the bronze elements. Mr. Cook agreed, commenting that future visitors to the site should not be confronted with an inexplicable void or absence in the middle of the landscape. Observing that today’s presentation has focused on the near-term removal, he recommended more consideration of what happens afterward, including further consultation with the Commission.

Ms. Smith noted that discussions with historic preservation stakeholders have included the possibility of future interpretation at the memorial site, possibly including “creative ways to show what was there.” Future discussions will address the appearance of the site, which has not yet been determined, and any proposed changes to the landscape would be submitted to the Commission for review. Several Commission members expressed wariness about reinterpreting the memorial, instead suggesting a need for further analysis and discussion to determine the most appropriate way forward.

Chair Tsien summarized the strong consensus of the Commission to recommend removing the memorial’s plinth, possibly replacing it with a tree. Secretary Luebke said this guidance is appropriate within the constraints of this project; while removal of the bronze elements is anticipated to happen very soon, the comments focus on the long-term treatment of the site. Chair Tsien noted that today’s consultation fulfills the Commission’s responsibility to comment on the plans for removal of the memorial.

C. U.S. Department of the Navy

CFA 16/NOV/23-2, Washington Navy Yard, M and 11th Streets, SE. Revisions to master plan, southeast corner parcels. Information presentation. Secretary Luebke introduced the presentation on revisions to the Washington Navy Yard Master Plan for the development of a group of parcels on the southeastern part of the installation into a 2.05-million-square-foot mixed-use enclave. He noted that the Navy Yard dates back to the beginning of the 19th century, and it has been in active use for most of the time since then. The master plan revisions are a component of a larger land exchange agreement between the Navy and the General Services Administration (GSA), which manages land uses at the adjacent Southeast Federal Center, also known as The Yards, a private-sector development area. The 2019 National Defense Authorization Act authorized the exchange to address ongoing security concerns for Navy facilities at the western part of the Navy Yard. The land exchange would transfer several parcels from the Southeast Federal Center to the Navy; the Navy would prepare redevelopment guidelines for these parcels, known as the E Parcels, and submit them as a future master plan amendment. In exchange, the Navy would provide a long-term lease to a private developer for redevelopment of a separate 15-acre area, called the O Parcels, in the southeast corner of the Navy Yard. This area is located south of O Street and within one of the Navy Yard’s historic districts, including the contributing structures of a dry dock, a marine railway, and several associated buildings.

Mr. Luebke said the planned development of the O Parcels would occur in several phases, eventually totaling approximately two million square feet in a mix of retail, residential, hospitality, cultural, and recreational uses. The planned buildings would be primarily oriented in a north–south direction to maximize views through the site and to the Anacostia River. The revised master plan would establish height restrictions near the historic buildings around the dry dock and other historic resources, as well as setbacks from the riverfront. He noted that the typical building developments on the O Parcels, which remain under federal ownership, are intended to follow current D.C. zoning codes and are not as tightly regulated as the parcels within The Yards development to the west of the Navy Yard.

Mr. Luebke said today’s presentation will provide context for upcoming individual proposals that will be submitted by the Navy. He noted that the master plan update was presented to the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) earlier in November, and an issue arose of whether the height and massing of the planned development would have problematic impacts on the 11th Street Bridge Park project located southeast of the O Parcels. He said the NCPC review generally supported the overall development approach proposed by the Navy, including the rehabilitation of the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail and the historic piers, with the requirement for additional consultation with the stakeholders to mitigate the visual impacts, particularly from the 11th Street Bridge Park. He introduced Nicole Tompkins-Flagg, the Navy Facilities Command’s liaison to the Commission, to provide the information presentation.

Ms. Tompkins-Flagg provided background on the project. She said the Navy will be reacquiring the E Parcels from the Southeast Federal Center to improve the Navy Yard’s protection against terrorism. To achieve this acquisition, the Navy has signed an agreement to exchange a lease for the O Parcels on the Navy Yard for the existing development rights to the E Parcels. The anticipated mixed-use development on the O Parcels would include approximately 328,000 square feet of office space, 538,000 square feet of residential space, and 581 parking spaces. In accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act, the Navy has completed an environmental Impact Statement (EIS) analyzing the environmental effects of the Navy’s acquisition of the E Parcels. The EIS studied three action alternatives, along with a no-action alternative in which the Navy would not acquire the E Parcels, instead allowing the developer to proceed with the previously planned mixed-use development on the E Parcels. The preferred alternative is that the Navy will exchange certain underused properties within the Navy Yard’s southeast corner to obtain acquisition rights and ownership of the E Parcels; the Navy will acquire the development rights to the six-acre parcels and GSA will transfer ownership of the parcels to the Navy via federal-to-federal transfer. In exchange for the acquisition rights, the Navy would lease and/or transfer the underused assets, approximately 15 acres at the southeast corner, to the private developer; she indicated these areas on the plan, including part of the leased area where transfer is not possible because it is part of a National Historic Landmark (NHL), which the Navy has agreed to maintain in perpetuity.

Ms. Tompkins-Flagg said that concurrent with the EIS process, the Navy has undertaken extensive consultation on historic preservation issues; the determination was that the planned exchange would potentially have impacts on archeological resources and on historic properties. The full extent of the impacts cannot be determined until more specific proposals are developed, but a process has been outlined through a programmatic agreement (PA), developed with the consulting parties and executed in July 2023, to continue the consultation as the designs are developed; the designs will incorporate mitigation measures that are consistent with the PA.

Ms. Tompkins-Flagg said the Navy’s acquisition of the 6-acre E Parcels would enable the Navy to improve its anti-terrorism capability and protect adjacent mission-critical activities from encroachment. Additionally, the E Parcels are envisioned as the site for a relocated national Navy Museum, addressing the limitations of the existing museum within the Navy Yard and improving public access to Navy artifacts by moving the museum outside the Navy Yard’s secure perimeter. The private-sector lease for the 15-acre O Parcels would make this land developable and taxable, which will benefit the local community, and the redevelopment of this area would allow public access to some of the existing historic resources within the Navy Yard. She noted that the Navy will continue to have responsibility for overseeing historic preservation in the leased area, including maintenance of all buildings until they are used by the developer; the Navy is preparing documentation for the affected historic buildings and structures, as well as for the landscape of the Navy Yard waterfront.

Ms. Tompkins-Flagg said the multi-family residential development on the O Parcels would include up to 1,700 new rental units and possibly for-sale units. Eight percent of the new housing would be set aside as subsidized affordable housing through the D.C. Government’s inclusionary zoning program. In addition, the O Parcels would include over 85,000 square feet of retail space, including rehabilitation of a currently inaccessible historic building as a 35,000-square-foot market and food hall. The master plan would also designate more than five acres of park and open space land along the waterfront promenade, improvements to the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail, and possible connections to the 11th Street Bridge Park. The development is anticipated to provide more than $48 million annually to the D.C. Government from real estate, income, and sales taxes; to employ thousands of people during construction; and on completion to provide over 400 new permanent full-time jobs. Overall, she said, the land exchange would generate 1.5 to 2 billion dollars of projected economic investment over the next decade.

Ms. Tompkins-Flagg said the process has resulted in four primary master planning principles: first, to increase public access to the historic elements and make these elements and their interpretation central to the design of the site; second, to provide an expansive waterfront that will enhance the existing neighborhood; third, to preserve and strengthen the north–south viewsheds on Parsons Avenue and 10th Street; and fourth, to extend the typical north-south orientation of the existing historic Navy Yard buildings to the new construction. The master plan includes a 75-foot setback from the Anacostia River to allow generous frontage for a variety of activities, including the recreational use of the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail, landscaped zones for respite, and terraces for dining and events. One essential consideration has been the extension of the L’Enfant Plan view corridors on Parsons Avenue and 10th Street to the Anacostia River. Extension of this street grid has informed the placement of the planned new buildings adjacent to these streets and between 10th and 11th Streets. The existing industrial architectural language of the Navy Yard is perpendicularly aligned to the river, and most of the new buildings would maintain this alignment, accentuating the existing grid while emphasizing the view corridors.

Ms. Tompkins-Flagg said that building heights were an important subject of discussion during consultation, and the consulting parties have arrived at a consensus. All buildings within the National Historic Landmark (NHL) area—Buildings A, B, C, and D on the site plan—would remain at their current heights, while new buildings within this area— Buildings 8, 9, 10, and 11—would range in height from 25 to 55 feet, consistent with the maximum height of historic buildings. Buildings 1 and 7, located on the other side of Parsons Avenue facing the NHL area, would step down from the maximum allowable height of 130 feet to 110 feet in order to minimize their impact on the NHL. Elsewhere, new buildings would rise to the maximum height of 130 feet to allow the development program to reach the amount of 2.05 million square feet necessary for the land exchange.

Ms. Tompkins-Flagg presented concept views illustrating the anticipated architectural character. The varied architectural languages of the site’s historic buildings have been used to inform new construction, and the direct relationship of the industrial part of the site to the waterfront along the Anacostia River has been studied. The materials palette for the new construction would be further developed and presented to the Commission as part of the reviews for individual buildings. She discussed a couple of historic buildings in more detail. She indicated historic Building 70, which would be renovated as a market and food hall; historic openings that have been closed, such as skylights, would be reopened, while new openings would be made, taking care to minimize their impact on the historic structure. The marine railway area would include new pavilions that recall past outbuildings in this area. She also indicated the landscape design along Parsons Avenue, which would separate the marine railway area from the remaining development of the O Parcels to the east. At the project’s northeast corner, the intent is to retain most of the facades of the northern part of historic Building 166, dating from 1918, including restoration of its porches; new construction would replace the 1941 southern addition to Building 166 and would also rise above the retained portion. Based on volumetric studies, the intent is to allow the new construction to rise directly from the historic facades without a setback, and the new construction would rise to the maximum allowable height of 130 feet. South of Building 166, at the southeast corner of the O Parcels, three newly constructed buildings—labelled as Buildings 3, 4, and 5—would have a height of 130 feet, and their design would incorporate parts of the historic facade being removed from Building 166.

Chair Tsien asked Secretary Luebke to read a letter from Scott Kratz, the senior vice president of Building Bridges Across the River, the non-profit organization responsible for constructing the 11th Street Bridge Park in partnership with the D.C. Government. Mr. Luebke said the letter expresses Mr. Kratz’s concerns about this project. The 11th Street Bridge Park is intended to be the city’s first elevated park, linking communities divided by the Anacostia River, and it will provide a varied program of community amenities. Mr. Kratz writes that although his group is excited about the Navy project’s potential to activate the current parking lots on land adjacent to the 11th Street Bridge Park, the concern is that the new construction would block the sightlines from the park’s viewing platform toward the Washington Monument, the U.S. Capitol, and other historic federal buildings in central Washington. Mr. Kratz notes that the Commission has previously cited the views as a feature of the planned park, and he emphasizes the significant loss that would result from blocked these views with a 130-foot-tall private building. Mr. Kratz writes that at the NCPC review earlier in November, the NCPC staff report required the Navy and its private developer to work with his organization to address several issues: identify existing and proposed viewsheds and overlooks; evaluate modifications to the Navy’s master plan to accommodate sightlines to the Capitol dome, the Washington Monument, and other landmarks; and develop a process for continuing coordination between the two projects, from design development through construction. Mr. Kratz notes that NCPC unanimously accepted the report, and he urges the Commission of Fine Arts to incorporate similar language in its own review. Mr. Kratz closes by expressing confidence that a workable solution can be devised that will be acceptable to all parties—a solution that creates a view corridor for the residents of D.C. while securing the density needed for the Navy’s planned development.

Chair Tsien noted the intent for eight percent of the residential development to be affordable housing; she asked if this would be a permanent requirement or only for a limited period of time. Ms. Tompkins-Flagg responded that this issue is still being discussed with the D.C. Office of Planning, and an answer will be determined before the Navy returns to the Commission for approval of the master plan revisions. Chair Tsien said that in New York City, when a certain percentage of large new buildings is allocated to affordable housing, the city establishes a limited time period during which it remains affordable housing before it becomes market-rate housing. For the Navy Yard project, she urged the federal government to make a strong commitment to creating affordable housing. She then invited questions and comments from the Commission members.

Ms. Delplace said that eight percent of the intended 1,700 housing units would be 136 affordable units, a number that she characterized as very low. Observing that this site seems like an ideal location for affordable housing, she asked if these units would be for rental or purchase. Ms. Tompkins-Flagg said this is another question under discussion with the D.C. Office of Planning, and the decision will be included in the Navy’s next submission. Ms. Delplace recalled that the D.C. Government requires a ratio higher than eight percent for workforce and affordable housing. Ms. Tompkins-Flagg responded that within the Anacostia waterfront area, the percentage on most projects is much lower; the requirement through the inclusionary zoning program is eight percent, although some projects in Washington have had higher percentages.

Regarding building heights adjacent to the 11th Street Bridge Park, Mr. McCrery observed that no buildings along the Anacostia River are even close to a height of 13 stories. Mr. Luebke noted that the presented building heights are relative to a ground plane that would be elevated in response to flood concerns; Ms. Tompkins-Flagg added that buildings adjacent to Parsons Aveue will be 110 feet and the others will be 130 feet. Sohael Chowfla, senior vice president of development at Redbrick LMD—the private-sector developer in the land exchange agreement—provided additional details on the elevation of the O Parcels. He said the ground plane would be elevated to a height of 15 feet above mean sea level (MSL), which would raise it above the 500-year floodplain level of 14.2 feet plus the tidal buffer zone that adds an additional 0.8 feet. Mr. McCrery asked where existing grade is located with respect to these building height measuring points, and he asked for clarification of the 15-foot elevated ground plane in relation to the 75-foot-deep waterfront setback; Mr. Chowfla responded that the building heights are based on a measuring point on 11th Street, which he said is 15 feet above MSL. The 75-foot-wide waterfront setback zone would step up from four feet above MSL at the water’s edge—the current elevation of the boardwalk—to the 15-foot height, a rise of 11 feet within the 75-foot-wide zone. Mr. McCrery observed that the building heights relative to the waterfront boardwalk would therefore be 11 feet taller than the presented heights, which he characterized as a significant difference. Mr. Luebke noted that D.C. height regulations allow even more height above the presented numbers—20 feet of occupiable penthouse space, subject to setbacks.

Mr. Moore asked for confirmation of the total height for the planned buildings. Mr. McCrery calculated that, depending on the measuring point, the buildings described to be 130 feet high would actually rise 161 feet above the lower edge of the waterfront setback zone—the presented height of 130 feet, plus the measuring point that would be elevated by 11 feet, plus the 20-foot penthouse height. Mr. Chowfla clarified that the regulations require that penthouses have a one-to-one setback from the building envelope, and any occupiable portions of penthouses generate their own additional affordable housing requirement under the inclusive zoning regulations.

Mr. McCrery observed that the intended building heights would be extraordinary within the larger context of the riverbanks on both sides of the Anacostia. He asked if the proposed height has been studied in comparison to other buildings along the river. Mr. Chowfla responded that height was studied as part of the EIS, and that building heights in the Capitol Riverfront area west of the Navy Yard range from 110 to 130 feet with the proposed development on the O Parcels falling within this range. Mr. McCrery clarified that his question is about a comparison to buildings located directly along the riverfront; Mr. Chowfla responded that several 130-foot-tall buildings are located along the river bank to the west of the Navy Yard. Mr. Luebke questioned this response, indicating an aerial view of the site from the southeast. Mr. Chowfla said this view shows 130-foot-tall buildings immediately adjacent to the Nationals ballpark, near the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge; Mr. Luebke noted that the ballpark is about a mile west of the project site. Mr. Chowfla said the right-of-way along 11th Street is wide, as is the right-of-way of South Capitol Street along the ballpark, which is the justification for the height of 130 feet at both locations. Mr. Luebke said that only one site, the Florida Rock property, is planned for 130-foot-tall construction; building heights in The Yards are controlled and stepped back, and the taller heights are not allowed unless they are hundreds of feet farther back from the riverfront.

Mr. Moore expressed appreciation to the project team for the presentation and for the clarifications about height. He said he wants to highlight the concerns expressed by Bridges Across the River. He noted that the Commission had reviewed the 11th Street Bridge Park, an important public landscape and infrastructure that has been very thoughtfully designed and represents a significant investment of community input, resources, and public space; it will be an environment designed to connect people with their city, including a relationship with the Anacostia River and its surrounding neighborhoods, as well as connecting to the broader D.C. landscape. He said a study should be done of the planned Navy Yard construction, with its potential massing and all the penthouses and bulkheads, to illustrate the worst-case scenario for what could be built; this information should be provided to the Commission and the public to enable a clear understanding of the potential impact of this development. He suggested that this study could be done either with digital modeling or by making the plans available, perhaps through community meetings. He emphasized that he would like this to be done before the Commission makes any decision or recommendation on appropriate building heights. He said this study might clarify that the presented heights are appropriate; however, he reiterated that the additional information is needed, including views from the perspective of the key spaces on the 11th Street Bridge Park, and perhaps from some areas farther along the new public waterfront.

Mr. Moore also requested better information on the new base plane of the project, such as an illustration showing the intended build-out of a platform that would transition the significant change in grade within the 75-foot-wide setback zone. He emphasized the necessity for a thorough exploration of this area, ideally with public engagement about community interests and desires for the uses and treatment of that space, as well as a solution for designing this significant change in elevation as a public landscape so that it will not be just a giant green berm necessitated by flood protection. He emphasized that this waterfront area could be a useable, enjoyable public space resulting from a conversation with the community about public space needs, but not enough information has been presented to determine what the footprint and design of the project’s public realm would be. The response should address program spaces, the potential need for walls, and the presence of other design elements; he summarized that such information is needed at this stage. Mr. Luebke clarified that the development team has examined these questions carefully and can provide this information; he agreed that the space is tight and has a considerable change in grade. In addition, the upper stories of the new buildings might project outward above the 75-foot-wide setback, and this condition needs to be studied.

Mr. Cook joined in expressing concern about height, including the experience of pedestrians walking along the river. He observed that the relative height in relation to the riverfront walkway would result in very tall buildings, which feels very much out of place. He said it would be important to understand the development planning from the experience of a person standing at grade. Observing that this area is now primarily occupied by a parking lot and street trees, he asked whether the design would have much green space. Ms. Tompkins-Flagg responded that current plans for the 15-acre site include more than five acres of green space. Mr. Moore asked whether this would be planted green space or simply open space; Ms. Tompkins-Flagg clarified that it would be a combination of these. Ms. Delplace asked if the calculation includes green roofs or refers entirely to public space, which she said is an important distinction. Mr. Chowfla said the redevelopment would include slightly more than five acres of open space at grade, not including green roofs, and all of it would be publicly accessible. Mr. Cook asked whether access to the space would be controlled or whether it would be accessible at all hours. Mr. Chowfla responded that because of national security, the Navy has retained the right to shut down portions of the boardwalk; otherwise, the intention is that it would be open to the public.

Mr. Chowfla described the open space planning in greater detail. He said the total length of the boardwalk along the riverfront would be approximately 2,500 feet, with some green planted elements; the surface areas of wood and paving are not being counted as green space. He added that the marine railway district was historically an industrial landscape—one of the few in Washington—and it would be maintained to recall its historic character, which had little or no green space. However, the intent is to incorporate shade elements and green elements, such as occasional trees. The terraced area between the boardwalk and the pavilions would have seating with umbrellas and moveable planting. Although not counted as open space, the green roofs in this area would be visible because of the rising grade and would be perceived as planted spaces. Farther east, in the area of new construction, both Parsons Avenue and 10th Street would be maintained as open space, including green space and park space, consistent with their role as L’Enfant Plan view corridors. The area between Buildings 2 and 3 would be an eighty-foot-wide park extending the length of those buildings on the elevated plane above a service plinth. Along the entire waterfront, the area in the transition zone behind the boardwalk would not be treated as a simple berm but would include seating, walks, and stairs, to create an area where people can gather. He said that while today people walk along an 18-foot-wide boardwalk next to a fence, the new design would expand the public experience; the transition zone would have garden elements and ecological landscapes planted with native flora, attracting native fauna to return to this riverfront area. In addition, the historic Piers 1 and 2 would be designed as floating wetland landscapes, contained within the form of the original piers to recall the site’s history as a maritime place. Similarly, floating wetland landscapes would be created along the waterfront south of Building 4, at the foot of the 11th Street Bridge Park. He emphasized the intention to create a linear park experience along the waterfront, with the development designed to the highest levels of sustainability.

Ms. Delplace commented that some of the 75-foot setback zone could become café or restaurant space—which could significantly reduce the extent of open space, especially for a retail tenant that serves alcohol and would require controlled access. Emphasizing the need for a better understanding of what the public space would be in this area along the boardwalk, she asked the project team to provide additional information and illustrations of the distribution of green space all along the waterfront. She observed that the successful public spaces in the adjacent development of The Yards are those that are more inherently green than hardscape. She said that if this area is intended to become an anchor for new development along 11th Street, it cannot be just a linear space—tight linear spaces along the Anacostia River have not been successful. Instead, this area would need a destination that provides a reason for people to go beyond the cafés. She added that if the Navy does occasionally close the boardwalk, which already occurs with some regularity, then having such a destination will be especially vital to creating a great public space. In conclusion, she said she wants to understand how the public space and infrastructure would work.

Chair Tsien observed that many questions remain for this project. She suggested that the Commission should allow the planning process to continue with the expectation of receiving more answers to the questions about public green space, building heights, and whether the view corridor connections will be possible with the open space as planned. She said questions also remain about the percentage of affordable housing, and she reiterated that this project on federal government property should do more than simply meet the requirement; she suggested that transferred federal property should provide a higher amount of affordable housing than the regulatory minimum if possible. She observed that the greenway and the floating green spaces appear to be interesting possibilities, but the Commission needs to see more specific information. She suggested a consensus to recommend that the project team address these issues as it continues to develop the project, allowing the Commission to provide more substantive comments at the next review.

Mr. Moore said he agrees with this summary. Noting Mr. Luebke’s observation that some buildings may project into the 75-foot riverfront setback zone, he emphasized that a setback area should be open to the sky; if it is not, then the effect is a reduced setback, a situation often requested for waterfront projects in New York City. He said the Commission would need to understand the rationale for not having it open; in looking at this in the planning phase, he said he does not see such a rationale and would not agree to it. He expressed hope that future studies would examine how to maintain a true 75-foot open setback.

Mr. Stroik expressed strong support for Mr. Moore’s comment. In addition, he offered comments on historic Building 166, prominently located at the eastern edge of the project site. He observed that Building 166 has an H-shaped plan—a classic historic building footprint—while the intent is to cut into the H-shaped building volume, remove the interior, and add floors on top. He requested that the project team return with an alternative design that respects the H-shaped plan and extends it upward, instead of cutting it in half as presented.

Mr. McCrery acknowledged the importance of developers getting a return on their investment, but he requested that the Commission be provided a study of alternative building heights presented so that the Commission can understand the comparative impact of these heights. He observed that the presented lower heights are at the limits of what is legally possible in Washington. Mr. Luebke clarified that this land is not being transferred but would remain in federal ownership, and therefore D.C. zoning regulations technically do not apply; however, the Height of Buildings Act is a federal law that is applicable to this site. He said the developers are seeking a negotiated solution that involves the development density as well as money provided to the Navy for the planned new Navy Museum. He said the project is balancing a lot of public-interest issues—including the character of the 11th Street Bridge Park, the amount of inclusionary zoning, the preservation of the historic district, the new museum, the character of the waterfront trail, and preserving historic buildings and facades.

Chair Tsien asked whether the Commission can request other design alternatives, or whether it is limited to commenting only on what is submitted or to identifying issues of concern; as an example, she noted the requests from the Commission members to develop alternative proposals for the treatment of Building 166. Mr. Luebke responded the Commission’s role is advisory, and it could make such a request. He said that at the current stage of developing the master plan, the Commission should identify issues and provide feedback now to avoid problems at later stages, when specific design proposals are brought forward for review. He noted that the Navy is trying to complete the master plan revisions, but the proposal is not yet approved.

Dr. Edwards observed that the presented views have been looking toward the site from the viewpoint of the river only. She asked if studies have been made of the opposite perspective of the view toward the river, in order to illustrate the massing, open space, and connections with the adjacent Navy Yard context—particularly to illustrate how the northeastern area of the site would relate to the 11th Street Bridge Park. Chair Tsien expressed support for this comment, and she summarized that the Commission has requested further study of many issues. Mr. Luebke said this is a reasonable response for the first review of the master plan revisions, and the staff will summarize and transmit the comments.

D. Smithsonian Institution

CFA 16/NOV/23-3, Smithsonian Institution Building (The Castle), 1000 Jefferson Drive, SW. Revitalization of the Historic Core – Phase 2, building and landscape renovations and modernizations. Final. (Previous: CFA 15/SEP/22-2) The Commission acted on the submission earlier in the meeting without a presentation, following agenda item II.A.

E. D.C. Public Library

CFA 16/NOV/23-4, Southeast Neighborhood Library, 403 7th Street, SE. Renovations and additions to existing building. Final. (Previous: CFA 20/JUL/23-4) The Commission acted on the submission earlier in the meeting without a presentation, following agenda item II.A.

F. D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities

1. CFA 16/NOV/23-5, Endangered Animals Art Project, various locations along Connecticut Avenue, NW. Installation of public art on lampposts in ten locations. Final. Secretary Luebke introduced the Endangered Animals Art Project, submitted in collaboration with the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop (CHAW). The proposal is a series of ten sculptures depicting endangered and locally extinct animals, to be installed on light poles along Connecticut Avenue near the National Zoo. The sculptures would be produced by a group of local artists using various materials including cast resin, steel, composite aluminum, weather-treated wood, and fired clay. Each sculpture would be approximately three feet square and would be affixed to an existing light pole using metal straps. He noted that the proposal is an extension of another project the Commission reviewed in November 2019 for Capitol Hill locations, called the Alphabet Animal Art Project. He introduced Lauren Dugas Glover, the public art manager for the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities; she asked Amy Moore, the executive director of the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, to begin the presentation.

Ms. Moore said the sculptures would be installed at the intersection of Connecticut Avenue with 24th Street, Garfield Street, Cathedral Avenue, Hawthorne Street, Devonshire Place, Macomb Street, Newark Street, Ordway Street, and Porter Street, and at the southeast corner of the vehicular entrance to the Zoo. The proposal has been coordinated with the Main Street organizations for Cleveland Park and Woodley Park. The proximity to the National Zoo is intended to build awareness around endangered species, including: American bison, Hay’s Spring amphipod, mountain lion, gray tree frog, little brown bat, yellow lance mussel, gray petaltail dragonfly, rock bass, Eastern fox squirrel, and Northern bobwhite. Each of these animals will be represented with an artwork and will be a “marriage” of DC-based art and locally extirpated animals sparks a conversation between the arts, climate, and how both contribute to a sense of place. She asked Carolina Mayorga, the lead artist for the project, to continue the presentation.

Ms. Mayorga described how the artists have used their experiences creating similar artwork for Capitol Hill in developing this new series. Eight of the sculptures would be made of aluminum, and some would use recycled materials; several sculptures would incorporate a kinetic element. As required by the D.C. Department of Transportation, the sculptures would be mounted at least ten feet above the sidewalk on existing poles using thin metal straps; the attachments are intended to withstand high winds. The sculptures are intended to last for seven to ten years without any maintenance, and the artists will be asked to provide advice on how to refurbish the pieces. She added that a grant has been provided to develop a book about this project, and additional programming and educational activities would be developed. She summarized that public art serves to provide wayfinding, conversation starters, and connections with artists, and it can spark creativity and wonder.

Chair Tsien invited questions and comments from the Commission members. Mr. Moore asked for further information about the durability of the sculptures and the duration of their installation. Ms. Dugas Glover said CHAW is coordinating with the D.C. Department of Transportation to install the artwork by September 2024; the artwork would become part of the permanent art collection of the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, which would be responsible for ongoing maintenance and conservation. The sculptures would remain in place as long as they are in good condition, perhaps beyond the anticipated duration of seven to ten years.
Noting the range of proposed materials and fabrication techniques, Mr. Moore expressed concern that some of the artwork could become unduly burdensome for the D.C. Government to maintain permanently as part of its larger collection. He also observed that some of the proposed sculptures are large, such as the fifty-inch-long mountain lion sculpture, creating a visual impact that could be out of scale with the light poles to which they would be attached. Ms. Moore of CHAW emphasized that the Capitol Hill sculptures have been in place for many years, and they have held up well. She added that even the largest of the proposed sculptures would likely seem appropriately scaled in the outdoor context of the installation, and the more fragile materials would be treated to be durable in the outdoor environment.

Chair Tsien described the proposal as a delightful and exciting project that would be especially enjoyable for children. She agreed with the concern about maintenance but noted the commitment to maintain the pole-mounted sculptures and protect the public below. She added that the artwork would be more interesting than many of the banners that are typically seen in the city’s commercial and institutional settings.

Mr. McCrery noted CHAW’s longtime educational role, including for children; he urged CHAW to involve children in the fabrication of the sculptures in collaboration with the artists. He also suggested arranging tours in conjunction with the artwork installation. Upon a motion by Mr. McCrery with second by Dr. Edwards, the Commission approved the Endangered Animals Art Project with the comments provided.

2. CFA 16/NOV/23-6, 19th Street Rain Garden Project, various locations along 19th Street, NW. Installation of three sculptures: gourd, pineapple, and “pearlet.” Final. Secretary Luebke introduced the 19th Street Rain Garden Art Project, submitted in collaboration with the Golden Triangle Business Improvement District (BID). The project would install three sculptures along the 19th Street sidewalk between K and M Streets, integrated with existing rain gardens that are part of the Golden Triangle BID’s LEED environmental certification. The sculptures by artist Foon Sham would represent a gourd, a pineapple, and a “pearlet”; they would be made of a durable and sustainable green-heart wood imported from Guyana. Each sculpture would have approximately the same dimensions––eleven feet high and six feet wide––installed on a concrete foundation. In addition to their aesthetic value, the sculptures would also function as stormwater management containers. They are intended to be self-sustaining and do not require electricity or daily intervention. He asked Lauren Dugas Glover, the public art manager for the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, to begin the presentation.

Ms. Dugas Glover said her organization has provided a grant to the Golden Triangle BID for this project, and similar grants have been provided for other temporary or permanent art installations within the BID’s boundary. She introduced Deirdre MacWilliams of the Golden Triangle BID to continue the presentation.

Ms. MacWilliams said the BID has had a public art program for approximately fifteen years that offers many opportunities for both residents and visitors to enjoy diverse museum-quality art outdoors. This project is part of the BID’s commitment to ensure beautiful, sustainable, and culturally rich public spaces in downtown Washington. The project is a continuation of a temporary art project initiated by Mr. Sham, originally installed in 2015, that consisted of eight sculptures of pine wood that were placed near existing rain gardens along two blocks of 19th Street. This temporary project was so well received by the community that the BID sought to redesign and replace three of the eight sculptures using materials and fabrication methodologies for permanent public artwork. She said that Mr. Sham had already replaced five of the sculptures with more durable materials, using wood that is impervious to insects and often used for marine-grade decking. She described the form of Mr. Sham’s artwork, crafted by stacking and attaching together small wooden blocks rising to a height of nine to thirteen feet. The works are geometric and precise, evoking the movement of water with curved forms that echo the shapes of rivers and streams. She added that the rain gardens are an important part of the BID’s LEED Platinum for Communities certification.

Chair Tsien expressed appreciation for the presentation, and she invited questions and comments from the Commission members. Ms. Delplace commented favorably on the existing sculptures, which she called visually striking. She said the existing sculptures have a warm color that contrasts well with the cooler and grayer color palette of the architecture along these blocks, and she observed that this important feature would be retained for the new sculptures. She added that the sculptures help to shape the pedestrian experience while adding a functional component by incorporating stormwater management filtration.

Mr. Cook and Mr. McCrery supported Ms. Delplace’s comments regarding the “wonderful and delightful” sculptures that have brightened this bland and unattractive segment of 19th Street. Mr. McCrery asked for further information about the durability of the wood sculptures. Ms. MacWilliams noted that the temporary sculptures from 2015 were made of softer pine and have been showing wear; she said the new sculptures would be made of a hard marine-grade wood that will be regularly stained to allow it to retain the warm color. Mr. McCrery emphasized that the warm color is important, and regular staining would be preferable to allowing the wood to turn gray. Mr. Moore joined in praising the project, and he requested that the proposed tropical hardwood be certified as sustainable, helping to support the project’s ecological goals globally instead of just within Washington.

Upon a motion by Mr. McCrery with second by Mr. Cook, the Commission approved the 19th Street Rain Garden Art Project with the comments provided.

G. D.C. Department of Buildings—Shipstead-Luce Act

SL 24-037, Single family residence, 4660 Broad Branch Road, NW. Renovation and addition. Concept. The Commission acted on the submission earlier in the meeting without a presentation, following agenda item II.A.

H. U.S. Mint

1. CFA 16/NOV/23-7, 2024 Flowing Hair Silver Medal and 2025 Gold Coin. Revised designs for obverse and reverse. Final. (Previous: CFA 19/OCT/23-6) Secretary Luebke introduced the follow-up submission for a new coin and medal based on the 1794 design for the “flowing hair” one-dollar coin. The initial submission in October 2023 had intended to replicate the historic design, with an updated minting year and higher relief. The Commission members had requested a new submission that would include an alternative to adjust some of the spacing irregularities in the 1794 design, as well as an alternative that would more precisely replicate the detailing of the historic design such as the sculpting of the stars. He asked April Stafford, chief of the Mint’s Office of Design Management, to present the revised proposal.

Ms. Stafford noted that the gold coin and silver medal were previously presented as part of the Mint’s biannual American Liberty program, but the Mint now plans to issue them as a separate program. She presented a revised design for the obverse and reverse, along with the previously submitted design for comparison. On the revised obverse, the minting year is adjusted to be centered at the bottom of the composition, while the word “Liberty” remains off-center at the top; the asymmetry results from the odd number of stars around the perimeter of the design. On the revised reverse, the positioning of the text “United States of America” has been slightly adjusted to improve the centering and reduce the sense of crowding.

Chair Tsien invited questions and comments from the Commission members. Mr. McCrery said the revised obverse design is an improvement compared to the previously presented reproduction of the historic design; Mr. Cook agreed, and Mr. Moore described the revised obverse as “more perfect.” Mr. McCrery also expressed support for the revised reverse design. Upon a motion by Mr. McCrery, the Commission approved the revised versions of the obverse and reverse.

2. CFA 16/NOV/23-8, 2025 Native American One Dollar Coin Program. Design for reverse. Final. Secretary Luebke introduced the design alternatives for the reverse of the 2025 issue of the Native American One Dollar Coin, an ongoing series that began in 2009 with a new reverse design each year; the continuing obverse features a portrait of Sacagawea with her infant son. The subject for the 2025 reverse will be Mary Kawena Pukui (1895–1986), a prominent scholar, author, composer, dancer, and educator; she is the first Native Hawaiian to be honored in this series. He noted that coins in this series are classified as circulating coins, although the production in recent years has been limited to quantities for the numismatic market. He asked April Stafford, chief of the Mint’s Office of Design Management, to present the design alternatives.

Ms. Stafford presented ten alternative designs for the reverse, and she listed the preferences of the various stakeholders that have consulted with the Mint. The first choice of the Congressional Native American Caucus is alternative #01; the second choice is alternative #01A. The first choice of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs is alternative #01C; the second choice is alternative #04. Alternative #01B is the preference of Ms. Pukui’s family, which cited this alternative’s simple symbolic representation of Hawaii through the inclusion of the Hawaiian print clothing and the lei of kukui nuts; the family’s other preferences are alternatives #02 and 04. She summarized that six of the ten designs have been supported by at least one of the external stakeholders. She noted that additional biographical information on Ms. Pukui was included in the submission materials provided to the Commission members; she indicated the depiction in alternative #02 of the Bishop Museum, which is closely associated with Ms. Pukui’s scholarly work.

Chair Tsien invited questions and comments from the Commission members; she suggested focusing on the six alternatives that have already received support. Mr. Moore offered support for alternative #01B, noting the presented comments from the family on this design’s cultural references. He also observed that the larger cropping of the portrait in alternative #01B is preferable to the appearance of a “decapitated head” in alternatives #01 and 01A; Mr. Cook, Mr. McCrery, and Ms. Tsien agreed. Mr. Cook commented that the placement of “United States of America” in alternative #01B is better than the treatment of this text in some of the other alternatives. Mr. McCrery said the kukui nut lei, held in Ms. Pukui’s hand in alternative #01B, is an attractive design element. Ms. Tsien cited the more restrained treatment of the background’s wavy line pattern in alternative #01B.

Mr. Stroik suggested consideration of alternative #01C, which depicts Ms. Pukui holding a pair of kukui fruits instead of the lei of kukui nuts in alternative #01B. Chair Tsien said the kukui nuts have a more identifiable appearance, while the kukui fruits could be mistaken for peaches; she suggested a consensus to support alternative #01B. Upon a motion by Mr. McCrery with second by Mr. Stroik, the Commission adopted this recommendation.

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

3. CFA 16/NOV/23-9, Congressional Gold Medal honoring Army Ranger Veterans of World War II. Design for a gold medal. Final. Secretary Luebke introduced the design alternatives for a Congressional Gold Medal honoring the World War II service of the Army Rangers, which was formally organized as a battalion in 1942; the Rangers were involved in many important missions during the war. Twelve of the World War II Rangers are known to be still living. He asked April Stafford, chief of the Mint’s Office of Design Management, to present the design alternatives.

Ms. Stafford said the Mint’s liaison for this project has worked closely with veterans and their descendants to identify design elements and messages that could be included on the medal to tell the story of the Rangers. She presented four alternatives for the obverse design, noting the preferences of the liaison: alternative #O-04 as the first choice, #O-01 as the second choice, and #O-07 as the third choice. Mr. Moore said he agrees with the liaison’s preference for alternative #O-04; the other Commission members supported this choice, and Mr. McCrery described it as a superior design.

Ms. Stafford presented eight alternatives for the reverse design, noting the preferences of the liaison: alternative #R-07A as the first choice, the similar design of #R-07B as the second choice, and #R-01 as the third choice. Chair Tsien suggested that the Commission continue to support the liaison’s first choice. Mr. McCrery agreed; he asked for a comparison of the selected obverse and reverse to identify potential duplication of design elements with this pairing. He observed that both alternatives #O-04 and #R-07A list the locations of World War II battles; the lists are mostly non-duplicative, but Mr. Cook noted that “Salerno” is included in both designs. The Commission members deferred to the Mint staff to resolve this duplication, and Mr. McCrery suggested that another battle name, such as “Kwajalein,” could be added as a substitute if appropriate.

Mr. Cook asked why an exclamation point is included with the inscription “Rangers Lead the Way!” in alternative #O-04; Mr. Moore recalled the Commission’s recent discussion of avoiding punctuation on coins and medals. Mr. McCrery noted that the Seabees, part of the U.S. Navy, have the slogan “Can Do!” which traditionally includes an exclamation point. Chair Tsien suggested that the Commission convey the issue to the Mint, with the understanding that the exclamation point should be included only if it is a normal part of the Rangers motto.

Upon a motion by Mr. McCrery with second by Dr. Edwards, the Commission recommended obverse #O-04 and reverse #R-07A with the comments provided concerning the duplication of “Salerno” and the potential removal of the exclamation point.

4. CFA 16/NOV/23-10, 2025 American Innovation One Dollar Coin Program. Designs for the eighth set of coins: Arkansas and Michigan. Final. Secretary Luebke introduced the design alternatives for two coins in the American Innovation series, which honors innovation and innovators from each of the states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories. The series began with an introductory coin in 2018 and will continue through 2032, with four coins issued per year. Today’s submission is for the Arkansas and Michigan coins; designs for the two other coins to be issued in 2025, Florida and Texas, will be submitted early next year. The designs are only for the reverse; the continuing obverse for the series is an adaptation of the iconic Statue of Liberty design that has been used on the reverse of the series of presidential one-dollar coins. He noted that the American Innovation coins are non-circulating; they will be available for sale. He asked April Stafford, chief of the Mint’s Office of Design Management, to present the design alternatives.


Ms. Stafford said that a single theme has been developed for the Arkansas coin: naval engineer Raye Montague, an innovator in using computer-aided design for U.S. Navy ships. The Mint’s liaisons for this coin are Ms. Montague’s son and a representative of the Arkansas Heritage Museum. She presented five alternative designs for the reverse, noting the preferences of the liaisons: alternative #02 as the first choice, and alternative #01 as the second choice. She said the Mint’s legal staff has newly advised that alternative #02, if selected, would need some modification to avoid depicting a head-and-shoulders portrait, which is prohibited by the authorizing legislation for this coin series; the solution could be to include Ms. Montague’s hand or some similar adjustment.

Ms. Tsien offered support for alternative #02, commenting that the legislative rule for portraiture requiring alteration of this design seems strange; she observed that adding the hands within this composition would be awkward. Ms. Stafford responded that other coin programs have a similar requirement, with the goal of avoiding the appearance of a two-headed coin. She said the Mint staff has discussed this issue with the artist of this design, who has expressed confidence that the needed modifications could be achieved; the Mint’s chief engraver and the manufacturing team are also confident that the changes could be made with little effect on the overall composition. As examples of compliance with the legislative requirement, she indicated the different poses and framing of the portraits within the other four design alternatives; most of these show more of the torso without including Ms. Montague’s hands. Ms. Tsien said showing the torso would be a better solution than adding the hands within the composition of alternative #02, and she supported including this alternative’s artist in developing the modified design. Mr. McCrery agreed, and he suggested removing the ocean surface gridlines on the right side of the ship’s bow to allow more room for the portrait. Mr. Cook commented that the ship’s bow is awkwardly placed beneath Ms. Montague’s chin, and he suggested repositioning the bow to provide more space in this part of the composition. Mr. Luebke noted that a reconfigured portrait would likely have a smaller face, which may resolve the relationship of the chin to the ship’s bow.

Mr. Moore said that the depiction of Ms. Montague’s hair in alternative #02 has a strange appearance; he suggested comparing this depiction to available photographs and portraits, as well as seeking the guidance of Ms. Montague’s son. Mr. Luebke observed that the presented alternatives depict a wide range of age and attire in the portraiture, which may be based on a variety of source materials. Mr. Moore confirmed that a reliable source image, such as a photograph, would be satisfactory as the basis for the presented portrait.

Several Commission members said the modified design for alternative #02, when available, should be submitted to the Commission for further review. Chair Tsien summarized the consensus to support the preference of Ms. Montague’s son for alternative #02 but to defer providing a formal recommendation until the review of a follow-up submission that includes the Mint’s intended design revisions. Upon a motion by Mr. McCrery, the Commission adopted this guidance for the Arkansas coin.


Ms. Stafford said that the single theme of the automotive assembly line has been developed for the Michigan coin. The Mint’s liaison for this coin is a representative from the governor’s office. She presented six alternative designs for the reverse, noting the preferences of the liaison: alternative #06 as the first choice, alternative #05 as the second choice, and alternative #02 as the third choice. She said the liaison suggested adding more workers to the composition for alternative #05 or #02, if either of these designs is selected, in order to convey the busy character of the assembly line.

Mr. Moore offered support for the liaison’s first choice of alternative #06, citing the greater prominence of the workers in this composition. Ms. Delplace suggested consideration of alternative #02, which she said has a compelling font and image within a handsome composition; although only one worker is shown, the design clearly conveys the mechanics of the assembly line. Mr. Cook agreed in supporting alternative #02. Noting his Detroit roots, he observed that alternative #04 is reminiscent of a prominent 80-foot-tall sculpture of a Uniroyal tire that is a familiar Detroit-area landmark. While this alternative would be appealing to those familiar with Detroit, he acknowledged that it does not directly address the theme of the assembly line.

Mr. McCrery expressed support for alternative #01 because its symmetrical composition focuses on a single car, framed by two workers. Although this composition does not directly depict the assembly line, the theme is successfully conveyed by the text. He added that the design could be modified so that the two workers convey greater diversity in the workforce. He said he would be willing to support alternative #02, although the sole worker in this composition appears more machine-like than human. Mr. Moore agreed in accepting alternative #02, while acknowledging that the worker appears robotic; he suggested adjusting the worker’s depiction to imply movement and humanity.

Ms. Delplace, noting her own Detroit roots, said the city has some great public murals; she observed that alternative #02 is evocative of their New Deal-era style, making this design a compelling choice for the Michigan coin. Mr. McCrery suggested including additional workers in the background of alternative #02, who should be depicted as receding into the distance consistent with the receding perspective of the assembly line. Mr. Moore suggested placing an additional worker alongside the foreground car, performing some different task in the assembly line process; Ms. Tsien agreed, and Mr. Luebke said this suggestion could be conveyed to the Mint for further study.

Chair Tsien summarized the consensus to support alternative #02 with the suggestion to consider adding another worker if artistically feasible, while not losing the commendable clarity of the composition. Upon a motion by Mr. Cook with second by Ms. Delplace, the Commission adopted this recommendation for the Michigan coin.

5. CFA 16/NOV/23-11, 2028 Los Angeles Summer Olympic Games “hand-over” medallion. Design for new medallion. Final. Secretary Luebke introduced the proposal for a medallion that would be part of a traditional exchange of gifts at the handover ceremony at the conclusion of the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, in anticipation of the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. Although legislation for the medallion has not yet been enacted, the Mint has asked for the Commission’s review in anticipation of forthcoming legislation that would authorize the medallion. The diameter of the medallion would be three inches; no specific inscriptions or other design elements are required, but the design of such medallions typically features emblems related to the Olympics and the host cities; several designs depict the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, which has previously been used for the 1932 and 1984 Olympics. He noted that parts of some designs have been redacted because authorization has not yet been obtained to use the proprietary graphic emblems, which may complicate the Commission’s review. He asked April Stafford, chief of the Mint’s Office of Design Management, to present the design alternatives.

Ms. Stafford said medallions would be created for the hand-over ceremonies for both the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games. The medallions serve as an expression of goodwill and a celebration of the milestone as the games transition from one host city to the next. Although not required, the medallions will likely use the official emblems of the Los Angeles Olympic Games and Paralympic Games; these are redacted in some of the submitted designs. She said the Mint has been working with Olympic and Paralympic representatives as liaisons in developing the designs, with consideration of the strengths of past designs for hand-over medallions.

Ms. Stafford presented thirteen alternatives for the two sides of the medal; these alternatives have not been categorized as obverse or reverse designs. She noted that the liaisons have expressed support for alternative #14 as the strongest design, with a composite view through the Arc de Triomphe to the entrance arches of the Los Angeles Coliseum. She added that alternative #13 has a similar design. For pairing with alternative #14, the liaisons have suggested alternatives #01, #04, and #06 featuring Nike, the Greek goddess of victory.

Ms. Delplace described alternative #06 as a compelling image; she recommended using this design in combination with alternative #14. Mr. McCrery agreed that this would be a successful pairing.

Mr. Moore asked if each city’s logo has traditionally been used on hand-over medallions. Ms. Stafford responded that host cities have not always had official logos or emblems, so the precedent is not clear; she added that the logo for the Los Angeles games is still being developed. Mr. Moore observed that Paris has a logo for the 2024 games, but it is not depicted in the design alternatives. Ms. Stafford confirmed that the designs do not use the logo, but some designs include the phrase “Paris 2024.” Mr. Moore questioned the design logic of using the Los Angeles logo but not the Paris logo. Ms. Stafford said the Mint's discussions with officials of the Paris 2024 games have been limited to the design elements shown in the alternatives, but the Mint could potentially ask about acquiring the right to use the 2024 logo. She added that the focus of the ongoing design process for the medallion has been to include the Los Angeles 2028 logo.

Mr. McCrery observed that alternative #06 includes text or logos for both Paris and Los Angeles at each side of the goddess Nike; the Los Angeles logo would therefore be a duplicated design element in alternative #14 for the suggested pairing. He suggested revising the area above the Coliseum in alternative #14 to use only the five-ring Olympic logo and the phrase “Olympic Games,” or perhaps only one of these elements. Ms. Tsien expressed a preference for using just the Olympic rings.

Mr. Moore observed that alternative #14 devotes much of the composition to the Arc de Triomphe, with only a much smaller area for depicting the Coliseum and two palm trees to convey a sense of the setting in Los Angeles and the United States. Similarly, he questioned the appropriateness of designing a United States hand-over medallion with one side dominated by the European symbol of the goddess Nike. He suggested designing the medallion to give equal weight to Los Angeles as part of the hand-over of the games. Ms. Tsien asked if this concern would be addressed by retaining the “LA 28” emblem in alternative #14; Mr. Moore said the problem would remain because the surface area related to Los Angeles is much smaller than the area related to Paris. Ms. Tsien said retaining this text could help to clarify that the Olympics would be moving from Paris to Los Angeles; Mr. McCrery noted that the “LA 28” emblem is already included in alternative #06. He suggested addressing the concern by enlarging the Coliseum within the opening of the Arc de Triomphe in alternative #14. Mr. Moore suggested consideration of designing the medallion to represent Paris on one side and Los Angeles on the other side; for instance, one side would feature Nike and the other side would feature the Coliseum. Ms. Tsien observed that alternative #06 would provide the emphasis on Nike, but none of the alternatives is focused entirely on Los Angeles.

Ms. Delplace expressed support for using only the “Paris 2024” inscription alongside Nike in alternative #06, eliminating the “LA 28” emblem, which she described as having a very heavy character. Mr. Moore agreed, observing that the official Paris 2024 emblem has a much lighter appearance that would look good in combination with the depiction of Nike; he said the blocky “LA 28” emblem does not work well with this composition and should be removed. He added that the resulting asymmetry of the design would not be problematic.

Chair Tsien departed at this point, and Vice Chair Edwards presided for the remainder of the meeting.

Mr. Moore summarized the comments that have been provided, including an adjustment to the scale of the Arc de Triomphe to allow more room for the Coliseum in alternative #14. Based on his research, he said that within the “LA 28” emblem, the letter “A” will be replaced by an official logo that has not yet been finalized, as indicated by a black rectangle in the Mint’s presentation materials; the other parts of the “LA 28” emblem, including the Olympic rings beneath the text, would have the appearance depicted in the presentation. Mr. Cook observed that the facade of the Coliseum includes the Olympic rings; if the depiction of the Coliseum is enlarged, as the Commission members are suggesting, then the juxtaposition of the facade with the “LA 28” emblem above would clearly show the proximity of two sets of Olympic rings within the medallion’s composition. Ms. Delplace said this duplication would be a nice feature of the design, with greater emphasis given by enlarging the depiction of the Coliseum facade. Mr. McCrery agreed, and he observed that enlarging the facade would better show the torch on top of the facade, which appears like a stump at the smaller scale shown for alternative #14.

Mr. McCrery observed that the suggested changes would result in alternative #06 focusing on the European elements of the goddess Nike and the “Paris 2024” text or possibly the official Paris logo, with no reference to Los Angeles. The other side of the medallion would have alternative #14 with scale adjustments, symbolizing both Paris and Los Angeles through the depictions of the Arc de Triomphe and the Coliseum. He questioned the imbalance of this combination, and he suggested that alternative #06 should retain design features representing both Paris and Los Angeles. He nonetheless agreed that the “LA 28” emblem is very blocky as a design element Dr. Edwards suggested that alternative #06 use the “LA 28” emblem as depicted in alternative #14, which has a lighter appearance. Mr. McCrery supported this adjustment, but he questioned whether the “LA 28” emblem should be repeated on both sides of the medallion; he suggested removing this emblem from alternative #14, focusing this composition entirely on the two structures of the Arc de Triomphe and the Coliseum. Mr. Moore agreed that the depiction of the two iconic buildings could be an effective way to symbolize Paris and Los Angeles. Mr. McCrery added that the Olympic rings would remain present in the composition because they are part of the Coliseum’s facade below the building’s name.

For alternative #06, Mr. Cook observed that the “Paris 2024” inscription is composed as two lines of text, while the “LA 28” emblem is accompanied by the Olympic rings below two lines of text, resulting in unequal heights; he suggested shrinking the size of the “LA 28” emblem so that the entire emblem, including the Olympic rings, matches the height and alignment of the “Paris 2024” text. Mr. McCrery agreed with this suggestion.

Upon a motion by Mr. Moore with second by Mr. McCrery, the Commission recommended alternatives #06 and #14 for the hand-over medallion, with the comments provided for adjusting these designs.

Mr. McCrery noted that his four-year term on the Commission, along with Mr. Stroik’s, is ending, and they may be replaced by new Commission members. He expressed his gratitude for being able to serve on the Commission with the current members and their predecessors.

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 1:09 p.m.


Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA