September 8, 2005

Patent Office Building - Canopy and Courtyard Landscape
(File Number 6479)

The Commission approved final site and building plans to enclose the courtyard of the historic Patent Office Building with a glass canopy. NCPC last reviewed the Smithsonian’s proposal in June, when it disapproved the canopy after concluding that the Smithsonian had not taken the necessary steps to mitigate adverse harm to the historic building and setting. The revised proposal does mitigate the impact of the canopy and provide for extensive modifications that will restore numerous elements to the building that have been changed over time.

The revised submission uses low-iron glazing to reduce the greenish tint to the canopy glass, thus reducing its visual impact on the historic view shed. Further, the Smithsonian has committed to a number of significant measures to mitigate the adverse effects of losing the historic courtyard and its landscape as well as the vista. These measures include:
• Reconstruction of the F Street staircase to restore the architectural integrity of the portico on the building’s south façade.
• Implementation of a landscape and streetscape plan for the Patent Office reservation that will restore its stature and character in the L’Enfant Plan.
• Restoration and installation of two original courtyard fountains.
• Reconstruction of the courtyard through the design and installation of new courtyard landscaping commensurate with the building’s historic design character.
• Design and implementation of exterior lighting for the historic facades.

In approving the project, the Commission required the Smithsonian to complete all mitigation measures in an expedited manner, concurrent with the construction of the courtyard enclosure project, and to submit regular progress reports to the Commission for the duration of the project.

The Commission commented favorably on the concept of a contemporary courtyard landscape design that will allow it to serve as an active place for all visitors during and after museum hours. The revised or planned design will return to the historic setting some of the courtyard’s original elements: water, plants, trees, and open circulation. The Commission did not, however, support other proposed design elements and recommends they be removed from the plan: a large glass and metal balcony; alteration of a historic window opening; and vines that would cover the ground floor of the south courtyard façade, which is the last remaining example of unaltered Aquia sandstone in Washington. NCPC looks forward to working with the Smithsonian in the coming months as it refines its plans for a courtyard landscape design.

See the Commission Action and Staff Recommendation

Federal Capital Improvements Program
(File Number 1485)

The Commission adopted the Federal Capital Improvements Program (FCIP) for the National Capital Region, Fiscal Years 2006-2011. The FCIP contains 210 projects, including 170 projects submitted by federal agencies and another 40 projects submitted by NCPC for future programming. The projects submitted by federal agencies total $7.3 billion, which doesn’t include the projects submitted by NCPC since estimated budgets haven’t been prepared.

A few of the proposed projects in the FCIP include: Construction of the historic courtyard landscape and reconstruction of historic steps at the Patent Office Building; storm water management for the National Arboretum; and the site redevelopment study for RFK Stadium.

A number of the projects submitted by the Department of Defense (DoD) are conditional, after the Secretary of Defense released the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) recommendations which could impact DoD projects. Final approval of the BRAC recommendations are expected in late fall.

See the Commission Action and Staff Recommendation

Federal Office Building Modernization
(File Number 6611)

The Commission commented favorably on the concept plans for the modernization of Federal Office Building 8, located at 200 C Street, SW. The project calls for converting the primary building use from laboratory to office space; replacing the existing façade with a glass curtain wall; and transforming a surface parking area to a public plaza. Once complete, the building may house one or more federal agencies.

See the Commission Action and Staff Recommendation

Consent Calendar: The Commission voted on Consent Calendar items without staff presentations or public testimony.

Delegated Decisions: Projects for which the Commission delegated decision-making authority to the Chairman, Executive Committee, or Executive Director.