November 6, 2008

National Zoological Park Master Plan
(File Number MP053)

The National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) reviewed and approved a submission by the Smithsonian Institution to update its 1988 master plan for the 163-acre National Zoological Park, subject to the implementation of required mitigation actions. The National Zoo is located on Connecticut Avenue, NW adjacent to Rock Creek Park in Washington, DC.

The new master plan lays out the Smithsonian’s proposals to upgrade zoo facilities and infrastructure, and to provide flexibility for future exhibits and collections. The Zoo’s primary pedestrian pathway, the Olmsted Walk, will be flanked by large, multi-species exhibits. Current exhibits would be revitalized and flat land now being used as parking lots would be converted to exhibit space.

As part of the plan, the Zoo’s three main entry points at Connecticut Avenue, North Road, and Harvard Street would be refurbished and they would feature improved visitor facilities. In addition, the Connecticut Avenue entry point would feature a plaza for events. The plan includes a new structured parking facility, improved accessibility for disabled patrons, new shuttle services, and an aerial tram. The tram would connect the zoo’s entry points and offer visitors a unique interpretive experience and aerial perspective of the zoo and Rock Creek Park.

The Commission did not, however, approve a proposed 300-space underground parking deck and request for 35 official guest and volunteer parking spaces. The Commission noted that the applicant’s Transportation Management Plan did not demonstrate that the spaces would be consistent with policies outlined in the Federal Transportation Element in the Comprehensive Plan for the National Capital and did not properly address potentially negative traffic impacts on surrounding roads and intersections.

The Commission’s approval is contingent upon the applicant implementing required mitigation actions in the Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) issued by NCPC Executive Director Marcel Acosta on October 31, 2008. The FONSI notes that the applicant must implement erosion and sediment control measures during design and construction that meet District of Columbia Department of the Environment and DC Department of Health requirements. In addition, a Memoranda of Agreement must be accomplished with the District State Historic Preservation Officer (DC SHPO) that identifies requirements and mitigation measures to be used during individual project development phases that the DC SHPO determines would have an adverse impact on historic resources.

See the Commission Action and Staff Recommendation

Watha T. Daniel (Shaw) Neighborhood Library
(File Number 6519)

The Commission approved preliminary and final site and building plans for a new Watha T. Daniel (Shaw) Neighborhood Library that will achieve the LEED silver rating for green building design. Located at 1701 8th Street, NW in Washington, DC the new facility will replace the previous library, which has already been demolished.

The Commission commended the District of Columbia Public Library and its design team for a well developed, sophisticated, and complementary addition to the surrounding Shaw neighborhood. The new three-story 8,164-square-foot library will feature translucent panels, structural glass, and a metal sunscreen. Two of its three stories would be aboveground, with all but community meeting spaces on the first or second floors.

In response to comments provided by the Commission at its concept design review in April 2008, the applicant adjusted the building’s entrance to make it more prominent. Construction of the new library is expected to begin in January 2009 with completion by January 2010. The new library is anticipated to open in March 2010.

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.