December 3, 2009

Read the meeting transcript

Information Presentation: National Museum of African American History and Culture
(File Number 6331)

The National Capital Planning Commission received an informational presentation from the team designing the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Representatives from the Freelon Adjaye Bond/SmithGroup presented their firm’s competition winning entry and discussed the museum’s design relative to its site on the National Mall. The museum will be located on five acres near the Washington Monument. The site is bounded by Constitution Avenue, Madison Drive, 14th and 15th streets, NW. Construction is expected to begin in 2012 and last for three years.

Several members of the Commission urged the designers to keep in mind the context of the National Mall, surrounding buildings, and adjacent Washington Monument as they move forward with the design process. NCPC Chairman L. Preston Bryant, Jr. made note that the design portrayed in the informational presentation will inevitably evolve during the official review process in order to meet the design principles developed during the Section 106 process. Several Commission members commended the team for a design that is unique and original.

National Institute of Standards and Technology Master Plan Update
(File Number MP23)

The Commission approved a master plan update for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) campus located in Gaithersburg, Maryland. In its approval NCPC encouraged NIST to develop a more ambitious Transportation Management Plan and commended their water conservation efforts. The 581-acre suburban campus is located between Quince Orchard Road (MD Route 124) and Interstate 270. The existing campus has 3.44 million square feet of space in 55 buildings. The plan submitted by the Department of Commerce calls for 21 new projects including several new buildings, additions to existing buildings, and infrastructure upgrades that will primarily consolidate and replace obsolete facilities. No net gain of employees is anticipated.

See the Commission Action and Staff Recommendation

Bureau of Engraving and Printing Tour Entrance Bridge
(File Number 7004)

In a second action item, the Commission commented favorably on concept deigns submitted by the Department of the Treasury to rehabilitate the existing tour entrance bridge at the main Bureau of Engraving and Printing located at 310 14th Street, SW in Washington, DC. In preparation for its Sesquicentennial in 2012, the Bureau wants to expand and enhance its public tour experience. The proposed project would rehabilitate the current steel truss entrance bridge that is part of the historic building constructed in 1914.

The bridge’s metal panel walls and single-pane windows would be replaced with metal-framed glass panels to highlight the historic bridge structure, increase natural light, and better accommodate future exhibits. The existing entrance area would be upgraded and a small theatre added.

The Commission recommended that the Treasury continue to work closely with NCPC to examine ways to improve pedestrian circulation and the streetscape along 14th and 15th streets and to work with NCPC, the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, and the DC State Historic Preservation Office to determine whether the public plaza on 14th Street could be restored to its original curvilinear design.

See the Commission Action and Staff Recommendation

Veterans Affairs Medical Center Master Plan Update, 4C Wing Expansion, Operating Room, Emergency Department and Decontamination Center Expansion, and Fisher House
(File Number MP028/7019/7021/6918)

NCPC provided comments on the draft master plan for the Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VA) campus located at the intersection of North Capitol Street and Michigan Avenue, NW in Washington, DC. Among eight different comments provided by the Commission to the Department of Veterans Affairs were several requirements to be addressed before the plan returns for preliminary and final approval. The Commission:

• Required the applicant to modify the master plan to reflect recent planning work for the Armed Forces Retirement Home Master Plan and the North Capitol Street Cloverleaf Feasibility Study for active ground floor uses and build-to lines along Irving Street, NW.
• Required the applicant to explore further the design of 1st Street, NW, as a pedestrian and bicycle connection for the VA Medical Center and between the Armed Forces Retirement Home site and the McMillan Sand Filtration site.
• Required the applicant to provide more detail in the final master plan concerning the parking phasing to demonstrate that the campus parking ratio meets the 1:4 ratio stipulated in the Comprehensive Plan for the National Capital: Federal Elements as the master plan is realized and to submit additional justification for a proposed increase in visitor parking.
• Required the applicant to explore alternatives in the final master plan to address potential visual impacts of the Domiciliary and the Community Living Center on the North Capitol Street corridor and the Armed Forces Retirement Home viewshed. Alternatives for minimizing the impact include shifting these components, reducing their scale, or adding landscape screening.
• Required the applicant to refine the perimeter security proposal in the final master plan to balance security needs and future planning objectives within an urban context.

The master plan provides a framework for the next 20 years for the 35-acre site. The development would add 818,000 gross square feet of additional space to the current 900,000 gross square-foot facility. The existing surface parking lots would be replaced with two parking garages, and new landscaping would be added.

The Commission also approved preliminary and final site and building plans for the expansion of the Medical Center’s 4C Wing; and of the operating room, emergency department, and decontamination center, as well as for preliminary and final site and building plans for the Fisher House.

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.