July 1, 2010

Read the meeting transcript

General Services Administration Headquarters Building Modernization
(File Number 6558)

The Commission approved preliminary and final building plans for the modernization of the General Services Administration headquarters located at 1800 F Street, NW. The nine-story, E-shaped building—constructed in 1917 with additions made in 1934—currently has 520,000 square feet of office space.

GSA proposes a complete restoration of the building’s interior and exterior including its windows and exterior stone facades, and will seek a LEED Gold rating. The physical plant and other mechanical systems will be replaced, and changes made to the entrances and exits. In addition, 120,000 square feet of infill construction will replace a portion of the building’s current open space courtyards. This seven-story addition will be located on the south side of the existing courtyards. The modernization will take place in two phases, with the first phase paid for with funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

GSA is currently evaluating what form of perimeter security, if any, the building will have, and submitted two options for comment. They anticipate making a decision on which option to move forward with in several months. NCPC commented favorably on the first concept with two exceptions. This concept features a new formal building entrance on E Street complete with central staircase and access ramps. Perimeter security includes hardened garden walls and three different types of bollards. NCPC’s favorable comments exclude the proposed curbline bollards in front of E Street and 18th Street building entrances.

NCPC provided favorable comments and expressed strong support of GSA’s second concept, which does not include perimeter security. The new E Street entrance would be on the street level. Four new locations for ground-level retail would flank this new entrance, two on either side. This concept would necessitate lowering part of the building’s first floor slab. The Commission commended GSA for its efforts to include ground level retail at its headquarters. This second alternative complements goals promoted by NCPC in two recent planning initiatives: The Monumental Core Framework Plan and Activating Federal Places, both of which encourage adding retail and other mixed-uses to the ground floors of federal facilities to better integrate them into the fabric of the city and provide needed amenities.

See the Commission Action, Staff Recommendation, FONSI and GSA Headquarters Modernization Video

National Aquarium Entrance Relocation
(File Number 7009)

NCPC provided favorable comments on concept plans submitted by the General Services Administration (GSA) to move the entrance of the National Aquarium from 14th Street to Constitution Avenue, NW to coincide with the Aquarium’s relocation within the Department of Commerce building. Moving the aquarium to a more prominent location will help activate the Federal Triangle and increase traffic from the National Mall. Since 1932 the National Aquarium has occupied its current location on the basement level inside the Department of Commerce Headquarters Herbert Hoover Building.

In its comments the Commission commended GSA for balancing various design considerations and required GSA to resolve several design issues—including design and grading of the green roof, flood protection, and pavilion lighting—before bringing the project back for preliminary and/or final review. The Commission noted that perimeter security was not in the concept submission, but understands from GSA that the new entrance’s outer wall would be designed to include perimeter security.

GSA proposes moving the Aquarium from its current 18,000 square foot location with the basement on the building’s north side to an approximately 30,000 square foot basement-level site on the building’s south side (Constitution Avenue). Plans for the new entrance pavilion include two 42-inch high and 216-feet long granite clad walls spaced ten feet apart. A staircase and an accessible ramp located between the walls would lead down to the Aquarium’s entrance. New signs will be located at both ends of the pavilion and engraved on the rear pavilion wall.

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.