October 6, 2005

Victims of Communism Memorial
(File Number 5302)

The Commission unanimously approved preliminary site and building plans for the Victims of Communism Memorial, a new international memorial that will honor the memory of the more than 100 million victims of communism worldwide.

The memorial will be located in northwest Washington, D.C. on a nearly 3,500-square-foot triangular site situated at the intersection of Massachusetts and New Jersey Avenues. The location, approved by the Commission in April, provides a direct view to the U.S. Capitol and is one of 100 memorial or museum sites proposed in NCPC’s 2001 Memorials and Museums Master Plan.

The preliminary site plan features a 900-square-foot paved plaza with a 10-foot-high sculpture atop a stone pedestal. The sculpture, a bronze female figure, is modeled after the “Goddess of Democracy” statue built in Beijing’s Tieneman Square in 1989 by pro-democracy students. The statue will stand in front of a low curved granite seating area, and three ornamental trees, located southeast of the statue, will provide a shady grove for visitors. The unpaved portion of the site will remain a green space.

See the Commission Action and Staff Recommendation

Vietnam Veterans Memorial Center
(File Number 6597)

After two motions failed to reach a majority vote, the Commission unanimously passed a third motion to require that the National Park Service (NPS) return with additional information for its proposed site for a Vietnam Veterans Memorial Visitor Center. The center is authorized by Public Law 108-126, which states that it is to be built underground on federal land at or near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

The Commission action requires that the Park Service evaluate the building yard that lies between the Interior South Building and Constitution Avenue as a potential site; reconsider Site G, located at 23rd Street and Constitution Avenue; and provide information on the center’s proposed program. The Commission also allowed for the Park Service to evaluate any other sites it wished to consider.

The National Park Service indicated the project will occupy more than 25,000 square feet on one level, and its exhibits will be designed to educate visitors about the Vietnam War and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The Park Service’s preferred site, identified as Site A, is slightly northeast of the Lincoln Memorial on a plot of land that is currently open parkland. The Commission failed to approve Site A after several members agreed with staff that the proposed center would most likely have a significant negative impact on the vistas and landscape of the Lincoln Memorial and that elements such as skylights, paved areas, and grade changes would be clearly visible from the steps and terrace of the monument.

Further, excavation and grade changes, along with the increase in traffic from pedestrians and vehicles would likely negatively affect the physical setting and visitor experience at the western end of the Mall and could damage the tree roots of historic surrounding elms. In addition, the Commission voiced concern that the proposed location would likely be a detriment to the setting of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial itself, contrary to the legislative requirement to “prevent interference or encroachment upon” the memorial.

The Commissions actions were guided by the Commemorative Works Act (CWA), which directs NCPC to ensure submitted works do not encroach—to the extent possible—with existing commemorative works or open space.

See the Commission Action and Staff Recommendation

Lincoln Memorial – Perimeter Security Improvements, East Side
(File Number 6265)

The Commission gave preliminary site development approval for the location and design of a vehicle security barrier on the east (National Mall) side of the Lincoln Memorial. The plans include a bollard line that crosses Memorial Circle near its intersection with French and Bacon Drives, descends the outer sides of the memorial’s lower stairs inside four-foot-high hedges, and then continues across the memorial’s lower stairs in front of the Reflecting Pool.

The National Park Service requested final plan approval, but, because NPS has not concluded consultation with the D.C. State Historic Preservation Office and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, as required under the terms of a memorandum of agreement, the Commission was unable to give final consent. The Commission required that the NPS provide actual examples of the proposed security elements on site, prior to returning for final approval.

The proposed security solution for the Lincoln Memorial is based on a design by landscape architect Laurie Olin, first proposed in NCPC’s 2002 National Capital Urban Design and Security Plan. Changes from the original idea include relocating the barrier line and using different security elements including bollards and hedges. The submission is part of a larger Lincoln Memorial project previously approved by the Commission that includes roadway and sidewalk reconstruction and the addition of two concession buildings.

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.