August 3, 2006

Vietnam Veterans Memorial Visitor Center
(File Number 6597)

The Commission approved site selection and design guidelines for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Visitor Center on the site known as Site A, which is on the grounds of the Lincoln Memorial, bound by Constitution Avenue, Henry Bacon Drive, Lincoln Memorial Circle, and 23rd Street, NW. The Commission’s approval was conditioned upon the implementation of mitigation measures that are necessary to reduce the otherwise significant impacts of the project. The mitigation measures are set forth in the following design guidelines:

• The Visitor Center will be constructed underground as required by the authorizing legislation for the project with no portion of the building or related building elements visible from any portion of the Lincoln Memorial steps and podium, from Constitution Avenue, and from within the axial viewsheds of 23rd Street, NW and Henry Bacon Drive, NW.
• The Visitor Center’s entrance will be only minimally visible from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to satisfy the project’s purpose and need, but in accordance with the authorizing legislation will not interfere with or encroach upon the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
• To maintain the character of the historic landscape, the Visitor Center’s design concept will be based on maintaining the existing grade, and any new slopes will be gradual. The project will raise the existing site grade only to allow for an accessible entry ramp.
• The Visitor Center will be designed such that light emanating from the Center’s interior will not be visible from any portion of the Lincoln Memorial, from Constitution Avenue, and from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial so as not to interfere with or encroach upon the Lincoln Memorial or the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
• The Visitor Center will not intrude into the landscape. No protrusions, such as skylights, monitors, light wells, or sunken areaways, will be visible from the sidewalk surrounding the site.
• The Visitor Center’s site lighting for public safety will not interfere with or encroach upon views to and from the Lincoln Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
• The Visitor Center’s design will provide only the paved area necessary for visitors to enter and exit the building and which will also provide service access. The design will not include additional paved area for gathering space or queuing.
• The project will not include new vehicle parking areas.
• The Visitor Center will have a single entrance for both visitors and service.
• The Visitor Center’s associated pedestrian street crossing points will be designed to address traffic impacts effectively and to protect pedestrian safety.
• The Visitor Center will be constructed only on the portion of the site that lies outside of the critical root zone of existing elm trees. The applicant will develop a tree protection plan to protect and preserve the trees both during and after construction in accordance with standard design and construction procedures.
• The project will place new landscaping on the site in accordance with the National Park Service’s Cultural Landscape Report for the Lincoln Memorial referenced in the Environmental Assessment and will maintain the open grass panel on the site surrounded at the site’s perimeter by elm trees.
• The Visitor Center design will not impede the use of the site for multi-purpose recreation on the site.
• The Visitor Center will be designed without guardrails or perimeter security elements.
These design guidelines were mutually agreed upon by the National Capital Planning Commission and the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, pursuant to Public Law 108-126, and they supersede the design guidelines submitted by the National Park Service.

The Commission also requires the National Park Service to reconstruct softball fields that will be lost as a result of this project. The new fields must be located within a half-mile of Site A.

The Commission also noted the importance of early consultation and recommended that the Park Service meet with NCPC during the development of concept and subsequent design phases.

See the Commission Action and Staff Recommendation


Fort Reno Park — Ball Field Renovation
(File Number 6670)

The Commission approved preliminary and final site development plans for the renovation of Fort Reno Park ball fields. The final plans include one new baseball diamond, one new regulation-sized soccer field, a new practice soccer field, and renovation of a sidewalk and pathway.

The plans were submitted by the District of Columbia Department of Parks and Recreation on behalf of the National Park Service. The District Parks Department manages a 9.8-acre portion of the 45-acre park under a management/use agreement with the National Park Service, signed in 2003.

With its approval of the plans, the Commission encouraged the National Park Service to improve the conditions, visibility, connections, and overall management of the Fort Circle Parks in consultation with NCPC, the District of Columbia, local Advisory Neighborhood Commissions, and neighborhood organizations.

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.