April 5, 2007

National Law Enforcement Museum Entrance Pavilions and Plaza
(File Number 6321)

The Commission commented favorably upon a revised concept design for the National Law Enforcement Museum, to be located underground in Judiciary Square near the District of Columbia Courts complex, fronting E Street, NW. The above-ground elements of the project include entrance pavilions, perimeter security, skylights and landscaping. NCPC staff believes that the proposed architectural and urban designs resolve a variety of functional issues while responding to the objectives of the Judiciary Square Master Plan and the security needs of the D.C. Courts.

The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (The Fund) received Commission approval in December 2004 for the pavilions, but the design of the pavilions and plaza has since changed.

The new concept design responds to concerns raised during the consultative process by lowering the cornice heights of the pavilions, improving their alignment, and reducing their overall bulk so that they are better integrated with the surrounding court buildings. The plan also modifies proposed plaza skylights so that they are flush with the pavement; uses bollards and retaining walls to provide perimeter security and improve site grading conditions; and increases the width of the access to the central plaza between E Street, NW and the Old D.C. Courthouse.

The D.C. Courts have expressed objections to the new design, however. The Commission recommended that The Fund continue communicating and cooperating with the Courts in accordance with Public Law 106-942.

See the Commission Action and Staff Recommendation

Patent Office Building Elements
(File Number 6479)

The Smithsonian Institution submitted a revised concept design for perimeter security for the historic Patent Office Building, shown in conjunction with the landscape plan and F Street staircase reconstruction previously reviewed by the Commission as a revised concept design at the April 2006 meeting. The applicant also submitted a concept proposal for a temporary, demountable metal egress stair on the south façade, for emergency use by patrons of the Portico Café during the months the outdoor café is in operation.

The Commission commented favorably on installation of the demountable egress stair for the 2007 warm-weather season only, delegating final approval of site and building plans to NCPC’s Executive Director. The Commission also responded favorably to the Smithsonian’s overall concept design for perimeter security, which is intended to limit the interference with pedestrian traffic and minimize the physical and visual damage to the Patent Office Building.

The Commission commented unfavorably, however, upon the applicant’s plan to use bollards in public space on sidewalks. The applicant had proposed installing bollards in front of the G Street staircase and around the entrance to the Metro escalator on the northwest corner of the property. They requested that the Smithsonian Institution reassess the need for perimeter security around the entire Patent Office Building prior to submission of preliminary site and building plans for the landscape and F Street staircase.

The Commission recommended that the applicant, if it determines that perimeter security is absolutely necessary, explore solutions that are consistent with the objectives of NCPC’s National Capital Urban Design and Security Plan.

The Commission reaffirmed its favorable comments on the landscape design and F Street staircase reconstruction, and required the applicant to submit all exterior signs for review and approval.

See the Commission Action and Staff Recommendation.

Commission Hears Three Information Presentations

NCPC Commissioners heard the draft recommendations of the Railroad Realignment Feasibility Study, which were released to the public today. For more details, see NCPC’s press release.

NCPC staff presented the preliminary findings of the CapitalSpace project, a joint initiative of NCPC, the District of Columbia, and the National Park Service to develop a comprehensive planning framework for the capital city’s parks. This is the first comprehensive study of Washington’s park system since 1967. For more information, see NCPC’s CapitalSpace page.

Designers working for Hines Development presented the draft master plan for the redevelopment of the property occupied by the old Washington Convention Center. The design, which is not subject to Commission approval, includes 400,000 square feet of office space, 220 condominiums, 460 rental units, and 280,000 square feet of street-level retail space. The plan also calls for a public park with green space, seating, and a water feature.

The Commission does not take any action on information presentations.

The study will identify six potential alternatives to current traffic patterns, examine potential impacts of the alternatives, and provide long-range goals to improve the traffic congestion. The Commission expects a final report in December.

The District of Columbia Department of Transportation and Office of Planning, the National Park Service, the U.S. Secret Service, Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority, and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments are helping to guide the effort.

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.