June 7, 2007

United States Institute of Peace Headquarters and Public Education Center
(File Number 6669)

The Commission approved final site and building plans for the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) Headquarters and Public Education Center, located on the corner of 23rd Street and Constitution Avenue, NW, on the southeast portion of the old Naval Observatory. This action follows subsequent approvals of the center’s concept design in June 2006 and preliminary site and building plans in November 2006.

The six-story building will contain a research library and archives, a conference center, and an interactive education center as well as office space for the USIP’s 250 employees, fellows, and researchers. The structure will help fill in the Northwest Rectangle, one of the areas NCPC is targeting for improvement in the National Capital Framework Plan. The most distinctive feature of the 250,000 square-foot building is an undulating, translucent roof, which evokes a dove in flight and provides a dramatic symbolic element framing the gateway into the city along Constitution Avenue.

At night, the roof will be illuminated from within. As a condition of approval, the USIP is required to provide the Commission a copy of the building manual, with content specifying final luminance limits for the building, as established by the Section 106 process Memorandum of Agreement. This will help ensure that the building will defer to the Lincoln Memorial and will not detract from the visual composition of illuminated memorials on the National Mall.

The building includes a parking garage for 230 vehicles, 140 of which are reserved for the Navy as a condition for use of the site. In granting their approval, the Commission required the USIP to prepare an addendum to the Transportation Management Plan in the event that the Navy relinquishes its claim on the additional parking. This addendum will indicate how the excess parking will be managed in accordance with the Commission’s parking policies in the Comprehensive Plan for the National Capital: Federal Elements.

See the Commission Action and Staff Recommendation

Federal Capital Improvements Program, 2008-2013
(File Number 1485)

Capital Improvements Program for the National Capital Region, Fiscal Years 2008-2013 (FCIP). This year’s report contains 234 proposed projects, 200 of which are recommended for funding at an estimated cost of $8.7 billion over the six-year period.

The Armed Forces (including the Department of Defense) and the General Services Administration submitted the greatest number of projects, at 70 and 37, respectively. Although 82 projects—worth an estimated $2.5 billion—are earmarked for the District of Columbia, the greatest expenditures would fall in Fairfax County, Virginia, with 29 proposed projects valued at $3.4 billion.

Release of the report commences the 45-day public review period during which federal, state, and local authorities as well as interested organizations and individuals may provide comments. Adoption of the FCIP is tentatively scheduled for the September 6, 2007 Commission meeting.

See the Commission Action and Staff Recommendation

Informational Presentation

Vietnam Veterans Memorial Visitor Center Information Presentation
(File Number 6625)

National Park Service staff and architects from Polshek Partnership Architects previewed a design concept for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Visitor Center, which is slated for construction on the grounds of the Lincoln Memorial bounded by Constitution Avenue, Henry Bacon Drive, Lincoln Memorial Circle, and 23rd Street, NW.

NCPC staff member David Levy first reviewed the authorizing legislation and the specific design guidelines developed by NCPC and the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts. This set of 14 guidelines was adopted by the Commission at its August 3, 2006 meeting as a condition for granting approval of the site.

According to the Park Service, the Visitor Center, conceptualized as a “dialogue between the living and the dead,” will have a “Names Made Visible” media wall at the entrance. The wall will feature a changing array of faces with accompanying biographical information. The faces rotate according to date of birth, in contrast to the date of death inscribed upon the wall of the Memorial.

The core of the Visitor Center is its collection of artifacts left in tribute at the memorial. Two-story, parallel glass walls will hold offerings such as letters, pictures, military decorations, and personal effects around which visitors may circulate via gently sloping ramps. As people move through the collection, they can also view a timeline of key military actions.

Commission action was neither requested nor taken at this time. The sponsors and designers of the Visitor Center are continuing to work on issues related to access, ventilation, and grading. They plan to submit their concept design to the Commission for formal review in fall 2007.

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.