National Capital Planning Commission Meeting - October 4, 2012

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CHAIRMAN BRYANT: Good afternoon and welcome to the National Capital Planning Commission's
October 4, 2012 meeting.
If you would, please, stand and join me in the Pledge of Allegiance.
(Pledge of Allegiance.)
I'll note for all that today's meeting is being live streamed on the NCP website.
We do have a quorum so without objection we'll proceed with the agenda as has been advertised.
CHAIRMAN BRYANT: Agenda Item No. 1 is the Report of the Chairman.
I have two items.
One is we received a letter from Representative Darrell Issa, Chairman of the House Committee
on Oversight and Government Reform designating John Cuaderes as the first alternate, Howie
Denis as the second alternate, and Mary Pritschau as the third alternate to the Commission.
Howie has previously served as the third and now he's number two.
Second item of the Chairman's Report is that yesterday we had our third annual meeting
at the Pentagon with DoD, specifically with the Army, Navy, and Air Force commands in
the Washington District.
Commissioner Provencha, who is the DoD rep, has been instrumental in setting up these
meetings as we continue to work for further collaboration between NCPC staff and DoD staff
on project planning.
Of the 158 projects we have reviewed in FY12 41 of them were DoD so that's roughly a quarter
with GSA being No. 2 with 29 of the 158 projects.
The military related projects make up a healthy chunk of our work.
We stress kind of three things.
One is getting NCPC staff involved as early as possible in project planning, certainly
well before preparing project budgets and doing appropriations requests.
The earlier we are involved, those budgets and appropriations requests the more accurate
they can be.
Second, we stressed having up to date master plans.
The Navy Yard joint base, Bolling Anacostia, and Fort Belvoir being three of the number
we are still seeking.
Progress is being made on those.
Third, we cited the need to try to have what's been described as staying power to those master
plans so as installation commands change, the master plans don't continue to be changed
as well.
When a master plan is prepared, we like to work with them to see how it can survive installation
command changes.
The meeting was very good.
Everyone understood and certainly agreed with the importance of master plans and how they
can help speed up individual projects so it was a very good meeting.
Mr. Acosta and Shane Dettman, a senior planner, and I were the three from here who attended.
Again, I want to acknowledge Mr. Provencha's role in these meetings.
He's been very helpful.
That ends the Chairman's Report.
Any questions?
CHAIRMAN BRYANT: The third item on the agenda is Legislative Update from Ms. Schuyler.
I'm sorry.
Excuse me.
Second item on the agenda is the Executive Director's Report, Mr. Acosta.
MR. ACOSTA: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and good afternoon.
I just have a few items that I would like to report on.
First of all, at your desk is a postcard announcing our Federal Urban Design Element Open House.
This open house will be held on Wednesday, November 14th at the District Architecture
Center on 7th Street.
We encourage all of you to attend if you are able to.
I would also like to make a few new introductions to our agency.
I would like to introduce Dereth Bush.
Dereth, would you please stand?
Dereth joined the Urban Design and Plan Review Division as a community planner.
Ms. Bush received dual masters from City Regional Planning and Architecture from Georgia Institute
of Technology.
Prior to joining NCPC Ms. Bush served as principal planning technician for the Maryland National
Capital Park and Planning Commission.
I would also like to introduce Maureen Tighe.
Maureen joined the Physical Planning Division as a community planner.
Ms. Tighe received dual masters, again, from City Regional Planning and Architecture from
Georgia Tech so that makes two.
Ms. Tighe was a designer at Arch Plan, Inc. before joining NCPC.
We would like to welcome them to the agency.
Also, I would like to announce that after 41 plus years of federal service including
more than eight years at NCPC, Phyllis Vessels, our Human Resources Officer, retired yesterday.
Phyllis consistently provided the highest level of service to the staff in managing
the agency in the human resources function.
She was a great HR officer and we will certainly miss her.
Very pleasant demeanor and a very professional attitude at this agency.
We wish her the best in her retirement.
That concludes my report.
CHAIRMAN BRYANT: Thank you very much.
I would like to second that we will miss her.
She has been a veteran here and she's been very good.
A well deserved retirement.
CHAIRMAN BRYANT: Third item on the agenda is the Legislative Update, Ms. Schuyler.
MS. SCHUYLER: I have one item to report.
In late September in both the House and the Senate a new bill pertaining to the National
Women's History Museum was introduced to both the House and the Senate.
The versions in both houses are identical.
The idea behind the bill is to create a commission to study the establishment of a museum and
report back to Congress and the President.
CHAIRMAN BRYANT: Thank you very much.
Any questions for Ms. Schuyler?
CHAIRMAN BRYANT: The fourth item on the agenda is the Consent Calendar and we have two items.
First is item 4A, The Yards, Southeast Federal Center, Parcel N.
Item 4B is the transfer of jurisdiction of a triangular portion of land bordered by Constitution
Avenue, N.W., Pennsylvania, N.W., and the National Gallery of Art, West Building.
Any questions on either of those two items?
Hearing none, is there a motion on the Consent Calendar?
CHAIRMAN BRYANT: It's been moved and seconded.
All in favor of the Consent Calendar being passed say aye.
The Calendar is adopted.
CHAIRMAN BRYANT: The fifth item on the agendas, 5A, is Amendments to the Federal Environment
Element of the Comprehensive Plan.
We have Mr. Zaidain.
MR. ZAIDAIN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Good afternoon.
The first agenda item in the open session is the final policy adoption for the update
to the Federal Environment Element.
As many of you are aware, we are working through the existing Comprehensive Plan to update
the elements and to evaluate the policies that they contain.
Just to kind of give you a quick status of where we are, these are all starting to come
to a head.
The transportation element was the final policy adoption was complete in June through this
Commission's action.
The environment element is before you today.
Next month at the November Commission meeting we will be bringing the draft urban design
element to you.
This is a brand new element for the Comprehensive Plan and we've been working with the Urban
Design Task Force to create that element.
That will be coming to you for a draft release.
There will also be a public event held on November 14th for that element as our Executive
Director mentioned.
Concurrent with the release of that element we will also be requesting the release of
the update to the historic preservation element.
Because there is such a significant overlap between the preservation and parts of the
urban design element, we thought it would be good to release those drafts concurrently.
They are still separate elements but go through the public process at the same time.
Then beyond that we are working on the visitors and foreign mission elements and we are targeting
December for their draft presentation.
We are working to finalize the work place element and we are also targeting December
for the finale of that piece.
Then the final element to be updated will be the open space and parks element and we'll
begin updating that in 2013.
Lots forthcoming related to the Comprehensive Plan.
Today's agenda item is the federal environment element.
This element was last updated in 2004 and it provides policy recommendations on best
management practices and goals for environmental stewardship for federal agencies throughout
the National Capital Region.
Like all the rest of the elements in the Comprehensive Plan it has specific policy recommendations
as well as inspirational statements.
Many of the policies also overlap with other elements of the Comprehensive Plan, particularly
in this case the transportation element and some of the recommendations we have for the
urban design work.
Since 2004 there has been some advancement and some work done throughout the federal
government in regards to environmental stewardship.
This is what we wanted to account for in our update.
In 2007 the Energy Independence and Security Act was signed which provide very strict regulations
regarding energy conservation and building design for the federal government.
This was followed by Executive Order 13514 which we all know is a the sustainability
executive order which built upon the 2007 law to really provide stricter and stronger
policy guidance to federal agencies in managing their environmental impacts.
Also, the Chesapeake Bay and Anacostia River programs have been initiated.
There is a strong Chesapeake Bay program that was embodied in an executive order.
The District has been working very hard on cleaning up and revitalizing the Anacostia
We wanted to reflect that work as well.
Also climate change has become a very substantial issue.
Work from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Metropolitan Washington Council of
Governments has really provided some strong policy direction on the climate change.
We wanted to reflect that in this update.
As well as advances in scientific research and new best practices for environmental impacts.
Stemming from the Sustainability Executive Order, every federal agency has to publish
a Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan.
As an informational piece we wanted to reflect NCPCs in the environment element.
Some of the policy points in our strategic plan include updating and expanding the federal
elements of the Comprehensive Plan which we're still working on.
Working closely with the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments in advancing the Greater
Washington 2050.
We feel like this is part of our sustainability work.
Development a precinct scale eco district plan for 10th Street and Maryland Avenue,
S.W. We are presenting an eco district project which you are aware of.
Also implementing operational standards to help reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and
kind of an interesting bragging point, I guess.
Currently over 95 percent of NCPC employees walk, bike, or take public transportation
to work.
We are doing pretty well in that realm and we wanted to reflect this in the environmental
Getting to the policies themselves, there are 12 existing policy areas ranging from
air quality to soils and vegetation to radio frequency or telecommunication antennas.
We went through and evaluated these areas to just update the policies and see if they
are consistent with current best practices.
We are proposing three new policy areas, one being climate change, two being light pollution,
and three being energy conservation.
The entire update is included in your EDR and I'm just going to highlight some of the
updates and pay particular attention to these three new policy areas.
To the existing areas, particularly flood plains, wetlands and watersheds, soil, and
wildlife, we built on the current approach in the environment element which is to avoid
impacts, protect these resources and mitigate any impacts that may happen.
There is an environmental justice section of this element that provides policy guidance
to federal agencies.
This section provides policies which require open evaluation of alternatives and really
reinforce what is required in the National Environment Policy Act as in regards to public
We did strengthen the policies in the vegetation section which we are now calling vegetation
and tree canopy.
The District has a very strong tree canopy.
The District of Columbia tree canopy increased 2.1 percent since 2006 with a now coverage
of 37.2 percent.
The District has a goal of 40 percent by 2035 so obviously coming very, very close to meeting
that goal within that time frame.
The updates to the policies include a stronger focus on preserving and expanding the tree
canopy regionally, replace trees and compensate for tree canopy loss.
We do recommend a one to one replacement for most trees in federal projects.
Also respecting local standards and guidelines for tree protection.
Many of the local communities around the National Capital Region are really focusing their zoning
codes and regulations on preserving trees and we think the federal government should
strive to meet some of these regulations.
A new section that we've added is climate change and the element does reflect the EPA's
definition of climate change which is, and I'll just read part of this, "Climate change
refers to any significant change in the measures of climate lasting for an extended period
of time." We do want to build upon the EPA's work regarding climate change.
Climate change really impacts covers a lot of ground so these policies overlap with other
pieces of the Comp Plan as well as within the environment element itself.
The policies focus on long range planning for flooding, run off, and soil erosion and
temperature extremes.
It encourages sustainable building design.
It does set a zero net energy standard by 2030 and this is something that comes out
of the 2007 EISA law.
It encourages District level energy planning which is something we've seen in the eco districts
in other projects.
It supports continued analysis of the impacts of climate change on the National Capital
It sets a foundation for establishing partnerships to study the impacts of climate change.
Another new policy area is light pollution.
In updating the environment element in studying this issue we looked at scientific research
on how light pollution can disrupt migratory patterns.
It weakens the cleansing of particular matter in the atmosphere and basically can also waste
energy when you are using lighting that is unnecessary.
The new policies look to eliminate upward and horizontal spillage of light, provide
appropriate light controls, and respect the affects and impact of light on adjacent areas
and surrounding context.
This is also something that we've gotten into in the urban design element.
So just really set some standards for managing lighting use for federal agencies.
The final new area is involving energy conservation.
We really wanted to reflect many of the standards set in the 2007 Energy Independence and Security
Act, for EISA.
The new policies look to reduce fossil fuel generated energy consumption by 55 percent.
Thirty percent of hot water in federal buildings should come from solar energy and, again,
reiterates the need to encourage District light level energy planning to pool resources
and conserve energy.
In terms of process, we have held a public comment period which ran from June 11th after
the Commission released the draft element.
That comment period ran from June to August and we did receive some comments and those
are reflected in your EDR.
A public meeting was held on June 27th so that we could present the draft update.
The policies were tweaked after the comment period was closed.
A draft narrative has been added and will continue to be edited as the Comp Plan is
This is kind of the process that we're going through in updating the entire Comp Plan is
to keep working on the narrative before it's all finalized at which time we'll bring it
back to the Commission for full adoption.
So the Commission action requested is that the Commission adopt the updated policies
to the federal environment element but hold those policies in abeyance until all of the
federal elements of the Comprehensive Plan are adopted and the Comp Plan can be compiled
at which time we'll bring back to you for a final adoption of the entire document.
That's the end of my presentation and I believe we do have one person signed up to speak.
CHAIRMAN BRYANT: We do indeed.
We have one person signed up to speak, Mr. Lindsley Williams.
CHAIRMAN BRYANT: Mr. Williams, welcome.
If you're representing yourself you have three minutes.
MR. WILLIAMS: Members of the Commission, my name is Lindsley Williams, sometimes known
as trouble.
I'm here to actually support the adoption that's been recommended holding things in
abeyance but to bring to your attention three things that came to my attention as I reviewed
the document over the weekend.
I had two "oh my" moments and one "bingo" moment.
The two "oh my" moments relate to the statement of the goal which I found incredibly uninspiring.
I took at a crack at trying to give you some words.
I don't want you to take what I've written as "take it or leave it" but just to put it
before you that these are things that need attention and the goal, it seems to me, is
one of those areas that needs attention.
The second area that needs attention, and I'm thinking particularly of the D.C. contribution
to the effort in the Southwest Eco district, is to get it more fully recognized and that
will be coming up to you for adoption in, I believe, January.
I think it all fits with the time line that has been identified to you in the slides.
The final thing which was my sort of "bingo" moment was the realization that we all struggled
to meet the requirements of the stormwater management system.
There are requirements that are honest because of EPA and because of the problems they're
trying to address.
We need to see if there's a way to figure out ways of accessing what I call for the
moment, not having a better term, unessential.
That's not surplus but unessential federal lands so that they can be multi purposed into
solving environmental problems, particularly those related to stormwater, as well as getting
on with their primary purpose of whatever the installation is in question and, at the
same time, not causing security issues.
That's what the gist of my letter is all about.
I don't want to try to read the letter.
You also have a supplemental letter, I believe, from David Tuchmann who was explaining, in
perhaps a little more detail than I did, what this is all about.
I think what David has recommended, David Zaidain has recommended, the Executive Director
has recommended is hold these things, modify them as the plans are developed, and I see
all three of these things as being something that are potentially amenable to being included
and would ask you to sort of nudge staff in that direction but basically go forward with
the adoption that's before you.
Thank you very much.
CHAIRMAN BRYANT: Thank you, Mr. Williams.
Anyone have any comments or questions for Mr. Willams?
MEMBER MAY: I'm still getting used to the new microphones.
I wanted to understand better from you what you regard as unessential land.
MR. WILLIAMS: I'm not proud of that word, Mr. May.
What I was trying to do is to make sure that I did not use the word surplus because that
sets all kinds of alarm bells that makes it sounds like it's not needed.
I'm thinking of a range of things that could occur to both give value and solve problems.
There are places that involve a buffer strip.
Thirty years ago I was involved with an effort to find a solution to a chiller plant that
Metro wanted to put into the middle of a residential community in Woodley Park.
We found a solution for that by putting it in the buffer, by suggesting and then getting
approvals for putting it in the buffer strip of the National Zoological Park.
Mr. May has brought before you some ideas about trying to figure out what we can do
to get better grass to grow on the Mall.
Right now the Mall, particularly the western part of the Mall, is sitting on muck which
was dredged up and not very good at absorbing water.
It's the kind of thing which if it were repurposed so that it had a really good kind of preparation
for it, it could probably become a receiving zone for water and not cause the run offs
that we're experiencing.
That's valuable to people that have to meet this EPA requirement and it's not essential
if you can get under it and use it and still have the green surface for the people of American
to walk on.
I look at installations of the Defense Department which have considerable acreage and I'm presuming
that there are locations within that which might be wetlands or could be made to better
hold back water from cascading down the Anacostia or down Rock Creek.
There is an outfall in the upper end of Rock Creek Park which is getting scoured a lot.
There may be things that can be done.
All I'm trying to do is say let's see if there is a way in which federal lands and stewards
of those lands can partner with those that have problems that need to be solved and have
two problems solved at once instead of just one set of requirements that is imposed which
can sometimes prove to be really nettlesome in the development world.
That's what I had in mind.
I guess you need to work on what the right word is.
MEMBER MAY: Because, you know, what you talked about that might occur on park land are certainly
uses that we are looking at on a regular basis but we would never want to characterize that
land as unessential.
MR. WILLIAMS: And I wouldn't want you to either.
I would be concerned if there was a mandate to do those things where other agencies we're
doing it now on a voluntary basis and we see the value in it and we want to do everything
we can to help our federal partners when we can.
We've had some discussions about taking on extra water, for example, in certain areas.
MR. WILLIAMS: I hope the members of the Commission saw that what I was trying to suggest was
not a mandate but basically a right to knock on the door and say, "May we." That's what
I wanted to see, if we could get it more formally expressed so that as opportunities and constraints
come along that there is something in writing that says this is a good thing to try.
MEMBER MAY: I think you can be encouraged by the fact that a lot of those conversations
are already happening driven by a number of causes.
I mean, our biggest cause might be the idea of eliminating the Potomac tunnel that is
part of the long term control plan now known as the Clean River Project which would have
tremendous and devastating impacts on portions of Rock Creek and the C&O Canal Park if it's
built the way it's conceived right now.
MEMBER TREGONING: I think this is a really intriguing idea and I think the concept that
you might be trying to convey is that whatever the primary purpose of the federal land might
be that it might also be able to serve that primary purpose and serve additional purposes
that have an environmental benefit.
I think that really is an important concept to sort of put out there.
Twenty percent of the land in the city is parkland.
Most of that is federal.
Twenty percent of the land is roads and alleys and driveways.
We are looking at the city at repurposing our streets, our rights of way, to see could
they do more to benefit the environment including actually managing and storing stormwater.
I think it would be an important contribution to look at all the lands that are available
in the city to see if we could put them to additional purposes that might be mutually
beneficial and I think it's a great suggestion.
MR. WILLIAMS: If I might just add, first of all, I wish I had you as co author.
Second, I did not restrict my remarks to District located federal land.
It seems to me that if we can do this, and we're trying to do a policy element for the
region, if there is a solution that can be had up the Anacostia and if it's in Prince
George's County but still on federal land and it helps me, it helps address the problems
of the Anacostia as well as a development site in the District, I don't see that it
should be off limits.
I'm on.
I missed the training session for that last month.
Good afternoon.
Lindsley, I think all three of your suggestions are worthy of consideration and I would add
my voice to yours and others to nudge the staff to maybe incorporate them somehow.
My question is did you offer these comments previously during the public comment period?
MR. WILLIAMS: No. I have to confess and that's why I identified myself as trouble.
I did not see these things until I did a final read over the weekend.
The other factor that came to mind, particularly as to the third item, this multipurposing
or whatever, I've just become increasingly aware of the difficulty being faced by the
pending stormwater regulations.
There was, to use another aquatic term, a confluence of factors that led me to do this.
I saw the opportunity to make these comments in the public session, but more particularly
the nature of the process that they recommended by your director is to hold all these things
in abeyance.
I said there's the window of opportunity.
I can make comments and not derail the train.
MEMBER TREGONING: Would it be appropriate for I guess Commission action is final adoption.
Should we put a motion out that might be amended?
CHAIRMAN BRYANT: I was actually going to ask if the action is for final adoption but we
are holding it in abeyance, what position does that put us in to consider some arguably
minor but important changes?
MR. ACOSTA: You could either make the amendments right now or, as Mr. Zaidain also mentioned,
you will be seeing the final plan when it's all completed and you'll be adopting that.
We could also point where you made the changes in that document.
You could do either.
CHAIRMAN BRYANT: So there is still time.
MR. ACOSTA: Yes, there's still time to change it because, as David noted, we're going to
change some of the narrative.
Also there may be other things we find.
You'll have another shot at making corrections.
If you want us to do it, you could also make the CHAIRMAN BRYANT: Instead of us trying
to make changes on the fly, why don't we I think staff has got the sense of the Commission
that we're more than mildly interested in Mr. Williams' suggestions.
Perhaps we give some considered thought to it and work with Mr. Williams as well and
maybe bring back amendments later.
Is that okay?
Ms. Tregoning, is that all right?
MEMBER TREGONING: I'm just looking at the language of the Commission action which is
final adoption of the updated policy so I'm just trying to figure out CHAIRMAN BRYANT:
That was one of my questions as well.
MEMBER TREGONING: Can we call it interim adoption?
CHAIRMAN BRYANT: Yeah, what posture does that put us in?
MR. ZAIDAIN: Well, when we bring the full document back for final adoption to put it
into effect, as part of that Commission action we can point out any changes to the policies
that may have occurred from the previous adoption if any.
MEMBER TREGONING: Can we just call it adoption and not final adoption?
Can I make that amendment once we've got the motion?
MR. ZAIDAIN: We'll make this a point of the EDR.
This change and any other ones that may come up before we bring the whole thing to you
we'll make that a point of the EDR when we bring it back.
MR. ACOSTA: I guess the point would be either we could wordsmith it right now to reflect
kind of the final policies, or just bring it back to you when the whole thing comes
We can point out what the changes are that you adopted but take out the final.
Let me get the sense of staff.
Do you want us to lay this on the table temporarily for this meeting and let you guys look at
it and maybe adopt it now and get it over with, or hold off and work on it a little
bit and bring it back when we adopt the final final document?
MR. ACOSTA: I think you could adopt it today with Ms. Tregoning's suggestion to strike
final off to give us some assurance that not everything is settled.
We'll bring the entire Comp Plan back to you early next year for final adoption.
That would just make it clear to everybody.
Then we'll also point out where the changes have been made to reflect Mr. Williams' comments
at the time.
Is there a motion on the EDR to amend the EDR to strike the word final?
CHAIRMAN BRYANT: It's been moved and seconded.
All in favor of that amendment say aye.
That amendment to the EDR is adopted.
Any further discussion?
Mr. Hart.
MEMBER HART: This is not on the amendment of the EDR.
I was pleased to see the inclusion of climate change in this environmental element.
What I was looking for in that discussion was really a bit more pointed objectives of
assessing the hazards that climate change may impose on the environment that we have
come accustomed to.
In particular, the potential rise in sea level and its affect on the shoreline, things like
that, on the shoreline.
I would encourage that in the support of the analysis impacts that there be a lot more
attention given to potential future land impacts of climate change and, in particular, sea
level rise.
One foot of sea level rise creates a dramatic change to the shoreline, to the areas that
are subject to inundation and flood hazard.
I've heard predictions of six to 12 feet over the next century of rise.
I don't know how legitimate those predictions are but I think given the fact that there's
a history of increasing sea level across the globe and the affects of climate on the polar
ice caps, that some analysis be given to what is the potential impact, whether it is realistic
or projected simply based on some of the past history I think would be very useful.
We are a planning agency.
We look to the future and we try to study the worse case scenarios and how to prevent
I applaud the inclusion of climate change.
I would like to see it become the beginning of some significant analysis.
Thank you.
CHAIRMAN BRYANT: Other comments?
I had just one question for Mr. Zaidain.
I noticed in the public comment section, what few public comments there were, they were
all concentrated on solid waste and recycling.
Our general response was we don't have authority over solid waste and recycling yet.
Elsewhere in the document we do talk about solid waste and recycling in terms of environmental
Then in our playing documents kind of like with the southwest eco district we get into
So there is not a disconnect between public comment and other evidence to the contrary,
can you explain in context why we don't have authority in terms of what they are asking,
yet we do address solid waste and recycling?
MR. ZAIDAIN: Maybe I didn't word it correctly in the responses but essentially my understanding
of the public comments they were about the certification of recycling centers and solid
waste management centers.
The USEPA and other agencies certify those types of establishments and we don't.
The policies in the Comp Plan are more about what federal agencies should do to manage
their solid waste but not so much the certification of facilities.
CHAIRMAN BRYANT: I was just looking for some clarification.
Sensing no additional questions or comments, is there a motion on adopting as amended the
EDR on environmental elements?
MEMBER HART: So moved.
CHAIRMAN BRYANT: It's been moved and seconded.
All in favor of the amended EDR say aye.
It's unanimously adopted.
Thank you, Mr. Zaidain, very much.
CHAIRMAN BRYANT: Item 5B on the agenda is the new commissary at Fort Belvoir and we
have Mr. Weil.
MR. WEIL: Thank you.
Good afternoon.
This is a new commissary project to be located on the north post portion of Fort Belvoir
in Fairfax County, Virginia.
This project is submitted by the Department of the Army for preliminary building and site
development plan review.
Fort Belvoir is located approximately 12 miles south of Washington, D.C. just to the east
of I 95.
Here is a map that shows the Fort and the project location is shown with the red circle
as being on the north post.
Here is a closeup air photo showing the existing condition.
There is the post exchange building and the existing commissary building.
There is a larger planning effort to plan a North Post Town Center which requires the
shifting of the post exchange building and the commissary building to the northwest.
The Commission reviewed the post exchange project three different times during 2010
and 2011.
The future post exchange center is currently undergoing construction and is scheduled for
opening in 2013.
Once that facility is operational the existing post exchange building shown there will be
demolished and the future commissary building will be relocated on the site of the existing
post exchange building.
During the Commission review of the post exchange there were several Commission concerns related
to that project, in particular, the large scale tree removal required by that project,
the stormwater management plans, and also a seeming lack of design to the proposed town
center plan.
This is essentially the place holder design that was included in the environmental assessment
which was done in 2010 for that North Post Town Center.
You will note the proposed or the future post exchange is the red square and the future
commissary building is the blue square.
In response to the Commission concerns over the poor design of the northwest town center,
the Army worked with NCPC staff to refine that town center concept.
The direction we were given due to the relatively late planning stages, relatively late in the
planning process for both the post exchange building and the commissary, as well as the
financial constraints for the PX and the commissary, the direction we were given was that while
those two pieces were essentially fixed as to their forms, the rest of the post town
center was a relatively clean slate.
NCPC staff worked very closely with the Army to try to redesign that portion of the town
We looked at some existing examples of successful existing and planned town center like developments
within the region.
All of these town center developments cater to both a regional clientele as well as a
local clientele which is similar to the North Post Town Center.
The Army redesigned the North Post Town Center to reflect a better design.
They incorporated a better circulation network throughout the development.
They incorporated several special nodes where some special place making attention would
enter into their design.
They really increased their mix of uses in the new town center development.
In particular, they added some housing which is shown in blue.
They also took a step back and really made an effort to really foster more walking, more
bicycling, and more transient usage between the existing and planned uses directly adjacent
to the new town center, in particular, south of Gorgas Road and the relatively large residential
development located to the southeast of the development known as Lewis Village.
One of the other significant design improvements that came out of that effort was the design
of a pedestrian promenade that was intended to entice walkers to walk between the more
regional uses, the PX center and the commissary, and the rest of the more local town center
I'll show you that in a few slides.
Here is the actual commissary building.
This shows the typical red brick facade that is pretty standard throughout Fort Belvoir.
This appearance meets the installation design guidelines and is fairly similar to the PX
shopping center.
Here is a proposed floor plan for the new 140,000 square foot commissary building.
This is being designed to meet LEED Silver certification with a cool roof primarily on
the ground level.
There will be a 7,500 square foot elevated mezzanine level for staff only.
Here is a larger commissary site development plan.
You can see the commissary building will be situated in between the new PX shopping center
to the left and the rest of the future town center development to the right.
I should note that the north is to the left side of the slide.
In particular, in this particular site plan, I want to draw your attention to the fact
that there will be a shared single use parking facility for customers intended to be shared
by both the PX center and the commissary.
The customer parking for the commissary will essentially just be expanding the PX center
customer lot to the south.
Here is a closer view of the site plan.
Commercial loading and vendor parking provided along the east side of the commissary in the
rear of the building.
A separate employee parking lot with 66 spaces provided to the south as well as future expansion
And, again, the 522 customer parking lot located along the west side of the building.
Here is the pedestrian promenade forecourt area that will be located directly in front
of the commissary building.
Again, this was a design improvement that came out of the redesign of the North Post
Town Center development effort.
Here is a closeup of that pedestrian promenade.
Again, this will provide a critical segment as part of that pedestrian spine that will
encourage walkers between the more local uses to the south and the PX center and the new
You can see the original design to the bottom.
It was primarily designed simply as an impervious plaza.
The new design still consist of that decorative stamped concrete.
However, there's a lot more seating included now, a lot more pervious surface through planting
An effort was really made to try to green it up to provide more of a parkway setting,
an environment and space where people would want to gather and congregate and to walk.
Here's some renderings showing that newly designed space.
This is looking north towards the PX shopping center with the commissary on the right.
This is looking southeast back across the space towards one of the proposed commissary
This is a step back elevated view looking to the northwest.
You can see the proposed PX shopping center building to the left and the commissary building
to the right.
With that, staff reviewed the site development plan.
Staff noted that the proposed customer lot is 80 spaces fewer than the existing customer
lot for the commissary.
The proposed commissary space is approximately 80 percent larger than the existing commissary.
The parking that is provided in the current site plan is less than the amount of customer
parking that would be required by Fairfax County for a similar size development.
Staff also noted that the proposed customer parking will be part of a shared use single
parking lot to try to encourage as efficient of a customer utilization as possible.
However, staff has requested from the Army more detailed customer demand forecast information
to really ensure that the customer lot is as minimal as possible.
Staff also questioned the need for a fully separate employee lot as well and was wondering
if that employee parking could also be accommodated in the shared customer lot as proposed.
In terms of stormwater management, the Applicant has indicated that the site design will meet
Fairfax County, the Commonwealth of Virginia, EISA, and Chesapeake Bay Protection Act standards.
However, due to the preliminary nature of the design, it has not been finalized to a
point yet where you can see those definitive values and really ensure that it will meet
those design standards.
Staff notes that the proposed design will utilize pervious concrete spaces similar to
the PX shopping center parking lot which will help reduce the amount of stormwater impacts.
The parking lot will utilize bio swales and other low impact development features as much
as possible.
Again, staff wanted to bring to your attention the improved forecourt area, pedestrian promenade
area, which now has a significantly better design and a lot more pervious surface that
the existing design and it really kind of ties both the commissary and the PX center
more successfully into the rest of the town center design.
CHAIRMAN BRYANT: Mr. Weil, further define how much pervious concrete or pervious space
is there in the great scheme of things relative to the first design?
How much additional is there now than what was proposed?
MR. WEIL: Well, I can tell you that approximately 68 percent of the surface area, the parking
surface area, will be pervious concrete.
That's helpful.
MR. WEIL: Compared with zero percent before.
CHAIRMAN BRYANT: That's helpful.
Thank you.
MR. WEIL: However, staff received an income information package related to the project
reforestation and has requested additional information from the Army on their reforestation
plan for the project.
Again, staff noted that due to the preliminary nature of the stormwater design, staff wanted
to hold off on recommending approval to ensure that it will, in fact, meet all those various
design standards.
That is the Executive Director's recommendation to the Commission to approve the preliminary
building plans for the new commissary but to defer action on the preliminary site development
plan due to inadequate information on the Applicant's reforestation plan, as well as
proposed parking and stormwater management plan.
And request that prior to submitting for preliminary and final approval of site development plans
for the commissary, the Applicant should provide the following: Information on the tree reforestation
plan being developed for the master plan update; documentation on the project's compliance
with stormwater management standards for Fairfax County, Commonwealth of Virginia, EISA, and
Chesapeake Bay Protection and Restoration Act; and a detailed forecast or projected
customer demand for the shared parking lot to recommend the elimination of a separate
employee lot.
And to note that the Applicant has worked with NCPC staff on the development of a North
Post Town Center small area plan in response to previous Commission comments and concerns,
but that final North Post Town Center plan will not be available until a draft master
plan is submitted to the Commission for review in early 2013.
That concludes my presentation.
I'm now available to answer any questions.
We also have Chris Landgraf here from Fort Belvoir who can answer any questions as well.
CHAIRMAN BRYANT: I have one question.
If the employee parking lot is eliminated, is that to say it will become green space
or what is anticipated?
MR. WEIL: That is our hope.
Our hope that by having a shared used facility, that facility will have an appropriate number
of parking spaces that can accommodate that employee parking as well to create a more
efficient parking facility.
Yes, our hope would be that space would be green and would be additional pervious space.
Also people wouldn't have to necessarily walk across the parking lot to reach the rest of
the town center development.
CHAIRMAN BRYANT: Questions or comments?
Mr. May.
MEMBER MAY: On the same subject, the employee parking lot, there was a leap of logic that
I missed somehow in my reading of the EDR in that it is noted that the employee parking
lot is larger than NCPC standards or our standards.
There was no explanation of why that simply means the best thing to do is to eliminate
it entirely.
There is certainly some logical practical reasons why one would want to have a separate
employee parking lot.
Having worked at a facility similar to this a million years ago, the policy was always
the employees had to park farthest away so the customers could park closer but that's
not a very easy thing to enforce.
I'm wonderful what the logic is of not wanting to have any kind of separate employee parking.
MR. WEIL: Well, basically that was a recommendation based on the parking demand information that
we have which is really no information.
We just want to make sure that the amount of pervious surface is as minimal as possible
in light of the past history of the PX shopping center project.
That was just a thought on our part that maybe that could be eliminated until proven otherwise.
MEMBER MAY: It was just an attempt to get rid of six parking spaces or whatever it was.
MR. WEIL: Right.
And really make sure that any sort of pervious MEMBER MAY: Because you thought there were
too many spaces because the only thing it says in the report is that there are seven
too many or something like that.
MR. WEIL: Right.
Well, I did note, correct, that the proposed employee parking did exceed the parking ratio
goal in the Comprehensive Plan.
MR. WEIL: But, again, in an effort to try to minimize the amount of pervious surface
on site, maybe that parking, that separate parking lot, could be fully eliminated and
that employee parking could be accommodated within the larger shared parking facility.
DR. GLATZ: I have a question.
Peter, are you finished?
MEMBER MAY: Go ahead.
DR. GLATZ: How does Fort Belvoir feel about this?
What was the rationale?
Do we have anyone to answer that question?
Do we have a Fort Belvoir representative?
I would really like to know.
Before you speak I just want to make one thing aware, pervious surface.
I'm an incredible environmentalist.
I believe in what you all believe but I am also a structural expert and I want to make
everyone aware that pervious concrete has absolutely zero structural value.
In order to make it work we have to have the right base.
If we don't have the right base for it, we have to build the right base.
Otherwise, we will have similar problems.
When we talk about the six parking spaces could not be accommodated as they are or be
pervious, I would like to know how the requirements came about and how do you feel about the ratios
which I have a hard time to deal with, too, where we were just building our TMP for the
I would like to see what led you to actually asking for those parking spaces?
Could any one of you answer this question?
MR. LANDGRAF: We originally requested the spaces based on the total employee staff load
for the largest shift.
We recognize the fact that we have between 60 and 70 full time permanent employees, and
then we have about 53 during the peak shift temporary employees that come in on two four
hour shift changeover times.
The parking lot was requested based on that.
It was also based on the fact that during that time we have vendors and companies that
actually come in during the morning and the afternoon to restock based on heavy demand.
What wasn't clearly submitted to the Commission and to the staff, and our design team is actually
looking back into based on Michael's questions, is that we do actually need some of those
parking spaces to be designated specifically for the vendor parking so that they can come
in the backside of the they are coming in smaller vehicles than tractor trailers so
they would need spaces that are dedicated for them to be able to off load their materials,
bring it into the backside, restock the shelves, and then leave again.
That actually occurs throughout the day according to the current commissary operations manager.
We are relooking at it based on Michael's comment.
I would like to point out, and I did bring this to Michael's attention just yesterday
afternoon, that the reason we had placed the employee parking on that portion of the design
plan was because it also serves as a secondary use for emergency vehicle access.
This is a 140,000 square feet facility, as Michael said.
The front part of it is actually a two story facility and so we need three sided access
to this facility for firefighting purposes should that ever have to occur.
We really won't be able to eliminate, even if we eliminate the parking or we minimize
it to the maximum extent practical and get it back under our standards, there will most
likely have to be a drive aisle on that side that is at least 24 feet wide to accommodate
a ladder truck given the size of this facility.
We are looking at it and we do agree that we had seven parking spaces too many listed
and we have already brought that to the design team and are prepared to deal with that question
in the final submission.
MR. WEIL: And also I just want to add something.
What I told Chris on the phone, and hopefully this will answer Mr. May's question, again,
we just want to know if that employee lot could be fully eliminated.
I think the reason why it still pointed out the fact that there were too many parking
spaces based on the ratio was that if it can't be eliminated due to requirements, such as
Chris just said, you know, I was just noting that it was still too many employee spaces
for that separate parking lot.
If the Army decides that they do need a fully separate employee lot, then they should note
that based on the goal that they should have no more than 59 spaces.
MR. LANDGRAF: And we agree and we are looking at the parking requirements.
Again, going to fully identified employee spaces versus flagged spaces that are specifically
for vendors, which would be co located but marked so that they are not for employee parking.
Then to answer your question, we are actually doing the full spectrum analysis for pervious
We've done some borings to determine what our infiltration rates are.
We are building our pavement so that we have a suitable substructure because we don't want
failure of the porous concrete.
DR. GLATZ: Thank you for answer my question.
MR. LANDGRAF: Thank you.
CHAIRMAN BRYANT: Mr. May, did you have anything else?
MEMBER MAY: I don't have questions but when we're ready to discuss it I CHAIRMAN BRYANT:
Let's finish the questions.
Ms. Tregoning.
MEMBER TREGONING: I guess it's a question.
I mean, you made it very clear that the PX is now under construction and is sort of not
part of the conversation, but I will just point out I think it's somewhat tragic that
the PX and the commissary couldn't have been situated across the street from each other
and created more of a town center.
Now one entire side of this development is all parking.
In general that's just really bad urban design in terms of getting you know, you want two
sided retail and you could have actually had all of the same uses and all of the same parking
even accommodated in a way that would have been a lot more pedestrian friendly and, frankly,
made it more likely that people would walk to those destinations.
I will just say it's a tragically missed opportunity and I'm sorry that the Army decided to go
ahead with this project and not have taken the time to consider those other ideas.
CHAIRMAN BRYANT: Other comments or questions?
You opened up the door with the word tragic.
I just have to say something about the design quality of these structures.
Even though we are a planning agency so just a small suggestion.
If you are going to I note that we advised a two story building so there's this gesture
towards the two story building with these clear story windows that run the length of
the mezzanine for the staff offices.
Even though they don't run the length of the building, just as a gesture you might continue
the fenestration just for grins.
I mean, it's just too bad.
It could have been much nicer on not just an urban design context but just from you
know, this whole notion of retail and big stores whether it's a commissary or PX or
whatever, you know, we came to some idea 25 years ago that big box stores equal town centers
That is not the Army's fault.
That we are perpetuating that idea and calling this a town center is among the other tragedies
I get on Figure 8 the forecourt.
It's a really nice attempt to green up and make some take away some of the impervious
acreage on the site.
I would ask that you demand more of your designers because I cannot I don't know.
Maybe people do hang out in front of the commissary but this is not going to be a place that I
think you are going to spend a lot of money maintaining it all for nought unless people
behave very differently on an Army base than they do in regular life.
Maybe they do but it just feels like enterprise lost.
I can't help myself.
I'll be quiet now.
Since we started down this path, I couldn't agree more with both Ms. Tregoning's comments
and Ms. Wright's comments.
I mean, this is just it's almost painful having to review this because of the failings on an urban design
level and an architectural level.
I mean, the difference between a big box shopping center and a town center is that you take
one box and you turn it around and face it to the other box and they haven't even done
that here.
MEMBER HART: And it's more than that.
MEMBER MAY: Well, I mean, on the most basic level.
This is not I mean, this doesn't come close to really being a town center, it's the idea
of it.
But it is what it is.
They are very big boxes and I don't think that there is anything we can do to change
the fact that they are going to be building very big boxes.
I mean, the best we can hope for is better architecture and maybe some slightly better
planning and I'm not seeing either of them here.
I don't see that it's grounds at this point to say no because I think we've been down
that same no road before and it doesn't seem to do very much, although there is some evidence
that it has done something.
I guess we have to accept this as what we're going to get in this circumstance.
I agree whole heartedly this is just not very good.
CHAIRMAN BRYANT: Other questions or comments?
Hearing none, is there a motion to approve the EDR as written?
MEMBER TREGONING: Point of order.
MEMBER TREGONING: Given how the Commission members feel about this and given how without
our approval the PX went under construction, why should we approve it is my question.
CHAIRMAN BRYANT: This is advisory but we've also made certain information requests that
if we don't act on this whatsoever, we're not under any obligation to have they are
not under any obligation to bring to us.
There is hope to do additional work on parking and such.
I don't think it's very good not to act at all or to act in the negative.
MEMBER TREGONING: We don't have to act to approve.
CHAIRMAN BRYANT: We don't have to act to MEMBER WRIGHT: I'm not sure that I agree with Mr.
May that we have no choice but to accept it.
I mean, yeah, the universe has no choice but to accept it, it's under construction.
But sometimes symbolism is important and bad design is bad design perpetrated by any federal
I find it hard to believe that if GSA were to bring a project of this design quality
before the Commission, even through we are a planning Commission, the lines between planning
and design are quite blurry sometimes.
I find it difficult to say we think this is okay.
I'm not just I feel like this is Groundhog Day over and over and over again.
I don't get why we criticize and we say, "Please don't do this.
We advise you not to do this." Then every time we say, "But okay." I'm not inclined
to vote for this.
I'm certainly not going to move it and I probably will vote no just because I think sometimes
it matters to say, "No thank you.
Maybe you've made some effort here but it's not quite good enough." MEMBER MAY: I would
add in response to that I would just say I think there actually has been a little bit
of movement and a step in the right direction.
I think we are sending a fairly strong message by even having this discussion.
I would hate to think that if we voted against it now that the result would be that they
would just ignore us.
I mean, we have an official process for ignoring us, I know.
I think if there is any progress at all and if the staff thinks it's in our best it's
best to advance this even with a tepid vote in favor, maybe that is the best thing to
MEMBER WRIGHT: Just a question?
CHAIRMAN BRYANT: Hang on a second.
I will say that there has been progress made in staff consultation.
For example, this is being built on a previously developed site.
There has been advances made in parking and stormwater so there has been effective consultation
and progress being made between the staffs.
I will say that.
Also, I will say that some of this is bred by not having an updated master plan, as we
all know.
The status of the master plan is, again, reflecting on our meeting at DoD yesterday, the Navy,
the Army, and the Air Force and military command all to a person understood not only why generally
we want updated master plans but they also understand that it's to their benefit process
wise to do this.
I have no doubt of their commitment to getting us the master plan because they are working
pretty diligently.
On this particular master plan I would say that correct me if I'm misremembering but
it was suppose to be to us this fall.
They are three or four months behind so perhaps the first of the year.
One could argue they are only three or four months behind which is perhaps something given
that it's been years not having any at all.
Those are my thoughts.
Ms. Wright and then Mr. Hart.
MEMBER WRIGHT: That's good but it's a day late and a dollar short and it's just filling
out the paperwork really.
What I'm talking about is inspirational and setting standards that aren't necessarily
goals that are dictated by regulatory goals but rather because it's just the right thing
to do.
I think we need to take a stand at some point and demand of one another we may not always
hit the mark but we should be trying and we should require that of one another.
I think that matters.
CHAIRMAN BRYANT: I'm not disagreeing.
Mr. Hart.
MEMBER HART: In addition to the master plan a portion of that is a transportation management
I don't see evidence in this that they're responding to the objectives of the transportation
management plan with respect to reduced parking, numbers of employees for which there is parking.
I need a master plan that makes sense in order to be able to vote on individual projects.
While there are a lot of architectural design issues that I take exception to, and I applaud
a lot of the environmental steps towards improving the design, I have a basic problem with approving
projects that are not in the master plan that's already approved because that is the building
framework that all these pieces fall into.
Ms. Tregoning.
MEMBER TREGONING: I will go on record signifying our disappointment.
Should someone move to disapprove the plan?
Even if that motion should not carry that would become part of the official record or
A failed motion?
MS. YOUNG: Yes, a failed motion is part of the official record.
MEMBER TREGONING: I'm afraid if someone were to move that that it might actually be approved
meaning that the motion to disapprove might carry.
CHAIRMAN BRYANT: One could always reconsider the motion.
MEMBER TREGONING: Is anyone willing to move either one?
MEMBER WRIGHT: I'm willing to make a motion to that effect, yes.
I am.
MEMBER HART: And I will second it.
MEMBER TREGONING: To disapprove?
MEMBER WRIGHT: To disapprove.
CHAIRMAN BRYANT: A motion is always in order that the Chair entertains.
Mr. Wells?
MEMBER WELLS: In understanding the reluctance to vote against this, is there a concern of
testing the jurisdictional relationship to what our action is or what is the ramifications?
I mean, is there concern that there will be precedent by forcing an agency to ignore us?
Or what is the concern?
MR. ACOSTA: I could answer that.
It does trigger a process.
So in the last round of the PX the Commission
actually voted to disapprove that project and forced at that
time the Applicant to respond in detail why they were going to do certain things.
In the final approval step the Commission again disapproved it.
At that time they documented why they weren't going to comply and basically said, "We are
going ahead and build it." But it does trigger a process.
I do think it got their attention in some aspects of this project but fundamentally
it didn't address the Commission's core concerns that they have expressed at that time.
MEMBER WELLS: So if this motion passes, it will trigger another the same process again?
MEMBER WELLS: So the purpose of the motion is to send a message by hopefully it not passing
because we don't want to put them through the process again?
MR. ACOSTA: There are two options here.
One is not taking action at all and basically the Commission has seded its ability to make
any comments regarding this project.
Second is if you could take affirmative action or negative action you are, in fact, sending
comments back to the Applicant expressing your concerns about this project.
Voice those concerns and they will be placed on record.
I think in response to Ms. Wright's concerns, that would at least document your concerns
regardless of whether you like it or not and at least relay that to the Applicant in terms
of what those concerns are.
I think that's the difference.
One is you're not saying anything and the Applicant is free to proceed.
The second option which is to vote on something will at least allow you to put on record whatever
comment you may have.
I do think in some respects the comments make some difference.
I do think in this case they are basically small level interventions just because the
Army, in fact, at this point in time is not able to make any significant modifications
to the site plan in terms of where the buildings are located.
Everything that you see right now are essentially small scale interventions.
I would remind the Commission that at the last meeting it actually had proposed a plan
for the other portion of this town center which I do think is significantly better than
what they had proposed.
It is more of the small scale retail and residential areas of which this would tie into.
I do think at least the Commission at that point got the message across that something
had to be done over all with respect to this project.
I do think hopefully there are vast improvements to that portion of this area.
Unfortunately, with respect to the PX and commissary these are, indeed, just small interventions.
Regardless of that, I think you do have choices here.
I do share those concerns also but I think with respect to the staff's work we are just
trying to make sure that this project regardless of how much intervention is conducted in this
area is as good as it can be.
I do agree that a lot of this is small scale but I do think they will make some difference
in terms of the quality of the project.
They could do more but I think that's the point.
The other piece of it is there were a lot of questions about parking and traffic and
the number of spaces that they need.
I think Mr. May made a good point.
The question is whether they can consolidate it into one facility or should it be two.
This actually would defer a decision on the remainder of the site plan so at least they
could come back and show you kind of a revised version of that and whether they could accommodate
the issues that you raised or not, at least with respect to the parking and other portions
of it that aren't related to the building.
That is the other thing that this recommendation would do, to at least bring that back to the
table and at least work those things through so you won't have at least you won't have
a major traffic problem on the site.
CHAIRMAN BRYANT: Remember, this is preliminary approval for the building plan so they will
have to come back to us for the final.
It's a deferred preliminary approval of the site plans so they still have to come back
before us.
With that, the Chair would entertain a motion.
Any motion.
What was the so it was articulated?
And there was a second?
The motion on the floor is to disapprove the EDR as written.
MEMBER HART: To disapprove the plan as submitted.
To disapprove.
Hearing no further discussion MEMBER WHITE: Can I just ask one thing so I understand?
So does the staff have any changes to your proposed actions based on the discussion of
the Commission today?
Your proposed action is to approve the building with comments and defer approval on the site.
Does that still stand as the staff reaction or staff action rather?
MR. ACOSTA: I think that could work.
I think the key is, again, at least at this point, the traffic and parking issues.
At least we would like them to come back and bring that back to the Commission, at least
in terms of understanding kind of really what is going on with respect to transportation
in the area and they think those recommendation do that.
I think you are making a statement with respect to the disapproval in terms of the building
The deferral will at least leave the site development issues in play until we get further
We can still work through that.
CHAIRMAN BRYANT: Well, to make sure I understand, the motion is to amend the EDR to say disapprove
instead of approve and then everything else is the same.
MEMBER WHITE: Thank you.
CHAIRMAN BRYANT: So it's been moved and seconded.
All in favor of amending the EDR as noted say aye.
MEMBER WRIGHT: You mean disapproval.
Just to make sure, all in favor of MEMBER WRIGHT: Of disapproving.
CHAIRMAN BRYANT: disapproving.
One, two, three, four, five.
Those voting the other way.
One, two, three, four.
So it passes five to four.
I'm going to vote to approve.
I vote against the motion.
MEMBER: Then I think we need to recount.
CHAIRMAN BRYANT: It's five to five.
MEMBER WELLS: Did the Chair vote?
Five to five.
It's tied.
MEMBER: That was the motion to disapprove.
Does anyone want to make a motion to approve?
MS. YOUNG: Excuse me.
DR. GLATZ: I make a motion to approve it.
Glatz, you cannot vote.
DR. GLATZ: Okay.
I'm sorry.
MS. YOUNG: The first motion was fine.
She cannot vote.
DR. GLATZ: I was assigned to be a representative today.
MS. YOUNG: We have to have a letter from the Secretary of Defense saying that you are sitting
for him.
DR. GLATZ: I thought that was done.
It's probably some place in the mail.
I'm sorry.
CHAIRMAN BRYANT: So it's five to four then.
The motion to disapprove passed five to four.
Agenda Item 6A.
MS. SCHUYLER: Could I just make a point?
Excuse me.
I think it's important to note that unless the assignment for the alternates includes
the ability for them to vote, they can't vote.
Therefore, you who have multiple levels should make sure if another alternate is appearing,
they have the authority to vote.
CHAIRMAN BRYANT: Agenda Item 6A is an information presentation on the National Mall Design Competition
focusing on Constitution Gardens and Sylvan Theater.
We have Ms. Hirsch.
MS. HIRSCH: Good afternoon.
The National Park Service is here with the Trust for the National Mall to provide two
information presentations on two different sites on the National Mall.
The first is the Sylvan Theater on the Washington Monument grounds.
The second is for Constitution Gardens.
The Trust for the National Mall, as you know, held a design competition last year for these
sites in an effort to advance the ideas in the National Mall plan.
At this point staff has had early consultation with the Park Service and the Trust.
Essentially the projects are just at the very early stages.
We anticipate that the projects would be coming before the Commission in the next year or
With that, I'm going to turn it over to the Park Service and the Trust to introduce the
project and the designers.
MEMBER MAY: Are you looking at me because I thought that maybe Steve Lorenzetti, did
you want to say any opening remarks to kick things off before you pass it onto the Trust?
MR. LORENZETTI: I didn't know you were looking at me either.
Thank you for letting us come and present.
The Trust is our partner.
They are helping us with the implementation of the National Mall plan.
They have run a design competition for two of our sites, Constitution Gardens, which
has I understand that was never quite complete in the original SOM design.
As well as a re imaging of how we should use the Sylvan Theater on the Washington Monument
We are working closely with the Trust to try to have these projects come to at least one
of them come to fruition before our centennial.
With that I would like to turn it over to Caroline Cunningham with the Trust.
MS. CUNNINGHAM: Good afternoon.
Thank you so much for your time.
My name is Caroline Cunningham.
I'm the president of the Trust for the National Mall.
As both Peter and Steve mentioned, we held a design competition run by Don Stastny.
Many of you know him.
He developed the design excellence guidelines for GSA.
We ran a national competition last year culminating in May in tree designs; one for Constitution
Gardens, one for Washington Monument grounds at Sylvan Theater, and one for Union Square
in front of the Capitol.
Unfortunately I think all of the designs are stunning.
Unfortunately, Union Square was taken by Congress in December of 2011 in their omnibus or their
continuing resolution, I don't know which, which a format of their budget they passed
last year.
The Trust for the National Mall wanted to present this information to you.
I have to tell you we have been working as part of the steering committee of the design
competition with the District Office of Planning, the National Capital Planning Commission,
the Smithsonian, the National Gallery of Art, the Commission on Fine Arts, we wanted to
make certain that all voices while we were developing the programs for these elements
were involved in the outcome.
The jury which, I think, is not only very helpful to us but I think came together and
made a unanimous decision on the final outcomes of each of these locations.
I think what they delivered to us was really quite stunning.
I think all of the designs are respectful of the historic context of the park.
They also restore the park in a more meaningful sustainable way.
In particular, on Constitution Gardens which never really could sustain the quality of
environment given the soil and the water systems.
We are very proud to present these to you.
The purpose really of this discussion is to get your input before we start discussing
We wanted to make sure that you had at least exposure with these plans so that you could
provide us some guidance as we take the next step.
The next step is working through alternatives and getting a very good handle on costs associated
with both of these projects.
At that point we would turn it over, what we think, probably in February of next year,
beginning of March, over to the Park Service and our board of directors with a very strong
understanding of costs so they could make a determination on what project to go forward
Then we would go through the natural alternatives process and take what you will see as original
concepts to final design.
We anticipate that process will get us to about 2014 while we at the same time raise
the funds for these projects.
And then, as Steve said, complete one of the projects by 2016 as a gift to the nation for
the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.
I am very honored by the quality of work that was done by the designers that were chosen.
I'm very grateful to the people who are here who participated on the design competition
and the technical advisory group.
I think that they helped us shape this project in a very important and an outcome I think
will benefit not only the country but the District as well.
I will start with Constitution Gardens.
MR. GREENSPAN: Good afternoon.
I'm Adam Greenspan, a partner at PWP Landscape Architects and we with Rogers Marvel Architects
submitted the competition scheme for Constitution Gardens.
What we realized when we started our work here was that Peter Walker, who has been working
in D.C. for 50 or 60 years, and I for 20 years, neither of us knew Constitution Gardens by
name or where it was.
Where it is is around the Vietnam Memorial site and over where that box is adjacent to
the Mall proper.
The interesting thing about it is it's a curvilinear design, a place that is distinctly different
from the rest of the Mall.
It's less monumental, more natural in a sense.
When we looked at the history of it, we definitely see it as curvilinear but definitely related
to modernism, a more biomorphic modernism like the Roberto Burle Marx paintings and
We were definitely drawn to the sinuous line that made the edge, and makes the edge today,
of the pond.
The fantastic reflection that you get of the Washington Monument and anything around it.
We were committed to maintaining these significant character aspects of the piece itself in any
new design, but also we were looking at a lot of the problems that we have there today.
This is that sinuous edge today in a number of different areas and that is really emblematic
of a lot of deterioration and a lot of death and dying.
Two thirds of the trees that were planted in 1976 have died.
Many of those were replaced once or twice over.
The soils there really aren't healthy and are dying and literally slumping into the
ground so the form that it had in the beginning is not there any more.
The lake itself really was only aesthetic.
It wasn't something that was connected to the land and to life.
What we believe is that this place, Constitution Gardens, can become a place with a really
special kind of life on the Mall, different than every other place on the Mall.
Not monumental.
A respite away from the larger scaled areas and, in some ways, a place for smaller groups
rather than crowds.
What we were looking at was some of the existing trees and the way that the trees in the lower
areas, the lower elevations in this gray space here, were the trees that were found to be
mostly dead and dying; the red, the orange, and the yellows in this plan versus the green.
There were still some green and healthy blue trees as mapped in this survey in the upper
areas, the higher elevations.
This is because the soil here was slumping.
It was waterlogged.
The trees weren't able to deal in the conditions that they've been given.
There's a lot of construction debris that is likely in the soil there left from architecture
that had been on the site before construction and that was just left underneath.
The heart of our scheme can be expressed in this section.
This is Constitution Avenue over here.
This is the existing lake elevation.
We are proposing enhancing the topography all around the lake so that you get this series
of rolling hills.
Those rolling hills are more like the original grading plan that SOM did that has sunk over
But we're talking about enhancing that even more so that you have a feeling of enclosure
and a feeling of envelopment in this landscape so when you come from the bigger space of
the Mall, the traffic of Constitution Avenue, you come through gateways between those hills
and enter into a space that will be full of life, integrated life; all people, plants,
and animals together.
So when we look at this, this is the level of the existing grade today.
In the past it was probably up a little bit higher than that.
We're proposing putting in a continuous drainage layer of sand so that this entire construction
drains well and lives in a health way in the future.
One other thing that our scheme does is tries to connect the paths and the experience of
Constitution Gardens to the memorials around it; the World War II Memorial as well as the
Vietnam Memorial.
But also connecting in a more visible and more celebrated way to all of the street coming
from the north that go into the park.
Even though we do have that undulating edge with the raised topography, there are points
where those come down and you are able to walk in.
Between a small a low wall that runs around, a seat wall that gives the gardens an identity
and a place for naming.
We've also connected the Vietnam Memorial to an adjusted path system that flows very
smoothly and effortlessly from the end of the Vietnam Memorial so that when you come
out of that, you can either continue on into the gardens or you continue back to the interpretational
area related to Vietnam.
What we end up having is a garden that's connected both to D.C. and the rest of the Mall.
Inside of that garden, inside of those edges which are surrounded by the topography and
a continuous wooded edge that you can see here.
We have a lot of nooks and crannies, large spaces and small spaces where there can be
events as well as smaller less organized activities for people as they go through.
This is an elevation looking south from Constitution Avenue.
You see the land form goes up and down, up and down.
Each of these points down are those breaks in that low wall as well as that land form.
They offer a big welcoming entry into the gardens.
But also views.
Right now this is an elevation so you can't see it but if you were standing or in your
car here, you would get a view across the lake all the way across to the gardens and
the flowering displays on the other side.
Another episode that exist today in the garden is the 56 Signers Memorial.
We are maintaining that memorial on that island but enhancing it through making a better threshold
and nicer bridge and coming across a wetland area and through sort of a scrim of willows
onto the more open island.
Adding magnolias to that so this really becomes something that is set off in the seasons and
you get a different view across the lake.
Some of the most interesting ideas we felt in the competition were putting elements within
the lake that maintain its reflection and maintain the ways that it contributes today.
But also expand either its health and the way that it's integrated with the rest of
the garden and ecology or social activity.
One of those ideas is the water ring.
It's something that exist at the far eastern end of the lake and is about the size of a
hockey rink.
This is a space that we think can be drained and turned into an iceskating rink.
Something that feels more like you're skating on a frozen pond than skating in an urban
setting on a plaza or something like that.
In the summer if you drain it only slightly, it reveals a path and a walkway that runs
around that slightly lower space in the center so that becomes a venue for model boating
like in Central Park or in Paris.
And fishing on National Fishing Day is something that already takes place there every year
but this will be a new way to experience and get into the lake.
So that lake is part of an integrated water system that we have really designed the whole
gardens around.
We are hoping to collect rain run off and urban run off from the buildings across Constitution
Avenue, as well as our building, a pavilion building that Rob will talk about momentarily.
We are also looking at containing and collecting all of the surface run off and the subdrainage
into the lake so that becomes then the generator of irrigation water and the place where that
water can be filtered and then recycled.
The existing work that's being done that connects the reflecting pool to the Tidal Basin is
something we also looked at continuing and connecting so that the lake can be flushed
periodically or topped off with Tidal Basin water as needed.
So this represents an integrated topography of the wooded edge at the highest levels with
open lawns that are flexible and can be used in different ways by people.
Then upland and lowland gardens, a wetland shelf at the bottom where water that moves
through this is being filtered as it comes down going into the ground and then transported
also in the subterranean sand layer.
Then the pond itself is made much deeper so that it can be maintained in a healthy condition
and planted heavily the edge so something more interesting to look at but also something
that gets filtered by those plants.
So today this is the view that we're having.
While this is a legacy and represents a couple of the aspects that we wanted to maintain
over time, it also shows some of the problems.
We are looking at the things that are liabilities today like the contaminated soil as being
something that becomes an integrated part, or an integral part, of our construction.
The land forms that we're talking about can be made from the harvested contaminated soil
on site so that this can be done in a rather incremental way around the lake or around
the site where both trees and soil are harvested and moved.
The healthiest trees we're proposing do get salvaged and become part of the woods that
runs around the park.
Whereas, single trees that are specimen quality could be used as individual trees in open
lawn areas.
So when you see this diagram here, this color represents the woods, a sort of composed woodland
that is made in part of the trees that we would harvest from the site but aren't of
specimen quality but are in good health, larger trees, and then the wetland shelf and the
lower plantings.
So these are some images of the character of the spaces that we'll be developing.
This shows really the distribution around the site.
We'll have upland and lowland gardens with different pallets, a wetland shelf, and a
wood with understory underneath it separating the maintenance needs of the different kinds
of landscapes so the Park Service can maintain lawns and lawns only, maintain trees with
groundcover under them in a different way.
Even though we'll have these different types of landscapes and types of expression in the
garden, one thing that we try to focus on was the simplicity and the boldness of the
original design.
As we have a pallet in each of these gardens of different plants to make something has
interest and shows itself over the seasons, each season should express itself clearly
as one or two colors and organizing that by looking at different heights on the plants
that bloom at different times of the year.
Within that plan we have an opportunity for a lot of different events.
One space I didn't talk about is a large outdoor amphitheater as well as the pavilion that
we have at the far eastern edge of the site.
Those two spaces are the most highly programmed spaces in the garden and the places that we
can bring lots of people for organized events.
The building itself will be the hub for all of that activity that I just talked about.
Instead of having a number of pavilions throughout this about 20 acres we are looking at it being
one place and one building that fits and is able to serve all of the activities that we
This is an image of the amphitheater and looking east the pavilion.
This amphitheater can range from about 100 people or a few people up to 1,000 or 2,000.
This is at the far western and the Vietnam Memorial is farther to the left here.
The topography all around the pond quiets the sound of whatever goes on inside.
We've had studies done so different kinds of events or kinds of celebrations can happen
in the garden and not impose themselves on the other activities adjacent to the garden.
Lastly, this is an image looking at what we envision for nighttime here.
We use the historical lamp but I think using lighting to both highlight the design that
we have and also make it a safer and more useable place through much of the day is something
that we are really aiming to do both through the day and through the year.
MR. ROGERS: Thank you.
Rob Rogers, Rogers Marvel Architects.
As we were working with Adam and Dean in their office thinking about the building configuration
for the site which, as Adam mentioned, is really about supporting the incredible programmatic
opportunities of the rebuilt garden, we also looked at the legacy of the SOM and the Dan
Kiley plan and began to imagine how those guide us today in terms of not just the reconstruction
of the landscape but the position and proposition for a building in that site.
One of the obvious things is to say that we really felt just as the hills and the low
wall have begun the redefinition of Constitution Gardens, this building as a pavilion, as a
proposition, has to be a building that belongs to the garden.
It's not a memorial.
It's not a monument.
It's not of the scale of the Mall as a whole.
It's really particular to the garden so it's kept low and it's within the canopy trees
of Constitution Gardens.
When we looked at the original site the SOM building was originally intended at the top
of what is now a series of step terraces going down to the lake and we felt that at the time
may have been the right place, but since then the World War II Memorial has been constructed
and the formal axis exist now north and south from that axis and we really felt that cannot
be disrupted by a building in the current configuration.
So we pushed the idea of the building to the west as indicated by the large red arrow and
thought of it as a very simple pavilion.
Now instead of coming up the terrace steps to arrive at a building, we actually pushed
the building and steps together and began to imagine it as a pavilion looking out over
the lake but the pavilion then is also a threshold moment to enter Constitution Gardens and announce
that special place.
We started with a very simple rectilinear piece and just widened it to open it up so
it will favor the big long landscape panoramic view looking out across the lake and the gardens.
It's also as Adam mentioned, when you're moving through Constitution Gardens it's a very spirited
curvilinear lyrical kind of walk as you move in and out of the lake, especially now augmented
by those gardens.
We felt that the shape needed to have a perspectival component so that it would dynamically change
as you move around it throughout the garden experience.
We also after building this area up to meet all the current criteria to integrate with
the work of the Army Corps and establishing the levee heights so this is the transient
height correct to get across and then down into the World War II Memorial do we actually
slope slightly up lifting the pavilion as it sort of ramps up so that you've really
got a porch and a prospect looking out over the new gardens.
It also gives us adequate space underneath for what will become an area of concessions,
rest rooms, and classic park amenities, ice skating rental, boat rental, kite rental,
things like those opportunities.
We've also proposed a plaza type space on the east side of the pavilion so that we've
got a place for school groups and interpretation, education, and gathering as people move to
and from the memorials, and a place that actually the pavilion can expand.
I'm going to walk you through the pavilion now as a sort of threshold and gateway to
the gardens as you move down those large generous stairs, great place for impromptu activities
and events, down to the lake level with the concessions, restrooms, park facilities just
to your left in this image.
The building is really split.
There's the big grand stair that takes you down to the lake level, the concessions, restroom,
bathrooms on the lower level.
We've incorporated very substantial service areas which will be accessed by an independent
roadway so we can actually get the kind of service we need to really deliver food, pick
up trash, manage some of the park's maintenance relationships.
On the upper level you've got the very light ramp, only about 3 percent, up to the prospect
and the porch that looks out over the lake, and then a proposed restaurant and cafe with
service areas below.
We've proposed initially a diagrid structural system that will span across creating a lattice
that gives us the opportunity of both transparency and closed areas where we want condition space
and where we want open space.
The pavilion is really the heart of the programming that will enable Constitution Gardens to become
viable 365 days a year.
We are interested not just in the tourist who needs a moment to stop and rest but the
resident, the worker who is in D.C. all the time, that this is a place that they can also
come in and enjoy the Mall in a park like setting.
At the corner of constitution and 17th we've proposed a modest relocation of the Lock Keeper's
House which will become an interpretive center for the Constitution Gardens and the Mall.
You can see the building is visible through the trees but is not a major presence from
that side.
We believe this is a place for these kind of moments of respite and recreation and refreshment
along the Mall.
Looking forward to this being something that becomes part of the life of the city throughout
the year.
Thank you very much.
MS. HIRSCH: We can either take we were going to do both presentations and then take questions
and comments.
MEMBER TREGONING: I was just wondering because if you're going to have to toggle back and
forth between presentations so, you're going to take questions?
I'm sorry.
I think it's really beautiful.
My only question has to do with the topography changes and the Woodland areas.
How deep and how visually impenetrable are those areas?
My question is what is the visibility mostly for safety reasons from the exterior of Constitution
Gardens through the Woodland features?
MR. GREENSPAN: I think that is something that we are concerned about definitely also.
The idea there is that they will be a composed Woodland with lower ground cover There may
be a number of trunks coming down but the goal of having mature trees limbed up, no
limbs branching below eight feet on these trees, and a lower groundcover.
The topography goes up a few feet but these are large land forms so it's not a berm that
is discrete and singular where somebody could hide behind it.
It's more like a hill.
What you'll be seeing will be these moments where you see from Constitution Avenue up
to the peak of that hill.
As you move through that space you'll get an expanded view of the other side as you
move around.
You won't see on the other side of the hill but you will see oblique views.
Like I showed on the long elevation, we do have this undulating change so it's not an
abrupt or sharp, you know, bump where you can spend time on one side or the other.
It's something that is a slow grade going down and slowly coming up again as you move
This will be closer to the scale of the areas around the Washington Monument today actually
in some spaces so larger land forms rather than smaller berms.
MEMBER TREGONING: But basically if you're on Constitution Avenue you really can't see
any activity happening around Constitution Gardens except for those pathways that punctuate.
What is the distance between those roughly?
MR. GREENSPAN: This is about you're asking what is the distance here?
MEMBER TREGONING: No. I'm asking the distance so if the distance of the land form between
the separations, like is as big as a city block?
Is it half a block?
Is it 200 feet?
MR. GREENSPAN: Right now today there is a very small opening or small pathway coming
across the street.
This is about the width of the entire street so it's probably about 50 feet wide to 70
feet wide with a flap opening in between and then it begins to roll up on either side.
MEMBER TREGONING: I'm not asking about the width of the opening.
I'm asking the width of the area that because of the land form and the trees you cannot
see inside Constitution Garden so how big is that area in between the opening?
MR. GREENSPAN: Oh, okay.
It wouldn't be that you can't see inside and what we can do as we move forward is look
at three dimensional topomodels.
That is a block that was there.
This is roughly a block or two thirds of a block.
As you are moving down you will get views into the space through here.
Because this slopes down and in here we're at a low point so you will be getting view
It won't be completely separate.
MEMBER TREGONING: I know, but what you're saying to me though, and I think it is very
beautiful but you are going to walk the length of an entire block before you can look into
Constitution Gardens again.
While you're in the opening you will be able to have a panorama but when you are not standing
in front of the opening, or next to the opening, you're walking an entire block when you don't
have a sense of what the activity is inside.
MR. GREENSPAN: You will be seeing these windows obliquely as you move down.
Yes, there will be about a block where you are not getting a view across the way.
MEMBER TREGONING: I would just express some concerns both about safety and about what
kind of experience that creates for the pedestrian on Constitution Avenue, somewhat a deadening
experience for the pedestrian that there might be wonderful activity happening but you are
not really going to be able to be aware of it because all you're seeing is the rise of
the land form and then trees and no human activity basically.
MR. GREENSPAN: I think that is something we have to definitely take into account and we'll
look at.
I think we'll want to make it so that you can see in a little bit more frequently than
MEMBER WHITE: Going back to your building, I'm sure you have it in the plan and I just
didn't see it but the ADA accessibility and how folks in wheelchairs would get from one
level to the other.
MR. ROGERS: It is there.
I'll take you there in one moment.
MR. ROGERS: The terrace is really over this area of service below and then a very modest
slope up to this porch.
There is an elevator right here that goes both up and down so that if you come at the
lower level, you can ascend right there and have that porch experience.
Or if you come in here, you can move up here and take that down as well.
MEMBER WHITE: Thank you.
MR. ROGERS: There is also I would have to go back to the plans but there are pathways
that make bad analogy elephant ears, if you will, on either side of the building that
come down at that very modest non railing slope so they connect directly that sort of
concentration, refreshment, concession area to the plaza on the top.
MEMBER WHITE: So there is still an outdoor alternative?
MR. ROGERS: That's correct.
MEMBER WHITE: That's great.
Thank you.
MR. ROGERS: On both the north and south side.
MEMBER HART: I think that what we've been shown is very exciting and I look forward
to more refinement of the pavilion.
I think that almost anything you could do the gardens would be an improvement.
I'm excited about the kinds of landscaping that were described, the use of marsh and
flowers in an area that is right now not real exciting.
I'm not so troubled by the insertion of berms between the points of entry into the park.
I like the fact there will be this topographic difference introduced into the Mall where
it is basically a very flat landscape as it is now.
I think your building on the SOM plan in a way that will be very nice.
Thank you.
MEMBER WRIGHT: Quick question.
Can you take us to, I guess, it's the west elevation of the building?
The reason I ask I think it's beautiful.
I shouldn't say this but I will.
It reminds me of the ICA in Boston and one of the problems with the ICA is the back of
It turns its back on the city and it's beautiful on the harbor.
I guess I was wrong, the eastern.
I'm directionally challenged.
The eastern facade, the one facing the Washington Monument.
That one, what would be the back of this building.
MR. ROGERS: I don't think the building has a back.
Then I need to look at it more carefully.
I mean, it sort of feels like a back, doesn't it?
MR. ROGERS: The building is really a threshold.
MEMBER WRIGHT: It's an open air.
MR. ROGERS: Right now it's very much MEMBER WRIGHT: Theater sort of thing.
MR. ROGERS: It's hardly even called a building because it's still a bit of an idea at this
stage but it's that place that is both containment and threshold.
MEMBER WRIGHT: So there's no wall here at all?
MR. ROGERS: There's an enclosure, glass enclosure, of the restaurant and cafe.
MR. ROGERS: And then it actually comes down like lattice work and trellis work.
MR. ROGERS: We imagine that this is very transparent and porous and this is obviously conditioned
and enclosed space.
MEMBER WRIGHT: So it's not turning its back on anything.
That's great.
MR. ROGERS: You should be able to sit here and have a beautiful view of the Washington
Monument with a Cabernet or Chardonnay.
MEMBER WRIGHT: And we'll know the difference standing there.
Where is the where are your mechanical systems, north side or where are you going to hide
all these things?
MR. ROGERS: We do.
Look at this plan.
That's what I thought.
MR. ROGERS: We've got the stairway, the service elements, service elevators, small accessible
bathrooms specific to the restaurant.
The large bathrooms are downstairs through the public entryway and elevator.
This is also the service core that goes down to the lower level which has the public bathrooms
This is all the kitchen service, Park Service area in the back.
We are looking that we would have potential vehicular access actually pass through here
for the Zamboni.
MEMBER WRIGHT: Oh, the Zamboni.
Of course.
Thank you.
I think it's wonderful.
I was telling John that when I was in college at GW we used to go down there all the time
but nobody knew it was called Constitution Gardens.
Believe it or not, this was the '80s and even then it was long in the tooth.
I hope you're thinking really hard about the surfaces because I remember even then when
it must have been only seven or eight years old sprawling and it was falling apart from
the beginning.
I can't remember what the surfaces are but I'm assuming you're going to do something
I mean, it was a lot of asphalt and a lot of chip seal and then holes in those for trees
and things like that.
All of this the materials, the methods, and the integrated design that we're looking at
are both about making a system that works today but something that will be maintainable
and long lasting.
MR. ROGERS: And to that vein we are just beginning to test some material ideas.
One of the things we've really talked about a lot is, in fact, if not the direct reuse
of the stone that is in the terraces now, a very similar kind of stone that makes this
base level so that we keep the recall of that threshold series of terraces that are there
from the SOM plan.
Other questions or comments?
Hearing none, thank you very much.
That concludes sorry.
MS. WEISS: Thank you very much.
I'm Marion Weiss from Weiss/Manfredi.
This is Hallie Boyce from OLIN.
We're very thrilled to be selected to design the Washington Monument grounds at the Sylvan
Theater and an honor to present today.
What is very interesting is that as we were learning about the history of the Sylvan Theater
we thought that it was interesting to think that the Mall is our nation's central stage
just to begin with.
When Alice Pike Barney in 1916 conceived of and in 1917 realized the Sylvan Theater as
the first venue for cultural performing events on the Mall, that was an extraordinary change
and a real gift.
The site as it stands, though, today is something that we might not know is really almost at
the heart of the criss cross of the two axes of the Mall and then the White House and the
That proficious location has taken a beating just as many others have.
The possibility of looking at this site with such care and focus is one that really allows
us to see that where the question mark is it's a strange phenomena where the audience
is on the mound and the performers are across the pathway on the other side.
Similarly, they are looking towards the buses now as well as the theater so the audience
turns its back to the monument which we think is really something that seems quite strange.
Those who are now arriving by buses on Independence Avenue have a flurry of pathways that are
still unclear about the invitation to arrive at the Mall or the theater.
So for us there were fundamental things that caught our mind.
One was that we wanted to return the theater now to this site so that the amphitheater
and the audience would face the monument.
People when they are looking at performances could also see the monument.
We might also recognize its connection to the monument grounds to the south with the
Tidal Basin and see that there is not an edge but a center.
So the first idea was to include the Washington Monument in all the scales of performance.
By lifting the landscape what we were able to do is to create a theater for about 1,000
and then offer another benefit which was to take this new topography and capture some
of the Park Services' offices and Park Ranger station.
But, more importantly, conceal the buses because that's the fundamental view that people have
from the monument.
The other thing, though, that caught our mind was that the Sylvan Theater had a name but
no identity of Sylvan within the site.
Shakespeare's idea of the forest really captured our imagination to offer both shade and shelter
and identity, and then ultimately also think of the connection simultaneously.
Our vision was really to think of this as something that is an enhancement of the landscape
and land form and they are there with shade, shelter and performance and potentially future
connections to the sun.
The setting there, with some apologies to the lightness of the plan, shows that there
is a Sylvan pavilion that is the hinge between 15th and Independence, two plazas north and
south, and an unfolding path landscape that allows us to now look, for instance, to our
left which is the Sylvan Theater.
We are looking across at all the buses but if we have a performance, we can imagine that
the topography might actually change the perspective to one of a hillside but studiously pull the
topography down and pull the trees apart to open up and keep the views clear towards the
Jefferson Memorial and offer gateways now with the Sylvan pavilion to the left and the
amphitheater, again, with those views exposed.
The question is this is not just a place for performance but is a place of respite, a place
to be day to day, a place that should be accessible at all times, to wheelchairs as well, and
flexible so that if one is imaging a place of performance for about 10,000 leveraging
all the sides of the mound and the new amphitheater, that we can also understand that this is reframing
an historic gateway.
Looking now as if we are coming from the Metro, we see Monument Lodge which is a real gift.
To our left you can also see there is no sense of front doors or gateways.
This is about offering several gateways including this one here that says that we're the Sylvan
It opens up and keeps itself down as part of the landscape and opens up views to the
Similarly now at Independence Avenue where the buses are all lined up that there really
should be a sense of arrival at the Mall instead of this confusion.
To the left you can see where the Park Service offices are.
A high number of restrooms and exhibition give you your bearings.
On the right the Sylvan Pavilion which is really a complementary land form with a green
The other side then is the other face where the Sylvan Cafe opens out onto the terrace
and you can see that in many ways this is as much a landscape as it is a theater.
It's one, though, that the intersection between what is architecture and what is landscape
is also connected through sections so that small performances inside, and even to the
edge, can take on a new life so that even the Sylvan identity that we see dappled light
through the trees could also give configuration, shape, and identity what the interior of this
pavilion might be light.
If we look at these all together, this really is a kind of fully connected and rejuvenated
landscape with new identities and landscape layers that Hallie will describe.
MS. BOYCE: Like OLIN's design for the composition of the base of the Washington Monument that
you see in the plan on the left, we really began our design exercise with this idea of
creating land forms; sculpting the land to make a place.
As well as tree planting, in particular, to frame a new venue here, a green respite on
the Mall that would allow for the critical visitor amenities that was needed at its heart.
The planting reinforced the sculpting of the land of the amphitheater providing a shady
We worked to maintain a lot of the existing trees that are somewhat mature on the west
side in order to create a new setting for the Survey Lodge that is right here and further
embellish those plantings.
While we sculpted the grounds, we also kept the sculpting minimal in this area to protect
those trees, but to also tuck back under the land form some of the necessary parking that's
required as part of the current program which we'll be reviewing further with the Trust
and the National Park Service as we begin the design phases.
This was looked at in the larger context of preserving the overall structure of the Mall.
The light green shows the very ordered planting for the Mall; the elms, the box, the LAs along
the street.
The light pink, which I think is very light at the moment let me see if I can highlight
this for you.
The cherry trees that we all know are around the Tidal Basin along here.
OLIN also proposed cherry trees that would frame the Washington Monument site as well.
It's this dark green planting, the more random planting, like those referred to by Adam at
Constitution Gardens which really lent this idea of the Sylvan Grove, a wilder place on
the Mall if you will.
Our proposal works to rework the ground plane to use lawn minimally and to propose conservation
areas in the lighter ran, much like that of Hyde Park in London.
These are meadow landscapes using native grasses which infiltrate water better which attract
wildlife and create an easier time for the National Park Service with regards to maintenance.
It minimizes maintenance considerably.
At the same time we wanted to propose tree planting that would not only attract the wildlife
but would also have seasonable interest and proposing fall color in particular around
the monument and the green amphitheater.
These are the variety of species that one would find here.
We think this gives the Park Service additional opportunities to educate the public, millions
of children that come here as well, about our environment and the need to make homes
for these features.
This is a view back to the Lincoln Memorial.
This place while it accommodates all the structured events that Marion talked about can also be
used as a place just to take in the view, to have a lunch, or meet with a colleague,
or simply play.
At the same time the design keeps this place, that is so important at the heart of the Mall,
very open to allow for a range of programs and a range of activities; the celebrations,
the demonstrations, as well as the recreation that occurs here on a daily basis.
We know that it needs to be a resilient landscape and we are talking about the surfacing.
The project on the east end of the Mall that's moving forward is very exciting with this
need to create even the lawn spaces which can endure these flows of people whether large
or small.
The design allows for circulation to occur even during an event from east to west and
maintains that path just to the south of the mount at the Washington Monument.
We have considered the access, as Marion stated, where buses will land on 15th as well as Independence
Avenue to the south, and how maintenance will occur on site and we'll be talking further
with the National Park Service along those lines.
With regards to accessibility, the majority of the amphitheater will be accessible and
our gesture of this pedestrian bridge that connects over Independence Avenue, the aspiration
there is that would also be completely ADA.
We determined that we could keep that 5 percent or less.
We talked about preserving, conserving, and extending this landscape to the west creating
a new setting for the Survey Lodge.
This is what it looks like today.
Today there are rangers there who are very helpful to the public so we would like to
keep that aspect.
But also this idea of creating volunteer programs where the National Park Service rangers become
the experts and might take teams of people around the site to help take care of the site
or help with some of the programs there.
We think that would really help connect the Mall to the local community in an engaging
This just shows some of those ideas about the Survey Lodge immediate environment on
a smaller scale.
Sort of a working landscape, if you will.
There was really a need to invent anew here but to pick up on the existing Washington
Monument mound and land form at the same time to enrich it with several layers of planting
and create an exciting place for people to rest and refresh.
We wanted to also make larger connections to the Tidal Basin and beyond.
We looked and understood that there is the Memorial loop which is very interesting interest
because it connects currently both the Constitution Garden site as well as our site and the Tidal
Basin so all within a five minute walk.
We also considered the various users of this site, whether it be families, the large flows
of school groups via those buses on Independence Avenue.
We know there is quite a running community here in D.C. , particularly around the Tidal
Trying to pick up on the D.C. Bikeshare Program which is so successful and growing.
Allow for ease of connections to the World War II and Vietnam Memorial.
Then also think of ease of access for those in their senior years.
As well as the advent of the new segway, a new way to get around town.
We also thought about in the southern portion the image on the left.
In the late 19th century this area was a working landscape.
There were plots and greenhouses that allowed for the refurbishment of the Mall and its
gardens which I think is AJ Downing's idea.
We thought there might be a potential in the future to bring that idea back in some way.
More immediately, this idea of making this a landscape of performance.
Only putting lawn where the high traffic areas are required and then planting the rest with
mixed meadow really making it both ease of maintenance but also much more sustainable
for long term use.
We did also in the competition look at a phased approach and we'll be talking further with
the Trust and the National Park Service about those ideas.
MS. WEISS: Finally, as Hallie talked about, a high performance landscape.
We could say that the performance should also have been high.
To close, it's really taking that historic idea that could take something as delicate
as this performance or as robust as this one and think about what it might mean here to
host roughly the Sylvan stage today to host a 1,000 people with this reoriented stage
with incredible vistas to take the scale of the landscape so that 100, 1,000, or 10,000
could work in this place more intimately for performances that could be indoors or indoors
and outdoors, or expandable venue when something extraordinary is going on.
Of course, the most important thing is that when you have a theater, you've got to support
it and you need to service it.
The idea is small performance or service in this particular root, the monument plaza area,
and then larger performances with trucks and the stage elevated just to the size of those
box trucks allows that to be serviced as well.
Most importantly, when you have a stage in the center it needs to be flexible and not
too heavy of a structure so that it has a matrix or literally a scaffold beginning that
could sustain, say, a trellis restaurant during the day but you could see all these diagrams
on the right all the way up to being removed and having all the rigging come in by another
performance artist so you can see on the playbill on the right.
On the left you see small, medium film and large, all being able to be accommodated in
this one setting that we hope will, in fact, insight the new Sylvan magic which we would
imagine would induce new horizons.
Thank you.
CHAIRMAN BRYANT: That's very exciting.
Questions or comments for Sylvan.
Mr. Hart.
MEMBER HART: I think you've shown us a very exciting idea and I look forward to further
refinement of them.
There is a component that I do have some reservations about and that is this pedestrian bridge.
I hesitate to get too warm on something that divorces pedestrians from the landscape itself
by taking them over the road for a long distance separating them from the ground plane.
There are places where that makes sense but I'm not sure this is it.
As you go farther, please think about what that is in the landscape and in the streetscape
that we're putting together.
Thank you.
MEMBER WHITE: I just wanted to make a couple of comments and thank, first, the Park Service
and the Trust for the vision and the leadership that you brought to this in the design competition
I was really struck by the power of your partnership and really elevating the thinking and what
could be done.
I really complement the design teams for the grace and the thoughtfulness that you've taken
in your approach.
It's very clear you have thought a lot about sustainability and stewardship in the way
you've approached these spaces.
I just think it's breathtaking and I know there are a lot of details that you'll be
working out and so forth but I really appreciate you coming here this early on because it's
really an inspiring vision.
I really wanted to commend you all for that so thank you.
CHAIRMAN BRYANT: Any other questions or comments?
Ms. Tregoning.
MEMBER TREGONING: I will just say this is mostly to Caroline that this is wonderful.
We were delighted to be able to participate in the selection.
I think both designs are very inspiring.
I think we look forward to seeing them again.
We have some ideas about how they might change and some concerns but to say that there are
enormous improvements over the current conditions is a vast understatement.
They really are both very imaginative and beautiful spaces that would be they would
be jewels in the crown of any city and we will be very lucky to realize them here in
Washington so thank you.
CHAIRMAN BRYANT: Thank you very much.
Very exciting.
We look forward to having you back.
MEMBER WRIGHT: One question.
MEMBER WRIGHT: I was going to defer to Harriet because I was sure she was going to ask about
where the buses go.
Where do the buses go?
MR. LORENZETTI: I don't think we got there yet to be honest.
The Park Service has not really weighed in on this plan yet.
We are working on a few details so we can weigh in.
We want to make sure we respect any processes but buses are certainly something we'll be
looking at when we get an opportunity to.
MEMBER WRIGHT: Where did you imagine the buses?
MS. WEISS: The buses are still there on Independence but they are now screened by the new topography
of the amphitheater so in some ways we actually like the reciprocity of the elevation still
allowing the buses to be there.
Actually now with the Monument plaza they have a gateway now as opposed to this strange
condition that they have right now to arrive.
MS. CUNNINGHAM: I would also say that Bob Vogle as assured me that he's finding a location
to stick the buses.
I don't know that they are part necessarily of the design.
Clearly I love that they disappear in the Washington Monument grounds topography change,
but I honestly think that figuring out where the buses go is a city/Park Service question.
I mean, but your designing with the idea that the buses don't go away.
MS. WEISS: I idea is there is reciprocity between the high tourism at that location
and this landscape might work together.
Thank you.
CHAIRMAN BRYANT: Thank you very much.
It's very exciting plans.
We look forward to having you back.
Noting that there is nothing else to come before us, we are adjourned.