The winning design for the WWI Memorial, selected in January 2016 after a two-phase competition, is titled The Weight of Sacrifice, and was submitted by GWWO Architects, New York sculptor Sabin Howard, and Chicago architect Joseph Weishaar. Their proposal would replace an onsite kiosk and cut a path through Friedberg's concrete pool, a defining feature of the 1.8-acre park.While many in landscape architecture and preservation circles acknowledge the importance of a WWI memorial, they believe the memorial design will alter Pershing Park beyond recognition. In a letter to the NCPC, Friedberg called the memorial's defining feature "a persistent and intrusive one note wall that’s being forced into the space, thus obliterating the scale and meaning of the original design.” The U.S. Commission of Fine Arts had told the WWI Commission in March of this year to come up with a design that wouldn't overshadow the original late modern landscape. For his part, the director of the WWI Memorial Foundation would like a memorial on the National Mall, not Pershing Park. "We're 100 percent for the National Mall," said David DeJonge, president and co-founder of the WWI Memorial Foundation. The park, he said, is a half-hour walk from the other war memorials on the mall, and the park's landmark protections would make it hard for the memorial to be realized in the way stakeholders desire. At the ceremonial groundbreaking last week, Dejonge told Curbed DC that the WWI Centennial Commission had nixed Pershing as the site for the memorial. However, the WWI Commission's Colonel Tom Moe said Pershing is still under consideration as a memorial site. WWI Memorial Foundation Co-Founder and Centennial Commission Vice-Chair Edwin Fountain added that the group hopes the memorial will remain in the park. The WWI Centennial Commission echoed Colonel Moe's statement. "No. We are not moving the memorial. That is an erroneous blog post," said Chris Isleib, director of public affairs at the WWI Centennial Commission, referring to the Curbed piece. To support his statement, Isleib emailed a resolution to The Architect's Newspaper (AN) from a March 22, 2017 Centennial Commission meeting that outlined the group's stance on the National Mall location: "We would obviously like to consider the option of being on the National Mall, but Congress ultimately decides the issue of the memorial's location. ... Congress authorized the memorial for Pershing Park." At the meeting, the 12-member commission voted to consider the National Mall—if the option becomes available. However, shortly before the November 9 groundbreaking last week, according to DeJonge, the WWI Commission again discussed moving the memorial to the National Mall. Isleib at first declined to comment on the encounter, then followed up to say he did not know if any conversation had taken place. DeJonge is hoping to leverage federal law to site the memorial on the National Mall. The former Main Navy and Munitions Building, which sits over Constitution Gardens, was home base for WWI planning headquarters, and given the connection between WWI and the Mall, DeJonge believes a section of the Antiquities Act of 1906 could be leveraged to build the memorial. Among other provisions, the law allows presidents to create national monuments on federal property. To that end, his group is petitioning President Donald J. Trump to authorize the building of the memorial on the National Mall, which is overseen by the National Parks Service. (He outlined the Foundation's plans in a press release last week.) As of now, the memorial is the early stages of design development, and it hasn't gotten final approvals from two key agencies, the NCPC or the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts. Nor have any building permits been issued. Any D.C. memorial must comply with the Commemorative Works Act, a federal law that guides the construction of monuments on the National Mall and other areas, and gain approvals from the National Capital Memorial Advisory Commission (NCMAC). Whatever site is selected, the WWI memorial still faces a stringent and lengthy approvals process moving forward.
Posts tagged with "Washington D.C.":
There’s a new development that’s aiming to replace the Washington Monument as the tallest building in the Washington, D. C. area. A group headed by Clemente Development Company and a Saudi partner is acquiring land in northern Virginia to build a 2.8-million-square-foot mixed-use project called The View at Tysons. As part of its plans, the team has proposed a 48-story tower that would be 615 feet tall, making it 60 feet higher than the 555-foot-high Washington Monument on the National Mall. Gensler is the designer of the tower, which will contain two levels of retail space, topped by 13 floors of hotel space and luxury condominiums above that. Other elements of The View at Tysons include two rental apartment buildings, two office towers, a performing arts center and a public plaza. The land is at the intersection of Leesburg Pike and Tyco Road, near the Spring Hill Metro Station, and the team needs zoning approval before it can begin construction. When complete, the Tysons tower would be the second tallest building in Virginia, after the Westin Virginia Beach Town Center hotel in Virginia Beach.
After facing criticism over an initial 2014 master plan for renovating the historic southern campus of the Smithsonian Institute, the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) has revealed a sweeping overhaul of its original design. The firm presented their new scheme in front of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts (CFA), a federal agency responsible for reviewing design proposals in Washington D.C., and were told to go back to the drawing board. The Smithsonian Institute’s southern campus runs alongside D.C.’s National Mall, one of the most iconic stretches of park in the country. Any changes to the surrounding landscape, especially when it involves renovating the Smithsonian’s Castle, which opened in 1855, and the adjacent four-acre Enid A. Haupt Garden, were bound to be controversial. The largest addition, and the one that drew the most ire from preservationists, would have replaced the roof of the sunken Quadrangle Building under the Haupt Garden with a glassy, upswept volume, and built a new subterranean auditorium, gallery space, café, and store. Bjarke Ingels was on hand to personally present the “Smithsonian's Preferred Alternative F” to the CFA yesterday. Among the biggest changes to the original scheme was the toning down of the buried gallery’s corners, so that a new Haupt Garden could be built on top of the space. A sloping entrance to the Castle had been included in the original plan, but was left out of this revision, although the underground space will still be ringed with skylights at the ground level. The entrance to the Castle would be moved closer to the Mall, and Ingels stressed that the new garden topping the Quadrangle building would retain “the character and feel” of the Haupt. He defended the new roof's design, saying "we also want to make more accessible some of the hidden treasures underneath the Haupt Garden – the National Museum of African Art and the Sackler Gallery – which are so well hidden that they’re under-enjoyed compared to the value they represent. If we can make them more accessible, more people might be tempted to explore." The Hirshhorn Museum, which also sits on the campus, will expand underground as well, although plans to remove the walls enclosing the site have been scrapped. Community input over the original design has reportedly played a large part in the new design. The CFA took umbrage with the plan’s demolition of the existing garden and entrances, as well as BIG’s lack of use for the existing Arts and Industries Building on the campus. Some of the commissioners in attendance were particularly harsh. “This is a redesign,” said Elizabeth Meyer. “It has nothing to do with preservation and it’s not good design.” Ultimately the CFA took no action, and told BIG to come back with alternative schemes and more information at a later date. Regardless of the final design, the southern campus will need extensive renovations. The initial 2012 existing conditions survey discovered that all of the buildings on the campus are in need of a mechanical systems upgrade, that the roof of the current Quadrangle building leaks, and that the Castle needs to be better protected against seismic events. The first stage of the $2 billion plan, the renovation of the Castle, is expected to begin in 2021, and the entire campus renovation should finish in 2041.
Artist and photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto has been selected to redesign the lobby of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., the first time the space has been touched in the museum’s 42-year history. The Tokyo-born artist, along with his Tokyo-based architectural firm, New Material Research Laboratory (NMRL), will be responsible for not only designing sculptures and furniture for the lobby of the Gordon Bunshaft-designed museum, but the new café in the lobby’s east end as well. Seeking to reference the round form of the Hishhorn building, Sugimoto drew inspiration for the furnishings from the roots of a 700-year old Japanese nutmeg tree. The imagery of twisted, chaotic roots will be reflected in the lobby’s central group table, and the spiraling chairs surrounding it. "I became fascinated by the roots of an enormous tree, which fanned out to form a large circle, and I decided that this was the circle I would install in the Hirshhorn lobby - a symbol of life," said Sugimoto. "All art takes its inspiration from the power inherent in nature, and my hope is that as visitors enter the museum, they will experience the balance of the man-made and natural circles." Sugimoto will be leaving Bunshaft’s original terrazzo floors, deeply coffered ceiling and exposed aggregate walls, but the artist removed the dark film that covers the lobby’s 3,300-square feet of windows, and opened the space up to views of the National Mall. The rotunda will also see new signage and welcome desks, in addition to the installation of Your oceanic feeling (2015), a swirling light sculpture by Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson. The lobby’s renovation will coincide with the opening of Dolcezza Coffee & Gelato at Hirshhorn, and Sugimoto has designed a 20-foot long, serpentine coffee bar plated in diamond-shape brass and tin plates. The Hirshhorn and Sugimoto have a long history together, as in 2006 the museum was the first institution to present a career survey of Sugimoto’s work. The new lobby, and Dolcezza, will formally open to the public in February 2018.
2017 Best of Design Award for Temporary Installation: Living Picture Architect: T+E+A+M Location: Lake Forest, Illinois Living Picture wraps a playful array of lightweight aluminum frames with digital imagery on vinyl to produce an immersive outdoor theater on the grounds of the Ragdale Foundation. The project digitally re-creates elements from Howard Van Doren Shaw’s 1912 design for the original Ragdale estate: low limestone walls, columns topped with fruit baskets, and a lush landscape of trees and hedges that once formed the proscenium, wings, and backdrop. By reinserting images of these historic elements among the trees and buildings of the current Ragdale estate, the project blurs the boundaries between past and present, stage and proscenium, reality and artifice.
"This project translates some of the most forward-looking ideas about the post-internet and digital images and applies them to a larger scale environment. It is good to see people thinking about how we react to and perceive images (and architecture) in the 21st century."- Matt Shaw, Senior Editor, The Architect's Newspaper (juror)Structural Consultation: Brian McElhatten and Jorge Cobo, Arup Acoustical Consultation: Ryan Biziorek, David Etlinger, and Rosa Lin of Arup Fabrication Consultation: Shane Darwent Project Manager: Reid Mauti Project Manager: Tim McDonough Honorable Mention Project: Big Will and Friends Designer: Architecture Office Location: Syracuse, New York and Eindhoven, the Netherlands This installation redraws the popular Morris and Co. wallpaper “Thistle” (designed by John Henry Dearle) into an inhabitable visual environment. The designers suggest that wallpaper’s collapse of illusion and material are a problem where multiple forms of knowledge must meet. Live performances bridge the installation with its surroundings. Honorable Mention Project: Parallax Gap Architect: FreelandBuck Location: Washington D.C If most ceilings imply shelter, defining the limits of the room, others suggest the opposite: extension beyond concrete limits. This winning proposal for the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s “ABOVE the Renwick” competition curates a historical catalog of notable American architectural styles and renders them through 21st-century technology and visual culture—a dose of trompe l’oeil.
The Museum of the Bible opened last week in a new home designed by Washington, D.C.–based SmithGroupJJR. The museum occupies a renovated 1922 former refrigerated warehouse that later served as Washington’s Design Center, and will comprise a large glass addition meant to evoke an ancient boat (or perhaps ark) floating above the city. In a prepared statement, the designers call it “a palimpsest: the built equivalent of a manuscript that bears traces of several versions of text added and erased over time.” At the main entrance of the eight-level, 430,000-square-foot building, a tall, narrow opening originally used for trains has been restored and is flanked by two large bronze panels inspired by typesetting blocks from the original Gutenberg Bible. It refers to one of the main curatorial concepts of the museum: that the meaning and interpretation of the Bible are historically dependent on its means of production and dissemination. The designers removed several floor slabs added during an earlier renovation to open up the industrial cargo area into a tall atrium that, the designers say, suggests the nave of a Gothic or Renaissance church. The circulation paths are arranged in a vertical hub-and-spoke model that allows visitors to choose their own adventure, rather than make their way along a fixed vertical path as is the case in many multi-level museums, especially those on tight urban sites. The hall now serves as both an orientation and gathering place, while also providing access to the adjacent museum shop and the cafe on a mezzanine above. The new construction sits atop the original industrial brick structure. In the exhibition spaces, removable raised flooring gives curators flexibility, while “digital docents” will be available as either a priest or a rabbi. The museum also includes 12 theatres, a 475-seat performing arts venue, conference amenities, biblical garden, rare manuscript library, a 450-seat ballroom, spaces for scholarly research, and hotel rooms for visiting scholars. The museum will be visible from the National Mall when looking down 4th Street, and it hovers above an existing Metro train line and also adds to an axis along 4th Street that includes the National Building Museum, the National Gallery of Art, the National Museum of the American Indian, and the National Air & Space Museum. The museum opened to the public last Friday, November 17.
What is going on with Washington, D.C.'s World War I Memorial? On November 9, the World War I Centennial Commission hosted a symbolic groundbreaking for the WWI Memorial in Pershing Park, a public square designed by M. Paul Friedberg just blocks from the White House. The groundbreaking last week, a day ahead of Veteran's Day (observed), was purely ceremonial, as the project hasn't gotten the requisite approvals or permitting. Some say that the WWI Centennial Commission, the government group in charge of the memorial's construction, is now looking to place the memorial at the National Mall, but the Commission maintains that there are no plans to relocate the memorial at this time. It was just in July of this year that D.C.'s planning board, the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC), voted in favor of adding a memorial to Pershing Park, and allowing the memorial to move forward from its concept stage to design development. The vote allowed the WWI Centennial Commission and the National Park Service to work with the winning design team to refine the memorial. (At press time, the NCPC could not be reached for comment on the memorial plans.)
Just in time for the cold weather to set in, a new trend in urban entertainment is heating up: rooftop ice rinks. The Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C. will open a skating rink and lounge on November 16, giving guests and visitors another reason to visit its rooftop bar and a new way to take in views of the nation’s capital, 14 stories above the street. “There are other skating rinks in the District of Columbia, but there isn’t another hotel in D.C. that has a skating rink on the roof,” said Debbie Johnsen, the hotel’s digital marketing director. The hotel's management team was looking for a way to attract people to its Top of the Gate rooftop bar during the winter months, and decided adding a rooftop rink would do that, explained general manager Jeff David. "We were brainstorming about how we could keep the popularity of the Top of the Gate going–how we could extend it for 12 months of the year," he said. "This was almost a no-brainer." Becoming a popular ice skating destination is perhaps an unexpected direction for the Watergate, which is known for its association with the 1972 break-in of the Democrat National Committee headquarters in the adjacent Watergate office building. The hotel marks its 50th anniversary this year, after closing in 2007 and reopening last year following a $125 million, six-year renovation. The hotel's oval rink, called Top of the Skate, measures 70 by 20 feet and can accommodate 40 to 50 skaters at a time. Open during the winter months, it offers views of the Potomac River and the city’s monuments while patrons enjoy S’mores, mulled wine, and German-style pretzels in the lounge. The rink also features a skate-up bar so guests can order a drink without leaving the ice. The Watergate’s rink is the latest in a series of rooftop ice rinks that are opening around the world, often as part of hotels. These rinks constitute a new trend aimed at rejuvenating cities by giving people another reason to come downtown in the winter months, when tourists tend to visit in fewer numbers. They also represent a relatively low-cost, creative use of previously dormant urban space. Their appeal is unmistakable; they combine two things many people like: skating rinks and rooftop bars. For patrons, they offer vistas that ground-level rinks don’t have and a new way to socialize, combining entertainment and exercise. For hotels, rooftop rinks are photogenic and provide a new experience to draw patrons. They’re ideal settings for “selfie” moments that can later be posted on Facebook, further promoting the hotel. The Watergate even has an ice skating package, which includes skating and skate rentals and a reduced room rate for skaters who want to stay overnight. Some rooftop rinks are made with real ice. Others, including the one at the Watergate, are made with synthetic ice, composed of interlocking polymer panels designed for skating with conventional metal-bladed ice skates. The synthetic ice panels don’t add as much weight to a roof as actual ice would and require less maintenance. They can also be installed in a relatively short time and dismantled when the season is over. Europe’s highest rooftop rink opened last winter atop the 354-meter OKO tower in Moscow’s commercial district. London got its first rooftop rink on November 2, when Skylight London opened at Skylight Tobacco Dock in East London. Located on the 10th floor of the Penning Street parking garage, where a croquet court was, the rink doubles as a rooftop bar, complete with cocktails and chocolate fondue. In Toronto, a division of the Molson Coors Brewing Company built a temporary, 100-foot-by-45-foot rink atop a 32-story office building for winners of its #AnythingForHockey contest in 2015. There was so much interest the rink was later opened to the public for group bookings, but it was eventually dismantled. Other rinks prove that winter temperatures aren’t a requirement to enjoy this amenity. Las Vegas has The Ice Rink at Boulevard Pool, a 4,200-square-foot rink on the roof of The Cosmopolitan Hotel, where skaters can take in views of the Strip from four stories up. Construction also began this month on Atlanta’s Skate the Sky, a 3,500-square-foot rink 10 stories above Ponce City Market on Ponce De Leon Avenue. Capable of holding 90 to 100 skaters at a time, it’s scheduled to open November 20. “I don’t think there’s another rooftop skating rink anywhere in Atlanta or maybe even in the Southeast," Brett Hull-Ryde of Slater Hospitality, which will operate the rink, told Fox5 in Atlanta. “We’re happy that we’re getting this opportunity to show people another way to have some fun."
The Wharf–a $2 billion new development on a former industrial stretch of the D.C. waterfront–has finally opened. The developers are Madison Marquette and PN Hoffman, and the master architect and planner is Perkins Eastman. Previously the site was a mile-long stretch of boat storage, industrial space, and some back-door barbecue joints. At its northern end, it also includes the oldest fish market in the United States. Before the Wharf could be built, the existing seawall and promenade were torn up and replaced by an underground, two-story parking garage spanning the length of the development. The garages connect from below into an array of luxury residential structures with ground-level commercial space–restaurants, yoga studios, and other amenities. Last week all of these opened to the public–in total, 1.2 million square feet of mixed-use space including office structures, luxury and affordable residential space, a marina, and waterfront parks. The fish market was the only structure preserved as-is. The Anthem, a new 6,000-person theatre venue, is a cornerstone development of the Wharf. Designed by New York-based Rockwell Group, the venue is essentially a concrete volume hedged in by two L-shaped residential structures. The Anthem has a warehouse-like interior and two levels of balconies split into smaller, drawer-like extrusions. Massive steel panels flank the stage, laser cut and illuminated with the pattern of two enormous curtains drawn back, resembling the velvet drapery of Baroque theaters. The space is managed by a 30-year old staple organization in D.C. entertainment–the 9:30 Club–to whom the Wharf reached out in the initial stages. The building’s board-form concrete paneling and industrial facade are intended as a nod to the Club’s famed punk-laden lineups. In the lobby, one can look up through an installation of floating cymbals to four rectangular skylights three floors up. If you look closely, the skylights ripple with water–the underbelly of a pool for a residential structure stacked above. A key design challenge for the Anthem was its siting between two residential structures. To address the noise issue, Rockwell spent several million dollars designing a multi-layered sound barrier between the structures, which are reportedly so effective that amplified concerts are inaudible from the interiors of apartments less than a hundred feet away. Supposedly, a resident could sleep soundly while Dave Grohl shredded away on opening night. The Anthem's neighboring structures include designs by FOX Architects, Kohn Pedersen Fox, Perkins Eastman, Parcel 3A, Cunningham Quill Architects, BBG_BBGM, Handel Architects, WDG Architecture, Studio MB, SmithGroup JJR, MTFA Architecture, SK&I, and Moffatt & Nichol. Only Phase One has opened. Phase Two will add an additional 1.2 million square feet to the overall site footprint, mostly extending south. The roster of new structures will include designs by firms such as SHoP Architects, Rafael Viñoly, Morris Adjmi Architects, Hollwich Kushner (HWKN), ODA, WDG Architecture, and Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA). The expansion will include increased office and residential space, an additional pier and marina, as well as increased park space. Phase One is notably without much public greenery. The construction of Phase Two is slated to begin in 2018, with a projected opening of 2021.
Washington, D.C. will replace the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge to the tune of $441 million. Engineering firm AECOM is leading the design of the new bridge with Archer Western Construction and Granite Construction carrying out the project. The Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge originally opened 67 years ago in 1950. A swing bridge, it allows South Capitol Street to span the Anacostia River, connecting Nationals Park and Anacostia Park. More than 75,000 commuters have been taking advantage of the bridge on a daily basis since 2007. The new design will include traffic ovals on either side with greenery and pedestrian plazas added to South Capitol Street around its entrances. In 2014, the District of Columbia Department of Transportation (DDOT) asked four teams to submit proposals for a new bridge; their schemes would also have to include the current bridge's demolition. The winning submission from "South Capitol Bridge Builders" (comprised of AECOM, Archer Western Construction, and Granite Construction) saw off competition from three other teams: Tutor Perini, T.Y. Lin International Group, and Stantec; Skanska AB, Facchina Group, and Parsons Transportation; and Kiewit Corporation, Corman Construction, and URS Corporation. AECOM's proposal does away with the original swing design and implements a wider (six-lane), fixed span bridge instead. Scheduled to be complete in 2021, it will be the largest construction undertaking in the District's history, with the project including a remodelling of the Suitland Parkway and Interstate 295 interchange. “Investing in our infrastructure is key to how we can continue to be a growing city and the best city in the world, and improving our bridges is very critical to this mission,” D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser told the Washington Post. The project is a long time coming. In 1974 the bridge was re-decked, a process which was repeated just 14 years later. In 2007 it was closed for more than a month while a $27 million renovation took place, the work of which was supposed to extend its lifespan by 20 years.
There's something outside the White House with a quiff that holds a lot of air—and not much else. It is, of course, a giant chicken. The inflatable bird appeared in a public park yesterday right by the White House and was put up—or rather blown up—by Taran Singh Brar. A documentarian, organizer, and filmmaker from Laredo, California, Brar had spent several months planning the event. The 10-foot-by-30-foot golden-quiffed-chicken is, according to its creator, in protest of the President being "weak as a leader." In an interview on Twitter with the Washington Examiner, Brar said Trump was "too afraid to release his tax returns, too afraid to stand up to Putin," and was now engaged "in a game of chicken with Kim Jong Un."
Speaking to The New York Times, Brar said it had taken four months to get permission from the National Park Service but had just “kept calling, kept showing up in person and kept emailing,” to get his way. The chicken had cost Brar $1,300 online and was inspired by a similar looking chicken found in a Chinese mall in 2016 when it was the Year of the Rooster. This particular chicken was designed by Casey Latiolais, an artist from Seattle. Latiolais' drawings were, according to Brar, sent to China where they were used to create a cold-air water balloon. Brar had the deflated bird sent to Washington, D.C. where, with the aid of some volunteers, ropes, and sandbags, was able to erect the chicken.
This magnificent Trump Chicken brought to us by Taran Singh Brar, who hopes to organize a "chicken march" someday. pic.twitter.com/PmSbumcl5P— Jennifer Brooks (@stribrooks) August 9, 2017
The chicken even has an official name. "Donny, official fowl of the Tax March" can be found on Twitter under the handle @TaxMarchChicken. "This isn't my first rodeo. I've been all over the country crashing Trump events," Tweeted Donny yesterday, citing four other instances. As for Brar's outing of the big bird, the President will not see his doppelgänger. Trump is playing golf (unsurprisingly) in Bedminster, New Jersey, as work is done to the Oval Office. golden pigs coming to Chicago.
It appears some protesters have inflated this behind the White House. pic.twitter.com/TduZC591BK— Steve Kopack (@SteveKopack) August 9, 2017
Update 7/18/17: This story has been updated to clarify that there are no axonometric diagrams for the design that was reviewed at the NCPC's last meeting. The Nation’s Capital came a step closer to gaining a World War I Memorial this month when a key federal panel approved a conceptual design for the project—even though panel members and others expressed concerns about the latest plan and its potential impact on the selected site. Representatives from the nonprofit The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF) and a retired high-ranking landscape architect with the National Park Service joined the federal panelists in questioning aspects of the design, which calls for the memorial to be added to a 1981 park by the noted landscape architect M. Paul Friedberg. Friedberg, via an email message shared with the commission, expressed disappointment with the proposal. After an hour-long discussion, the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) voted unanimously on July 13 to accept its executive director’s recommendations for adding a memorial to Pershing Park, on Pennsylvania Avenue near the White House. The vote means the design team and its clients, the World War I Centennial Commission and the National Park Service, can now move to a second, more detailed stage of design work on the project, which is expected to cost $30 million to $32 million. Sponsors of the memorial are aiming to complete it in time for a late 2018 dedication. The design will have to be reviewed at least two more times before any construction can begin. The U.S. Commission of Fine Arts also must give its approval. Congress authorized the World War I Centennial Commission in 2014 to build a memorial at Pershing Park, a 1.75-acre public space bounded by Pennsylvania Avenue, E Street, and 14th and 15th streets N.W. The park is named after General John J. Pershing, general of the U.S. armies in World War I, and contains a memorial to him. To select a designer, the World War I commission held an international competition in 2015. The winner was Joseph Weishaar, a graduate of the University of Arkansas Fay Jones School of Architecture. He called his entry “The Weight of Sacrifice.” Other design team members include New York sculptor Sabin Howard, landscape architect Phoebe Lickwar, and GWWO Architects, the architect of record. The design presented this month (PDF) was a revision of a concept that the planning commission reviewed last November. The revamped design called for retaining more of the existing park than before, and a memorial consisting of three main components. The first is a 65-foot-long bronze bas relief wall on the site’s western edge, featuring images from the war along with a water feature. The park’s pool would be retained, although a path would be added to provide access to the commemorative wall. A flagpole would replace an existing kiosk. Part of the sensitivity of the project is that Pershing Park is already considered a significant public space, deemed eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. Besides the original design by Friedberg, the park reflects a planting plan by the office of Oehme, van Sweden. For those unfamiliar with park in its prime, the video below from TCLF details its conception and features sweeping views of the then newly-completed project, with commentary from Friedberg: During the latest review, a key issue was the extent to which the project should be treated as an opportunity to preserve Friedberg’s work, as opposed to treating the site as a blank slate for new construction. In voting to advance the project beyond the conceptual design stage, the planning commissioners encouraged the memorial’s designers to retain the best features of Friedberg’s design, as much as possible. Commissioner Evan Cash noted that the nature of the project has evolved because of the desire to respect Friedberg’s work. He questioned whether the sponsors shouldn’t just “go back to the drawing board” and launch another competition. “What started as a design to put in a World War I Memorial has turned into a restoration project for the original park,” he said. Commissioner Mina Wright said the design team has a difficult task because it has been charged with adding a major memorial to a key public space while also respecting what’s already there. “This is a really vexing problem, two different … interests that the design team has been asked to resolve,” she said. “It’s serving a lot of masters.” In public testimony about the design, a representative of TCLF, Margo Barajas, stressed the significance of retaining the best elements of Friedberg’s design, especially the waterfall and pool. “Pershing’s waterfall and pool are one inseparable landscape feature located in the heart of the park,” she told the panel. “One need only look at earlier images of the park when the waterfall was well maintained, the pool was full, and cascading water provided animation. The park was a popular destination that was embraced by the public. The waterfall’s gushing sounds, the white noise masking the adjacent traffic, and the cooling mists, all absent from the now-proposed WWI Memorial revised concept design, were keys to its success.” Barajas said the foundation believes the 65-foot-long wall is too long for the location and would be a visual barrier to Pershing Park. “Collectively, the visual and physical barrier created by the insertion of this wall, backed by a pool with sheets of water running down its shorter northern and southern sides, the corresponding loss of more than 50 feet of open physical and visual access between the upper and lower western plaza levels,” the loss of an extensive tree canopy on the western edge of the pool, and the “the loss of the dynamic, animating qualities of water that are fundamental to the park’s feeling, would result in a less successful urban design,” she warned. Barajas noted that the WWI Centennial Commission has presented and then rejected a design proposal called the “Upper Wall Design.” She said TCLF believes it is worth revisiting. “It would retain the existing waterfall and pool and site the 65-foot-long wall along the elevated north-south walk behind the waterfall,” she said. “Depending on the height of the wall and the waterfall, this memorial gesture could be seen from multiple vantage points throughout the park. Barajas quoted a June 25 email from Friedberg to landscape architect Phoebe Lickwar, which was written after the latest design was shown to the fine arts commission on May 18. “To say that I was disappointed in the design presented to the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) on May 18th—the 'Restored Pool Concept'—would be a gross understatement,” Friedberg wrote, characterizing the long wall as a “one note” design move. Friedberg said in his email message that he was encouraged that members of the World War I Memorial design team met with him to learn about the original design. He said that gave him a “positive feeling” about the project. “I appreciated that several [Commission of Fine Arts] members suggested we finally meet, and thought that the first meeting with the design team produced a common goal and understanding of how a World War I Memorial could add a layer of content and experience that would enhance both the park and Memorial,” Friedberg wrote. “It was unfortunate that the World War I Centennial Commission’s vice chair, Edwin Fountain, and the Memorial’s sculptor, Sabin Howard, did not attend,” he said. “Their absence from our discussion may account for the design outcome, the persistent and intrusive one note wall that’s being forced into the space thus obliterating the scale and meaning of the original design." “I can only assume that the design team was forced by the insistence of the client (the WWI Centennial Commission) to shoe horn in, at all costs, the wall,” Friedberg continued. “The negative impact on the overall design is too much to pay and unnecessary. The rejection of the numerous previous designs by the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts should have sent a clear message that forcing a solution with a preconceived result was not working and any preconceived notion would be a burden on creativity. It takes a good client to produce a good design.” Another speaker from the general public, landscape architect Darwina Neal, retired Chief of Cultural Resources for the National Capital Region of the National Park Service, said she worked on Pershing Park when it was being planned. She said Pershing Park is a “signature designed landscape” by Friedberg, who is considered “one of modern American landscape architecture’s most accomplished urban designers.” Neal said the World War I commission’s objectives, as stated in its design competition, were to come up with a design that would “enhance the existing Pershing memorial by constructing … appropriate sculptural and other commemorative elements, including landscaping.” “Although this design is billed as the ‘Restored Pool Concept,’ this is a serious misnomer,” she told the panel. “Rehabilitation would have been a more apropos treatment description, but it does not achieve that either because, in reality, it would not only destroy the existing fountain … as the major focal point within the central room of the park, but it also compromises the pool itself by putting walks across it.” Neal said she believes it is commendable that the berms enclosing the park would remain intact, but the proposal to remove the existing fountain, change the size and depth of the pool, and cover about 40 percent of its surface with new walks would have “extreme adverse effects” on the integrity of the existing park design, because the existing fountain is the main feature. Replacing the fountain with a 65-foot-long sculptural wall would also disrupt visual and access continuity between the pool area and the west end of the park. The proposed pool behind the new memorial wall, which features what appear to be side “sheets” of water, would not even be visible from the pool area, let alone heard—and thus would not be a “splashing fountain.” Neal said she advocates more of a preservation approach and believes rehabilitating the existing park, with minimal changes, could “considerably reduce” construction costs. “Since the basic well-designed framework of the park still remains, there is no excuse for abandoning the original design,” she said. “Rather, it should be rehabilitated. Demolition by neglect should not be tolerated.” Neal also urged reconsideration of the “Upper Wall Design” that would locate the commemorative wall along the upper north-south walk behind the fountain. “This placement would require little change to the existing park features and have no consequences on the experience and function of the park, other than somewhat affecting views from the west that are already limited by existing trees,” she said. “Most important, the focal fountain and pool would be retained in place, with the wall visible above the fountain, as viewed from the pool area.” Instead of a flagpole, she said, “the existing concession kiosk could be replaced by an interpretive/informational kiosk—perhaps an interactive high-tech one with stations on which users could get information on the war and perhaps even be able to input names of relatives who served in the war and information on them, and/or leave messages/comments, etc. Such a kiosk could increase visitor use, education, and enjoyment.” Above all, Neal said, she believes “it is crucial to maintain the fountain, which is the heart of the design.” When it was working properly, she said, it “pumped life into the focal pool and plaza area, creating a vibrant public space” along Pennsylvania Avenue. “I would hope that this vitality could be brought back to life!” she said. Among the recommendations from the planning commission’s executive director were for the design team to: consider reducing the size of the commemorative wall “to improve views across the park,” consider integrating a water feature into the commemorative wall “consistent with the location and orientation of the existing cascading fountain,” provide additional details regarding pool modifications and what the water-related areas will look like during times of year when they are empty of water, and prepare a “park programming” plan that identifies the proposed urban park spaces and potential activities that can take place there. Weishaar and John Gregg, associate principal at GWWO, attended the meeting but were not asked to speak to the panel or address concerns about the design. They said after the meeting that they would take the panel’s comments into consideration as they work to refine their designs.
The federal government ended its decade-long search for a new FBI headquarters, leaving the law enforcement agency in the deteriorating J. Edgar Hoover Building, The Washington Post first reported yesterday. For more than ten years, the government has looked for a new building in either Maryland or Virginia as a replacement for the current 43-year-old Brutalist Hoover Building (the building that everybody loves to hate). According to The New York Times, the building can house only half of the 11,000 FBI employees stationed in Washington, D.C. and its dire conditions warrant security concerns. Years of efforts to persuade Congress and the government to back the project gained momentum under the Obama administration, though those efforts will be brought to a grinding halt with this decision. Officials from the General Services Administration, which manages federal real estate, had planned to trade the Hoover Building to a real estate developer while using $2 billion in taxpayer dollars to fund the remaining cost. The Obama administration had sought $1.4 billion for the project, but Congress left it underfunded by more than $800 million. With escalating costs and a lack of leadership following the dismissal of former director James B. Comey, interest in the project stalled, according to officials and executives involved in the process and reported by The Washington Post.