Eastern Market Metro Redesign Sent Back to Drawing Board by Fine Arts Commission

On Monday last, DGS briefed the Eastern Market Metro Park Advisory Team on the concept they would submit to the DC Commission on Fine Arts. Four days later, the Commission asked DGS to try again.

Eastern Market Metro Redesign Sent Back to Drawing Board by Fine Arts Commission

by Larry Janezich

ANC6B Commissioner Steve Holtzman told constituents and neighbors in a Friday e-mail, that on Thursday, the DC Commission on Fine Arts (CFA) sent the design concepts for upgrading “Metro Plaza Park” back to the drawing boards  The move will delay the approval process for at least a month.  It seems likely that the April 3 community meeting where DGS was to present the final concept to the community will be postponed or, at least, changed in agenda and format.

According to Holtzman, after the DGS project team’s half hour presentation, the seven member commission asked the design team to reconsider the basic principles of the design, steering them away from the concept of a “Town Square” and toward a concept of two large triangular parks that don’t “need to look like each other”.

The take-away admonition appeared to be, “less is more.”

Holtzman said that the gist of the commission’s feedback is reflected in the following comments from members of the commission:

“The fact that it’s called a park, forget about that. You’re imagining this as a park when what you have are 2 wonderful spaces. You are taking the word ‘park’ too literally. You have two magnificent open spaces… Don’t think of it as a square. It’s two large triangular spaces. Two wonderful parks that don’t even have to look like each other. There’s some confusion here. There’s “Library Square”…and “South Carolina Playground”. They need better names. But, don’t see it as a giant square. See it as two wonderful spaces.”

“There’s too much going on…too many different things.”

“It is not one park nor will it be unless you close both Pennsylvania Avenue and 8th Street.”

“You compromise both spaces by trying to unify them”

“Try to not force the idea that this is the one unit we’ll allow.”

“The two spaces relate to different areas…the metro plaza relates to the buildings of the businesses and the library and the Metro.  The park with the playground relates to the neighborhood north of it.”

Holtzman told his constituents, “I think we can assume that the project has not hit a complete roadblock. The Commission only meets monthly so it seems fair to say that the minimum the project will be delayed will be one month. It may be longer. We’ll have to see how the team responds.”

Here’s a link to the March 7, concept drawings, labeled “Commission on Fine Arts Hearing”  https://anc6b.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/2019-03-06_CFA-Presentation_Final.pdf



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4 responses to “Eastern Market Metro Redesign Sent Back to Drawing Board by Fine Arts Commission

  1. Gerald Sroufe

    I would like to add a bit of perspective about the CFA discussion and outcome, which I find liberating for the design consultants and a positive step for the ultimate project.

    Priort to the presention about the Eastern Market, the CFA board members had been treated to a magnificant design for Franklin Square. Franklin Square is an entire city block and is not transversed by any vehicular traffic. The contrast between the opportunities provided by Franklin Square and the difficult site at the Eastern Market Plaza was obvious and no doubt influenced the board members.

    In conversation with members of the CFA afterwards they spoke positively about the design team’s efforts, but reiterated their belief that the concept did not serve the planners well.

    The good work that has been accomplished is not lost through consideration of two complementary pieces rather than a unified “park.” I think the design consultants should welcome the opportunity to be free of the constraints of accomodating the “old” design and I look forward to the plan they will now produce — in a timely fashion.

    Gerald Sroufe
    Commissiioner, ANC6B

  2. Wendy Blair

    I have heard from longtime CH tree expert Margaret Missaien, who helped plant many of the existing trees on the Eastern Market Metro Plaza, that all the soil there remains shallow and barren, consisting most probably she believes of detritus left from excavating for the subway itself. Thus no existing trees, or planned new trees, can be expected to thrive without extensive attention to deeper, enriched and more water-retentive soil. This reinforces my desire to hear about better plans for future plantings. (P.S. Margaret, as many know, has moved with her husband Ed to San Francisco to be close to the grandchildren who finally did get born — to our loss.)

  3. DLG

    “It is not one park nor will it be unless you close both Pennsylvania Avenue and 8th Street.”

    That is the solution.

  4. kandc

    This is an opportunity. The playground part DOES relate to the neighborhood north or it and should be a place to go and do things. The Metro plaza is a go-through part, not where people will stay and do things.

    As a result, the designs (note the plural) should act on those two separate uses. Make sure the playground part is amenable to people stopping and staying and doing things, with good benches and tables, trees, lighting and so forth.

    And make sure that the Metro plaza part enhances flow-through rather than staying (not that there can’t be benches, etc.) . That said, all the stuff blocking the flow from Pennsylvania and Seventh (boxes and bike racks), should be removed and maybe one large tree planted there with benches near/against the Metro wall. That is so the flow to Barracks Row and to Pennsylvania Ave and Seventh, is unimpeded.