Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Navy Makes Way for Peace on the Mall

A new building with a lighted, wing-like roof will soon loom over the Capital Mall near the Lincoln Memorial, if recently submitted designs are approved. The United States Institute for Peace (USIP) received preliminary approval by the National Capital Planning Commission last week for plans to build its headquarters at 23rd and Constitution Avenue, NW, conditioned on the building's aesthetic deferral to the Lincoln Memorial one block to the south. Designed by Moshe Safdie of Massachusetts, the Institute would stand 118 feet at its highest point - about 10 stories - though grading around the site will diminish the scale of the project, with a precast concrete skin and capped by a series of "undulating spherical and toroidal segments" made of white translucent glass that will be lighted after dark. The Federal Government has appropriated $99.2m for development on the southern corner of the Naval Potomac Annex, which currently uses the space for parking, in exchange USIP will provide 140 garage parking spaces to the Navy. The Commission on Fine Arts has already approved the concept, but several commissioners voiced strong concern about the lighting overshadowing the monuments or overwhelming the Mall.

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