The new United States Coast Guard (USCG) headquarters planned for St. Elizabeths is now on track to begin construction as soon as February. The latest building designs, reviewed again and approved today by the by the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC), include 1.175 million s.f. of space for upwards of 3,860 employees, addressing concerns raised by NCPC last January. Among those issues are increased traffic on Shepherd Highway, the massing of the USCG building and garage, and the location of the security perimeter with respect to the historic cemetery on the site of the first national mental health facility in the country.
Last August GSA awarded the $435 million construction contract to Clark Construction, WDG Architecture and HOK , with concept designs by Perkins and Will. The Coast Guard campus will be the first of 3 phases at the historic hospital. Phase 2, the center building, will house the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary's office and other "senior" staff. Phase 3 will be largely new construction for storage and other warehouse facilities.
The Shepherd Highway issue is a sticky overlap of various federal authorities including the Federal Highway Administration, DHS, the General Services Administration, the National Park Service, the Department of Transportation and the Department of the Interior. DHS and GSA, along with the FHA, have determined that the highway is the best way for construction vehicles to access the West Campus to state construction. The National Park Service, which owns the land, objects because a portion would likely see permanent negative affects, but in the end the group agreed to keep exploring alternatives and continue on schedule for February construction.
The Coast Guard HQ and parking garage will be built on a 118 ft slope visible from Haines Point and from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. Concerns about the appearance of the HQ as seen from around the city led to reduced massing and planning for additional vegetation. The new plan also adjusts the visibility of the garage which would originally have been five levels above-grade, two below, but now proposes an inversion - only two above-grade and five below, but with an expanded footprint. The garage will provide 1,973 parking spaces and will serve both the USCG and the Department of Homeland Security headquarters. The exterior of the garage on the northern facade now swaps an extended green wall system with the previous zinc-clad frame.
Finally, though the original Master Plan created a security perimeter that excluded the historic cemetery, new plans include the cemetery within the security perimeter to restore it "to its place as an integral part of the West Campus."
NCPC will hear more plans in March when they review Phase 1B.
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