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Information Presentation

Commission Meeting: May 3, 2018


Monumental Core Streetscape Project 7886
National Capital Planning Commission 00:00(41.00)44561
Meghan Spigle

The purpose of this Information Presentation is to update the Commission on the background of
the Streetscape Manual and current direction of the Monumental Core Streetscape Project.

In 1991, the Secretary of Transportation initiated the National Mall Road Improvement Program.
By 1992, a Working Group formed to oversee and coordinate roadway improvements within and
around the National Mall. A memorandum of understanding (MOU) established the Working
Group, originally comprised of the Architect of the Capitol (AOC), the District Department of
Transportation (DDOT), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), and the National Park
Service (NPS). In 2005, the Working Group updated the MOU to include several endorsers: the
U.S. Commission of Fine Arts (CFA), the General Services Administration (GSA), the National
Capital Planning Commission (NCPC), the National Gallery of Art (NGA), and the Smithsonian
Institution (SI).

The Working Group prepared the 1992 Streetscape Manual, a construction guide for all agencies
to use when designing and constructing roadway improvements. The purpose of the Streetscape
Manual was “to provide guidelines for a coordinated and consistent streetscape treatment for
roadways in the central area of the city in the vicinity of the National Mall.” The Streetscape
Manual consists of details and specifications for elements within the roadway including: roadway,
curb and gutter, and sidewalk; street furnishings including streetlights, benches, trash and recycling
receptacles, bicycle racks, and pedestrian barriers.

The Streetscape Manual was well used by the Working Group over the course of the roadway
improvement program and evolved over time. In 2013, the Working Group: (1) updated the
Streetscape Manual with minor amendments to reflect existing conditions; and (2) identified the
need for a more substantive amendment to address emerging issues (such as incorporating new
technologies and stormwater management), as well as the Working Group’s evolving function.

The Streetscape Manual’s original intent was to coordinate and implement roadway construction
projects, which were largely completed in 2012. Since then, and without any substantive roadway
projects planned, the Working Group continues to meet, but in a coordination role, making now a
good time to complete the planning work necessary in anticipation of future construction cycles.
Information Presentation Page 2
NCPC File No. 7886

Proposed Scope of Work

In response to the Working Group’s request, NCPC staff developed a draft Scope of Work for the
Monumental Core Streetscape Project, which includes four primary tasks:

1. Update the MOU

2. Develop an Urban Design Streetscape Framework (a high-level street hierarchy map
and character area map for the monumental core)
3. Prepare Streetscape Design Guidelines (guidelines addressing emerging issues and
other streetscape elements, as appropriate)
4. Update the Streetscape Construction Manual (update the specification manual as
needed and make it more user friendly)

Once these tasks are complete, they will be packaged into a user friendly Monumental Core
Streetscape Guide. NCPC staff is seeking the Commission’s comments on the proposed Scope of
Work, including the general approach and tasks as outlined above. NCPC staff will also provide
an Information Presentation to the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts (CFA).

Next Steps
Next steps include renewing the MOU, finalizing the Scope of Work, and developing the Urban
Design Streetscape Framework as defined above, which must be complete by late fall 2018. This
framework will inform an update to a conceptual 1992 Street Lighting Framework for the
monumental core prepared by CFA. It is necessary to update the Street Lighting Framework to
coordinate with the District of Columbia’s Smart Street Lighting Project. Judah Gluckman, Deputy
Director and Counsel of OP3 and Kathryn Roos, DDOT’s project manager, will brief the
Commission on the Smart Street Lighting Project during the May Commission meeting.


• Streetscape Manual (1992/2013) Boundary Map

• Streetscape Manual (1992/2013) Excerpt
• Example of Streetscape Guidelines
• Sources for the Urban Design Streetscape Framework
• Final Issues Statement (2018)

Remaining actions – Review of the Urban Design Streetscape Framework
Streetscape Manual (1992/2013) Boundary Map
Streetscape Manual (1992/2013) Excerpt
Example of Streetscape Guidelines

Source: Downtown DC Business Improvement District Streetscape Enhancement Notebook, August 1999
Sources for the Urban Design Streetscape Framework

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Final Issues Summary

NCPC staff analyzed the 2013 version of the Streetscape Manual and relevant policy and planning
documents to assess if the Manual’s content is current and consistent with those documents. NCPC staff
also analyzed existing site and design conditions to assess application of the Manual and quality of
streetscapes. In addition, NCPC staff individually met with Working Group agencies to collect input on
potential updates to the Manual. The policy and planning, site and design analysis, and agency input
reveals the following key issues, organized into five categories:

1. Policy & Planning

2. Manual Application
3. Precincts & Transitions
4. Function
5. Coordination

1. Policy & Planning: assesses where there are policy and planning discrepancies and gaps.
A. The existing Streetscape Manual was created to address coordination during a significant
construction program instead of providing long-term streetscape design guidance within the
Monumental Core.
B. The existing “Streetscape Manual Interagency Initiative for the National Mall Road
Improvement Program” title does not accurately describe the geographic area covered in the
C. The existing Manual did not clearly identify when and which other standards apply, therefore
discrepancies and gaps exist between federal and local streetscape policy and planning
D. There is no clear federal guidance or framework for streetscape design that:
(1) Reconciles function and character;
(2) Reinforces the historic and design character of precincts (Executive, Legislative, National
Mall, and Office); and
(3) Addresses transitions between the National Mall and monumental core, including federal
and local areas.
E. The Streetscape Manual lacks adequate guidance on street character and new and emerging

2. Manual Application: assesses application of the Streetscape Manual.

A. Overall, agencies succeed in applying the Streetscape Manual more consistently on the
National Mall than off it. The Manual applies to areas beyond the National Mall, but is not
being applied there.
B. Agencies do not consistently administer the Streetscape Manual because each agency
implements the Manual using different levels of details, specifications, and forms of
C. The current Streetscape Manual has content gaps.
D. The Streetscape Manual limits flexibility because it uses prescriptive details and specifications
for all the elements. This may be appropriate for some elements, such as street lampposts that

Monumental Core Streetscape Project

contribute to historic character. Performance details and specifications may be more appropriate
for other elements, such as streetlight lamps/bulbs that change with technological advances.

3. Precincts & Transitions: assesses how materials are used within and connect precincts (Executive,
Legislative, National Mall, and Office) and how materials transition between the National Mall and
monumental core, including federal and local areas.
A. The existing Streetscape Manual did not adapt to the unique character of different precincts
(Executive, Legislative, National Mall, and Office) or clearly define elements applying to all
B. Generally, streetscape materials inconsistently transition across precincts, which have their
own unique character.
C. Generally, streetscape materials inconsistently transition between the National Mall and
monumental core, including federal and local areas, which have their own character.
D. Streetscape materials and elements transition differently.

4. Function: assesses how streetscapes serve environmental needs such as stormwater infrastructure,
and provide human services such as transportation, walkability, wayfinding, and other amenities.
The Streetscape Manual does not currently address the following functional issues:
A. Stormwater management facilities are implemented site-by-site, resulting in a piecemeal
solution that is neither comprehensive nor consistent.
B. Changing and sustainable technologies (such as LED lights, parking meters, and car-charging
stations) are changing the way streetscapes look and function.
C. Expanding transportation options, such as dockless bicycles and segways, and their
infrastructure needs, such as cycle tracks and bike boxes, are not controlled or well coordinated
with current infrastructure.
D. Walkability is challenged for pedestrians, because of temporary perimeter security elements,
vehicle barriers, long crosswalks, disconnected street walls and streetscape treatments, and lack
of universal accessibility.
E. Wayfinding challenges visitor orientation, because of the streetscape materials and placement
and coordination of multiple wayfinding signs.
F. Security for federal facilities will remain a need within the monumental core.

5. Coordination: assesses interagency collaboration on streetscape planning, design, maintenance, and

A. Right-of-way jurisdiction is unclear and enforcement of jurisdiction for maintenance and repair
work is inconsistent.
B. The Streetscape Manual specifications are not always kept up-to-date or used to plan, design,
and construct utilities, repair work, and improvements.
C. Maintenance is inconsistent among the various jurisdictions.
D. Intra-agency coordination of Manual use is inconsistent.
E. The Manual and local standards are not coordinated.

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F. There is no process to continuously review, assess, and update the Manual to address
emerging issues.
G. The Streetscape Manual does not have an administrative section with (1) coordination
contacts, (2) review authorities, processes, and checklists, (3) maintenance responsibilities, (4)
permitting for utility and repair work, and (4) partnership agreements.