National Capital Planning Commission
Newsletter — November 2012

Study of Washington Building Heights Announced

Earlier this month NCPC Chairman L. Preston Bryant, Jr. announced a joint study with the District of Columbia that will explore the impact of strategic changes to the federal Height of Buildings Act of 1910. The study was requested by Congressman Darrell Issa, Chair of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. NCPC and the District of Columbia were asked to determine the extent to which the Height Act continues to serve both federal and District interests. The Height Act is a federal law which provides restrictions on the height of all buildings within the District of Columbia.

The study is expected to launch in December 2012, with final recommendations by September 2013. NCPC, in partnership with the District, will consult with key federal agencies and provide opportunities for public input throughout the process.

Building Heights in the Nation's Capital

Next Commission Meeting
December 6, 2012

Live video from Commission meetings is available online at:

Tentative agenda [PDF]
Project materials
Recent Commission actions
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Public Weighs In on Urban Design and Preservation

NCPC welcomed the public at an open house on November 14 to gather feedback on draft policies for the first-ever Federal Urban Design and updated Preservation and Historic Features elements of the Comprehensive Plan for the National Capital. Staff were on hand to answer questions about the policies, and listen to comments from over 80 participants.

The new Urban Design element establishes policies intended to make federal public spaces, campuses and buildings more livable, functional, and sustainable. Comments on the proposed policies can be submitted using the online urban design feedback forum and in writing until February 4, 2012.

Comment on NCPC’s draft urban design policies

Commission Comments on Bethesda Master Plans

At its November meeting, the National Capital Planning Commission provided comments on the draft master plans for two federal facilities in Bethesda, Maryland – the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Naval Support (NAS) Activity Bethesda (formerly known as the National Naval Medical Center). Plans for the NIH Campus call for the development of 1.6 million square feet over the next 20 years that would support the addition of 3,200 employees. At NSA Bethesda, the Navy has proposed a number of short and long term projects to improve its facilities and handle anticipated growth of approximately 925 employees.

In its comments, the Commission encouraged both NIH and the Navy to invest more in transportation management measures to reduce the need for additional parking, and include additional information on stormwater management, forest conservation, historic resources, and energy conservation in their draft plans.

Commission’s actions from November 1, 2012

Take Aways

  • New report on memorial planning trends released. Prepared in consultation with the National Park Service and the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, the new report provides data and recommendations about the commemorative works planning process and opportunities for the future.
  • NCPC Chairman L. Preston Bryant, Jr. delivered the Annual Sustainability Lecture at Royal Holloway University of London. The keynote focused on the agency’s SW Ecodistrict Initiative.
  • NCPC’s SW Ecodistrict Plan was recognized by the National Capital Area Chapter of the American Planning Association with the chapter’s Current Topic Award for Innovative Smart Growth Initiative. Additionally, NCPC’s Director of Public Engagement, Julia Koster, was recognized for her Outstanding Contribution to the Chapter.
  • NCPC staff convened Prince George’s County staff, representatives from federal facilities located within the county, and GSA for an information exchange. Federal facilities representatives shared information about their facilities, and learned about the County’s master plan for parks and recreation, as well as the just-underway work on an update to their comprehensive plan.
  • NCPC is pleased to welcome Angela Mar as our newest community planner.
  • NCPC welcomes Diane Stolz as a Policy Advisor on detail from the General Services Administration. At GSA, she serves as the Chief of the Capital Investments Branch.
  • Scott Sowers, Multimedia Specialist with the Office of Public Engagement, completed his contract with NCPC. During Scott’s four years at NCPC, he created more than 80 videos and helped launch the agency’s live-chat and social media initiatives.