Friends of Francis Field

First Look at 2019 Master Landscape Plan

Presentation to ANC-2A Scheduled: June 20

Posted May 26, 2018

Under a new, 2018 partnership agreement with the DC Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR), our organization, the Friends of Francis Field (FFF), will continue development of a "revised master landscape plan for Francis Field."

Comparison of photo and planThe DPR-FFF agreement is scheduled to be presented to the general community at the June 20, 2018, meeting of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2A. It meets at the West End Public, 2301 L Street NW, at 7 pm.

Development of a new plan began in 2016, after a dog park was added to Francis Field in the fall of 2015, and a construction easement was granted at the south end for the conversion of the 2501 M Street building from mixed-use office/residential to fully residential on most floors.

As shown in the diagram at right, the existing, 2009 master landscape plan was out of date. (See PDF of 2009 plan.) It did not show the dog park at the north. Many of the trees indicated on the plan had not been added, and new landscaping was being designed for the south field restoration when construction was finished.

FFF compared a photograph of the existing conditions in 2016 to the 2009 architectural plan. It is shown above with red arrows.

In preparation for planting more than 40 trees in 2017, FFF had two new drawings made. These are shown below. On the left is a drawing of the existing conditions as of September 15, 2016. The drawing on the right was essentially the plan for planting new trees where they were indicated on the 2009 plan.

Two plans

The tree-planting plan was implemented on May 13, 2017, when volunteers planted 43 new trees on the field, in cooperation with the Casey Tree Foundation.

Tree-plantingThe plan was drawn by Lauren Brandes, a landscape architect from the firm Oculus, working in cooperation with Peter Nohrden, a landscape architect for DPR. The species of the trees were chosen by Nohrden and arborist Becky Schwartz from Casey Trees.

The photograph at left shows the tree-planting in progress.

Because Francis Field can be seen from Rock Creek Park, a part of the National Park system, all plans for and its landscape architecture are required to be reviewed by the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts (CFA), as are all buildings—whether public or private—that can be seen from Rock Creek Park.

This includes the new, rear landscaping plan for 2501 M Street, which was drawn to restore a construction area. That plan, which also specifies the location and species of trees and bushes to be planted, is shown below:

Brandes rear-field plan

This plan was also drawn by Lauren Brandes for the developer of the 2501 M Street property. It was reviewed by ANC-2A on July 15, 2015, and then been approved by the CFA. FFF would like to duplicate this plan, or something nearly like it, to landscape the southern face of the dog park, which was installed in 2015 with no landscaping plantings, and no shade for users of the dog park.

dog park in 2016The dog park, as it appeared in April 2016, is shown in the photograph at left. Several trees were planted in May 2017 specifically to provide some shade. The bare-dirt condition of the playing field has also been improved by FFF since (see May Report). However, no other landscaping has been added.

Repeating the concept of the rear-field landscaping along the southern edge of the dog park might enhance both ends of the field with a consistent, professional look that should be easily approved.

This is one of the recommendations that FFF made to its members and guests at its April 19, 2018, annual meeting.

Bushes and small trees might also provide a "softer" cushion for players on the athletic field that the steel fence of the dog park provides.

Another element of the revised landscape plan might include the removal of obsolete and unsightly elements that remain on the field and park areas.

old irrigation valveChief among these is the old irrigation valve near 25th Street that is no longer connected to a water line. It is shown in the photograph at right.

This is a remnant of the 1991 irrigation system that was put under the field by George Washington University. That system failed in less than two years. When the system was installed, the original Francis Swimming Pool, built in 1929, was still in place. The pool was replaced in 1992. Any future irrigation system would use the new water lines that run into the pool house.

This unsightly valve could simply be removed, or it could be replaced by a "Francis Field" sign.

All changes to the field will be designed by a professional landscape architect. The "tree-planting plan" shown above will serve as the basis for the new plan. Thus, much of the plan is already drawn, and will require only alterations.

The approval process will include review by ANC-2A, DPR, the National Park Service, and the CFA. Thus, there should be ample opportunities for community input and professional, federal landscape oversight.

For the background and development of the current (2009) master plan, which was submitted by DPR and approved by the CFA in September 2009, please see the Master Plan I article on this website.

Copyright 2018, Friends of Francis Field.