CFA Review in DC: Understanding the Impact on Historic Preservation

The Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) is a federal agency responsible for advising the President, Congress, and other federal agencies on matters of design and aesthetics. The CFA also plays a critical role in the design review process for new construction and renovation projects in Washington, DC. In this article, we will explore the history and purpose of the CFA, the CFA review process, and how to work effectively with the CFA.

History and Purpose of the CFA

The CFA was established in 1910 as part of the McMillan Plan, a comprehensive urban planning initiative for the nation’s capital. Over the years, the CFA’s mission and scope of authority have expanded to include the review of all federal projects, as well as private projects that are located within specific areas of the city. The CFA is comprised of seven members appointed by the President and serves as the principal advisor to the federal government on matters of design and aesthetics.

CFA Review Process

The CFA review process applies to all private and public projects that are located within the areas subject to the Height of Buildings Act of 1910, which includes the monumental core of the city, the Capitol Grounds, and other areas within a certain distance of federal landmarks. Projects that are subject to CFA review must be submitted for review before construction can begin.

Submission Requirements

To submit a project for CFA review, the applicant must submit a complete set of application materials and forms, along with the design plans. The plans must meet specific format and content requirements and must be submitted by specific deadlines. The submission process also includes a review fee, which varies depending on the size and scope of the project.

Review Criteria

The CFA review process focuses on three primary criteria: compatibility with the surrounding context, design quality and innovation, and historic preservation and cultural significance. The CFA evaluates each project against these criteria and provides detailed feedback and recommendations to the applicant.

Public Hearings and Meetings

The CFA review process is an open and transparent process that provides opportunities for public input and feedback. The CFA holds public hearings and meetings to discuss each project and make recommendations to the applicant. These hearings and meetings provide opportunities for the public to share their opinions and concerns and for the applicant to address them.

Working with the CFA

Working with the CFA can be a complex and challenging process. It is essential to collaborate with design professionals who are experienced in working with the CFA and can ensure that the project meets the CFA’s criteria. Hiring a licensed architect or engineer is critical, and it is essential to verify their professional credentials and insurance. Engaging with the community is also crucial, and it is essential to develop effective public outreach and communication strategies that address community concerns and incorporate feedback. Finally, it is important to understand the CFA’s impact on the project and the benefits and challenges of CFA review.

The CFA plays a significant role in shaping the urban landscape of Washington, DC. Understanding the CFA review process and working effectively with the CFA can help ensure that projects meet the highest standards of design and aesthetics while preserving the city’s rich history and cultural significance. By collaborating with design professionals, engaging with the community, and developing effective communication strategies, applicants can successfully navigate the CFA review process and create projects that enhance the city’s beauty and character.