Expressing reservations about its "foreboding" and "juggernaut" qualities, the Commission of Fine Arts yesterday requested revisions in the design of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
"In general we appreciate their comments," said Albert Abramson, chairman of the building committee for the Holocaust Memorial Council, which presented the plans. "We think we have to soften it and make the building more inviting for people . . . but we feel we are dealing with a very powerful subject and we do need a strong presence." The council will return to the commission next month with changes in the design, he said.
The design, by the architectural firm of Notter, Finegold and Alexander, calls for a temple-like, granite-sheathed structure rising some 90 feet from ground level, with entrances on both 14th and 15th streets south of Independence Avenue. The most dramatic feature of the design is a 15th Street facade focusing on a huge, hexagonal Hall of Remembrance to be suspended from the upper floors of the building.
"There is a sense of bulk that doesn't relate to the delicacy I feel about the subject matter," said Alan R. Novak, commission member. "It speaks more of muscle than of the soul."
"This really has the potential for a real sense of foreboding almost so severe that it will not welcome you with open arms," said Edward D. Stone Jr., commission member.
Commission Chairman J. Carter Brown criticized "the juggernaut quality that comes from the extraordinary dimension of the columns" supporting the structure on its north and south sides.
The commission requested that the designer push back the 15th Street facade to be in line with the Classic Revival colonnade of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, which borders the memorial site on the south.
Sculptor Frederick E. Hart, appointed to the commission last month by President Reagan, urged that "art be included at the outset rather than being added on later." The interior design of the Hall of Remembrance, as well as a sculpture to adorn one of its exterior walls, will be chosen through a national competition, Abramson said.