A team of panners recommended yesterday that Congress build its next office buildings north and south of the Capitol building, and that moving the Supreme Court off Capitol Hill should be seriously considered.
The recommendations, part of the preparation of a major plan for Capitol Hill's future development were included in a report by a group headed by Capitol Architect George M. White and including several consultants.
The report recommended strong steps to discourage continued one-to-an-automobile commuting by Capitol Hill employees creating free shuttle bus service between nearby Metro subway stations and eventually installing an underground people-mover transit system in the space occupied by one of the two tracks in an existing railroad tunnel beneath Ist street SENE.
People-movers may involve moving walkways or small-sized transit cars. The tunnel in which these might be installed is now used by passenger trains traveling between Union Station and Virginia.
The report also suggested that Congress, for the first time, do something about providing parking for tourists and other visitor to Capitol Hill. All available spaces are now restricted to those who hold permits.
The first point of conflict stemming from the report seems likely to come from its recommendation that the House of Representatives should consider putting its fourth office building on a site on the west side of New Jersey Avenue SE just south of D Street. The location is four blocks south of the Capitol building.
Residents of that block already have begun to mobilize against the possibility of a takeover. The block includes the Rotunda, a well known restaurant frequented by members of Congress and their staffs, and homes built in the last hah of the 19th century. It also includes the only public, commercial parking lots in the area.
In what it described as its "most far-reaching conclusion." the study team urged that serious consideration by given by Congress to moving the Supreme Court from its crowded 42 year-old building a 1st Street and Maryland Avenue NW to an unspecified "judicial predict" elsewhere in Washington.
The original L'Eriant plan for the city comtemplated that the Supreme Court would be placed in Judiciary Square, in the area of 5th and D Streets NW now occupied by the District of Columbia's local court system. Instead, the Supreme Court long occupied a courtroom in the Capitol itself, and moved across the street to its own building in 1935.
If such a move were not made, the planners said space needs for the Supreme Court and the administrative office of the U.S. courts could be met for the next 25 year-by acquiring the nearby Methodist Building on Maryland Avenue and the Reserve Officers Association headquarters on 1st Street NE.
Copies of the slick-paper, profusely illustrated report were delivered to congressional leaders late last week, followed by a mailing to all members of Congress.
White, the Capitol architect, said meetings to discuss further planning activities are planned both with the congressional leaders and with the Capitol Hill community.
If there is one major conclusion about the future course of Capitol Hill development, it is that the plans developed for expansion along an "east mall" - flanking East Capitol Street from the Capitol toward the Anacostia River - are a dead issue. The first such plan was published in 1859, the most recent unofficial one in 1965.
Instead, the planners said, Congress should look to sites for Senate office buildings north of the existing office structures, generally around Union Station plaza.
In a sort of mirror-image development, the planners said new House office buildings should be built south of the existing Rayburn and Cannon office buildings, including sites alongside Canal Street, South Capitol Street and New Jersey Avenue.
They recommended that consideration be given to developing underground facilities directly to the east of the Capitol building. When the Capitol's east front was rebuilt in the 1950s and 1960s, the building's foundations made provisions for such an expansion - probably, at that time, for a parking garage.
The planning report, in its main thrust, is not intended to recommend that particular buildings actually be built. Rather, the report itself says, its purpose is to chart the logical growth pattern of Capitol Hill if and when decisions are made to erect new buildings.
The report makes clear. for example, that some offices and other facilities might be placed at locations rather remote from Capitol Hill. These would be occupied by personnel who do not need to visit the Capitol building with any frequency.
Although the Senate's immediate office needs will be satisfied by construction currently under way. the report says there is an existing need for a 50 per cent expansion of House office facilities.
If House staff employment were to continue at its recent growth rate, the report says existing space would have to be doubled by 1987.
In addition to members of White's staff in the Capitol architect's office, the planning team included the urban design consulting firm of Wallace, McHarg, Roberts & Todd of Philadelphia, the economic consulting firm of Hammer Siler George Associates, the traffic consulting firm of Alan M. Voorhees, Inc., historic consultant Frederick Gutheim and architectural design consultants Mitchell & Giurgola.