Code of the District of Columbia

Subchapter II. Regulation of Heights and Exterior Designs of Buildings.


§ 6–611.01. Erection or alteration of buildings fronting on certain federal property; applications submitted to Commission of Fine Arts for review.

In view of the provisions of the Constitution respecting the establishment of the seat of the national government, the duties it imposed upon Congress in connection therewith, and the solicitude shown and the efforts exerted by President Washington in the planning and development of the capital city, it is declared that such development should proceed along the lines of good order, good taste, and with due regard to the public interests involved, and a reasonable degree of control should be exercised over the architecture of private or semipublic buildings adjacent to public buildings and grounds of major importance. To this end, when application is made for permit for the erection or alteration of any building, any portion of which is to front or abut upon the grounds of the Capitol, the grounds of the White House, the portion of Pennsylvania Avenue extending from the Capitol to the White House, Lafayette Park, Rock Creek Park, the Zoological Park, the Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway, Potomac Park, the Mall Park System and public buildings adjacent thereto, or abutting upon any street bordering any of said grounds or parks, the plans therefor, so far as they relate to height and appearance, color, and texture of the materials of exterior construction, shall be submitted by the Mayor of the District of Columbia to the Commission of Fine Arts; and the said Commission shall report promptly to said Mayor its recommendations, including such changes, if any, as in its judgment are necessary to prevent reasonably avoidable impairment of the public values belonging to such public building or park; and said Mayor shall take such action as shall, in his judgment, effect reasonable compliance with such recommendation; provided, that if the said Commission of Fine Arts fails to report its approval or disapproval of such plans within 30 days, its approval thereof shall be assumed and a permit may be issued.


(May 16, 1930, 46 Stat. 366, ch. 291, § 1; July 31, 1939, 53 Stat. 1144, ch. 400.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 5-410.

1973 Ed., § 5-410.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 6-1105, § 6-1107, § 9-1153, § 10-1102.01, § 10-1121.04, § 10-1121.11, and § 25-374.

Cross References

Airspace leases, conditions for execution, see § 10-1121.04.

Rental and utilization of public space, conditional authorization to construct structures, federal and district governments, see § 10-1121.11.

Rental and utilization of public space, public space on or above ground, see § 10-1102.01.

Delegation of Authority

Delegation of Authority Under the “Shipstead-Luce Act”, see Mayor’s Order 89-92, May 9, 1989.

Change in Government

This section originated at a time when local government powers were delegated to a Board of Commissioners of the District of Columbia (see Acts Relating to the Establishment of the District of Columbia and its Various Forms of Governmental Organization in Volume 1). Section 401 of Reorganization Plan No. 3 of 1967 (see Reorganization Plans in Volume 1) transferred all of the functions of the Board of Commissioners under this section to a single Commissioner. The District of Columbia Self-Government and Governmental Reorganization Act, 87 Stat. 818, § 711 ( D.C. Code, § 1-207.11), abolished the District of Columbia Council and the Office of Commissioner of the District of Columbia. These branches of government were replaced by the Council of the District of Columbia and the Office of Mayor of the District of Columbia, respectively. Accordingly, and also pursuant to § 714(a) of such Act ( D.C. Code, § 1-207.14(a)), appropriate changes in terminology were made in this section.


§ 6–611.02. Plats of restricted area.

The Council of the District of Columbia, in consultation with the National Capital Planning Commission, shall prepare plats defining the areas within which application for building permits shall be submitted to the Commission of Fine Arts for its recommendations.


(May 16, 1930, 46 Stat. 367, ch. 291, § 2.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 5-411.

1973 Ed., § 5-411.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 10-1102.01, § 10-1121.04, § 10-1121.11, and § 25-374.

Cross References

Airspace leases, conditions for execution of lease, see § 10-1121.04.

Rental and utilization of public space, conditional authorization to construct structures, federal and district governments, see § 10-1121.11.

Rental and utilization of public space, public space on or above ground, see § 10-1102.01.

Transfer of Functions

“National Capital Planning Commission” was substituted for “National Capital Park and Planning Commission” in view of the Act of June 6, 1924, ch. 270, § 9, as added by the Act of July 19, 1952, 66 Stat. 790, ch. 949, § 1, which transferred the functions, powers, and duties of the National Capital Park and Planning Commission to the National Capital Planning Commission.

Change in Government

This section originated at a time when local government powers were delegated to a Board of Commissioners of the District of Columbia (see Acts Relating to the Establishment of the District of Columbia and its Various Forms of Governmental Organization in Volume 1). Section 402(121) of Reorganization Plan No. 3 of 1967 (see Reorganization Plans in Volume 1) transferred all of the functions of the Board of Commissioners under this section to the District of Columbia Council, subject to the right of the Commissioner as provided in § 406 of the Plan. The District of Columbia Self-Government and Governmental Reorganization Act, 87 Stat. 818, § 711 ( D.C. Code, § 1-207.11), abolished the District of Columbia Council and the Office of Commissioner of the District of Columbia. These branches of government were replaced by the Council of the District of Columbia and the Office of Mayor of the District of Columbia, respectively. Accordingly, and also pursuant to § 714(a) of such Act ( D.C. Code, § 1-207.14(a)), appropriate changes in terminology were made in this section.