Community Liaison Council Meeting Minutes — Wednesday, March 6, 2024

Opening Remarks

Amy Blackburn, Office of Communications & Public Liaison (OCPL), Office of the Director (OD), NIH

Ms. Blackburn opened the meeting at 4:03 p.m.

Minutes Review

Ms. Blackburn presented the minutes from the previous meeting for approval. CLC members had no objections or changes.

Staff Changes

Ms. Blackburn reviewed senior staff changes at NIH:

  • Monica Bertagnolli was named the 17th director of NIH on November 9, 2023, replacing Acting Director Lawrence A. Tabak.

NIH Bethesda Campus, National Library of Medicine (NLM) Accessible Entry Design

Susan Roberts, Office of Research Facilities (ORF), OD, NIH

Ms. Roberts presented a design concept to make the front entrance of NLM (also known as Building 38) accessible for people who use mobility devices such as wheelchairs.

  • This project would update the southern entry facing 355 Wisconsin Avenue. Currently, people who cannot navigate the stairs at this entrance must enter through the north side of the building near the loading dock.
  • The design will aim to meet the standards defined in the Architectural Barriers Act—including ramps, automatic doors, and accessible parking spaces—while preserving the building’s historic elements and landscaping.
  • Construction for this project is not yet funded, so the timeline for construction is not yet set. A 35% design submission is scheduled for May 2024.

Ms. Roberts presented site photographs that documented the existing conditions at NLM. She then presented a site plan for the proposed design.

  • The proposal includes a sloped sidewalk that would provide a ramp to the door of the building.
  • The design includes two landings—one on either side of the original staircase—with one bench apiece. The benches include polished granite and lighting elements to match the historic entrance.
  • The sloped sidewalk would be connected to a sidewalk that leads to accessible parking.

Ms. Roberts presented cross sections of the proposed design, which show how the sloped path would fit within the existing landscape.

  • The sloped path design does not include railings, which would obstruct the landscape.
  • The sloped path would be slightly visible from the parking lot, but existing trees and shrubs would remain.


NIH Bethesda Campus, Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Array Canopies on Parking Garages 6, 7, and 9

Susan Roberts, ORF, OD, NIH

Ms. Roberts presented a design plan for the solar PV arrays to be constructed on the top decks of three multilevel parking garages (MLPs): MLPs 6, 7, and 9.

  • This project will bring NIH toward compliance with federal mandates and sustainability goals to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions and increase renewable energy sources.
  • Space for PV projects in Bethesda is limited. Placing arrays on top of MLPs will not hinder green spaces or interfere with other planned projects.

Ms. Roberts presented a map of NIH campus to highlight the locations of MLPs 6, 7, and 9. She then presented photographs of existing conditions at the parking garages, as well as renderings of the garages with solar PV canopies on the top decks from various perspectives.

Ms. Roberts shared the schedule for the solar PV canopies project.

  • A 60% design is in comment resolution.
  • A 90% design was scheduled to be submitted on March 1, 2024.
  • Mobilization is scheduled to begin in April 2024.
  • The project is scheduled to be completed by August 1, 2024.

NIH Animal Center, Building 102, Wings A and B

Susan Roberts, ORF, OD, NIH

Ms. Roberts presented the renovation project plan for Building 102, Wings A and B. This project was included in the 2013 NIH Animal Center Master Plan.

  • Existing, vacant space with dog kennels will be demolished.
  • A research building that will hold several species of animals will be built in the same location. This will allow some programs to be relocated from the Bethesda campus to the Animal Center campus, better utilizing the space.
  • The new construction will include administrative, classrooms, and locker rooms for use by the NIH police. The new space will enable virtual reality training and support tactical training using a warehouse on the north portion of the campus.
  • The plans for the new research building include interstitial space, which will allow for flexibility in the research space as well as easy access for maintenance.

Ms. Roberts presented a rendering of the new building design concept, which includes:

  • Separate entrances for research staff and NIH police.
  • A loading dock for trucks.
  • A shed roof, metal panels, and brick elements, which match the rural location. The roof design will allow natural light into the interior corridors.

Ms. Roberts shared the schedule for the NIH Animal Center, Building 102, Wings A and B renovation project:

  • Demolition is scheduled for July 2024.
  • The construction award is scheduled for September 2024.
  • Completion of the project is expected in 2028.

Grounds Update

Connor Price, ORF

NIH Landscape Architect Connor Price presented an update regarding a grassy area south of Lot 41 and outside of the NIH security fence. The space is referred to as the “south Lawn”.  It is a community amenity and part of the Bethesda Trolley Trail.

  • The community has raised concerns about standing water and pests, such as mosquitoes.
  • NIH has not used insecticide since 2008. Instead, it uses sustainable, integrative pest management, including more than 100 bird boxes on campus. Cavity-nesting birds help control pests through predation.
  • Standing water is addressed through regular management of swales.

Community Discussion

Karen Hendricks asked how parking will be affected during the construction of the solar PV canopies.

  • Ms. Roberts said that parking will be reduced during construction. Parking decks will be shut down in phases to put up the solar PV array canopies.
  • Greg Leifer said that after the canopies are built, no parking will be lost in MLP 9. One parking spot will be lost in MLP 6, and one in MLP 7. Ms. Roberts noted that a reduction in parking spaces will help move NIH toward its goal of one parking space per three employees that is part of an agreement with the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC).
  • Brad Moss said that the canopies will provide shade for cars parked on the top decks.

Ms. Hendricks asked whether the training space at the NIH Animal Center will be available for use by groups other than the NIH police.

  • Ms. Roberts said that some space could be used by other NIH campus occupants, but not by outside agencies or communities. For example, during severe weather events in the past, some animal caretakers have stayed overnight at the NIH Animal Center. The new space—which is also a venue for training and teaching—would allow space for cots.


Ms. Blackburn adjourned the meeting at 4:33 p.m. ET

Next Meeting: June 2024


CLC Members

Andrea Witt, Huntington Parkway Citizens Association

Jennette Wade, Whitehall Condominium Association

Maggie Dittemore, Bradley Hills Village

Ginny Miller, Wyngate Citizens Association

Beth Garnier Volz


Amy Blackburn, OCPL
Brad Moss, ORF/Office of Research Services (ORS)/OD
Susan Roberts, ORF/OD
Sharon Robinson, Office of Community Liaison
Connor Price, Campus Landscape Architect, ORF/OD
Greg Leifer, ORF/OD
David Derenick, ORF/OD
Nia Garner, ORF/OD
Jose Morel-Lopez, ORF/OD
Dan Janniello, ORF/OD
Bart Ransone, ORF/OD


Karen Hendricks, Representative for U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)

This page last reviewed on April 15, 2024