This Thursday, the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) will review concept plans for a new perimeter fence and gates at the White House. The concept plans were submitted by the U.S. Department of the Interior and National Park Service (NPS) in coordination with the U.S. Secret Service.
There are three options for the proposed fence, varying in ornamental and functional elements at the top and base of the structure. The designs are similar in that they follow the existing fence’s alignment and retain the existing gate access points. The planned fence piers are expected to be constructed with a similar design to the existing ones and with the current light fixtures retained.
The White House fence was first installed around 1803. The current fence measures roughly 3,500 feet in length with a total of seven pedestrian and six vehicular gates, according to the NCPC’s Executive Director’s Recommendation document. In May and July 2015, temporary anti-climb measures, called "pencil points," were approved and added to the fence. Since then, there have been multiple incidents of jumpers leaping the fence onto the grounds of the White House.
In order to prevent further similar incidents, the NPS recommends replacing the current fence, which measures roughly eight feet high, for a fence that measures roughly 13 feet high. The field stone base will also be replaced with a more finished ashlar with pickets extending into a stone cap at the top of the base, according to the NCPC’s Executive Director’s Recommendation document.
Of the three fence design options, the first includes spear-shaped finials with a cross-like section. Along the four sides of the finial will be a design reminiscent of a fleur de lis.
The second design option is simpler with a single spear finial atop a small sphere.
The third and final design option utilizes a "pencil point."
In the NCPC’s Executive Director’s Recommendation document, the NPS recommends the second option the most as the first option could "visually compete" with the White House, while the third could appear "uninviting and unsuitable for the setting."
In June 2016, the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts approved the concept plans for the proposed fence and gates. The Washington Post reported that construction isn’t likely to start until 2018.