How Would You Redesign the National Mall?
The National Mall in Washington, D.C. gets a lot of love. Each year, the swath, extending from the U.S. Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial, attracts more than 25 million visitors. To put it into perspective, the Grand Canyon, Yosemite and Yellowstone combined receive only half as many tourists annually. Yet, National Park Service officials and others invested in its upkeep are singing the same chorus: the National Mall has been loved to death.
Last September, the Trust for the National Mall, a nonprofit devoted to improving the park, launched a National Mall Design Competition. Architects from around the country submitted their portfolios, and by mid-December, a jury of experts invited ten design teams to re-imagine three “dead zones”: Union Square, in front of the Capitol; the grounds just south of the Washington Monument; and Constitution Gardens, just east of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The trust released the visions for the Mall this week.
With amphitheaters and dramatic fountains, skating rinks and lush gardens, the proposals, on display through April 15 at the National Museum of American History and the Smithsonian Castle, provide a hopeful glimpse into the National Mall’s future.
The jury will announce the winning design for each site on May 3. Since Union Square has fallen under the auspices of the Architect of the Capitol, the prevailing design for it will be sent to Congress to consider. The trust hopes to move forward on a redesign of either the Washington Monument grounds or Constitution Gardens by 2016.