The National Mall Design Competition

The National Mall is a mile long stretch of open space between the Lincoln Memorial and the US Capital building in Washington DC.   The Mall is flanked by museums and other monuments and is the most popular tourist destination in the United States. More than 24 million people visited the Mall last year.

The Trust for the National Mall has raised $700 million to revamp one of the most used and treasured open spaces in the country. Last year the Trust invited architectural firms to submit designs to remodel three different areas of the Mall, which included Constitution Garden, the Sylvan Theater amphitheater, and Union Square. The objective was to revitalize the mall and provide for much needed amenities to enhance the visitor’s experience.

Constitution Garden: In May of 2012, the Trust for the National Mall announced the winners of the competition. Rogers Marvel Architects + PWP Landscape Architecture was chosen to redesign Constitution Garden. This firm has done considerable work in New York City including the renovation of McCarren Pool and Bathhouse in Brooklyn and Governors Island Park & Public Space Master Plan in New York.

Constitution Garden – Courtesy of Wikipedia

Rob Rogers and Peter Walker, the creators of the winning design for Constitution Garden  said, the new design would provide an indoor pavilion that houses a restaurant with a terrace overlooking the pond.  In summer the visitors would be able to sail toy boats on the pond and in the winter the pond will become an ice skating rink.  Additionally, there will be places to rest and picnic.

Sylvan Theater: Another East Coast architectural firm  Weiss/Manfredi and Olin were the winners to redesign the Sylvan Theater, an area 450 feet southeast of the Washington Monument.  The new amphitheater will be built on elevated land that slopes towards the Washington Monument, which will serve as a backdrop to cultural events taking place on the stage. The new design is mindful of restoring and maintaining sight lines and providing the visual connections to the Washington Monument oblisk, Jefforson Memorial, White House, and the Tidal Basin.

Union Square: Union Square is at the base of the Capitol and is the site of presidential inaugrations. The architectural firms of Gustafson Guthrie Nichol (GGN) of Seatle and Davis Brody Bond (DBB) of New York were chosen to redesign the Union Square reflecting pool which will dominate the 11 acre site.

The newly created shallow pool will contain 2” of water that can be easily drained to provide hard dry surfaces for gatherings and major events.  The architects have placed elevated pathways diagonally across the large reflecting pool to minimize its length and breadth. A low retaining wall around the perimeter of the pool will also serve for additional seating.

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