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, which included amphitheaters and dramatic fountains, skating rinks and lush gardens, in April.
Today, the jury announced the winning design for each site. For Constitution Gardens, the panel selected an all-season approach by Rogers Marvel Architects + Peter Walker and Partners (Slide 4). A design by OLIN + Weiss/Manfredi (Slide 9) for a new performance space on the Washington Monument grounds prevailed. And, for Union Square, the experts' favorite is a concept by Gustafson Guthrie Nichol + Davis Brody Bond (Slide 12) calling for a smaller pool than the existing one.
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.