A new vision for the “nation’s front yard” was laid out this week in Washington, DC, when winners of a design competition to revitalize the National Mall were announced.
Parts of the Mall have been in disrepair for years and hundreds of millions of dollars worth of maintenance has been long deferred in favor of inexpensive patch jobs. Back in 2009, NPR’s Morning Edition ran a story that highlighted the problem. The AP published photos around the same time.
To address the issue, the Trust for the National Mall - the official non-profit partner of the National Park Service, which runs the Mall – held a design competition targeting some of the problem areas for improvements.
They include Constitution Gardens, an area with a pond near the Lincoln Memorial, which is pictured above in a winning rendering by PWP Landscape Architecture and Rogers Marvel Architects. From the design narrative:
“The simple armature of an underwater ring wall in the east side of the lake—invisible when not in use—will enable this part of the lake to transform into a model boat basin in summer. In winter, the basin can be drained and topped with a temporary ice surface, creating a magical venue for skating on a frozen Lake, in urban Washington DC.”
Also on the list for rehab are the Washington Monument grounds and the area near the Capitol known as Union Square.
Caroline Cunningham, President of the Trust said the designs are intended to bring the Mall “back to its former glory” and serve as “models of sustainability and best practices in urban parks.” The Trust is projecting a groundbreaking for the first project by 2014.
But Trust spokesman Joe Kildea tells NPR there’s quite a bit of work to do before that point. “The next step is evaluating the cost, impact, how [these designs] would affect use, things like that. So the process continues.”
So-far $7 million in private money has been raised. The projects will likely require hundreds of millions more. In short, these winning designs represent what would be built, if something is to be built.
You can see more winning images here.