Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architect + Paul Murdoch Architects for Constitution Gardens

Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architect and Paul Murdoch Architects’ plan for the Constitution Gardens.

Andropogon + Bohlin Cywinski Jackson for Constitution Gardens

Outdoor dining in the plan by Andropogon and Bohlin Cywinski Jackson for the Constitution Gardens area.

OLIN + Weiss/Manfredi for Constitution Gardens

OLIN and Weiss/Manfredi for the Constitution Gardens grounds.

OLIN + Weiss/Manfredi for Constitution Gardens

OLIN and Weiss/Manfredi include floating walkways in their plan for the Constitution Gardens.

Rogers Marvel Architects + Peter Walker and Partners for Constitution Gardens

Rogers Marvel Architects and Peter Walker and Partners’ vision for Constitution Gardens includes a water-side cafe.

Rogers Marvel Architects and Peter Walker and Partners

Rogers Marvel Architects and Peter Walker and Partners make room for ice skating in their plan for the Constitution Gardens.

Balmori Associates + Work Architecture Company for Sylvan Theater

Balmori Associates and Work Architecture Company imagine a grassy expanse on the Washington Monument grounds at the Sylvan Theater.

Diller Scofidio Renfro + Hood Design for Sylvan Theater

Diller Scofidio Renfro and Hood Design for the Sylvan Theater and Washington Monument grounds.

Diller Scofidio Renfro + Hood Design for Sylvan Theater

Diller Scofidio Renfro and Hood Design’s proposal for the Sylvan Theater at the Washington Monument grounds.

Diller Scofidio Renfro + Hood Design for Sylvan Theater

Diller Scofidio Renfro and Hood Design propose a green-roofed cafe and walkway for the Sylvan Theater and Washington Monument grounds.

Michael Maltzan Architecture + Tom Leader Studio for Sylvan Theater

Michael Maltzan Architecture and Tom Leader Studio for the Sylvan Theater at the Washington Monument grounds.

Michael Maltzan Architecture + Tom Leader Studio for Sylvan Theater

Michael Maltzan Architecture and Tom Leader Studio for the Sylvan Theater and Washington Monument grounds.

Michael Maltzan Architecture + Tom Leader Studio for Sylvan Theater

Michael Maltzan Architecture + Tom Leader Studio for the Sylvan Theater and Washington Monument grounds.

Michael Maltzan Architecture + Tom Leader Studio for Sylvan Theater

Michael Maltzan Architecture and Tom Leader Studio for the Sylvan Theater and Washington Monument grounds.

Michael Maltzan Architecture + Tom Leader Studio for Sylvan Theater

Michael Maltzan Architecture and Tom Leader Studio for the Sylvan Theater and Washington Monument grounds.

OLIN + Weiss/Manfredi for Sylvan Theater

OLIN and Weiss/Manfredi for the Sylvan Theater and Washington Monument grounds.

OLIN + Weiss/Manfredi for Sylvan Theater

A rose-colored sky above the plan by OLIN and Weiss/Manfredi for the Sylvan Theater and Washington Monument grounds.

OLIN + Weiss/Manfredi for Sylvan Theater

Plenty of lawn space on OLIN and Weiss/Manfredi proposal for the Sylvan Theater and Washington Monument grounds.

OLIN + Weiss/Manfredi for Sylvan Theater

A dramatic, illuminated aerial view of the Sylvan Theater and Washington Monument grounds proposal from OLIN and Weiss/Manfredi.

Co.Design

Get Ready: The National Mall Is Leaping Into The 21st Century

"America’s Front Yard" is getting a modern makeover, its first in over 25 years.

It’s been nearly 230 years since President George Washington commissioned Pierre L’Enfant to establish a grand avenue in our burgeoning capital city. D.C.'s National Mall—or "America’s front yard," as it’s been branded—has had a few face-lifts, but the last significant revamp was way back when the country celebrated its bicentennial in 1976. Last year, the Trust for the National Mall launched a design competition for restoration of the monument-studded historical area, which now attracts nearly 25 million annual visitors, and the finalists have been announced.

The original 32 teams have been narrowed down to four candidates for each of the three selected sites: Union Square, the Washington Monument grounds at the Sylvan Theater, and the Constitution Gardens. Boldfaced usual suspects like Diller Scofidio Renfro and Hood Design, Pei Cobb Freed & Partners and Ken Smith Landscape Architect, and Snøhetta and AECOM have all made the cut, and the proposals offer a fresh take on reconciling the heritage of the locales with modern touches that include water features, cafés, green roofs, and an abundance of well-tended public spaces. Scrolling through, it’s easy to imagine an afternoon spent lolling in any one of the entries, lush and idyllic as they are, and ultimately it will take nearly $700 million to achieve the vision—which ever it may be.

The winners will be chosen by a jury of eight. But because our country is nothing if not democratic, the public is encouraged to comment upon each of the entries at the official site, where feedback is promised to be "an important element" in the official decision-making process. If you’d like your voice to be heard then be sure to click by and let them know your thoughts, but in the meantime check out a selection of the proposals here.

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5 Comments

  • Concerned

    How about putting in tons of vending machines or slot machines to help pay for it? Still, it'll probably be a better 'investment' then Solyndra.

  • MR

    The Mall needs parking.  It is not handicapped or elderly friendly.  Yes, there are elevators at the monuments, but there is no way to get close to them without walking long distances.

  • Behtwo

    you and me baby...remember it was just tax day not too many days ago. ironic eh?