The National Mall in Washington, DC recently launched a competition to envision new designs for the historic site, and Diller Scofidio + Renfro is a finalist for two of the three landscape renovation projects. They recently unveiled plans for the Washington Monument Grounds at Sylvan Theatre and Union Square at the east end, near the Capitol. Both concepts, presented separately, propose landscape interventions on a grand scale to bring the area back to how it used to be while creating a sustainable and harmonious landscape. Green roofs, constructed wetlands, water retention pools and additional landscaping are all part of the grand scheme to upgrade the mall with sustainable design. We think L'Enfant would approve.
Diller Scofidio + Renfro is vying to win the award for the refurbishment of both Union Square and the Washington Grounds at the Sylvan Theatre. Both designs are heavily focused on the landscape – they seek to bring back a bit of what Washington DC and the Tiber Creek were before the nation’s capital made its home here. The Capitol Building is constructed on what was once a marsh – in fact, a creek still runs underneath the mall and into the Tiber. Rather than fight against nature, DS+R wants to help reclaim it and thereby proposes a constructed wetlands at Union Square with a reflecting pond that can manage storm water runoff. Gardens are extended into the square to encourage biodiversity and improve environmental conditions.
Similarly, the Washing Grounds at Sylvan Theatre will undergo a transformation where parts of the lawn are “peeled up” to reveal plazas and programs underneath. These green-roofed structures maintain the expansive lawn, but add necessary amenities while ensuring that water runoff and rainwater is allowed to infiltrate. DS+R is a finalist in two categories for renovations to the National Mall and is competing against 3 other teams in each category. Proposals are now on display and open for public comment from April 9-15 at the Smithsonian Castle or online here.
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