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Sylvan Theatre Proposal, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, DS+R, washington mall, design competition, landscape interventions, green roof, wetlands

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.

Images © DS+R