The Trust for the National Mall has announced the finalists in a design competition that aims to restore and improve three prominent sites on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
Snøhetta, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Michael Maltzan Architecture, and Ten Arquitectos are among the bevy of notable firms whose proposals have advanced to the next stage of the multi-tiered competition. The three sites span the length of the Mall: at the east end, Union Square, located at the foot of the U.S. Capitol building and featuring a 1920 statue memorializing President Ulysses S. Grant; near the center, the Washington Monument grounds, notably the area to the south containing the Sylvan Theater (1917); and at the west end, Constitution Gardens, a 50-acre park built in 1976 between the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial.
Six teams, each comprising two firms, will compete for each of the three projects. The finalists, announced on October 26, were selected based on portfolio submissions. The eight-person jury met over three days to sift through more than 1,200 entries received between September 8 and October 8. Jurors evaluated firms’ past design performance, philosophy, design intent, thoughtfulness, creativity, and their overall resumes, according to Donald Stastny, manager of the National Mall Design Competition.
The next stage, starting November 1, involves qualification assessments and interviews, with results scheduled for December 15. For the final stage, beginning January 11, the jury will evaluate design concepts. The schemes will be featured in a public exhibition opening April 9, and the Trust will announce the winning teams on May 3.
The projects aim to overcome years of neglect and deterioration on the Mall, which draws approximately 25 million visitors annually, according the National Park Service (NPS). Repairs could cost $700 million, including $400 million for deferred maintenance and an additional $300 million in needed improvements, according to NPS. The Campaign to Restore the National Mall, the largest public-private partnership in the history of the NPS, aims to raise $350 million in private money over seven years. Those funds would be matched dollar-for-dollar by federal funds.
Competition jurors include Thom Mayne, founder and principal of Morphosis; Craig Hodgetts, creative director at Hodgetts + Fung Design and Architecture; Alpha Blackburn, president & CEO of Blackburn Architects; Michael Gericke, partner at Pentagram NYC; Ethan Carr, landscape architecture professor at UMASS Amherst; Elizabeth Meyer, landscape architecture professor at University of Virginia; Benjamin Forgey, writer and former architecture critic at The Washington Post; and Harry Robinson, principal at TRG Consulting Global.