The Washington Monument Grounds and Sylvan Theater lie at the crossing of L’Enfant’s twin axes, the threshold between the Mall and the natural world. We seek to draw the forest to the Monument, renewing its connection to the Tidal Basin and beyond. Working in partnership with nature, biology, and water embraces the agrarian philosophies of our Nation’s founders and represents a democratic ideal for our own time.
The significance of this threshold extends beyond landscape. The Sylvan Theater is a democratic platform on the National Mall, providing space for the diverse exchange of voices and ideas and embodies the complexity and promise that characterizes our Nation.
Connective strategies on the Grounds produce new links—pedestrian, bicycle, and vehicular, as well as ecological and hydrological. Through these links, the site will better address arrival and orientation, creating a more seamless visitors experience, while enabling a more direct engagement of the landscape and Monument.
Across the site, views and programmatic activity are configured in an arc around the Monument. This creates a continuous gradient from the Monument to the Tidal Basin, integrating the four landscapes, architecture, and infrastructure.
The perimeter wall surrounding the Monument mound becomes the northern boundary of the project and is the starting point for a series of design interventions that continue to the Tidal Basin.
South of the perimeter wall is a broad, rolling lawn concealing the Multipurpose Facility. As it arcs eastward through the Sylvan Theater, the Field incorporates terraced event seating along its gentle slope.
The Forest’s rambling, natural environment draws on planting tree species found at Mount Vernon. The network of paths and plazas encourage movement beneath the leafy canopy.
A shoreline meadow filters storm water and supports vernal pools and seasonal flowering at the edge of the Tidal Basin, its hues and textures in conversation with the Cherry trees overhead.
THE MONUMENT LODGE
The Monument Lodge retains its historical functions while also serving as an entrance to the Mixed-Use Facility beneath the lawn to the south.
The stone Oculus and reflecting pool draw visitors toward the center of the Multipurpose Facility. An expansive hall, lit and structured by aperture columns, incorporates dining, retail, and a flexible multi-use space.
The new Sylvan Theater echoes the axial organization of the McMillan plan. Its stage extends beneath the expandable band shell. The amphitheater accommodates a diversity of scales of use, through cabaret, terraced landscape, and sloped lawn seating.
THE SURVEY LODGE
Set in the surrounding forest, the historic Survey Lodge provides interpretive seasonal programming, and nearby, a recreational rentals facility is concealed in the rise of the new Arrivals Wall.
THE TIDAL BASIN
Sinuous pedestrian and bicycle pathways connect the Tidal Basin and Tulip Library through two apertures beneath Independence Avenue’s eastbound and westbound lanes.
LOCATION / Washington, DC
TYPE / Multi-purpose visitor site, flexible outdoor space, theater and landscape
SIZE / 15 Acres
STATUS / Design Completed 2012
ROLE / Design Architect & Architect of Record