Washington, DC (2001)
The MVVA competition proposal for the Washington Monument grounds was drawn from an interpretation of the monument’s natural history as an estuarial landscape, the history of the monument grounds, and the relationship of these to the Washington Mall, one of the nation’s great designed landscapes.
In the proposal, a series of serpentine ponds, one of the oldest methods of defensive fortification, act as moats to protect Monument Hill while allowing full pedestrian access to the site. This water-barrier system, which creates no visual obstruction, is complemented by fixed bollards at interruptions in the ponds and at secured bridges. The ponds and surrounding groves of high-branched deciduous trees are situated to redescribe the sensuous, undulating form of the monument site. Bolstering the natural qualities of the land strengthens the complementary role the monument plays in the family of landscapes that make up the National Capital Park: the site contrasts well with the formality of the Mall and the Reflecting Pool and merges with the curvilinear geometries of the Tidal Basin.
The proposed design permits the Washington Monument site to present itself as a totality. It provides a visual frame of reference, allowing visitors to appreciate the monument and its context while offering up an evocative interpretation of the cultural and natural history of the site. At this symbol of democracy, which is also a place of great simplicity, the overall effect of the proposal is to make a landscape that effectively complements the grandeur and solemn beauty of the monument.