Mall competition moves forward

Twenty-four people moved on to the second round of the National Ideas Competition for the Washington Monument Grounds, a design competition sponsored in part by GW.

A steering panel including GW faculty organized the event and a jury of nine experts chose the semifinalists after reviewing more than 500 applications.

The competition – which began last September – encouraged applicants to come up with innovative and creative ways to develop the grounds of the Washington Monument.

While there’s no guarantee any of the design plans will be implemented on the National Mall, the work of finalists will be featured online.

“We have asked the semifinalists to further develop and refine their ideas taking into consideration the jury comments on their submissions, and to put it in the context of their understanding of how the National Mall will develop in the future,” said Adele Ashkar, a member of the competition’s steering committee and associate professor in GW’s Landscape Design Program.

Design plan ideas include adding a series of modern play structures to the area around the monument, a grounds area focused on George Washington’s life and ventures, and a lights display around the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool.

Another design proposes the construction of a museum underneath the Washington Monument with a glass roof looking up toward the obelisk.

Dr. Lisa Benton-Short, a member of the steering committee and associate professor in GW’s Department of Geography said she “thought it a logical connection that GW faculty… would want to participate in such an ideas competition.”

Two other GW professors, Kenneth Bowling and Richard Longstreth, are also part of the steering committee.

“This competition gives us the opportunity to begin a wider discussion about how to engage the public better in participating in long-term plans for the National Mall, which is one of the most important national public spaces in the U.S.,” Benton-Short said.

The semifinalists include a diverse group of people, including one who is under the age of 18 and several who are citizens from other countries, Ellen Goldstein, the executive director of the competition, said.

Refined proposals from semifinalists are due June 2, after which time the jury will decide on five finalists for the competition. Finalists will be given the summer to receive professional support on completing their proposals, Goldstein said.

The finalists will present their submissions to the jury most likely in September. Finally, the public will review the submissions online and vote for the People’s Choice to award three Honor Awards and two Honorable Mentions to the finalists.

None of the finalists’ ideas will be selected for actual construction due to the fact that the competition is not endorsed by or connected with the U.S. government in any way, Goldstein said.

“I remain hopeful that many years from now this kind of creative process may very will lead to the construction of one of the ideas,” she said.

The semifinalists win $100 and an additional stipend of an undisclosed amount if they choose to continue on to the next stage of the competition.

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