Design + Research: National Mall as a system

In Uncategorized on December 18, 2010 by mradw

Design + Research: National Mall

This project is cooperated with Hu Di

A system of everyday street life + A system within the urban forest of Washington DC

Is National Mall part of the DC complex system or a segment?


The most part I gain from the course is the idea of system, and how to look at an individual house, or an individual landscape as part of a larger system. For the LAR8010 Studio, I am trying to integrate the “cut-off” National Mall back to the system of Washington DC.


The current NPS Plan looks at the Mall as a unit part of Washington DC, and aims to preserve it as an individual element.

[NPS Plan for National Mall (Preferred alternative)]


However, compared to a proposal by the National Capital Planning Commission, the Mall is a part of the urban forest, a system of the whole Washington DC.

[Special Streets – Park System Plan The REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT GUIDE 1966-2000 By the National Capital Planning Commission]


So the Challenge is, how to design Washington Mall as a system, to reconnect it back to the city and use it not only as a destination for tourists but can be used as a part of everyday life for the residence of DC.


One issue is, whenever we look at National Mall, our attention are so abstracted by the East-west axis, from Capitol Hill to the Washington Memorial, then to the Lincoln Memorial, the North-South axis, from White house to Washington Memorial, then to the Jefferson Memorial. However, the North-South Axis is so dominated by the current White house-Washington Memorial-Jefferson Memorial one, within the Mall, North-South connections are weak, comparing to the East-West predominated axis.


Learning from Historic MCM Plan, the North-Shout axis was given the equal emphasis to the East-West axis, and learning from the Downing Plan, outdoor rooms were created, a meandering path connection those rooms then integrated them to be a system of urban forest, these features are lost in the current mall, with two homogeneous Elm Bosque, and an empty large area of Lawn.


So how can we copy the North-South Axis from MCM plan, and reinvent them into the mall, creating a series of thresholds, that leading people to the mall, and break the invisible boundaries between the Mall and the everyday street life.


Small landscape additions were inserted. By creating a roof structure that virtually connection the canopy that was covers the gap between two elm boxes, and act as a welcoming gesture.


A underground highway is located in this site, so no woody plants are allowed, however, a constructed roof structure could be inserted. The roof structure is trying to form a feeling of connection, from the roof of Metro Entrance to the Elm box, from the Bus station, to the Elm box.


Hence, a line of curvilinear benches are also inserted, connecting the predestine circulation as a whole.

Hence, smaller scale water features could be inserted, to connect the Union Square water basin, and brings water to the mall.


Integrated with the bench line, lighting device could be hided inside.


To wrap up, a design that integrated all elements that NPS plan proposed and assemble them together into a system, finally adapt it into the whole system of urban life.

[elements proposed by NPS]

[Integrated features as a system]





Special Streets – Park System Plan The REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT GUIDE 1966-2000 By the National Capital Planning Commission

Final National Mall Plan/Environmental Impact Statement document by National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior

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