Designers Selected for National Mall Revitalization

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The National Mall is a busy place these days. Work is wrapping up on a new Lincoln Reflecting Pool. The World War I Memorial was given a facelift and preliminary work is being conducted on the future National Museum of African-American History and Culture. But after years of neglect, the National Mall is one step closer to getting the up-keep it requires. According to The Post, Roger Marvel Architects + Peter Walker will design an upgraded Constitution Gardens. The team used the original design for inspiration. OLIN/Weiss/Manfredi will create a “bowl” like setting around the Sylvan Theatre near the Washington Monument. Gustafson Guthrie Nichol + Davis Brody Bond will re-design Union Square near the U.S. Capital.

Of the three projects, the designers for Union Square were the only team we endorsed. Their plan is elegant, yet modern. It adjusts the trajectory of the pool and wider area – uniting the landscape with the rest of the National Mall. Consider it a vertical “salute” to the Lincoln Reflecting Pool. During the solicitation and design process, the management of Union Square was transferred from the National Park Service to the Architect of the Capital. It will now be responsible for raising the funds to overhaul the site. The Trust for the National Mall, which spearheaded the design, will forward the proposed design to the federal agency.

Work is expected to start in 2014.

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Credit: Roger Marvel/Trust for the National Mall/GGN

Pick The Mall’s New Food Operator

Following on my earlier post regarding the search for a new food vendor on The Mall, I decided to create a poll and you let you pick a deserving candidate. The contract for Guest Services is ending this year, but will be extended briefly until a Request for Proposal is developed and released in early 2011. Remember. It’s full-and-open competition. So who would like to have access to over 30 million visitors a year?

National Latino Museum: Think Again

There is a tendency, common among some of us, to gleefully promote the idea of diversity. It’s true. Our journey has been the longest. And what better way to illustrate our country’s colorful history and diversity by erecting a museum to those who have shaped it’s past and future. The building for Native Americans stands while planning begins on a structure for African-Americans. Now, we turn to a museum for Latino’s. I’m all for it. But once again, we’re caught in the excitement of having a museum and are not too focused on the planning aspect. For one, I believe another museum on the National Mall is a bad idea. Why? The Mall is crowded, and there are plenty of downtown neighborhoods that could use revitalization with the aid of a major cultural project.  Imagine a museum mixed in with a piazza and retail/dining outlets. Federation Square in Melbourne, Australia is a prime example. The exhibition space could be smaller, but the experience is more intimate. A memorable experience felt in stark contrast to the one at the Native-American museum where the visitor count dropped before stabilizing. Land and building space may be cheaper and there would be less jumping through bureaucratic hoops to attain approval and funding. By following some of the recommendations, I believe the project directors/commission would be doing taxpayers a favor by saving a great deal of money. And that’s wise in an age where most are head over heels about the deficit.

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The Rundown…

Culture: It’s true. Washingtonians are obsessed with power, money, and education. According to a study released by the Brookings Institute, the Washington region ranks as the best-educated in the country. Now that explains why we have access to the all those foreign news channels such as Russia Today, France 24, NHK World, BBC World News, Al-Jazeera English…(Washington Post)

Dining: Wolfgang Puck’s The Source starts serving brunch on Saturdays. (Washington Business Journal)

Infrastructure: The Park Service releases its vision for the National Mall. L’Enfant’s plan for the mall was inspired by the gardens at Versailles. If that’s true, then why does the mall look like a dump compared to the estate of Louis XIV? (NY Times)

Travel: Starting November 6th, Turkish Airlines will offer nonstop service from Istanbul to Dulles aboard a Boeing 777-300ER. (Air Transport World)

Media: Christiane Amanpour will start her gig at ABC”s This Week on August 1st.  (ABC News)

More Media: Jon Sopel to anchor BBC World News America for the next two weeks. (@BBCJonSopel)

Retail: Forever 21 opened its G Street location in DC. That recession went by fast. (PQ Living)

More Retail: British retailer Next unveil their Autumn/Fall collection. (Next Direct)

Beyond Our Borders: Thierry Henry joins the New-York Red Bulls and will play his first game on July 22nd. (AP)

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