When we last checked in with the competition to redesign “America’s front yard,” all the architectural heavy-hitters who submitted proposals to the Trust for the National Mall were waiting to hear who won the bid. Well, the results are in, and Weiss/Manfredi and OLIN‘s plan to restore the green grounds surrounding the Washington Monument is all systems go.
Gone will be the existing wooden stage. In its place, a gently terraced lawn, where the grade of the land itself forms the grass-covered amphitheater–no doubt the future home of Shakespeare in the Park performances, Fourth of July celebrations, and countless tourist photo ops in the shadow of the ever-erect ode to our first president. Beneath the highest stretch of slope running along Independence Avenue, a glass-clad Ranger Station and exhibition center will welcome tour groups by the busload, providing a bright and airy introduction to the area. In addition, a freestanding Sylvan Pavilion will house a cafe and bookstore and from there, a pedestrian bridge will give foot-traffic direct access to the Tidal Basin. Add in a canopy of trees, and it sure looks like the Sylvan Theater will once again live up to its idyllic name.