National Mall Winning Design Proposal for Constitution Gardens / Rogers Marvel Architects + PWP Landscape Architecture

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As we announced earlier, the Trust for the National Mall has selected the New York-based Rogers Marvel Architects and California based-PWP Landscape Architecture to re-envision Constitution Gardens in Washington DC. This team was one of three winning teams selected to redesign three neglected sites on the National Mall. The winning design for the Constitution Gardens proposes to bring renewed identity to this often overlooked part of the National Mall by building on the legacy of the original 1970s plan and creating a lush landscape of rolling hills, gardens and forests with a pavilion overlooking the lake.

Continue reading for more images, video and the architects’ press release.

Existing Site - Courtesy of Rogers Marvel Architects + PWP Landscape Architecture

“Our partner Pete Walker expressed our design intent very clearly to the jury: we are the team that likes Constitution Gardens,” said Robert M. Rogers FAIA, the partner who led the work for this national design competition at Rogers Marvel. “We really did. We liked the curves of the lake and its clear edge, the meandering paths and the promontory on the East end. We appreciated the clarity and optimism of this modernist plan. To us it was the perfect canvas for the integration of landscape and building to create a new experience in the grand flatness of the Mall yet respectful of the importance of this place. The only option we felt was to extend this legacy, building up the landscape experience and designing a pavilion that is of the Gardens.”

Courtesy of Rogers Marvel Architects + PWP Landscape Architecture

The pavilion is a simple splayed, cantilevered box sitting on a plaza 20 feet above the lake. A glass-walled restaurant on the north side will occupy half the building. Grand stairs on the other half will descend to the lake engaging visitors in a slow discovery of the landscape beyond, the island, the boat/ice rink basin, the hills. The proposed building envelope is a structural diagrid that allows the landscape to be seen from all sides and reflects light in a diaphanous glow at night.

Courtesy of Rogers Marvel Architects + PWP Landscape Architecture

As in the original SOM plan, the pavilion is sited on axis with the buildings that line the northern side of the Mall. It is slid forward to the west however to enable a path that leads to the World War II Memorial, creating a generous plaza in front of the building for gatherings of more than 1500 people.

Courtesy of Rogers Marvel Architects + PWP Landscape Architecture

The simplicity and rectilinear geometry of the pavilion stands in contrast with the soft curves of the lush landscape proposed. PWP Landscape Architecture, who redesigned the Gardens as co-leaders in this competition, proposed an ecological overhaul and a heightened experience of the landscape that is so much of the essence of Constitution Gardens. To create a sense of enclosure, of entering a special place, the edges of the park are framed with a low wall and hills 10 to 12 feet higher than the existing topography. The hills will be built of new, healthier soils on which new trees will be planted and old ones transplanted to create a forested border. Inside the Gardens, visitors will discover broad lawns for sunning and picnicking, seasonal flower gardens, an informal amphitheater and the existing island re-envisioned with magnolias and a new path to access the 56 Signers Memorial. While aquatic plants will line the lake’s edge, its stone border will remain the visible marker that makes this lake so memorable.

Ecology Section - Courtesy of Rogers Marvel Architects + PWP Landscape Architecture

The team also designed infrastructure in the lake that can transform an area into an ice skating rink in winter, a boat basin with a circular boardwalk in the summer and diminish to a think glistening ring when desired to return the lake to its pure, reflective beauty. Additional design features include moving the historic Lockkeepers House inside the Gardens. Sitting on the edge of one of Washington’s former canals, it will be restored to include exhibits about the National Mall’s water-based history. The Gardens will also get new paths, benches and lights along the lake, and a proposed connection to the Washington Monument grounds.

According to the Trust for the National Mall, groundbreaking will occur by 2014 with ribbon cutting in 2016.

Night Ice Skating - Courtesy of Rogers Marvel Architects + PWP Landscape Architecture

Architect: Rogers Marvel Architects
Landscape Architect: PWP Landscape Architecture
Client: Trust for the National Mall

Landscape Preservation: Heritage Landscapes LLC
Pond Restoration: Great Ecology
Open Space Management: Biederman Redevelopment
Sustainable Infrastructure: Buro Happold
Soil Engineering: Pine & Swallow Environmental
Acoustic Engineering: Jaffe Holden
Soil Management: F2 Environmental Design
Preservation Management: EHT Traceries
Arborist: Paul Cowie & Associates
Signage and Wayfinding: C&G Partners
Security: DVS Security
Cost Estimating: Faithful & Gould
Lighting: Fisher Marantz Stone
Environmental Engineering: Froehling & Robertson
Interpretive Media: Local Projects
Paving Engineering: Mark Smallridge Associates
Irrigation: Northern Designs
Traffic: Sam Schwartz Engineering
Civil Engineering: Weidlinger Associates
Environmental Engineering: Froehling & Robertson

Courtesy of Rogers Marvel Architects + PWP Landscape Architecture
Cite: Rosenfield, Karissa. "National Mall Winning Design Proposal for Constitution Gardens / Rogers Marvel Architects + PWP Landscape Architecture" 11 May 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed 24 May 2015. <>