National Mall Design Winning Proposal / Gustafson Guthrie Nichol + Davis Brody Bond

© GGN / Methanoia

Gustafson Guthrie Nichol and Davis Brody Bond were recently announced as the winners of the National Mall competition for Union Square. As the country’s most visit park, attracting more than 25 million visitors annually, Union Square is the site of major historic events from presidential inaugurations to public gatherings and demonstrations. Located at the base of the Capitol, they were judged on the flexibility, sustainability, and creativity of their design and how well it reflects the established vision and design influences of this historic setting. More architects’ description after the break.

© GGN / Methanoia

The competition, organized by the Trust for the National Mall, was a three-stage process through which a jury of eight esteemed professionals selected a design team for each of the three re-design sites of the National Mall. “The National Mall is an extraordinary monumental landscape. Remarkable for its sheerscale, its powerful presence serves the country as both a public park and place of gathering and discourse. The goal of our design is to create a sustainable, durable and flexible plaza that is yet inviting and also active when it is not occupied for national events,” said Kathryn Gustafson, Director of GGN.

view from entry © GGN / Methanoia

The project team, led by Kathryn Gustafson and Rodrigo Abela of GGN, and Carl Krebs and Peter Cook of , sees the site as a setting for some of the nation’s most powerful shared memories. They created a design that would recognize Union Square both as a place of iconic reverence, as well as an active square of public life. The new design engages visitors with an impressive monumental scale, but it also provides comfortable places for a range of activities and voices.

view from native garden © GGN / Methanoia

“Union Square represents an opportunity to fulfill the Mall’s promise as a national place of assembly that is adaptable and easily maintained. For example, the design dramatically rethinks the use of water—operating with just 10% of the water of the current fountain—and creates a series of plazas which can handle the heavy traffic of special events, and in turn reduces the wear and tear on the National Mall’s lawns and gardens,” said Carl Krebs, Partner of Davis Brody Bond.

Architects: Gustafson Guthrie Nichol (Lead Landscape Architects) + Davis Brody Bond (Lead Architects)
Location: Union Square, Washington D.C., United States
Civil Engineers: Magnusson Klemencic Associates
Historical Resources Management: Robinson & Associates
Pedestrian Movement Consultants: Space Syntax
Lighting Designers: Tillotson Design Associates
Fountain Consultants: CMS Collaborative
MEP and Sustainability: WSP Flack + Kurtz
Structural Engineers: Robert Silman Associates
Geotechnical Engineers: Mueser Rutledge Consulting Engineers
Environmental Graphics: Poulin + Morris
Traffic Consultants: Gorove/Slade Associates
Cost Estimators: Faithful+Gould


Cite: Furuto, Alison. "National Mall Design Winning Proposal / Gustafson Guthrie Nichol + Davis Brody Bond" 13 Aug 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed 28 May 2015. <>