National Mall and Memorial Parks
Dear Ms. O'Dell:
The Commission of Fine Arts would like to express its appreciation to the National Park Service for the information presentation at its meeting of 19 February on the draft National Mall Plan. The Commission emphasized the National Mall's extraordinary civic symbolism, whose preservation and enhancement should be the foremost goal of the planning effort. The Commission also emphasized the need for a strong and wide-ranging vision to guide the planning process.
In their discussion, the Commission members acknowledged that the current condition of the National Mall suffers from heavy use and the need to accommodate disparate uses of civic expression, tourism, education, and recreation. They noted the paradox in managing this landscape and recommended against trying to design for the most unusual or extreme of conditions. The Commission members strongly supported improving amenities for visitors, such as universal accessibility and more convenient comfort stations; they also emphasized the importance of aesthetics in the design of architectural elements, which they said should take precedence within the symbolic context of the National Mall.
As the master planning process continues, the Commission looks forward to close collaboration with the National Park Service in addressing issues of managing the National Mall and aligning the master plan with the principles of the forthcoming National Capital Framework Plan. The Commission members recommended that the continued development of planning ideas for improvements within the study area, such as Union Square and the Washington Monument Grounds, be coordinated with planning for adjacent areas in order to achieve the goal of supporting the Mall's long-term use as a national civic landscape.
As always, the staff is available to assist you with the planning process and future submissions.
/s/Thomas E. Luebke, AIA
Margaret O'Dell, Regional Director
National Park Service, National Capital Region
1100 Ohio Drive, SW
Washington, DC 20242
cc: Peter May, National Park Service
Susan Spain, National Park Service