Getting the Public Involved

WAMO cross axis Highsmith w red
One challenge for contestants was to find a way to mark the Mall’s symbolic cross axis — the original intended location for the Washington Monument where a line west from the Capitol intersects a line south from the White House — where Mall visitors can experience the full power of the Mall’s symbolic design, but which today is mostly unknown and ignored. Photo courtesy Carol Highsmith

Washington Monument Ideas Competition

The National Mall Coalition originated the idea for an open public competition for the Washington Monument grounds in our 2009 “Renewing American Democracy on the 3rd Century Mall” report. The National Ideas Competition for the Washington Monument Grounds took place, in a three-step process, from 2010 to 2012. Our purpose was to encourage the American public — ages 12 and up —  to learn about Mall history and propose creative ideas for re-imagining the unfinished 65-acre open space around the great obelisk.

Given the challenge to make this vast expanse truly the centerpiece of the Mall it was intended to be while also advancing the Mall’s historic planning legacy, one of six winners Stephen Lederach envisioned a lush landscape of shade trees and water elements.  Learn more about the Ideas Competition here.

WAMO Competition finalist: "Arcs of Shade" by Stephen Lederach, of Princeton, NJ
“Arcs of Shade” by Stephen Lederach, of Princeton, NJ

To learn in greater depth about the sponsors, juries, and open competition process, and to view all the submissions and winners, please visit the Ideas Competition website at