February 28, 2015
In 2012, the Smithsonian Institution commissioned visionary Danish planner BIG, the Bjarke Ingels Group, to re-envision its gardens and museums on the south side of the National Mall between the Freer Gallery and the Hirshhorn Museum. The Smithsonian and BIG rolled out their “South Mall Campus Master Plan” to the media in November 2014 and at a public meeting in mid-December 2014. The plan intends to create stronger connections between the museums, update and upgrade these structures and outdoor areas, and guide visitors smoothly around this area of the National Mall. As part of the required environmental and historic preservation public consultation process required of any construction on federal land, the Smithsonian has solicited public comment on the plans.
The National Mall Coalition submitted written comments to the Smithsonian in January 2015 raising two main concerns: how the plans fit within the historic legacy of visionary planning for the National Mall, a treasured American landscape of which the Smithsonian museums are a part, and the lack, so far, of any open and public dialogue of other design options besides the Smithsonian’s “preferred alternative.” The Haupt Garden, which would be destroyed in the current scheme, is a beautiful and quiet oasis much beloved by visitors to the Mall and should be protected.
View the full Coalition Comments here (PDF).
The official Smithsonian website for the South Mall planning and public consultation process is: http://southmallcampus.si.edu/index.html.