A design idea by a team of University of New Mexico School of Architecture and Planning graduate landscape architecture students, Dominique Dupont, Jessica Dunn and Kristina Guist, is among 24 entrants selected for the National Ideas Competition for the Washington Monument Grounds. More than 500 participants from across the U.S. and around the world submitted ideas.

The jury of seven included distinguished designers, historians, a Washington cultural leader and a futurist. Many winning entries offered subtle, minimal interventions using shadows, low plantings, and contemplative messages, while others proposed major projects calling for cuts into the landscape to create a more welcoming and educational environment for visitors.

In stage two, semi-finalists will be asked to develop the ideas more fully into potential demonstration projects. The jury expects that at the next stage the ideas will show a clearer understanding of the history of this landscape and public use of this space, as well as the ecological problems such as flooding that pose real challenges to this part of the Mall.

Summing up the winning entries, the jurors described what appealed to them about each idea that will be further developed by the semi-finalists in stage two of the competition. For example, they wanted to hear more about the idea for using people's footsteps to animate new water features - making democratic action visible. Would a footbridge across the Tidal Basin to the Jefferson Memorial successfully connect that remote area to the Monument grounds? How would the pathways cut into the Monument landscape to create 64 different views actually work on the hilly site? How would the underground spaces affect the simple landscape above? Could history timelines be incorporated into the landscape without being too literal and didactic? How would some of the landscape designs address the serious problem of flooding?

The Washington Monument grounds have a long history of designs that were never implemented or completed. Yet these influenced the evolution of the Monument grounds as well as how people interpret that space. The steering committee for the Washington Monument ideas competition hopes that the winning designs, whether eventually built or not, will continue the rich legacy of how Americans are inspired by this revered public space in the heart of the National Mall.

To view images of the semi-finalist entries, or for more information about the jury and competition visit www.wamocompetition.org.

Media contact: Carolyn Gonzales, 277-5920; e-mail: cgonzal@unm.edu