WASHINGTON, D.C. - Marcia Frenz-Argust, Director of Public Affairs for the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), testified today at the public comment session of the Joint Task Force on Memorials on the recently completed
Draft Memorials and Museums Master Plan for the National Mall in Washington, D.C
. The plan was developed by architecture and planning firm Leo A. Daly for the National Capitol Planning Commission (NCPC) and will change the way future memorials and museums are developed and located in the Nation's Capital. The master plan is the result of a two-year collaborative effort to preserve the historic open space of Washington's Monumental Core while identifying sites for new cultural and commemorative facilities.
"ASLA strongly endorses the Master Plan and applauds the Task Force for taking this first step to preserve the open space and the integrity of our National Mall," Argust said. "The Mall remains the country's grandest dais, where standing on its great expanse gives you a vantage point, a megaphone, and a sense of national belonging."
Argust praised the plan for responding to the saturated state of the National Mall. "The commission is correct in its assertion that the National Mall has reached its capacity and cannot handle any more commemorative works in the area," she said. While the Master Plan recommends restricting the Monument Core of the Mall from further construction of monuments or museums, it acknowledges the importance and national need to commemorate significant events and individuals and recommends utilizing all four quadrants of the capital city for future memorials.
In addition to offering ASLA's support for the draft plan, Argust pointed out some concerns the master plan raised. Accessibility to future memorial sites would be aided by designating primary streets as "Monumental Corridors." Without significant planning and investment, these approaches to the new memorial and buildings would be inhibited. Other issues include ensuring all memorial design and construction harmonizes with the landscape and the environment, regardless of its placement; the importance of keeping the public informed of the planning and approval process surrounding the creation of new monuments or museums; and better defining the term "works of preeminent historic and national significance" as used in the contest of monuments.
"Monuments in public open spaces should be designed for public education, healing and aesthetic appreciation," Argust said. "The value of public open spaces loses character if they become over occupied with buildings and monuments. Careful implementation of the Master Plan will help to ensure that our public open spaces in the nation's capital are enhanced, not degraded, by appropriately sited and designed monuments and museums."
Full text of ASLA comments is available at www.asla.org. Details on the NCPC's Draft Monuments and Museums Master Plan can be found at