Freedom Plaza

Originally known as Western Plaza, the design for Freedom Plaza was the result of a design competition hosted by the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation. Initially selected to design adjacent Pershing Park, architect Robert Venturi of Venturi, Rausch and Scott Brown and landscape architect George Patton swapped spaces with landscape architect M. Paul Friedberg to design the space.

The design for the modernist plaza, completed in 1980, was only partially realized. The original design scheme proposed large maquettes of the White House and Capitol buildings, two tall sculptural pylons, which would frame the Treasury Building linking the plaza to the city, and a multipart sculpture by Richard Serra. Set on a raised terrace platform, steps lead up to the plaza from the surrounding sidewalk. A large map of Pierre L’Enfant’s 1791 plan for the Federal City delineated in black granite and white marble is set into the pavement, while grass panels represent the Mall and the Ellipse, and bronze markers denote the Capitol and White House. Historic quotations are incised on the plaza floor and terrace walls. With ample seating at its opposite sides, the plaza contains a raised reflecting pool with an animated circular fountain, edged by a granite seat wall at its western end, and an equestrian statue of Casimir Pulaski in a semi-circular node to the east.

In 1988 the plaza was renamed Freedom Plaza, in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. This project along with Welcome Park and Franklin Court, in Philadelphia, are unique interpretive designs by Venturi and Scott Brown for reclaiming urban spaces and transforming them into urban plazas.


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