Updates from ASLA

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Ban on Permanent Fencing at the U.S. Capitol

The Capitol Police erected fencing around the U.S. Capitol after the January 6 insurrection while also proposing the erection of permanent fencing and walling around the entire Capitol Complex. In a letter to Congressional leadership, ASLA opposed this proposal and any other measure that would create a fortress-like environment and cut Americans off from the seat of their representative government. ASLA also mentioned how temporary measures can sometimes become permanent through inaction. The “temporary fencing” around the U.S. Capitol finally came down in early July, nearly 6 months after it was erected.

ASLA worked with Congressional staff on proposals to offer alternatives to fencing, specifically using the expertise of landscape architects in site security design. On June 1, Representative Eleanor Homes Norton (DC) hosted a roundtable on alternatives to permanent fencing. One of the panelists was landscape architect Faye Harwell, FASLA, who used her expertise to highlight ways the Capitol Complex could be redesigned to offer better security while also keeping it open and accessible. Working with champions in Congress like Rep. Norton, ASLA was able to secure language in a security spending bill that became law in late July. This law bans the use of funding to permanently erect any fencing or barrier around the U.S. Capitol Building or the Capitol Complex as a whole.

On Wednesday, September 15, large perimeter fencing began to go back up around the U.S. Capitol Complex. The Capitol Police were erecting this fencing in preparation for a weekend rally in support of the insurrectionists who stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6th.

Thanks to this new law, the fencing started coming down immediately after the rally and was completely removed by that Sunday night. ASLA will continue to work with Congress to ensure that landscape architecture techniques will be considered and used when security upgrades are before Congress.

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