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Posted at 07:22 AM ET, 12/06/2011

Extreme makeover: The Washington Monument

Most weekends, especially when the weather is nice, I do an epic (for me) walk and run around the Mall. I particularly liked the Washington Monument. Before the earthquake, my favorite thing to do was use the marble pavement circling it as my own track. That’s why a story in The Post last month about a national competition to reimagine the iconic structure piqued my interest.  The openness of the entire space gives all an unobstructed view of the iconic structure. Still, the grounds are a bit barren and can be unforgiving when the weather is brutal. Casting the place in a whole new light would be amazing. But how?

Six finalists were selected in July and now the public is being asked to comment. You can see them and vote on them (until May 2012) at All are interesting. Two captured my imagination.

THE PEOPLE’S FORUM by Karolina Kawiaka

(By Red Square)
“The People’s Forum” would turn the side of the monument facing the Lincoln Memorial into an amphitheater and meeting space for 10,000 people. A veritable national town square. People could take in sweeping views of the White House to the north to the Jefferson Memorial to the south. Judging by the picture above and here, there’d be more trees to shield folks from the blazing sun in the summer and a visitors center. But, relatively speaking, the space wouldn’t be radically altered.

A GREAT INCLINED PLANE by Julian Hunt, Lucrecia Laudi, Monling Lee and Miguel Angel Maldonado

(By Hunt Laudi Studio)
“A Great Inclined Plane” would radically alter the grounds around the Washington Monument. But it would do so in a very intriguing way. The primary goal, according to Julian Hunt, is to “create a great viewing platform for important historic events,” such as inaugurations, and “to better integrate the monument with the city.” Looking at the picture you’d be forgiven for thinking “inclined plane” is as barren as what’s in place now. When you do a deep dive, you’ll discover a lot of interesting things going on that could make the monument and the Mall even more of a magnet.

Keep in mind, the National Ideas Competition for the Washington Monument is a mental exercise, one in which you can participate. Take a look at all six design concepts and cast a vote. “This competition will give Americans of all ages an opportunity to help shape a national discussion of creative and innovative ideas,” say the competition organizers. Considering how this town works, coming up with great ideas for what to do will be a piece of cake compared to actually turning them into reality.

By  |  07:22 AM ET, 12/06/2011

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