Looking Out for the Mall

Monday, December 19, 2005

The Mall is a cherished part of our nation's heritage that attracts millions of visitors annually from across the country and around the world. In the 20th century, we dedicated an average of one memorial per year in the capital. If past trends continue, it is likely that 50 more memorials will exist by the middle of this century, threatening the historic landscapes and features that make the Mall special for residents and visitors alike.

To preserve and enhance what is cherished about the Mall, the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts (CFA), the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) and the National Capital Memorial Advisory Commission released the Memorials and Museums Master Plan in 2001. The plan identifies 100 potential sites for commemorative works throughout the capital. In the four years since its adoption, the plan has been used to locate four memorials now in development.

While we are pleased with the plan, we welcome all ideas aimed at meeting the desire for new commemorative works while preserving the Mall's open space. It is unfortunate that the Dec. 10 editorial "Rethinking the Mall" led readers to think otherwise.

NCPC Chairman John V. Cogbill III did not provide the "one seemingly discordant note of the evening at a recent event hosted by the National Coalition to Save Our Mall," as claimed in the editorial. Mr. Cogbill was not even present at the meeting.

The agencies charged with protecting Washington's open space share the same concern as the National Coalition to Save Our Mall: None want the Mall overbuilt, and all are concerned about the potential degradation of this premier civic space. Congress shares this sentiment and enact-

ed legislation in 2003 designating the Mall as a completed work of civic art.

We support locating memorials throughout the capital city and agree that the increasing demands placed on our Mall must be addressed.



U.S. Commission of Fine Arts



National Capital Planning Commission


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