Ben Forgey's article "Washington's Monumental Excess" {Style, June 16} maintained that the National Peace Garden, along with the FDR Memorial and the Korean War Veterans Memorial, poses a threat to the unique openness of Washington and its monumental core. I share Forgey's alarm about the threat to the spaciousness of the Mall, but I disagree with his contention that the Peace Garden is part of that threat.

The tip of Hain's Point is more than two miles from the central axis of the monumental core and is invisible from anywhere on the Mall except for from the top of the Washington Monument (and from that vantage point, it will be a spectacular improvement over the present view). From the point itself, the Mall's monuments and buildings are again invisible, except for the top of the Washington Monument.

Contrary to Forgey's implications, the Peace Garden design by Eduardo Catalano will preserve the sweep to sky and sense of space of the point -- not destroy it. The essence of the design is its earth-hugging flatness. The olive branch leaves will be only a foot above the grassy areas, and the only new trees will be at the water's edge, generously spaced and trimmed to ensure an open view of the rivers. Actually, from the raised promenade, the water will be even more prominent and enjoyable than it is now. In addition to keeping the existing views, the design retains the existing picnic ground, playground and perimeter path for strolling, jogging, biking or fishing.

True, the design is formal. But it is deliberately so, because the National Peace Garden is first a monumental symbol and second a garden.

The serenity of the design (which Forgey termed "static") is also a deliberate choice made to encourage visitors to pause and reflect on the potential of world peace. The garden will not be a kaleidoscope of colors and motion, but its subtle, living surface will be far from the cold immobility of granite and marble.

I applaud Forgey's concern about keeping the openness of Washington's monumental core, but I assert that the National Peace Garden will respect and maintain this special quality and feeling. It will bring to Hain's Point a meaning and a dignity it has long deserved.

-- Thomas R. Chittenden The writer directs the D.C. office of the National Peace Garden.