((by Hunt Laudi Studio))

One Sunday we walked to the Mall. Arriving at the intersection of 14th Street and Constitution Avenue, we noticed how 14th and 15th streets cut the Mall off from the monument. An idea came to us: Why not extend the Mall over the two streets so people could walk to the monument without having to cross traffic?

This competition raises some of the most difficult questions about public space in American society. Working on the sketches, we recalled being part of the enormous crowds that gathered under the monument for President Obama’s inauguration. We realized that our proposal would not only create a great viewing platform for important historic events but had emerged from deeply embedded cultural practices related to city founding.

In subsequent rounds, we worked hard to open up the obstructed approaches from all sides. We sought to better integrate the monument with the city (especially the underused waterfront at the Tidal Basin) and to create new views both toward and away from the monument. Such spaces can serve both the witness and the participant in the making of our history.

Click here to learn more about this proposal. To vote, visit www.wamocompetition.org.

Links to the other finalists:

— “Arcs of Shade” by Stephen Lederach.

— “You and Me” by Jinwoo Lim.

— “Field of Stars” by Catherine Peek.

— “The People’s Forum” by Karolina Kawiaka.

— “Monument of Unity” by Jacques Prins, Kevin Battarbee and Egidijus Kasakaitis.