National Mall's $700M Plan: Skating, Theater, Gardens

'Overused' lawn set for major renovations
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted May 4, 2012 8:06 AM CDT
National Mall's $700M Plan: Skating, Theater, Gardens
A proposed design for the National Washington Monument grounds at Sylvan Theater.   (AP Photo/Diller Scofidio Renfro & Hood Design)

The National Mall is getting a serious facelift: Soon, we'll be going skating, watching outdoor theater, and exploring vibrant gardens in America's so-called "front yard." The $700 million project will mark a big change from the "overused" grass currently between the Lincoln Memorial and Capitol Building, says an architect. In an effort championed by Laura Bush, the Trust for the National Mall has picked three winning designs for different areas of the park. The first portion of the renovations is set to be finished by 2016.

A reflecting pool that functions alternately as a fountain and solid surface will adorn Union Square, alongside gardens reaching to the US Botanical Garden, USA Today reports. Near the Lincoln Memorial, Constitution Gardens will receive an eco-friendly overhaul, in an effort to boost the Mall's "social life." The nearby pond will accommodate toy boats in summer and skaters in winter. Finally, the outdoor Sylvan Theater will get an upgrade. Surrounded by trees, it will be "magical setting for performance," says an architect. (More National Mall stories.)

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