The Washington Monument Grounds

The Washington Monument is arguably the most prominent feature of the Washington, DC skyline.  In 1833, John Marshall, James Madison and others created the Washington National Monument Society in honor of the 100th anniversary of George Washington’s birthday. The Society advertised for competitive architectural designs beginning in 1836.  Robert Mills’ design was chosen and on July 4, 1848, the cornerstone was laid.

Click here to read full history.

Competition Goals
The Washington Monument, one of the five Presidential Memorials on the National Mall, will continue to be an historic character-defining feature of the nation’s capital.  The recently renovated and award-winning landscape design of the grounds will continue to see high volumes of use, including large demonstrations, celebrations and special events.  To support these activities, mixed-use infrastructure is required to make the grounds more sustainable while maintaining and enhancing the stunning views of the monument.  Located generally south of the monument, the infrastructure will include structures, buildings and landscapes that will replace the current Sylvan Theater, restrooms and other facilities while providing for adaptive reuse of some historic buildings.  Expectations for the Washington Monument Grounds include, but are not limited to, the following:

1. Create an attractive, welcoming, multi-purpose visitor site that will accommodate food service, performances and programming.
• Create an environment that is welcoming all times of the year from early morning to evening.
• Moderate the effects of the hot, humid summer climate and mitigate the impact of traffic noise on the site.

2. Provide flexible outdoor space (replacing the Sylvan Theater) to be used for a variety of performances from large concert venues to smaller educational programs.  Better orient hillside lawn seating to performance area. Accommodate performances of up to 1,000 people with improved sight lines for performance and include support space for temporary facilities such as stages, toilets and tents. 

3. Demonstrate sensitivity to both the historic and contemporary context of the Washington Monument grounds.
• Highlight relationship and views to the monument.
• Facilities should be architecturally sensitive.
• Adapt design concepts, circulation and landscaping for the Washington Monument.
• Consider the context of the historic Survey Lodge and Monument Lodge to provide visitor and recreation services.

4. Address convenient on-site pedestrian circulation and linkages between the Mall, the Smithsonian Metro stop, the Tidal Basin and the Memorials.
• Accommodate general pedestrian circulation in a manner that does not disrupt performances and other permitted uses.

5. Incorporate multi-purpose facilities and infrastructure within the site area to address the following functional needs:
• Café style food service, including related storage and preparation space.
• Indoor and outdoor seating including tables, chairs, umbrellas.
• Retail facilities, bookstore and related storage.
• Restrooms sized for tour bus drop-off, family restroom facilities, convenient to tour buses and visitor uses.
• Visitor information and education.
• Office space for Park Service Staff.
• Delivery and maintenance access including recycling and trash management.
• Parking for people with disabilities, bicycles, and strollers.
• Parking for electric vehicles, passenger vans, park police vehicles, and appropriate pull-outs for operational needs.