Designers consider reimagining The Mall in DC

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With a glut of memorials, monuments and museums waiting to be built, and other champions for other causes in the wings, the question of whether the Mall should be considered "a finished piece of civic art" gained new momentum this week during a meeting at the Corcoran Gallery of Art.

Rick Harlan Schneider is one of a growing number of planners whose solution is rethinking the Mall itself, reconfiguring and expanding the space, the way a Senate commission did about 100 years ago when the Lincoln Memorial was built on swampland that became the western axis of one of the nation's premier public spaces.

"Ultimately, the Mall is not a collection of museums and memorials. That's not what the Mall was intended to be. It's a living, lively place, and it can keep changing," said Judy Scott Feldman, chairman of the National Coalition to Save Our Mall, the group that has spent the past two years championing another move as bold as the one involving the Lincoln Memorial.

Feldman's plan to expand the Mall to include East Potomac Park is an attempt to solve the problem of memorial clutter by creating more space that would be considered prime Mall real estate. It would be big enough to include more of the strolling, biking and ballgames that get crowded out by museums while making room for more monuments.

Her group hosted the forum this week that featured the ideas of six architects. They created plans for marinas, water taxis, shopping, restaurants, museums and fantastical bridges. One design would move the Supreme Court to East Potomac Park, creating a triangle, with the Capitol and the White House, to represent the judicial, legislative and executive branches of government.

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