Scholars, architects explore how to develop the National Mall -- or not

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WASHINGTON -- Increasing pressure to find land for museums and memorials on Washington's cramped National Mall could spur new ideas about how to develop the nation's capital of the future.

Each new addition approved for Washington's monumental core in recent years —- from the World War II Memorial in 2000 to the future Smithsonian black history museum and a visitor's center planned for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial —- has drawn heated debate. The next challenge might be finding a site for a proposed National Museum of the American Latino.

"We're turning it into a memorial garden," said Judy Scott Feldman, chairwoman of the National Coalition to Save Our Mall. "The modern pressures for memorialization are slowly killing the mall's intended character as a great public, open space."

In 2003, Congress declared the mall a "completed work of civic art," but has since granted exceptions to its moratorium on new construction.

A symposium Wednesday at the National Building Museum will explore ways to rethink monuments to history and where they should go.

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