WEISS/MANFREDI + OLIN
Constitution Garden is an oasis in the city, a sleeping beauty between the urban edge of Washington DC and the monumental landscape of the National Mall. The renewed Constitution Gardens creates a "museum without walls," a model for integrating social activity and green infrastructure into our national cultural landscape.
While the formal grace of the pool and pathways are evident, the gardens remain a static icon unable to sustain the health of the water at its center or draw visitors to its banks. Like many bodies of water in monumental Washington, the pond is symbolic yet lifeless.
The rejuvenation of Constitution Gardens begins with the center – where the pond is transformed to offer more than reflection, but also reveal new insights. Our design reframes the original vision for the pond and paths by introducing a new ecological infrastructure. It brings the health of the water and surrounding landscape into balance and introduces a new collection of indoor and outdoor ecologically vibrant destinations. Together, they transform the garden from the picturesque to the performative.
The design focuses the architectural destinations to the north, extending the city into the garden. A network of pond walks relink the Memorial to the 56 Signers of the Declaration of Independence to the visitor experience and settings for dining, cultural events, art, performance, recreation, and inspiration. New intimate settings including a café, visitor services and boat rentals, a restaurant, and a natural amphitheater are strategically positioned to capture views to the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial. At the western edge of this collection of pavilions, a new Living Laboratory extends the Smithsonian axis of museums into an indoor/outdoor world of discovery. This new educational landscape extends the rich programsof art, science, technology, and history that line the Mall into Constitution Gardens to create a new outdoor laboratory for urban ecology.
These pavilions frame urban gateways to the north side of the site, while the south side offers the surprise of pathways that stray from the water's edge and wander into new wetlands or ascend into the tree canopy. Composed of linked forms that appear and disappear, terrace down to the water, and change shape as the visitor moves around them, the new buildings and network of paths create a cinematic sequence of views into and through the gardens.
Constitution Gardens will become a dynamic and sustainable urban park, an outdoor museum with extended hours and seasons. New experiences playfully unfold on the water's edge, capturing southern breezes in the summer and framing a year-round view of the Washington Monument. The design of the pavilions and outdoor settings bring into focus the reciprocity of landscape, public life, and ecology. Living Waters will be a prototype for the regenerative vision for the National Mall, presenting a new type of urban National Park in the heart of our nation's capital.
WEISS/MANFREDI + OLIN Constitution Garden is an oasis in the city, a sleeping beauty between the urban edge of Washington DC and the monumental landscape of the National Mall. The renewed Constitution Gardens creates a "museum without walls," a model for integrating social activity and
Constitution Gardens: Living Waters, A Museum Without Walls