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Questions & Answers « National Ideas Competition for the Washington Monument Grounds
Questions & Answers

RECENT QUESTIONS: click here to be directed to questions posted October 5, 2010

MASTER QUESTION INDEX: click on question and you will be directed to the answer below
Please read carefully all Competition information contained on this site before forwarding a question to us. We will make every attempt to answer those questions that touch on points and issues not already dealt with here. Thank you.

SECTION ONE: GENERAL BACKGROUND

  1.1   What is an Ideas Competition?
  1.2   Wasn’t a plan for the Washington Monument grounds recently implemented?
  1.3   Why invite the public to get involved in a National Ideas Competition for the Washington Monument grounds? Isn’t there a federal agency with plans underway for the Washington Monument and the National Mall?

SECTION TWO: COMPETITION PROCESS AND PROCEDURES

  2.1   Who is on the jury and how/why were they selected?
  2.2   How will the jury make its decisions?
  2.3   What is the reason for the symposium and webinar?
  2.4   Can I withdraw after submitting a winning entry for stage one?

SECTION THREE: TECHNICAL AND LOGISITIC ISSUES

  3.1   How can younger students fairly compete against older students and professionals?
  3.2   May I use just words to submit an entry for stage one?
  3.3   How imaginative can I be? Do I have to follow historic plans? Can changes be proposed to the existing Monument and grounds?
  3.4   Must ideas commemorate or otherwise relate to George Washington?
  3.5   Is potential construction cost a factor?
  3.6   What information must a demonstration project include? Can you provide examples?
  3.7   What role will the public play in voting?

RECENT QUESTIONS

  R.1   Is there an existing plan available with measurements to give parameters? Is there an elevation or topographical map available?
  R.2   Can a person be on more than one team submittal? For example, can a group of students working together submit multiple schemes as long as there are separate team leaders? Similarly, can individuals send in more than one submittal and have it accepted?
  R.3   I’d like to clarify how many middle and high school students I can get involved in one project.
  R.4   I would like to talk to someone about my ideas and submit them.
  R.5   I think the monument and grounds around it should stay exactly like it is. It’s beautiful to see the monument standing alone with the flags encircling it. Why crowd it and take away from it? Leave it be.
  R.6   Why are you charging money for a project to improve public space?

 


SECTION ONE: GENERAL BACKGROUND

1.1 What is an Ideas Competition?

An ideas competition is different from a design competition. Many ideas have been proposed for the Washington Monument and its grounds over two centuries but none was ever fully implemented. At present, there is no consensus as to what role the Monument grounds should play in the life of the 21st century capital.

The goal of the ideas competition is to encourage people of all ages to explore possibilities for the future of the Monument grounds. Such ideas could involve history, landscape, art, play, inspiration, or any other topic that would help to make the experience of this part of the National Mall more memorable.

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1.2 Wasn’t a plan for the Washington Monument grounds recently implemented?

In the aftermath of September 11, 2001, the National Park Service selected the Olin Partnership to develop plans for security improvements to the Monument that included new security barrier walls to surround the Washington Monument’s base, a new security screening facility and tunnel entrance into the Monument, and enhanced landscaping. The new oval-shaped security walls and accessible walkways were completed in 2004. However, opposition by the public and Congress to the new security screening facility and tunnel entrance led NPS to abandon those elements. Instead, visitors are screened in a temporary screening structure attached to the Monument’s entrance. The proposed tree plantings have been only partially implemented. The Olin work at the Washington Monument grounds has great merit and a place in history, but this Washington Monument Grounds ideas competition will go beyond that project to the larger question of potential future use of the grounds.

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1.3 Why invite the public to get involved in a National Ideas Competition for the Washington Monument grounds? Isn’t there a federal agency with plans underway for the Washington Monument and the National Mall?

Currently, there is no comprehensive master plan for the Washington Monument grounds, so the Steering Committee saw this is an opportunity for the American people to offer creative ideas for thinking about the future.

No government entity is planning for the Monument grounds as a whole. While the National Park Service has primary jurisdiction over the Monument grounds, two other entities also have plans for this area. The Army Corps of Engineers is completing designs for a flood levee at 17th Street and Constitution Avenue. The Smithsonian Institution’s new National Museum of African American History and Culture will be located on Constitution Avenue between 14th and 15th Street. The Park Service’s new National Mall Plan proposes limited improvements, including redevelopment of the Sylvan Theater at 15th Street and Constitution Avenue with new performance space, ranger station, and visitor center. Learn more about the National Mall Plan at http://www.nps.gov/nationalmallplan/.

Citizen input has a long history in Washington DC going back to the original design for the City in 1791 by Peter L’Enfant. Concepts for the Monument grounds have included Benjamin Latrobe’s 1816 proposal for a national university on this part of the Mall, Andrew Jackson Downing’s 1850 naturalistic landscape, a proposal to turn the grounds into exposition space for the 1892 World’s Fair, the independent McMillan Commission’s 1902 vision for a grand formal landscape of trees, fountains, and pools at the heart of the Mall’s cross-axis, and architect Leon Krier’s 1985 vision to expand the Tidal Basin over the Monument grounds. (These plans and other historical information, views, and documents can be found at RESOURCES on the website.) What this Competition intends is for entrants to submit new ideas they believe are more suited to modern needs and public use.

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SECTION TWO: COMPETITION PROCESS AND PROCEDURES

2.1 Who is on the jury and how/why were they selected?

The jury is composed of respected Americans who are leaders and creative thinkers in the fields of history, design, civics education, art, and science. Jurors represent a broad array of disciplines and approaches in order to be able to evaluate what is expected to be a wide variety of ideas from people of all ages and backgrounds.

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2.2 How will the jury make its decisions?

Much will depend on the kinds of submissions received. Jurors will be looking for creative thinking about the role of the Washington Monument grounds in the modern life of the City and nation as well as an understanding of the historic legacy.

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2.3 What is the reason for the symposium and webinar?

The symposium and webinar will inform the public and potential Competition entrants about the history of the Washington Monument grounds, modern issues regarding planning and public use, and to allow the public to ask questions and engage in a dialogue with knowledgeable historians, designers, and Mall experts. These sessions will be posted on the website to make them available to the widest possible audience.

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2.4 Can I withdraw after submitting a winning entry for stage one?

Yes.

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SECTION THREE: TECHNICAL AND LOGISITIC ISSUES

3.1 How can younger students fairly compete against older students and professionals?

College students and older adults don’t have a corner on bright ideas. And since this is not a design competition, entries are not judged by professional skills. Instead, your ideas will be evaluated for their quality, thoughtfulness, and creativity. You can explain your idea all in words or in a combination of words and pictures, however you think best.

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3.2 May I use just words to submit an entry for stage one?

Yes.

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3.3 How imaginative can I be? Do I have to follow historic plans? Can changes be proposed to the existing Monument and grounds?

Your imagination is your only limitation. Propose any changes you believe are respectful of the Washington Monument and the National Mall and will enhance your idea.

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3.4 Must ideas commemorate or otherwise relate to George Washington?

No, but they could.

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3.5 Is potential construction cost a factor?

No.

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3.6 What information must a demonstration project include? Can you provide examples?

In general, the demonstration project will illustrate the idea in a way that allows the general public to grasp how it would improve or transform the look and experience of the Washington Monument grounds. Some examples of demonstrations are models, simulation videos, and so on. Full submission requirements will be issued at the start of Stage Two.

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3.7 What role will the public play in voting?

The American public will have the final say in evaluating the five finalists in order of preference for the People’s Choice.

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RECENT QUESTIONS

R.1 Is there an existing plan available with measurements to give parameters? Is there an elevation or topographical map available?

Yes, please see our updated Resources page that includes a detailed, scale topographical map of the Washington Monument Grounds.

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R.2 Can a person be on more than one team submittal? For example, can a group of students working together submit multiple schemes as long as there are separate team leaders? Similarly, can individuals send in more than one submittal and have it accepted?

Yes, as long as each separate idea submission is registered via the Competition website there is no limit on the number of submissions an individual may submit on their own or as a team member.

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R.3 I’d like to clarify how many middle and high school students I can get involved in one project.

Each student may submit an idea separately or you can submit as a group of up to ten individuals who form a team. Simply designate a team leader and list each individual name as prompted on the registration form.

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R.4 I would like to talk to someone about my ideas and submit them.

By all means, please do submit them! The Competition organizers wish to remain impartial in regards to idea submissions, and so will not be available for one-on-one discussion. If you are looking to further explore and refine your ideas we encourage you to discuss them with friends, family and colleagues!

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R.5 I think the monument and grounds around it should stay exactly like it is. It’s beautiful to see the monument standing alone with the flags encircling it. Why crowd it and take away from it? Leave it be.

This feeling is also a valid idea for submission! We use the term “idea” to allow for flexibility regarding the range of submissions, instead of possibly curbing creativity by creating rigid parameters. All ideas for the Washington Monument grounds are valid for submission.

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R.6 Why are you charging money for a project to improve public space?

The National Ideas Competition for the Washington Monument Grounds is an independent organization created to facilitate the Competition in hopes of creating a national dialogue about civics education, American history and culture, public space and design, and memorialization on our National Mall. There are no plans to permanently build or place the winning idea on the grounds. The small registration fee covers only a portion of Competition operational costs. The balance is funded by donations from generous individuals and sponsors.

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