Trust for the National Mall’s Sylvan Theater Designs Win Prestigious International Architecture Award

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Kristine Fitton

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 23, 2015) – The Trust for the National Mall today announced the designs for rehabilitating Sylvan Theater on the grounds of the Washington Monument have received the 2015 International Architecture Award.

This prestigious honor is the latest in a string of accolades for the design plans, developed by New York-based architects Weiss/Manfredi and Philadelphia-based landscape architects OLIN and chosen by the Trust through a national juried design competition.

“We are humbled to receive such outstanding international recognition for the work to restore the iconic Sylvan Theater,” said Teresa Durkin, senior project director for the Trust for the National Mall. “The revitalization of this underutilized public theater and its surrounding grounds will set a new standard in environmental sustainability, enabling the area to serve as a multipurpose outdoor classroom and performance space. We are very proud that this outstanding design team is receiving the recognition they deserve.”

Sylvan Theater is the only site that speaks to the Mall’s proud tradition of supporting arts and culture, and has long served as a gathering place for military concerts, musicals, plays, commemorative ceremonies, rallies and protests.

The designs for its rehabilitation will restructure the lawn to create a wooded canopy and will lift the landscape to tuck needed visitor amenities – such as a new all-weather café, a bookstore and restrooms – under a new amphitheater so a wide range of events and performances can be seen against the stunning backdrop of the Washington Monument.

A tree-lined balcony will serve as the uppermost viewing terrace; this space will continue across the roadway as a pedestrian bridge to cross traffic and descend to the water’s edge, linking the National Mall with the Tidal Basin for the first time.   

The International Architectural Awards are the highest and most prestigious honors bestowed upon buildings that reflect achievements in new and cutting-edge designs. This esteemed program promotes best practices in architecture and design and offers unique insight into international investment, construction, and design trends. 

This year’s award-selection process was more competitive than ever, with a record number of project submissions from urban design and architecture firms across the globe. Chosen by a distinguished group of German and Italian architects, journalists and educators, the Sylvan Theater designs were one of more than 60 projects from 26 different nations selected for their achievements in architectural design.

The Chicago Athenaeum and The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies will honor all of the awarded buildings in November at its annual symposium, “The City and the World,” in Chicago. The exhibition will be displayed in Chicago through December, after which it will travel to Athens to begin its tour of Europe.


About the Trust for the National Mall

The Trust for the National Mall is the official nonprofit partner of the National Park Service dedicated to restoring and improving the National Mall, while providing new educational and volunteer opportunities that connect the park’s 29 million annual visitors to the National Mall’s rich history. For more information on the Trust for the National Mall, please visit And to stay up to date on news from the Trust, check out