Today the National Trust for Historic Preservation named the National Mall Tidal Basin to its National Treasures portfolio and announced plans to partner with the Trust for National Mall and the National Park Service over the next three years to address the 107-acre site’s pressing need for critical upgrades and modernization, including a crumbling sea wall and daily flooding that swamps sidewalks. The centerpiece of the initiative will be an Ideas Lab, a forum for generating, disseminating, and vetting a new vision for the future of the Tidal Basin.
The National Mall Tidal Basin Ideas Lab will invite several architectural and landscape design firms to propose solutions to five challenges specific to the Tidal Basin site: security, circulation, hydrology, cultural landscape, and visitor experience. These proposals will then be vetted by a wide range of federal and private entities and the general public at a museum exhibition. This work will inform the National Park Service’s mandated environmental review, master planning, and detailed design processes that will follow.
“We are proud to lead this initiative with our partners to re-imagine the Tidal Basin in a way that will have a lasting effect for our capital city and the 36 million visitors who come each year to take in the Basin’s beauty and history, including the beloved cherry trees,” said Catherine Townsend, president and CEO of the Trust for the National Mall.
Currently, walkways surrounding the Tidal Basin are flooded at high tide daily, making them impassible for visitors and damaging the roots of the cherry trees. Other pressing issues include non-compliant ADA access, perimeter safety challenges, substandard visitor facilities, and inadequate interpretation—repairs and improvements that could cost as much as $500 million to address.
“We are grateful to have the Trust for the National Mall and the National Trust spearhead this effort to ensure the Tidal Basin is dramatically improved and protected for years to come,” said Jeff Reinbold, acting superintendent for the National Mall and Memorial Parks division of the National Park Service.