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Visit Reed Hilderbrand's website to learn more about the National Mall Tidal Basin Ideas Lab.

Phenomena and Experience

Envisioning the future of the Tidal Basin affords a unique opportunity to shape a landscape that is more complex, more nuanced, and truer to our national identity than the singular, axial, and monumental character of the National Mall. As we move around the basin itself, the landscape is scaled and tuned to the senses of the human body. We celebrate where human and environmental systems intersect. And we find beauty in the diversity of experiences that an ever-changing landscape can provide.

We re-organize cherry trees, memorials, and views along three new perambulations. One path connects people more intimately with the water. Another path weaves together the complex commemorative programs of the site. Yet another takes the high ground and provides new perspectives from which to witness environmental features as powerfully as the views of the capital’s architectural landmarks. Throughout, we create opportunities for people to cross paths, views to intersect, historic narratives to intertwine, and environmental and cultural systems to mix. It is at these moments of overlap where we find the greatest opportunity for beauty.

The play of seasonal phenomena against the steady forms of evergreen vegetation and the transition of shaded pathways to open clearings immerse visitors in a landscape animated by movement. This elevates our senses and asks us to engage more deeply, more openly. The circuit of multiple pathways woven around the basin connects disparate elements and creates a coherent but not entirely resolved whole. It is a metaphor and an enactment of individual and collective experience united.

This approach invites dialogue and embraces difference. It represents a more genuine expression of who we wish to be as a nation, a people who value interdependence as much as independence.

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