Union Square, located on the National Mall in Washington DC, has the responsibility to unify and connect its surroundings while also promoting greater use of the space throughout the year given its important role as the nation’s stage on the grounds in front of the Federal Capitol Building.
Snøhetta resolved these objectives in a singular movement, with a new circular and sloping theater-like platform rising seven feet above the nearby streets. This simple gesture organizes the diverse elements and unifies the various axes that align within the Capitol grounds. The broadest slope of the lifted forum faces the Capitol while a new set of gentle steps and ramps reach down toward the West Mall. The new slope is low enough to maintain views to and from the Mall while also high enough to promote better views and orientation from its platforms.
On either side of this forum, a set of undulating trellises are nested within the lawn to provide a human scale for smaller gatherings, as well as protection for large tour groups. At the base of the slope, a new reflecting pool captures the drama of the surrounding monuments and provides a more environmentally sustainable solution than the current pool, as it is designed to capture rainwater.