Archive of Prominent Section 106 Cases:
Washington, DC: Creation of
World War II Memorial
The design for the proposed World War II Memorial in Washington, DC, continues to be refined and is expected to be ready for a new round of reviews by the Commission of Fine Arts, the National Capital Planning Commission, and the District of Columbia State Historic Preservation Review Board this summer. Plans are being pursued to have a presentation on the status of the design at the June meeting of the Council.
The National Park Service (NPS), in conjunction with the American Battle Monuments Commission, General Services Administration, and the Department of Defense, proposes to construct a long-awaited World War II Memorial on the National Mall. The proposed site occupies a prominent position along the Mallís East-West axis between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument.
The original design for the memorial, selected through a design competition conducted by GSA, entailed disassembling and relocating the Rainbow Pool to a sunken plaza within the memorial. The grand scale of the design raised concerns that the Mall would be adversely affected. After considerable public testimony underscoring the challenges of siting such a memorial within one of the Nationís most treasured and symbolically powerful landscapes, the Commission of Fine Arts and the National Capital Planning Commission recommended a number of changes to scale back the project to better suit its setting.
World War II Memorial designer Friedrich St. Florian presents a model of the memorial to the Council and staff at an informal working session June 25, 1998, at Mount Vernon in Alexandria, Virginia.
At the Councilís June 1998 business meeting, members heard a presentation by the American Battle Monuments Commission on a revised design concept for the memorial. While avoiding the inappropriate scale of the previous design, it still entailed demolition and partial reconstruction of the Rainbow Pool; alteration of portions of the landscape as designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr.; introduction of a new service roadway south of the memorial; and construction of a bus pull-off on Constitution Avenue. Chairman Slater requested Council members Arthur Q. Davis, FAIA, and Bruce Judd, FAIA, to work with Council staff as project review proceeds.
Although corrective action has been taken, the World War II Memorial provides a case study of the shortcomings of current procedures implementing the Commemorative Works Act. In particular, the Councilís involvement in review of the memorial occurred only after a number of important actions were taken, including site selection, establishment of design criteria, and selection of an architect and design concept through a design competition. Meaningful consideration of alternatives in the Section 106 process was limited. However, the need to redesign the project has enabled NPS to revisit the sequence and timing of the projectís development in relation to both the National Environmental Policy Act and Section 106.
At the request of Congress, NPS is now working to revise its procedures for memorials under the Commemorative Works Act to improve coordination of reviews for future memorials. In recognition of this effort, the Council has offered to work with NPS to improve integration of Section 106 into the memorials process through development of a programmatic approach. NPS has expressed interest in pursuing this effort.
Staff contact: Martha Catlin
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