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WASHINGTON, D.C.—The National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) received the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) Chairman’s Award for Federal Achievement in Historic Preservation for its leadership role in preserving the history and culture of Washington, D.C.
The presentation was made to NCPC Chairman John V. Cogbill, III, and Executive Director Patricia E. Gallagher, AICP, at the ACHP’s winter business meeting on Feb. 23, 2007.
“The nation’s capital presents enormous challenges for a federal agency charged with preserving its richly historic physical character and culture while proactively planning for its appropriate growth,” said John L. Nau, III, ACHP chairman. “The NCPC efforts to recenter the monumental core of the city on the U.S. Capitol, in keeping with the original L’Enfant city plan to promote geographic distribution of future development, is essential to meeting both imperatives.”
The ACHP cited the difficulties of balancing security concerns, accommodating increasing numbers of tourists and visitors, and meeting the demands of National Capital Region population growth with its attendant pressure on transportation systems as among the major factors the NCPC must juggle while maintaining the historic integrity of one of the world’s first planned national capital cities.
Background: Washington D.C. was laid out by Pierre L’Enfant under the direction of the nation’s first president, George Washington. Its monumental and historic structures and planned spaces characterized by long open views and public places have repeatedly been threatened by actual and proposed development that is not in keeping with the original city plan, sometimes in response to various crises such as the Civil War, World War I and II, and the current enhanced security resulting from the threat of terrorist attacks, but more often due to benign neglect or site-specific development that fails to consider broader impacts. In 1901 the McMillan Commission restored much of the intent of the L’Enfant Plan by removing structures on the National Mall, an area that sweeps west from the U.S. Capitol and is bordered by the Jefferson and Lincoln memorials to the south and west and White House to the north. Today, the NCPC and many of its partners are trying to alleviate over development of the Mall by creating other desirable areas for future memorials, monuments, and structures. This plan involves focusing future development north, east, and south of the National Mall in accordance with the original vision of L’Enfant and President Washington.The ACHP, an independent federal agency, promotes the preservation, enhancement, and productive use of the nation’s historic resources and advises the President and Congress on national historic preservation policy. It also provides a forum for influencing federal activities, programs, and policies that impact historic properties. In addition, the ACHP has a key role in carrying out the Administration’s Preserve America program. Visit www.achp.gov for more information.