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Archive for Sunday, April 2, 2006

Redesign makes monument safer

April 2, 2006

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— In landscape architect Laurie Olin's mind, the approach to the most soaring of the capital's monuments had to be friendly and simple - and safe.

The Washington Monument stretches more than 555 feet in the air from the National Mall. But for years there was nothing grand about the asphalt walkway that led to the obelisk. And adding jersey barriers in the age of terrorism diminished its aesthetic appeal.

Olin and his firm won the National Park Service contract to design landscaping around the monument that incorporates stronger security measures. Now, after three years of landscaping, a curving, welcome pathway starts amid blooming trees and ends with pillow-shape benches at the monument's base.

One of the guidelines from monument officials was to improve security against terrorists using vehicles.

As a result, the sloping, circular pathway not only provides 180-degree views of the Mall but, as recessed into a hill, serves as a concrete and granite barrier strong enough and high enough to prevent a bomb-laden vehicle from reaching the monument's base. Light fixtures were also put in the wall.

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