Elevated walkways, monument islands, floating bridges…Here’s what the future of the Tidal Basin could look like.
It’s no secret that the Tidal Basin keeps deteriorating year by year. Twice a day, the waters of the Potomac River flood this man-made structure that is gradually sinking. The causes? Factors like climate change and the rising tide levels as well the record crowds that gather each year at this historic site which also contribute to the wear and tear of the basin, among others.
The Tidal Basin Ideas Lab commissioned five landscape architecture firms to reimagine the space as part of a campaign to raise awareness and funds for the preservation of the historic site.
Firm DLANDstudio proposed creating new wetlands and green walls that would absorb the rising waters like a sponge. A new jetty over the Potomac just behind the Lincoln Memorial house the relocated memorial to Martin Luther King, Jr., connecting national struggles for civil rights over time, while a land bridge would connect the Jefferson Memorial and the White House. The designs would also relocate some of the cherry blossom trees and include a new elliptical reflecting pool just off the National Mall. Sheep would also somehow be involved.
Meanwhile, GGN‘s project would develop the Tidal Basin are on three separate stages from today until 2090 to protect the area from the rising sea levels. The design is meant to foster the local ecology by integrating a flood-plain forest, wind gap meadows, and tidal marshes as well as readapting and relocating monuments. In addition, new boardwalks will allow visitors to explore the marshland.
Creators of the NY Skyline, James Corner Field Operations, envisioned three different scenarios for the Tidal Basin. One, allow the space to be flooded and let nature take over; two, letting flooding take over and work alongside it to treat monuments as distinct islands, or three, preserve the existing space by creating a new earthwork levee along the Potomac allowing for significant new parkland, trails, amenities and increased space for visitors.
Through a series of comic strips, Hood Design Studio, tells the story of a future Tidal Basin in which the wetland is now protected by flood gates, monuments form a “necklace” of islands that visitors can easily explore by boat, while floating bridges and a circular pathway surrounding the basin provides extra space for visitors. According to the firm’s plans, the cherry trees would be moved to higher ground to create a brand new orchard and Rangers could give tours through which visitors would be able to explore the relationship throughout history between indigenous and enslaved people and the local landscape.
The fifth firm, Reed Hilderbrand‘s plan would protect the essential qualities of the Tidal Basin as it is now. Envisioned as a new “Washington Commons,” the area would contain a variety of recreational spaces for visitors. Locals would be able to walk through the marsh and the relocated cherry trees and the new Independent Rise would two time as a pedestrian bridge and a protective barrier from flooding and the rising tides.
Elevated walkways, boat tours, floating bridges, sheep….the alternatives for the Tidal Basin’s future are endless! But what do you think, what do you envision the future Tidal Basin area to look like?
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[Featured image: Rendering courtesy of Reed Hilderbrand]