Press Release | Washington, D.C. | October 22, 2019

Five Design Firms Join to Reimagine the National Mall Tidal Basin

Firms Will Participate in Tidal Basin Ideas Lab Presented by American Express

(WASHINGTON DC – October 22, 2019) Today, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Trust for the National Mall, in partnership with the National Park Service, announced the five world-class landscape architecture firms working to shape the future of the National Mall Tidal Basin.

“The National Mall Tidal Basin embodies freedom, perseverance, and democratic values, and it is a place where people come together from around the country and around the world to celebrate these ideals. That is why we must bring our best innovation and ingenuity to meet the challenges it is facing,” said Katherine Malone-France, chief preservation officer of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “It is with great excitement that we can today announce the world-class talent coming together to protect and re-imagine this iconic landmark for future generations.”

The National Mall Tidal Basin Ideas Lab, presented by American Express, is a new forum that will foster collaboration, big thinking, and enable innovative ideas. The landscape architecture firms, DLANDstudio, GGN, Hood Design Studio, James Corner Field Operations, and Reed Hilderbrand, will join the Ideas Lab to envision creative and thought-provoking solutions to address the challenges and opportunities facing the National Mall Tidal Basin. Architecture and planning firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) is serving as civic partner to the initiative. Since the 1970s, SOM has played a leading role in transforming Washington D.C.’s built environment including master plans for the National Mall and Constitution Gardens, and the design of the Hirschhorn Museum.

“Our goal, as a lead partner of the National Park Service, is to bring innovation and partnerships to expedite the fulfillment of the Master Plan for the National Mall,” said Catherine Townsend, president and CEO of the Trust for the National Mall. “These five visionary teams are a prime example of how collaboration between distinguished experts in fields aligned with our project needs will create solutions to help overcome the complex preservation issues affecting the treasured Tidal Basin.”

The National Mall Tidal Basin Ideas Lab, presented by American Express, has invited top landscape architecture firms to propose solutions to major challenges specific to the Tidal Basin site: security, circulation, civic stage, cultural landscape, connectivity, conservation, resilience, infrastructure, and visitor experience. The Tidal Basin faces immediate threats including a crumbling sea wall and daily flooding that swamps sidewalks and threatens the roots of cherry trees.

“The National Mall Tidal Basin Ideas Lab combines visionary philanthropic support with private sector ingenuity and public sector stewardship,” said Timothy J. McClimon, president, American Express Foundation. “Together, we will meet the challenges facing this iconic National Treasure, and ensure this landmark is sustainable for future generations.”

The Ideas Lab exhibition will premiere this summer and continue through the fall of 2020, at which point the public will be given the opportunity to engage with the final design concepts generated by the firms. This work will inform the National Park Service’s mandated environmental review, master planning, and detailed design processes that will follow.

The design firms are (in alphabetical order):

DLANDstudio - Dlandstudio is an interdisciplinary design practice founded in 2005 with offices in Brooklyn, New York and Denver, Colorado. The firm is a recognized thought leader in urban climate adaptation strategies and explores how ecosystems can coexist with human habitation patterns, through applied design research that benefits underserved urban communities. They confront the challenges of global climate change and obsolescent infrastructure with a methodology rooted in systems thinking and invention. Their designs are grounded by the intimacy of space, the scale of the everyday, the tactility of materials, and the subtlety of craft.

GGN - Gustafson Guthrie Nichol (GGN) is a landscape architecture firm founded in Seattle, Washington in 1999. For more than 15 years, GGN has also worked from a satellite studio in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C., supporting the firm’s long-running series of significant projects in the D.C. region. GGN’s work is highly varied in scale and type, from furniture to campuses, and the firm’s 45 employees have backgrounds in landscape design, restoration ecology, architecture, engineering, and art.

Hood Design Studio - Hood Design Studio, Inc. (HDS), founded in 1992 in Oakland, California, is a social art and design practice working in the areas of art + fabrication, design + landscape, and research + urbanism. Their breadth of work allows them to understand each place in its scale and context, and to respond, not with a standard design, but with an approach adaptive to the particulars and specifics of a space. HDS views urban spaces and their objects as public sculpture, creating new apertures through which to see the emergent beauty, strangeness, and idiosyncrasies around us.

James Corner Field Operations - James Corner Field Operations is a leading-edge landscape architecture and urban design practice with offices in New York, San Francisco, and Philadelphia. The practice is renowned for strong contemporary design across a variety of project types and scales with a deep commitment to the design of a vibrant and dynamic public realm that integrates ecology, program, and people.

Reed Hilderbrand- Reed Hilderbrand is a landscape architecture practice whose works connect people to the invisible systems of nature and underlying patterns of culture. Over its twenty-year career, their practice has been recognized for projects addressing questions of continuity and change, of adaptation and invention at diverse scales on behalf of communities and institutions.

Background on Civic Partner:

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) is an influential collective of architects, designers, engineers and planners, responsible for some of the world’s most technically and environmentally advanced buildings, and significant public spaces. From a strategic regional plan to a single piece of furniture, SOM's designs anticipate change in the way we live, work and communicate, and have brought lasting value to communities around the world. The firm's approach is highly collaborative, and its interdisciplinary team is engaged on a wide range of international projects, with creative studios based across the globe.

High resolution images of the conditions at the Tidal Basin may be downloaded and used with proper attribution at: Follow the National Treasure launch events and campaign developments at #SavetheTidalBasin on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Media Contacts

  • Ruth McBain, Manager, Public Affairs, National Trust for Historic Preservation; Phone: 202-588-6141; Email:
  • Kelly Decerbo, Director, Marketing and Communications, Trust for the National Mall; Phone: 860-575-2586; Email:


About the National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation is a privately funded nonprofit organization that works to save America’s historic places. National Treasures, the National Trust’s signature program, are a revolving portfolio of cherished and nationally significant historic places for which the organization deploys the full range of its preservation, advocacy, and public engagement resources to secure long-term sustainability.

For more information, visit: | @savingplaces

About the Trust for National Mall

The Trust for the National Mall is a privately funded non-profit organization that brings critical resources to design and deliver modern and resilient solutions to transform the visitor experience and preserve the historic legacy of the National Mall. The Trust brings valuable expertise in project design and management to help expedite capital improvements, as well as to help mobilize volunteers and engage the general public in understanding the history and needs of this sacred space. Aging infrastructure and over 36 million visits annually have contributed to the more than $800 million in costs for deferred maintenance and needed upgrades. To learn more and to support our mission, visit | @thenationalmall


The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded nonprofit organization, works to save America’s historic places. | @savingplaces

Announcing the 2024 list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.

See the List