National Geographic : 1967 Apr
Mirror for majesty, a six-acre reflecting pool (model at right) will provide a sparkling new beginning for Pennsylvania Avenue. At this site, between the arms of two imposing radial avenues, L'Enfant hoped to H'HUSE%,,' build a cascade flowing down Capitol Hill into Tiber Canal. By the time of the McMillan Plan in 1902 (left), the old canal had been filled in, but a large pool was iR proposed to reflect the Capitol. The Owings plan CA finally realizes this dream by building the pool above a tunneled freeway. L'Enfant's grand geometry can still be seen in the baroque patte d'oie, or goose-foot intersection where L'ENFANT PLAN OF 1791 Maryland Avenue, the Mall, and Pennsylvania Ave L ENFANT PLAN OF 1791 nue come together at the foot of Capitol Hill (below). L'Enfant was born in 1754, son of a prominent French artist, and learned such landscape principles from places like the gardens of Versailles; despite constant change, Washington retains his graceful imprint. McMILLAN PLAN OF 1902 a modern Parthenon, it remains one of the city's most beautiful buildings. The market was torn down to make way for the National Archives, but between the two great buildings lies an assortment of business structures, in a district now largely outdated. The Owings plan proposes clearing five blocks to reopen L'Enfant's axis. The National Portrait Gallery and National Collection of Fine Arts, now moving into the old Patent Of fice (page 510), would be reached by a mall stepping up between the buildings of a Wood row Wilson Center for Scholars. Opposite the Archives, a new Market Square would resur rect the old bustle with shops and cafes. Continuing between stepped promenades grandstands for parade watching-the rose colored Avenue would pass the new super blocks: great buildings with garden courts and elevated walkways. Majestic Square for Nation's Pageantry The plan reaches its climax in a National Square, framed by new White House gates and the Treasury. From an elevated belvedere to the north, where two hotels now stand, shoppers and diners would enjoy the wide vista, and spectators would watch parades wheeling around a splashing central fountain (painting, pages 512-14). "Our plan is similar to an iceberg," Mr. 508 Owings said. "Eighty percent of it is invisible.