The National Mall Underground is a novel approach to urban resilience through intense collaboration and innovative thinking. Addressing multiple needs of and threats to the heart of the nation’s capital, the Underground is the first major step towards a 3rd Century Mall that promotes resilience, improves access, and expands public use.
“A panacea for parking shortages, bus traffic, fossil-fuel burning, and flooding tucked beneath the Mall? That’s what a proposed parking garage—buried under the grassy expanse between the National Museum of Natural History and the Smithsonian “Castle”—purports to be. The multilevel space could accommodate 900 cars and 200 buses, in addition to a central visitor center and public restrooms. A 34-million-gallon overflow reservoir would prevent a repeat of the flooding that swamped Federal Triangle in 2006. And, rain or shine, more than 1,000 geothermal walls beneath the garage would harvest energy to heat and cool nearby museums and government buildings. It might sound too good to be true, but acclaimed Washington architect Arthur Cotton Moore is spearheading the initiative, lending significant credibility to it."