Through Oct. 8, the nonprofit Trust for the National Mall is soliciting teams of architects and landscape architects for proposals to revitalize three overused and underfunded sites along Washington, D.C.’s iconic national park. The 36-week challenge, launched on Sept. 8, focuses on creative, sustainable solutions for the designs of Union Square, the Washington Monument grounds, and the Constitutional Gardens.

Organizers are implementing the challenge as part of the National Park Service’s plan for the mall, signed into effect last November by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, who gave the mall a “C” for its brown grass, brackish water, and sinking seawalls. Known as “America’s front lawn,” the 700-acre swath of national park receives over 25 million annual visitors (more than eight times as many as Yellowstone National Park, which is 3,000 times its size).

To fund the project, Trust for the National Mall president Caroline Cunningham plans to raise $365 million from private donors, to be matched dollar for dollar by the federal government. The challenge will be overseen by architect Donald Stastny, FAIA, who has previously managed design competitions for the Oklahoma City and Flight 93 national memorials, and for the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Submissions will be judged by their inventiveness, feasibility, and energy efficiency.

The three-stage competition will begin with the submission of lead designers’ portfolios by Oct. 13. On Oct. 27, invitations will be issued for the second round, a question-and-answer period that runs from Nov. 1–25. Teams selected for the third round will be notified on Dec. 15. Those finalists will undergo another interview process before their designs will be publicly displayed on April 9 at a location to be determined, with the winning design announced on May 3. More information on the competition can be found at