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July 2014
Senate Parks Cultural Landscape Report
Washington DC

Heritage Landscapes, collaborating with Vitteta, HCM and Faithful and Gould, completed the Senate Parks Cultural Landscape Report for the Architect of the Capitol. Interesting technical details about the construction of original landscape features enlivened this comprehensive report. The 61.4 acres Senate Parks in Washington, DC expanded the United States Capitol grounds across twelve squares extending northward from the Capitol to Union Station. Designed by the Chicago firm of Bennett, Parsons and Frost in the late 1920s and constructed in the 1930s, these spaces fulfilled a part of the McMillan Plan vision for the monumental core of the capital. The Senate Parks Cultural Landscape Report delved into the history of these squares, for residential uses, as temporary First World War offices, and finally as public open spaces. The parks plan established a clear order to the previously existing configuration of streets featuring rectilinear, diagonal, and radial arrangements of squares and thoroughfares, as seen in the early construction view. Among other things, these designed landscapes were noted for early uses of exposed aggregate concrete finishes, written up in a technical bulletin in the 1930s and as seen in the Second World War era photo of a lady and soldier. The grounds of Senate Parks evolved from initial construction between 1930 and 1939 to the completion of the Taft Memorial by Douglas W. Orr in 1959 and enhancements of plantings and benches along paths by Paul Pincus through 1989.

This World War II era photograph shows people enjoying the public open space of Senate Parks and details exposed aggregate concrete finishes.

The night time image shows the Senate Parks pool and iconic view of the US Capitol.

The 1933 aerial shows the large, open space extending from Union Station, in the foreground, to the US Capitol.