GRADUATE STUDENT JOSEPH IJJAS CHOSEN AS SEMI-FINALIST IN THE NATIONAL IDEAS COMPETITION FOR THE WASHINGTON MONUMENT GROUNDS
Ijjas' one of 24 "bold" ideas that reflects on the past with an eye to the future
Architecture graduate student Joseph Ijjas has been selected as one of 24 semi-finalists in the National Ideas Competition for the Washington Monument Grounds. Ijjas and nine classmates from Professor Steven Hurtt's ARCH 700 Architecture Studio, an upper level studio in the Master of Architecture program, were among over 500 entries from the US and around the world.
"It was a very nice surprise," says Ijjas. "It's an honor to be chosen from among so many entries including those of my classmates."
The Washington Monument Ideas Competition was created as a vehicle to explore possibilities for the Monument grounds, with the larger goal of starting a public dialogue about a future vision for the historic landmark. The concept for the competition was born out of two centuries of largely unrealized plans for the space immediately surrounding the National Monument. Because the competition is judged on an idea as opposed to a design, it allowed people of all ages and disciplines to share their visions. Entries incorporated a variety of elements including history, landscape, entertainment and reflection, and ranged from simple written statements to beautifully illustrated architectural and landscape plans.
Participants were provided extensive history of the Washington Monument grounds, topographic maps, historic and current photographs of the space and surrounding areas.
In crafting their ideas, Hurtt's students had to consider multiple issues, some centuries old and other more contemporary.
"Our studio attempted to balance the singular strong idea of a competition against a more complex set of issues," explained Hurtt. "We began the project with extensive research of the history of the Mall, including ceremonial, practical and protest events that it has hosted. The studio generated various schemes for its development and embellishment, among them, better connections between the WWII Memorial and the Washington monument; improved accommodation for the public, particularly along Constitution Avenue; and recognizing the Jefferson survey marker. Perhaps most importantly, we looked at creating a balance between the two primary visual axes; the axis between the US Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial and between the White House and the Jefferson Memorial."
Ijjas' selected submission addresses the current inadequate and interrupted axis between the White House and the Jefferson Memorial. His concept: to create a pedestrian bridge to the Jefferson Memorial, dramatizing this north-south axis, and allowing a direct and reflective flow for pedestrians. Ijjas' rendering also illustrates the addition of a museum at the base of the monument, and creative landscaping and pathways to address accessibility.
Adds Hurtt: "Ijjas' solution had the perfect balance to achieve recognition in this wonderful ‘ideas' competition."
The Ideas Competition, organized in spring 2010, is led by an independent Steering Committee of university professors, architects and designers, and civic leaders in partnership with The George Washington University. The jury is comprised of leaders and creative thinkers in the fields of history, design, the arts, civics and science, including renowned city planner Raymond Gastil. The 24 semi-finalists will now be able to further develop their ideas- weighing the thoughts and feedback from jury members- before submitting for the final competition.
Ijjas received his undergraduate degree from the University of Florida. He is completing a Masters level professional degree in Architecture at the University of Maryland, and is currently working on his final thesis.
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