This poster was presented at A Century of Design in the Parks Symposium, Santa Fe, New Mexico, June 21-23, 2016.
By Michael Commisso and Catherine Dewey
Consisting of both the nation’s first memorial, the Washington Monument and one of its most recent, the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial, National Mall and Memorial Parks (NAMA) preserves and protects historic properties and newly authorized cultural icons. While many units within the National Park Service are established to protect the tangible places that offer glimpses into a single period of our nation’s history, NAMA is charged with protecting spaces that represent the nation’s evolving story including new memorials and landscapes. NAMA is unique in that Congress regularly authorizes placement of nationally significant memorials in proximity to the National Mall—the nation’s front yard, often at the expense of existing historic resources and without additional funding to support these new resources. Through various case studies, this presentation will look at the blending of contemporary and historic uses within a dynamic urban setting, the challenges of caring for these treasures, and the various regulatory and planning processes used to address these issues.
Michael Commisso has worked as a Cultural Resources Program Manager for the National Mall and Memorial Parks and Historical Landscape Architect for the National Capital and Northeast Regional Offices of the National Park Service (NPS) for the past nine years. In these positions, he has provided technical assistance and direction to parks and programs with the inventory, documentation, and treatment of historic parks and properties, which include scenic parkways, battlefields, memorials, formal gardens, and cemeteries. Prior to working with the NPS, Michael worked as a Historic Preservation Planner and Landscape Designer in South Georgia. He has a BA in Environmental Design and Environmental Studies from the University at Buffalo and a MLA from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry.
Catherine Dewey is the Chief of Resource Management for the National Mall and Memorial Parks. She works with a team of professionals to protect the cultural and natural resources found in a unique urban setting. Previously, she worked as the Regional Architectural Conservator for the National Capital Region over seeing a preservation program for hundreds of memorial statues and buildings. Her experience before joining the NPS included working with different firms in Washington DC, Chicago and Egypt. She holds an MS in Historic Preservation from the University of Pennsylvania and a BA in Classical Antiquities from the University of Kansas. She has volunteered with a number of local and national preservation groups.