The Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool has received a much-needed face-lift. After two years of reconstruction, the historic landmark reopened to the public on Aug. 31.
“The reflecting pool is the location of some incredible
events that have taken place in our country’s history, from
Marian Anderson singing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and
Martin Luther King Jr. delivering his ‘I Have a Dream
Speech’ to President Obama’s inauguration. It is so
meaningful to the American people,” said Carol Johnson,
spokeswoman for the National Mall and Memorial Parks in Washington,
D.C. “The Park Service is thrilled to have it reopened. It is
something that will be appreciated for generations to
Located on the National Mall east of the Lincoln Memorial, the
original structure was designed by Henry Bacon and dedicated in
1922. Measuring 168 feet wide by 2,029 feet long, it took more than
6 million gallons of city water to fill.
Because Washington, D.C., is built on a landfill, the weight of the
concrete structure finally gave way and the pool sank nearly a foot
since originally being built, Johnson explained. As a result, it
was losing 50,000 gallons of water to leaks and evaporation weekly.
The renovation was funded by a $34 million grant from the American
Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
The new pool contains 3 million pounds of rebar, 350,000 square
feet of wire mesh, 14,300 linear feet of pipe and 2,130 pilings to
help prevent it from sinking again. It also features 19,000 cubic
yards of poured tinted concrete to make the water more reflective.
The project was led by Corman Construction, based in Annapolis
Junction, Md. The Louis Berger Group of Morristown, N.J., is the
architect of record, and Sasaki Associates in Boston handled the original concept.
But despite its remodel, the pool retains some of its former self.
It is shallower by approximately 4 inches, but it still has the
same footprint. Additionally, the original granite coping stones
that lined its circumference were preserved and reused. In fact,
when the coping stones were removed, they were cataloged so each
one could be put back in the same place, Johnson said.
“We wanted to do whatever we could to keep the history of it
intact,” she explained.
But unlike the previous incarnation, the new pool draws its water
from the tidal basin that sits between the Lincoln and Jefferson
memorials. It requires 4 million gallons of water a year, but after
factoring in condensation, likely will use up to 10 million. Even
so, the new process will save nearly 20 million gallons of water annually.
The pool now also features a recirculation system, which helps
prevent algae and bacteria from forming. The pool will need to be
emptied annually for cleaning.
Facilitating a project of this size in a space that receives nearly
24 million visitors a year is no easy task. Unlike traditional
construction sites that are sealed off from the public, the Lincoln
Memorial was open during the project with the general work area
viewable to passersby.
“It was a huge project,” Johnson said. “People
were very eager for it to open. We’re so happy to have it done.”