Volkswagen of America, Inc., is donating the money to the Trust, which is working with the National Park Service to fund a $700 million plan to restore the sprawling mall.
“There are few places that can educate and inspire people like the National Mall,” said Jonathan Browning, president and CEO, Volkswagen Group of America. “But America's most visited national park is also a treasure that’s in dire need of help if we want to preserve it for future generations. Working with the Trust for the National Mall, we’re excited to roll out a program with both national and grassroots initiatives aimed at connecting people from all over to join the cause of preserving and protecting America’s Front Yard.”
Each year, the National Mall hosts about 25 million visitors -- more than Yosemite, the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone combined. Conceived more than two centuries ago and largely built almost 100 years ago, the National Mall wasn’t designed to accommodate its current level of use. To address this, the Department of Interior in 2010 approved the National Mall Plan, which outlines a future vision of the park that protects its historic landmarks and improves the visitor experience. To support the $700 million plan, the Trust for the National Mall is leading a $350 million fundraising campaign and the federal government will supply the remaining $350 million.
“We’re building a once-in-a-generation campaign to realize the first major restoration of the National Mall in nearly 40 years,” said Caroline Cunningham, the Trust's president. “We are so grateful to Jonathan and Volkswagen of America for their pace-setting contribution, which will benefit people from all corners of the globe and from all walks of life who come here to experience, learn about and shape the American story.”
Volkswagen’s $10 million investment in the National Mall will support the collaborative efforts of the Trust for the National Mall and the National Park Service to move forward on the National Mall Plan, starting with the redesign and restoration of Constitution Gardens and the Washington Monument Grounds at Sylvan Theater, two high-impact design projects that are based on the winning plans of a national juried design competition. The first of those two projects is expected to be substantially completed in 2016, coinciding to mark the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.
“The National Mall is one of the most inspiring combinations of architecture and landscape in the world and stands as a symbol of our nation,” said Bob Vogel, superintendent of National Mall and Memorial Parks. “It deserves to reflect the vision of its original designer and live up to the expectations of our millions of visitors. Today’s tremendous contribution from Volkswagen, along with the donations of other corporations and private citizens, will get us closer to achieving our vision of a more functional, beautiful and sustainable park that respects our historic landscape and structures.”
Volkswagen’s $10 million donation is not the first gift from the company for a project on the National Mall. In August 2011, Volkswagen Group of America made a $1 million contribution to the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation for the construction of that memorial.