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City planners come up with new ideas for Washington

May 2, 1997

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Planners for the new millennium have suggested a variety of novel additions to the nation’s capital city, from a Japanese art center to a statue of Millard Fillmore, who was president 150 years ago.

The ideas are represented in a show that opened Thursday at the National Building Museum.

There is even a sketch of the proposed World War II monument for which veteran Bob Dole is collecting money. It is planned for a controversial site, midway between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument.

``Capital Visions″ will be on view until Aug. 24. It builds on the map drawn in 1791 by French Maj. Charles Pierre L’Enfant, which has been followed, with a few modifications, ever since.

The Fillmore statue belongs to a sweeping proposal by Robert Kanak of the American Institute of Architects, and Jeanine Quaglia. They may have their tongues part way into their cheeks, because they also suggest a statue from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, for the top of the U.S. Capitol.

They want Washington to re-annex an area south of the Potomac River ceded to the state of Virginia in 1846, and develop the bank. ``Return Our Land _ Send Forth Your Tax Base″ their plan says. Congress now forbids the District of Columbia to collect commuter taxes from the area.

The Japanese art center proposal comes from Robert N. Weinstein, who foresees galleries, restaurants and theaters on the Potomac’s north bank. He suggests a prime site overlooking Georgetown, the old port town that Washington absorbed as it expanded to the west.

``Our city has a history of big plans,″ wrote D. Graham Davidson, president of the architects’ Washington chapter, in a catalogue for the show.

Larysa Kurylas would exploit the city’s broad avenues, many of them named after states, by adorning them with apt symbols. For example New York Avenue, which leads to the White House, would get a series of small reproductions of Empire State landmarks, including the Statue of Liberty draped with ivy and wisteria.

A group of designers, Rippeteau Architects, envisions converting one street into an ``Avenue of the United States.″ It would include a Governors Club and a States’ Rights Center. At the boundary of L’Enfant’s map they would have a District of Columbia pavilion, 400 feet high, overlooking the city.

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