At the American Society of Landscape Architects conference over the weekend, I sat in on a session about the National Mall, which is the subject of much hand-wringing and study—terms like a “crisis of visitation” were thrown around, as if the Mall were about to be hit by an asteroid. But the issues are large: How to fund $450 million in deferred maintenance costs, while re-making it into a durable, sustainable, historically sensitive, and ecologically friendly place for both visitors and residents?

At the University of Virginia School of Architecture, Professor Elizabeth Meyer teaches a whole course on the Mall, in which students are asked to sketch out ideas for how the nation’s front yard might be reimagined, focusing especially on Union Square directly west of the Capitol (where plans could involve getting rid of the fountain entirely). The resulting ideograms are more vague than the Catholic University group’s plans for Foggy Bottom, but still fun to get you thinking about what a few trees could do (graphics after the jump, full presentation here).

The Mall could be woodsier!

The Mall could have lots of different elevations!

Union Square could actually be more of a square!