Update 7/18/17: This story has been updated to clarify that there are no axonometric diagrams for the design that was reviewed at the NCPC's last meeting.
The Nation’s Capital came a step closer to gaining a World War I Memorial this month when a key federal panel approved a conceptual design for the project—even though panel members and others expressed concerns about the latest plan and its potential impact on the selected site.
Representatives from the nonprofit The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF) and a retired high-ranking landscape architect with the National Park Service joined the federal panelists in questioning aspects of the design, which calls for the memorial to be added to a 1981 park by the noted landscape architect M. Paul Friedberg. Friedberg, via an email message shared with the commission, expressed disappointment with the proposal.
After an hour-long discussion, the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) voted unanimously on July 13 to accept its executive director’s recommendations for adding a memorial to Pershing Park, on Pennsylvania Avenue near the White House.
The vote means the design team and its clients, the World War I Centennial Commission and the National Park Service, can now move to a second, more detailed stage of design work on the project, which is expected to cost $30 million to $32 million.
Sponsors of the memorial are aiming to complete it in time for a late 2018 dedication. The design will have to be reviewed at least two more times before any construction can begin. The U.S. Commission of Fine Arts also must give its approval.
Congress authorized the World War I Centennial Commission in 2014 to build a memorial at Pershing Park, a 1.75-acre public space bounded by Pennsylvania Avenue, E Street, and 14th and 15th streets N.W. The park is named after General John J. Pershing, general of the U.S. armies in World War I, and contains a memorial to him.
To select a designer, the World War I commission held an international competition in 2015. The winner was Joseph Weishaar, a graduate of the University of Arkansas Fay Jones School of Architecture. He called his entry “The Weight of Sacrifice.” Other design team members include New York sculptor Sabin Howard, landscape architect Phoebe Lickwar, and GWWO Architects, the architect of record.
The design presented this month (PDF) was a revision of a concept that the planning commission reviewed last November. The revamped design called for retaining more of the existing park than before, and a memorial consisting of three main components. The first is a 65-foot-long bronze bas relief wall on the site’s western edge, featuring images from the war along with a water feature. The park’s pool would be retained, although a path would be added to provide access to the commemorative wall. A flagpole would replace an existing kiosk.
Part of the sensitivity of the project is that Pershing Park is already considered a significant public space, deemed eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. Besides the original design by Friedberg, the park reflects a planting plan by the office of Oehme, van Sweden.
For those unfamiliar with park in its prime, the video below from TCLF details its conception and features sweeping views of the then newly-completed project, with commentary from Friedberg:
During the latest review, a key issue was the extent to which the project should be treated as an opportunity to preserve Friedberg’s work, as opposed to treating the site as a blank slate for new construction.
In voting to advance the project beyond the conceptual design stage, the planning commissioners encouraged the memorial’s designers to retain the best features of Friedberg’s design, as much as possible.
Commissioner Evan Cash noted that the nature of the project has evolved because of the desire to respect Friedberg’s work. He questioned whether the sponsors shouldn’t just “go back to the drawing board” and launch another competition.
“What started as a design to put in a World War I Memorial has turned into a restoration project for the original park,” he said.
Commissioner Mina Wright said the design team has a difficult task because it has been charged with adding a major memorial to a key public space while also respecting what’s already there. “This is a really vexing problem, two different … interests that the design team has been asked to resolve,” she said. “It’s serving a lot of masters.”
In public testimony about the design, a representative of TCLF, Margo Barajas, stressed the significance of retaining the best elements of Friedberg’s design, especially the waterfall and pool.
“Pershing’s waterfall and pool are one inseparable landscape feature located in the heart of the park,” she told the panel. “One need only look at earlier images of the park when the waterfall was well maintained, the pool was full, and cascading water provided animation. The park was a popular destination that was embraced by the public. The waterfall’s gushing sounds, the white noise masking the adjacent traffic, and the cooling mists, all absent from the now-proposed WWI Memorial revised concept design, were keys to its success.”
Barajas said the foundation believes the 65-foot-long wall is too long for the location and would be a visual barrier to Pershing Park.
“Collectively, the visual and physical barrier created by the insertion of this wall, backed by a pool with sheets of water running down its shorter northern and southern sides, the corresponding loss of more than 50 feet of open physical and visual access between the upper and lower western plaza levels,” the loss of an extensive tree canopy on the western edge of the pool, and the “the loss of the dynamic, animating qualities of water that are fundamental to the park’s feeling, would result in a less successful urban design,” she warned.
Barajas noted that the WWI Centennial Commission has presented and then rejected a design proposal called the “Upper Wall Design.” She said TCLF believes it is worth revisiting.
“It would retain the existing waterfall and pool and site the 65-foot-long wall along the elevated north-south walk behind the waterfall,” she said. “Depending on the height of the wall and the waterfall, this memorial gesture could be seen from multiple vantage points throughout the park.
Barajas quoted a June 25 email from Friedberg to landscape architect Phoebe Lickwar, which was written after the latest design was shown to the fine arts commission on May 18.
“To say that I was disappointed in the design presented to the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) on May 18th—the 'Restored Pool Concept'—would be a gross understatement,” Friedberg wrote, characterizing the long wall as a “one note” design move.
Friedberg said in his email message that he was encouraged that members of the World War I Memorial design team met with him to learn about the original design. He said that gave him a “positive feeling” about the project.
“I appreciated that several [Commission of Fine Arts] members suggested we finally meet, and thought that the first meeting with the design team produced a common goal and understanding of how a World War I Memorial could add a layer of content and experience that would enhance both the park and Memorial,” Friedberg wrote.
“It was unfortunate that the World War I Centennial Commission’s vice chair, Edwin Fountain, and the Memorial’s sculptor, Sabin Howard, did not attend,” he said. “Their absence from our discussion may account for the design outcome, the persistent and intrusive one note wall that’s being forced into the space thus obliterating the scale and meaning of the original design."
“I can only assume that the design team was forced by the insistence of the client (the WWI Centennial Commission) to shoe horn in, at all costs, the wall,” Friedberg continued. “The negative impact on the overall design is too much to pay and unnecessary. The rejection of the numerous previous designs by the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts should have sent a clear message that forcing a solution with a preconceived result was not working and any preconceived notion would be a burden on creativity. It takes a good client to produce a good design.”
Another speaker from the general public, landscape architect Darwina Neal, retired Chief of Cultural Resources for the National Capital Region of the National Park Service, said she worked on Pershing Park when it was being planned. She said Pershing Park is a “signature designed landscape” by Friedberg, who is considered “one of modern American landscape architecture’s most accomplished urban designers.”
Neal said the World War I commission’s objectives, as stated in its design competition, were to come up with a design that would “enhance the existing Pershing memorial by constructing … appropriate sculptural and other commemorative elements, including landscaping.”
“Although this design is billed as the ‘Restored Pool Concept,’thisis a serious misnomer,” she told the panel. “Rehabilitation would have been a more apropos treatment description, but it does not achieve that either because, in reality, it would not only destroy the existing fountain … as the major focal point within the central room of the park, but it also compromises the pool itself by putting walks across it.”
Neal said she believes it is commendable that the berms enclosing the park would remain intact, but the proposal to remove the existing fountain, change the size and depth of the pool, and cover about 40 percent of its surface with new walks would have “extreme adverse effects” on the integrity of the existing park design, because the existing fountain is the main feature.
Replacing the fountain with a 65-foot-long sculptural wall would also disrupt visual and access continuity between the pool area and the west end of the park. The proposed pool behind the new memorial wall, which features what appear to be side “sheets” of water, would not even be visible from the pool area, let alone heard—and thus would not be a “splashing fountain.”
Neal said she advocates more of a preservation approach and believes rehabilitating the existing park, with minimal changes, could “considerably reduce” construction costs.
“Since the basic well-designed framework of the park still remains, there is no excuse for abandoning the original design,” she said. “Rather, it should be rehabilitated. Demolition by neglect should not be tolerated.”
Neal also urged reconsideration of the “Upper Wall Design” that would locate the commemorative wall along the upper north-south walk behind the fountain.
“This placement would require little change to the existing park features and have no consequences on the experience and function of the park, other than somewhat affecting views from the west that are already limited by existing trees,” she said. “Most important, the focal fountain and pool would be retained in place, with the wall visible above the fountain, as viewed from the pool area.”
Instead of a flagpole, she said, “the existing concession kiosk could be replaced by an interpretive/informational kiosk—perhaps an interactive high-tech one with stations on which users could get information on the war and perhaps even be able to input names of relatives who served in the war and information on them, and/or leave messages/comments, etc. Such a kiosk could increase visitor use, education, and enjoyment.”
Above all, Neal said, she believes “it is crucial to maintain the fountain, which is the heart of the design.” When it was working properly, she said, it “pumped life into the focal pool and plaza area, creating a vibrant public space” along Pennsylvania Avenue.
“I would hope that this vitality could be brought back to life!” she said.
Among the recommendations from the planning commission’s executive director were for the design team to: consider reducing the size of the commemorative wall “to improve views across the park,” consider integrating a water feature into the commemorative wall “consistent with the location and orientation of the existing cascading fountain,” provide additional details regarding pool modifications and what the water-related areas will look like during times of year when they are empty of water, and prepare a “park programming” plan that identifies the proposed urban park spaces and potential activities that can take place there.
Weishaar and John Gregg, associate principal at GWWO, attended the meeting but were not asked to speak to the panel or address concerns about the design. They said after the meeting that they would take the panel’s comments into consideration as they work to refine their designs.
Last year saw one of the biggest and most publicized mueum openings in recent memory: the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). While it obviously made the cut on our list of top new museums and monuments, highlighted below are a few other opened or soon-to-be-open buildings and memorial that honor our country’s history and cultural heritage.
Memorial for slaves that helped build the University of Virginia
A memorial honoring the estimated 5,000 enslaved people who helped build the University of Virginia (UVA) will be built on the university’s grounds. Designed by Boston-based architects Höweler+Yoon, along with Mabel O. Wilson, Gregg Bleam Landscape Architect, and Dr. Frank Dukes, the granite, circular memorial will reference The Rotunda at UVA, which was planned by Thomas Jefferson two centuries ago. “The Memorial is a facet of the University’s commemorative project that involves many people and initiatives, we envision this memorial to embody the ideals of the University which, as Jefferson defined to be, ‘to follow truth wherever it may lead,'” said Meejin Yoon of Höweler+Yoon in a press release.
FXFowle designs new Statue of Liberty Museum
Visitors looking to get up close and personal with the Statue of Liberty will soon get a chance to do so when New York–based FXFowle’s new museum opens in 2019. The 26,000-square-foot building is designed to accommodate the rush of tourists from the ferries, which bring over 4.3 million people a year. Inside, the statue’s original torch will be displayed and 15,000 square feet of space will be dedicated to showcasing the monument's history, legacy, and construction details. “The museum’s defining gesture is the lifting of the park itself, extending vistas rather than ending them, and creating a new, naturalized habitat in place of a traditional building,” said FXFowle on its website.
National Museum of African American History and Culture opens in Washington, D.C.
The National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), which opened recently in September 2016, is the latest addition to the monumental architecture on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The tiered structure, designed by David Adjaye and lead architect Philip Freelon, together with Freelon Adjaye Bond/SmithGroup, is clad in 3,600 bronze-painted aluminum panels and inspired by Yoruban art from West Africa, a region where many slaves were taken into bondage.
After a decade, the Jackie Robinson Museum finally begins construction
A museum that has been a long time coming (it was originally slated to open in 2009), the Jackie Robinson Museum by Gensler’s New York office will open in 2019. Honoring the Brooklyn Dodgers legend, the 18,500-square-foot museum will showcase Robinson's achievements from 1919 to present, including his participation in the civil rights movement. “The Jackie Robinson Museum is an opportunity to bring an important cultural landmark to NYC—one that challenges visitors to think about the history of social and cultural change and tolerance,” according to Joseph Plumeri, chairman of the Jackie Robinson Foundation National Legacy Campaign.
Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum one step closer to reality
A proposed new Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum could be made into reality if the final portion of its $61 million budget is fulfilled. Currently, over two-thirds of the funding is secured for the 50,000-square-foot, Omniplan Architects–designed building, which will honor the victims of the Holocaust while extending the dialogue of human rights in modern America. “We need a place that allows us to have a discussion about what human rights, diversity, and respect for others mean for our city today,” said Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings during the announcement of the capital campaign. AIA Dallas awarded the building an Unbuilt Design Award in 2015.
United States Marshal Museum construction faces fundraising challenges
While the proposed United States Marshals Museum in Fort Smith, Arkansas, is still in the funding stage, its set opening date is September 24, 2019, to coincide with the 230th anniversary of the U.S Marshals Service. The star-shaped design is reflective of the badges worn by marshals in earlier years, and the building’s location overlooking the Arkansas River is a nod to history: the river used to serve as the U.S.'s border when the service was founded in 1789. The estimated cost of the project is $35.9 million, but the agency’s low profile has been posing problems for the fundraising campaign.
Memorial to Peace and Justice honors victims of lynching
A museum and memorial to victims of lynching is set to open sometime this year in Montgomery, Alabama. Founded by nonprofit Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) and designed by Boston-based MASS Design Group, the Memorial to Peace and Justice resembles a gallows, including hundreds of hanging stone slabs with the names of lynching victims inscribed in them. Between 1877 and 1950, there were more than 4,000 victims of lynching, according to EJI. The accompanying museum will focus on both the history of slavery as well as contemporary issues related to racial inequality.
Boston-based architects Höweler+Yoon, along with Mabel O. Wilson, Gregg Bleam Landscape Architect, and Dr. Frank Dukes, are designing a circular memorial to honor the slaves who helped build The University of Virginia (UVA). The memorial was approved by the UVA's Board of Visitors Buildings and Grounds Committee this past Friday.
It is estimated that some 5,000 enslaved people contributed to the erection of the University, which was planned by President Thomas Jefferson two centuries ago. Only a fifth of those who worked on the University's construction have recorded names, almost all of which are singular first names. These will be inscribed on the circular memorial—formally titled the "Memorial to Enslaved Laborers"—and space will be left for further names, should research uncover more.
The design features a locally sourced granite circle, with a diameter of roughly 80 feet and rising gradually to a peak of eight feet, that references The Rotunda at the University of Virginia. The architects consulted residents of Charlottesville and worked with the University when drafting their proposal; their efforts included community meetings and a social media campaign. "It was critical that we engage the school and local community to ensure that we heard as many voices as possible, and that we understood what individuals felt the memorial needed to achieve,” said Dr. Frank Dukes, in a press release.
The memorial comprises two rings. The larger ring will display the names of enslaved people on the inside as it encases a smaller ring, which will serve as a bench for contemplation and hold a water table. A history of slavery at UVA will also be etched into this inner ring. Marcus Martin, a co-chair of the President’s Commission on Slavery and Vice President and Chief Officer for Diversity and Equity at UVA, told the Washington Post that the water "will symbolize libation and the transatlantic voyage of the enslaved people."
Martin added that he envisions programs and classes being held at the memorial. "I can see gospel choirs singing there. I can see people giving speeches there," he also said. "Students, staff, and faculty will pass by it every day.... They will probably sit there and reflect upon the memorial."
UVA, from an architectural perspective, is laced in history. Monticello and UVA are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, for example, but Kirt von Daacke, a professor and assistant dean at UVA, said the university aims to address the fact that "Jefferson is both the man who wrote the Declaration of Independence, the man who founded a radical experiment in higher education in the United States, and a lifelong slaveholder with rather unpleasant views."
"I don’t think the university, until the last decade, had really begun to grapple with that reality," he continued, in conversation with the Washington Post. "I’m really excited that we are adding to that landscape." In a separate press release, Meejin Yoon of Höweler + Yoon also stated, “the Memorial is a facet of the University’s
commemorative project that involves many people and initiatives, we envision this memorial to embody the ideals of the University which, as Jefferson defined to be, 'to follow truth wherever it may lead.'"
The start of a new memorial project for assassinated U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy at Washington D.C.’s RFK Stadium was announced by the District of Columbia's Mayor Muriel E. Bowser, the senator’s family members, and Events DC, on May 17.
The memorial project is part of an overall plan for the RFK Stadium complex, a $500 million project spearheaded by New York City–based OMA. The proposal involves demolishing the current stadium and its parking lots, transforming the site into a 350,000-square-foot recreation and sports complex complete with three ball fields and a 47,000-square-foot market selling groceries.
The memorial will honor the late senator, serving “as a place of remembrance and a place of teaching and practicing the civil rights and equality ideals Robert F. Kennedy championed,” Events DC said in a statement to The Washington Post.
The 190-acre site sits on federal government land and will be tied to neighboring Kingman Island and the River Terrace neighborhood by three new pedestrian bridges. Events DC, the city’s official convention and sports authority, will be funding half of the project while city, hotel tax revenue, and team leases will cover the rest.
“On behalf of my family, we are delighted… to begin this journey… in tribute to my late grandfather,” Maeve Kennedy McKean, the senator’s granddaughter said in the Events DC statement. “My grandfather lived his life every day in the service of others.”
Officials hope that the redevelopment of the new stadium site and the memorial will begin and finish over the next five to seven years, according to Events DC. The D.C. United soccer club currently occupies the stadium and will continue to do so for another year, until the new BIG-designed stadium is completed.
A photo posted by Michael Longacre (@m.longacre.ny) on
Community members and activists joined Mayor Bill de Blasio and city councilmember Corey Johnson to dedicate the park in memory of those who lost their lives or are affected by AIDS. The dedication included a performance by the Gay Men’s Chorus and the names of those who died as a result of AIDS.
The memorial was designed by Brooklyn architecture firm Studio a + i and features an 18-foot metal canopy made from three connected triangles. Artist Jenny Holzer engraved Walt Whitman’s poem, “Song of Myself” in the granite pavers beneath the canopy—her first permanent installation in New York City.
It is appropriately located across the street from the former St. Vincent’s Hospital, the second dedicated AIDS clinic in 1984, and is less than a block away from the LGBT Community Center on 13th Street. Although the hospital was converted to condos by the Rudin family and Global Holdings after it closed in 2010, the building is still remembered as being on the forefront of the AIDS crisis. The memorial itself came to fruition in part thanks to the efforts of Christopher Tepper and Paul Kelterbrn, who started the NYC AIDS Memorial organization in 2011 and raised more than $6 million to make the monument in honor of those who suffered from the disease.
“There are no definite dates or victims. In our design process, we emphasize the changing and varied ways through which AIDS affects us personally and as a society,” Studio a + i said on its website. The memorial will also feature a park and a water feature designed by Rick Parisi of M. Paul Friedberg & Partners with Manhattan-based company Rudin Management, offering repose and reflection to everyone.
200 years ago, Richmond, Virginia, was home to the largest slave penitentiary in the United States: Lumpkin's Jail. The slave holding facility, also known at the time as “the Devil’s half acre,” held the title for more than twenty years and was a hub for the country's slave trade. Two centuries on, and after much deliberation, Richmond has decided to move forward with plans memorialize the site where many slaves were once held and lost their lives.
In doing so, authorities have recruited the architecture firm SmithGroupJJR. The Detroit-based practice recently worked on David Adjaye's much celebrated National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C., being named as "associate design/construction architect." The decision was made by Richmond’s Slave Trail Commission who said they are now ready to lay down some plans.
The move has been a long time coming. An emotional Delegate Dolores McQuinn, a Democrat from Richmond, spoke to WVTF Radio. “You know you dream, you pray, you seek direction, input, help, and it’s just phenomenal to be at this place now," she said.
News of the plans, however, has not been well received by everyone. Aside from the city's steps to memorialize the site, a large grassroots movement has been running too—though the two haven't always shared the same view. According to WVTF, criticism has fallen on the city for not including a nearby African burial ground in the memorial.
Ana Edwards, a leading figure of the grassroots movement, spoke positively of the news. "This is a very good first step, and it is a logical first step," she said. "Our primary goal is that they protect the rest of the footprint, so that it will be there when the funds are available for that development to take place."
While SmithGroupJJR has joined the project, whether the site becomes a memorial and/or museum remains to be determined. This project also comes on the heels of a new museum and a memorial to the victims of lynching in Montgomery, Alabama, set to open in 2017.
In Montgomery, Alabama, a new museum and a memorial to victims of lynching—one of the first and the largest in the nation—are set to open in 2017. The Memorial to Peace and Justice, founded by the nonprofit Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) and designed in partnership with MASS Design Group, is reminiscent of a gallows, with hundreds of hanging stone slabs inscribed with the names of lynching victims. The EJI released a report last year documenting over 4,000 victims of lynchings between 1877 and 1950 and purchased six acres of hilltop land in Montgomery for the memorial.
Accompanying the memorial will be a museum, “From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration,” that will draw a parallel between slavery and our present-day criminal justice system. Set on the site of a warehouse where slaves were held before being sent to the market, the museum will focus on remembering the history of slavery as well as highlighting contemporary issues related to racial inequality, such as police brutality and wrongful convictions, through interactive displays, and archival footage, photographs, and documents.
Four finalists have been named in the “Memorials for the Future” design competition, launched to find new ways to create, experience and think about memorials in the nation’s Capitol. Competition sponsors on Wednesday announced the finalists, who were selected from a group of 30 semi-finalists by an 11-member jury.
The jurors originally planned to name three but ended up adding a fourth that they didn’t want to eliminate. The proposals were very different from each other, ranging from a series of oral histories of significant places, told by a “roving flock of bright parrot-like automated story tellers,” to high definition videos of national parks projected inside the Anacostia Metro station, to disappearing rows of cherry trees that would show the effect of climate change and rising sea levels.
The competition was organized by the National Park Service, the National Capital Planning Commission and the Van Alen Institute. The finalists will be asked to ask to take part in a research and design process that will lead to proposals for site specific memorials in Washington, D. C. A winner will be named on September 8. The finalists are:
American Wild: A Memorial
Team: DHLS. Members: Forbes Lipschitz, Halina Steiner, Shelby Doyle, Justine Holzman
American Wild virtualizes the National Parks through an interactive, immersive installation. Using ultra-high-definition video, recordings of each 59 natural parks can be projection-mapped at full scale. Audio recordings heighten the visceral experience and establish emotional connections to the landscape. The memorial democratizes National Park access by creating an installation in one of the most economically and racially diverse neighborhoods in the nation’s capital. Full scale, immersive environment design expands access to both phenomenological experience and ecological understanding. In so doing, the memorial reinvigorates the ways in which we interact with the cultural and biological diversity of the American landscape.
Team: Azimuth Land Craft. Members: Erik Jensen, Rebecca Sunter
A platform for witnessing rising seas, the Climate Chronograph is a living observatory for an unfolding global story. As seas rise, cherry trees die in place, becoming bare branched delineations of shorelines past. Over a lifetime, a visitor will experience the same place in its ever-changing condition, a legible demonstration of generational-paced change. This new memorial is continually becoming, and in doing so offers a new approach to monumentality. A light human hand sustainably initiates a profound pastoral meditation. This landscape chronograph marks both our vulnerability and our response. It records the challenges before us.
The IM(MIGRANT) : Honoring the Journey
Team: Honoring the Journey. Members: Radhika Mohan, Sahar Coston-Hardy, Janelle L. Johnson, Michelle Lin-Luse
The experience of movement and migration is the elemental experience of what it means to be an American. Leaving home, hopeful and expectant, and meeting hostility and kindness, misunderstanding and acceptance. Overcoming obstacles fueled by ambition and resourcefulness. Making a new home among people familiar and strange. Immigrant experiences, including those of native peoples, are at the foundation of the national psyche. They are also experiences that divide our country and have been a part of our political debate since the country’s founding. THE IM(MIGRANT) is a proposal that responds to these ideas, reinforcing core American beliefs by unfolding and commemorating the varied journeys that grandparents, parents, brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles, friends, and strangers have taken through the landscape of Washington, DC. It offers the visitor access to the experience of movement, of arrival, and of making a new home.
Team: Talk Talk. Members: Anca Trandafirescu, Troy Hillman, Yurong Wu, Amy Catania Kulper
VOICEOVER: histories, memories, and flights of fancy. VOICEOVER is a project that embraces a spirit of revisionism as a means toward a broader and more democratic form of national memorialization. Rather than a freestanding monument, VOICEOVER is a supplemental overlay that expands the original monuments’ meanings and extends the territory of possible memorial subjects deeply into Washington DC’s urban fabric. Fragmentary and dependent by nature VOICEOVER makes no claims toward cultural conclusions on historic events. Rather, VOICEOVER is a loud call to reawaken a nation to its relevant and multi-faceted pasts. It gives voice to the diverging understandings and conflicting perspectives of a multi-cultural society.
Thirty semi-finalists for the Memorials for the Future competition have been announced. Launched in mid-April, the competition was organized by the National Park Service (NPS), the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC), and Van Alen Institute, and seeks a design concept for a temporary memorial somewhere in Washington, D.C. (see our prior coverage here). Part of the competition criteria was that the memorial be adaptive to different perspectives/narratives, ephemeral, virtual, interactive, or event-focused.
One semi-finalist submission, The Installation of 6 Million Stars, commemorates the victims of the Holocaust. This interactive memorial consists of two joined open triangles whose lights can be activated digitally (i.e. remotely) or by touch. While certain details on this project are forthcoming, the proposal states that selecting a light would lead you to more information on a Holocaust victim’s name and his/her biography. Because the lights can be activated from different places and at different times, the memorial would be constantly changing. The Installation of 6 Million Stars intends to encourage the participation of young people through its digital interface.
Among the many semi-finalists that utilize digital technology is M.A.R.K. (Memorial Augmented Reality Key). M.A.R.K. consists of physical markers and a M.A.R.K. mobile device app. When a marker is scanned using the app, your phone can display different points in history of the landscape, “[adding] a visual and auditory layer of history to the existing scene,” according to the design summary found on the competition’s website. RFID, GPS, and your camera allow this virtual reality to be accessed. A timeline on your phone's screen acts as a time machine, from which users can select a time period to see the surrounding landscape. At a time when virtual reality experiences are exponentially gaining popularity, this type of memorial aims to fit into the dynamic environment of D.C. and encourage a broad audience to engage with history.
A less digitalized memorial is Memorials for the Future Lost Cities which commemorates cities that will likely be radically changed or destroyed by the rising sea level. An elevated pavilion-like structure located on Hains Point would include “a small exhibition space, a covered picnic/play area and a server to host a digital library.” The library will document the history of these “future lost cities.”
Of the semi-finalists, many pay tribute to American history, environmental concerns, or current issues such as terrorism and gun violence. Finalists will be announced on June 8.
The World War I Centennial Commission in Washington D.C. has announced Chicago–based designer Joe Weishaar and New York–based sculptor Sabin Howard as the winners of the World War I Memorial Competition.
The two stage competition solicited proposals to design a national WWI memorial for the Pershing Park, which currently contains a memorial to WWI General John J. Pershing. The park was designated a National WWI memorial by the federal government in late 2014, but the park was not been redeveloped to reflect this new designation.
Joe Weishaar & Sabin Howard’s design entitled "The Weight of Sacrifice", was picked from five shortlisted finalists after an open competition in 2015. The winning design is comprised of a 137’ long gradually slopping wall which surrounds a grass lawn and singular sculpture. The wall, constructed of darkened bronze is animated with reliefs depicting the various roles of soldiers throughout the war. The cubic space encapsulated by the wall is also equal to that of the number of U.S. Soldiers lost in the war – one cubic foot for each of the 116,516 lost. At the heart of the project is an intent to keep the site as a public park space. The project narrative reads, “The allegorical idea that public space and public freedom are hard won through the great sacrifices of countless individuals in the pursuit of liberty provides the original design concept for this project.”
The four other shortlisted offices included proposals ranging from contemporary rectilinear concepts to a neo-classical design reminiscent of a triumphal arch design. Each of the designs was guided by 10 design goals set forth by the World War I Centennial Commission. These included guidelines addressing enclosure, access, contextual considerations, and sustainability. The negotiation of what to do with the current park amenities and memorial was left up to the participants to address. The winning design proposes to keep the current General Pershing monument as it stands.
Though the park has already been designated as the National WWI Memorial, the park itself has also recently been named as being eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places by the National Park Service. If the park achieves this designation, there would be a foreseeable conflict of redevelopment as the project attempts to move forward. The parks current configuration was designed by landscape architects M. Paul Friedberg and Oehme van Sweden.
This year marks the 104th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, one of the most lethal industrial disasters in the United States. To the shock and delight of labor activists and descendants of workers who died in the fire, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo announced yesterday that the state would provide a $1.5 million grant to Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition (RTFC) to build a memorial at 29 Washington Place, the site of the former factory.
The grant, culled from state economic development funds, will cover the full cost of construction, the New York Timesreports.
The building that housed the factory still stands. Now owned by New York University (NYU), it houses some of NYU's biology and chemistry labs. Due to its significant place in labor history and the women's rights movement, the structure is a New York City and a National Historic Landmark.
In 2013, New York-based architects Richard Joon Yoo and Uri Wegman won the memorial design competition sponsored by RTFC. Yoo has his own firm, Half & Half Architecture, while Wegman practices at Matthew Baird. Their design,“Reframing the Sky,” is sensitive to the historic architecture while bringing visibility to labor issues, past and present.
The names of 146 victims will be inscribed on steel panels 13 feet above the sidewalk. At about knee height, a mirrored steel panel will reflect the etched names above before shooting up the side of the building to the eighth floor, where the fire originated. The lower panel will also feature a description of the blaze and its aftermath.
The insufficient fire safety and emergency exit measures the disaster exposed strengthened the organizing of the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union (ILGWU) and prompted building code and fire prevention reforms nationwide.
Mary Anne Trasciatti, president of RTFC, stated that the organization will raise an additional $1 million to maintain the memorial. The money will also fund scholarships for the children of present-day garment workers and students pursuing labor history.
The band Barenaked Ladies famously speculated on what a million dollars could buy: a little tiny fridge filled with pre-wrapped sausages, K-cars, a woman's eternal, undying love, or fancy ketchups. Well, this isn't the nineties anymore, and, as community leaders in Brooklyn are learning, seven figures will not be nearly enough to renovate and preserve the Brooklyn War Memorial.
New York's WXY, lead consultants on the 2014's Brooklyn Strand and 2013's Brooklyn Tech Triangle master plan, led the design team and facilitated community visioning sessions for the memorial.
The memorial renovation is a component of the "Brooklyn Strand," a project to unify the patchwork of parks, plazas, and green spaces between Brooklyn Bridge Park and Borough Hall. This month, the Mayor's Office released The Brooklyn War Memorial Feasibility Study to delineate proposed changes to the area.
Spearheaded by the Cadman Park Conservancy, the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, and the Borough President Eric Adams, community leaders are looking to raise $11.8 million by 2019 for the renovation. Adams has allocated $1 million to the project, but other politicians, businesses, and foundations will need to come forward with the difference.
Though the memorial, in Cadman Plaza Park, sits near eight subway lines, is proximate to a year-round farmer's market, and is often surrounded by lunching office workers, its prime location has not helped with fundraising. So far, the conservancy has received a paltry $4,060 through a May crowdfunding campaign.
WXY facilitated workshops with residents and community groups to generate ideas for the memorial and surrounding park space. Designed by New York's Eggers and Higgins and dedicated in 1951, the memorial honors the 300,000 Brooklynites who served in World War II. Due to lack of maintenance funds, the site has been closed to the public for the past quarter century.
Currently, the memorial building contains offices and storage on the lower level, while the primary attraction, a Wall of Honor that displays the names of more than 11,500 borough residents killed in battle, occupies the main floor. The renovation of the 33,660-square-foot space would add a visitor's center, exhibition hall, and cafe to the lower level, and a rooftop terrace that can be rented out for events. Gentle slopes will flank the entrance, inviting Strand strollers to linger around the memorial. An ADA compliant entrance ramp at the main level and elevator are planned, as well.