Over this long weekend, it can be easy to forget the intent of this holiday; it is for remembrance of those who lost their lives while serving in the United States Armed forces. Throughout the country, memorials have been built to honor those who served in various wars and act as reminders for their sacrifice.
As architects, when we are presented with the opportunity to design one of these great memorials, we aren't designing for our client; we are designing for those who we are remembering. This dynamic creates an opportunity for storytelling and embracing our pasts so that these memorials may speak to future generations about a moment in time.
A great example of designing a memorial is Maya Lin's Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. This project is made of two walls that are sunk into the ground with the earth behind them. The walls meet at the highest point of 10' which is actually below ground. The walls are etched with the names of the soldiers based on when they died and not alphabetically. At the climax is when the largest amount of people died. This tells the story of the war and organizes the names so that visitors experience the magnitude of the war. The finish of the wall is highly reflective to bring the past and the present together. The walls are oriented to point towards the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial.
One project T.M. Rybak and Associates, P.C. is very proud of is the New Jersey Korean War Veterans Memorial we submitted to Atlantic City as part of a design competition, which we were selected as one of 6 finalists. For this memorial, site strategy and pedestrian circulation played an important role in its development. Our proposal was simple; it composed of a curved concrete way, intersected by two glass panels. This wall drew the public in from the board walk as it tapered up towards the sky. Displayed on the wall were the 800+ New Jersey Veterans that gave their lives for us. The two glass panels housed a kiosk used as an automated information center for locating veterans who served in the conflict. The outside of the glass panels were etched with articles from the NJ papers depicting significant events of the war.
Take this opportunity over the weekend to visit your a memorial near you and remember those who served our country!