Civic Pride: 4 Projects for Reflection

National September 11 Memorial & Museum - Photo by James Ewing via Architectural Record

It is time to reflect.  Many Americans will be gathering at Ground Zero for the dedication of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum marking the tenth anniversary of the World Trade Center disaster.  This occasion not only causes me to look inward, but reminds me as well of the importance of civic projects and the impact they can have on the public in helping us understand the magnitude of events, people, and places that have shaped our world.  Below is a survey of four current civic projects in the US that honor its heroes, salute its veterans, and give us all time to reflect.

National September 11 Memorial & Museum

In order to fill the void that the attacks of 9/11 created, a design by Daniel Libeskind (master plan architect) and the efforts of Handel Architects & Peter Walker and Partners, had to respect the fallen and create some kind of closure for what happened that day. The National September 11 Memorial & Museum has accomplished a minimalistic approach to the space and has emphasized beautifully the original towers’ footprints, memorializing the past in a captivating way.

The Pavilion at Ground Zero is the lone structure on the memorial site. Contained within the Pavilion are artifacts and remnants from the two towers. Artifacts include the ubiquitous tridents from the base of the towers, a deformed fire truck engine, as well as everyday items that tell individual stories. Sight lines to the Pavilion have been accentuated by colonnades of trees with the tridents to be the first and last artifact seen from both outside and inside the Pavilion. For more information on the project, visit the links above.

Discovery Channel’s Rising: Rebuilding Ground Zero has done a great job of showcasing the day-to-day of those involved with the rebuilding process at Ground Zero and how their lives are forever changed and attached to the site. Also, see the 9/11 Memorial at the Pentagon.

San Francisco Veterans Memorial Competition

The winning design for the San Francisco Veterans Memorial, submitted by Susan Narduli and Andrea Cochran, is entitled “Passage of Remembrace”. The memorial’s website has the design proposal in detail:

“…the focal point of Susan Narduli and Andrea Cochran’s proposal is a series of three reflection pools circumscribed by an octagon of stone. Seen from above, the pools form a circle of gently flowing water that glides over polished stone in sloping planes from the street to the garden below. The interplay between the circle and the octagon is meant to symbolize the merging of heaven and eternity (circle) and earth (octagon). An open metal weave walkway floats above the water and takes visitors through the memorial. The walkway is anchored on either side by basalt walls that reflect the image of passersby. The west wall is inscribed with a poem by World War I veteran Archibald MacLeish titled The Young Dead Soldiers Do Not Speak.”

Located between Van Ness Avenue and Franklin Street, in the courtyard space of the War Memorial Opera House, visitors to the City Hall building and the Opera House will first pass by the Veterans Memorial. The memorial will be among some of the finest civic buildings and public spaces in the Bay Area, with notable sites like Civic Plaza, UN Plaza, Civic Center Auditorium, and the San Francisco Public Library to name a few.

Check out more photos and the proposal board on our post here.

President’s Park South Design Competition

Of the five finalist, Rogers Marvel Architects’ proposal for the President’s Park South Design Competition was selected. Entitled “E Street For Public Life,” Marvel’s project had stiff competition from Hood Design Studio, Michael van Valkenburgh Associates, Reed Hilderbrand Associates, and Sasaki Associates. Below is a design proposal of the winning entry:

“President’s Park South is a destination for Washingtonians and visitors, both national and international. As the platform to petition the President, it is the perfect place to demonstrate the security of an open society. Our proposed plan for E Street and the Ellipse collectively and comprehensively act in the service of security and as amenities to further public use of public space.

In recent years, necessary security measures have isolated the White House grounds from the surrounding public spaces. President’s Park is experienced as a series of disconnected outdoor areas. The Ellipse is segregated from the White House grounds. E Street is closed to traffic yet not available as public space. New designs must draw from existing resources such as the landscape and dimensions of the Ellipse, the public qualities of a continuous E Street, and weave present needs with the underlying intent of the Park’s original plan in order to restore the visual grandeur and freedom of this cultural landscape.

The Ellipse is a cultural asset; it is also a resource for security design. In most cases, urban environments require security measures in close proximity. Public activity can be choked between barriers. Increasing setbacks is often recommended but seldom implementable. The dimensions of the Ellipse provide a unique opportunity to develop a true defense-in-depth strategy. By subtly altering the grade of the Ellipse, perimeter interdiction is designed to prevent the passage of vehicles while allowing open pedestrian access. With more than nine-hundred feet between the layers of perimeter security, public activity can thrive and citizens become more clearly connected to the Executive.

Downing’s plan for the Ellipse’s northern side panels included strong crossing circulation that linked the President’s Park with the President’s Grounds. That 1851 drawing offers a solution for today’s demands. New Groves have been designed in deference to that plan. The four islands within each of Downing’s side panels have been reintroduced and shaped to reduce conflicts with security operations, improve access and circulation, support event and seasonal programming, and promote active daily use.

Relocating the initial interdiction line and fully realizing the potential of the E Street Groves allows E Street to become the generous public way envisioned in early plans. The procession from 15th Street and 17th Street once again become integral to the experience of President’s Park. The approach to the White House grounds culminates in a new E Street Terrace that joins the space of the Ellipse with the White House; a space that joins the people with their President.”

Marvel’s Design will be reviewed by the National Park Service and the United States Secret Service over the course of the next year to exam it and deem it feasible. For more information, check the President’s Park South Design Competition website.

Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial

The words “I have a dream” have been ringing loud and clear ever since Martin Luther King Jr. spoke on August 28th, 1963, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. Now, his larger than life statue is ever present at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. The memorial was recently completed and was to be officially dedicated on August 28th, 2011, on the anniversary of his speech 48 years ago, but thanks to Hurricane Irene, it was postposed.

In 2000, ROMA Design Group was the winner for the competition. Planning, funding, and construction took almost 12 years, but it finally came to fruition in August of 2011. The finishing touches are currently being put on the project, mainly plants, softscape items, and lighting.

For more information about this project, visit the official website.

In later posts, I will survey other memorials from around the globe.

First Photo by James Ewing via ArchRecord


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