Memorials are a touchy subject, especially in a historically rich location like Washington D.C. So how can designing a memorial be redeveloped for the 21st century and future generations? In what compelling ways can a memorial tell the story of those being remembered, and how can current conventions be challenged? These were a few of the objectives in the “Memorials for the Future” competition, organized by the U.S. National Park Service, National Capital Planning Commission, and the Van Alen Institute.
At the end of the competition, “Climate Chronograph” by team Azimuth Land Craft took the winning title, and Honorable Mentions went to “American Wild: A Memorial” by DHLS; “The IM(MIGRANT)” by Honoring the Journey; and “VOICEOVER” by Talk Talk.
The competition's findings report “Not Set in Stone: Memorials for the Future” summarized the most prevalent themes and trends among the submissions, which could potentially become a handy reference for organizations, planners, and designers anywhere. Considering the evolving cultural and natural landscape of the U.S., several entries emphasized timely themes like: equally engaging the past as much as the present and future; allowing for changing narratives; using local settings for national issues, and considering ephemeral, mobile, and temporary forms.
Have a look at the top entries below.
Project excerpt: Taking on the perspective of a kayaker, “Climate Chronograph” is envisioned as a public record of rising sea levels, which act as “a living observatory for an indeterminate emergent process, [wherein] Nature will write our story into the landscape as we face this most vulnerable moment.” Full team report
“American Wild: A Memorial”. Team: DHLS. Members: Shelby Doyle, Justine Holzman, Forbes Lipschitz, Halina Steiner
Project excerpt: “The National Parks are a living memorial to a uniquely American idea of wilderness. In celebration of the National Parks Centennial, American Wild captures the majesty of the nation’s landscape and brings it to the Nation’s capital. Located in the L’Enfant Plaza Station...[and using] ultra-high-definition video, recordings of each of the 59 National Parks are projection-mapped at full scale onto the coffered ceiling of L’Enfant Plaza Station...The memorial lasts for 59 days – one day for each park. This timeline of the National Park Service’s 100-year history serves as a visual advocate for Service’s next 100 years. In so doing, American Wild serves not only as a steward of the National Park’s legacy but also a steward of its future.” Full team report
“The IM(MIGRANT)”. Team: Honoring the Journey. Members: Sahar Coston-Hardy, Janelle L. Johnson, Michelle Lin-Luse, Radhika Mohan
Project excerpt: “The Im(migrant) proposal is a living memorial, didactic in nature, elevating the narratives of our ancestors as an integral part of American history. The stories of movement, arrival, and the making of a new home are collected and shared through this mobile and adaptable memorial whose programming is curated to explore America’s immigration and migration stories, while also responding to the context of Washington, D.C.” Full team report
“VOICEOVER”. Team: Talk Talk. Members: Troy Hillman, Amy Catania Kulper, Anca Trandafirescu, Yurong Wu
Project excerpt: “VOICEOVER is a memorial project designed to ‘overlay’ on our national monuments. It will collect and record the wide-ranging stories told by everyday people about the monuments. Then, it will organize the collection into an accessible oral archive to be preserved at the Library of Congress. Lastly, VOICEOVER’s pink flying mechanical parrots will ‘retell’ the many collected stories at the memorials themselves. Each day new sites will be featured and more versions of our nation’s rich and diverse story will be added to the ‘portrait.’” Full team report
The winning and finalist entries are currently on public display at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts until October 20.
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