The Four Finalists For DC’s Memorial of the Future

by Nena Perry-Brown

As the world has advanced its technology by leaps and bounds over the years, one thing that has remained constant is the appearance and experience of commemorative memorials, of which DC has plenty.

Last fall, the National Park Service (NPS) and National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) teamed up with Van Alen Institute to present the Memorials for the Future competition, which seeks to modernize how memorials are presented. On Wednesday night, one month after receiving the applications for concepts, the panel of jurors has chosen four finalists:

American Wild: A Memorial

The Four Finalists For DC's Memorial of the Future: Figure 1

In order to democratize the experience of visiting one of the nation’s many National Parks, this memorial will use full-scale high-definition projections of the memorials with accompanying audio. These will be projected either into a pod-like “portable immersive theatre” that functions more similarly to a planetarium, or onto existing infrastructure — namely, the interiors of Metrorail stations, with the Anacostia station being the first. Visitors will be able to interact with the display on their smartphones and through social media.

Climate Chronograph

The Four Finalists For DC's Memorial of the Future: Figure 2

This memorial is more of a reality check than a jubilant celebration, as it is a living (or dying) record of the rising sea levels. To be built along the waterline at Hains Point in Potomac Park, a stepped series of planted cherry trees on a tilted plane will interact with the sea levels as they gradually rise. Visitors will bear witness to the impact of climate change in a real way, as the water will have overtaken more of the plane from decade to decade.

The IM(MIGRANT) : Honoring the Journey

The Four Finalists For DC's Memorial of the Future: Figure 3

An ode to both immigration and the Great Migration, this proposal takes a more neighborhood-based approach to commemoration by extending the lines of the city’s monumental core into periphery neighborhoods. Various sites along those pathways will have oral histories that visitors can listen to and regain a sense of history and context for places both near and far. The first location will be the Minnesota Avenue corridor, where stories will range from honoring the African American Heritage Trail to remembering the emigration of refugees from Laos and Somalia to the state of Minnesota. This particular memorial route will culminate at Randle Circle, where the public space will be transformed into a living memorial through performance arts.


The Four Finalists For DC's Memorial of the Future: Figure 4

Voiceover will take recorded oral histories and deliver them to the public through the deployment of storytelling parrots. No, really — each selected site will feature a brightly-colored parrot that will periodically swoop down to hearing-level and transmit the originally-recorded words and voice of whomever’s story would best enhance the experience of that particular site. These can be anywhere from existing monument sites to more unique cultural and personal sites, with histories ranging from official records to those of long-time residents.

The finalists will receive a $15,000 stipend to further their research and design, and the winner of the competition will be announced this fall. For more information about the finalists and what the competition entails, visit the website here.

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/four_finalists_announced_for_memorial_of_the_future/11336

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