City of Makati, Philippines
Dear Secretary Cleland:
In its meeting of 16 June, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed a concept submission for a new visitor center building at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in the Philippines. The Commission approved the general proposal and requested a revised concept with the following comments for the development of the design.
The Commission members observed the strong spatial and axial organization of the cemetery, whose tropical landscape of lawns and small groves of trees is set within a radially sloping topography. While they expressed appreciation for the elegance and restraint of the proposal, they recommended that the design of the visitor center be more deliberate in its relationship to the landscape, rather than treated as an architectural object to be partially obscured within plantings. They suggested that the entrance could be more emphatic as the terminus of the secondary axis leading from the visitor parking area; they also questioned the decision to locate the restrooms in an ancillary structure separate from the main building. Acknowledging the concern about the potential length of the new building, they suggested that its appearance may actually be improved by the inclusion of roof overhangs, breezeways, or small courts, which could help articulate the linear building as it inflects naturally with the grade. They also advised taking care to accommodate the extensive root systems of the tropical trees.
As part of the revised concept submission, the Commission requested additional information that documents the proposed building’s relation to its context and site, including more precise information on existing vegetation. As always, the staff is available to assist you with the further development of the concept design.
/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA
The Honorable Max Cleland, Secretary
American Battle Monuments Commission
2300 Clarendon Boulevard, Suite 500
Arlington, VA 22201-3367
cc: Harry G. Robinson III, TRG Consulting Global
David Richter, Richter Architects