Wellington, New Zealand
Dear Mr. Cleland:
In its meeting of 18 February, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed a concept design for a new U.S. memorial at the National War Memorial Park in Wellington, New Zealand. The Commission approved the general concept, requesting a revised concept submission with further development of the design and its documentation.
The Commission members expressed support for the essential design concept for a small site: a spiral progression through a bermed landscape that ultimately reveals an inscription on a central stone panel. Noting that the memorial has now been assigned to a specific parcel, they raised concerns that this concept has not been satisfactorily oriented within and adapted to this urban corner site and the larger memorial park. They recommended developing the design to better differentiate the memorial space from the surrounding context, emphasizing the importance of carefully shaping the ground plane to enhance the project’s experiential sequence and conceptual unity. Given the small size of the parcel, they recommended that the elements of the design—the inscribed panel, the surrounding berms, the walks, and the site’s perimeter walls— be simplified and reconceived as an integrated formal idea as opposed to a series of nested systems framing the central panel. For the panel itself, they questioned whether the text would be large enough to be legible, and they recommended that the stone “waves” whose faces bear the inscribed words be modeled artistically, rather than with the more mechanical, digitally derived appearance that was presented. They suggested that the formal qualities of the waves could inform the design of the surrounding berms and other site elements.
The Commission looks forward to a direct dialogue with the memorial’s designers in the review of a revised concept submission that responds to these recommendations and includes more careful and complete documentation of the proposed design. As always, the staff is available to assist you.
/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA
The Honorable Max Cleland, Secretary
American Battle Monuments Commission
2400 Clarendon Boulevard, Suite 500
Arlington, VA 22201-3367
cc: Harry Robinson III, TRG Consulting Global
Monica Ponce de Leon, MPdL Studio
Michael Blier, Landworks Studio