Dear Ms. O'Dell:
Before its meeting of 19 March, the Commission of Fine Arts visited the site of the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial at 2nd and C Streets, SW to inspect a mockup of the glass panels as well as markers indicating the height and location of the memorial's elements. This letter reflects the comments of the Commission members as subsequently reported in the Commission's public meeting.
The Commission members endorsed the concept design of the layered glass panels and bronze silhouettes, commenting that the experience of the artwork would be powerful and moving. They noted that the reflective quality of the glass panels will provide an evocative link between visitors and the memorial; they recommended simplicity in the composition of layered images. The Commission members also supported the conceptual treatment of the lettering on the panels, saying that incised or translucent lettering would be preferable to opaque lettering, and suggesting the use of a related hierarchy of typography for the different types of inscriptions.
Regarding the overall design of the memorial as laid out in the mockup, the Commission members expressed concern about public access to and through the site, both visually and physically. They commented that the stone wall proposed for the west side of the site will obscure views of the Capitol dome from 2nd Street as well as views into the memorial; they questioned whether the width of the proposed gap in the wall is adequate. They strongly recommended that the height, scale, and configuration of this feature be reconsidered; one Commission member suggested that the wall be relocated or eliminated. They also commented that the entrances to the plaza may be unnecessarily constricted and that the water element may still be too large.
The Commission looks forward to further development of the design and requests the opportunity to inspect a more detailed mockup of the memorial, including a three-dimensional representation of the volume of the wall and a full outline of the water element in plan, as well as information about the treatment of proposed lighting sources. As always, the staff is available to assist you.
/s/Thomas E. Luebke, AIA
Margaret O'Dell, Regional Director
National Park Service, National Capital Region
1100 Ohio Drive, SW
Washington, DC 20242
cc: Peter May, National Park Service
Michael Vergason, Michael Vergason Landscape Architects, Ltd.
Barry Owenby, Disabled Veterans' LIFE Memorial Foundation, Inc.