National World War II Memorial

Dear General Kelley:

On the evening before the Commission's May meeting, the members visited the World War II Memorial to inspect the night lighting and were greatly pleased with the overall execution of the memorial design and the quality of construction. However, in regard to the lighting, it was noted that there were several areas where the quality of illumination could be improved. We understand that on the night of our visit a few of the electrical circuits were not fully functional and were in the process of being sorted out. However, there were individual lighting fixtures that should be adjusted, refocused or need to be shielded to provide a more pleasing effect. The fixtures, embedded in the inner-ramp walls, that illuminate the 56 pillars, produce a harsh glare for the visitors walking on the ramps to the archways. Perhaps the light source could be better shielded, baffled or screened so that one cannot see directly into the lamp. A similar condition was experience at the base of the wall of stars with the glare from the underwater lights, and with the accent lights, embedded in the top of the wreaths, that highlight the four eagles in the baldachinos. Each of these instruments should have shields or baffles installed to prevent the light source from being seen. Several members also commented on the intensity of the lights under the two main fountain jets. All the water features should gently glow and not be a major source of light within the plaza. Dimming these lights by 20 to 30 percent can easily achieve this effect.

The members were also concerned with the "scalloped" effect produced by the floor-mounted floodlights that illuminate the bas-relief panels and balustrade walls of the east entrance. These fixtures should be carefully refocused to smooth out the light to produce a more even wash of light on the balustrade walls. In addition, shields or baffles should be installed on these fixtures to prevent the light source shining directly into the eyes of the visitors.

Outside the memorial plaza the members commented that they thought the post lights on the encircling walkways were too bright and that the general level of illumination on the walks should be lowered. For the area around the Circle of Remembrance, the members found the light levels to be appropriate with the existing lights and would discourage the installation of additional post lights. Nonetheless, just the opposite was felt about the elm walks west of the memorial. The members perceived these areas as dark, threatening and very uninviting at night. The members how that you will join them in encouraging the National Park Service to illuminate these walks as soon as possible.

The above may seem light a laundry list of small items to address, but the members pass these comments on in the hope that ultimatly the quality of light in and around the memorial will match that of the memorial itself. We look forward to visiting the memorial again at night to see the final adjustments to the lights. Please coordinate the inspection visit with the staff when ready.


/s/ David M. Childs, FAIA

General Paul X. Kelley, USMC (Ret.)
Chairman, American Battle Monuments Commission
Courthouse Plaza II, Suite 501
2300 Clarendon Boulevard
Arlington, VA 22201

cc: General John Herrling, ABMC
William B. Owenby, ABMC
Terry Carlstrom, National Park Service
John Parsons, National Park Service