World War II is one of the most tragic events in history that has caused this country an enormous amount of casualties. For the city of Somerville, 287 veterans were killed in ac- tion. Somerville, which has the second lowest percentage of open space to land area among its neighbors, proposed a memorial site in honor of their fallen heroes. The site is currently the home to the Central Branch of Somerville’s Public Library and adjacent to a local high school. The objective is to create an ideal space for remembrance for the veteran’s who lost their lives for this country.
The idea for this memorial comes from the concept of layering different elements of spaces, materials, and circulation. The bisection of the site allowed the opportunity to form two unique spaces, one portraying towards the memorial and the other to the library. The memorial needed to be a place for tranquility in order to reflect on the presence of the veter- ans. To accomplish this goal, the main spaces were lowered into the site below grade with pathways following the bisection line meeting in the central space. One would gradually jour- ney into the memorial, while they become engulfed in the surrounding walls and tree canopy, losing their connections to the outside environment.
To separate the memorial from the outside further, the use of translucent glass is implemented to disconnect the pathways from the main space. One is then suggested to enter under a roof terrace into an intimate space enclosed by panes of glass and a deterio- rating wall made up of a mosaic like tiling and extrusions. At this time one is faced with the destructive nature of war and the pristine pureness of glass that represents the veterans. Following the pathway set by these elements, small-framed views are generated within the wall to have connection back to the environment. Within this intimate space one can reflect on the feeling of being alone, similar to a soldier fighting a war, with only brief glimpses to the world. The three panes of glass each relate to a specific set of years of the war. On each piece of glass are the names of the fallen combatants that perished during that time.
The larger space is dedicated for public gatherings and memorial services. The roof terrace of the walkway frames a large view of the open sky above. This starts to show the connection of being in an isolated area within a larger context. On the outside, when one walks around the on the side of the memorial, one can only view from a distance and not be apart of it. This is emulating the American families trying to view what is occurring in Eu- rope. They have an idea of what is happening, but not experiencing it first hand. On the up- per half of the site, space has been created for the public library. Adjacent to the path of cir- culation, there is an area for people to read outside in the fresh air. Benches are provided in a mirrored configuration of the panes of glass on the interior of the memorial.
The main idea of this memorial is to have a feeling of isolation within a larger context, but at the same time still have connections to the outside world. In comparison with the war, soldiers were very far from home fighting for their country, often feeling alone. This space is ideal for remembering those who had sacrificed their lives in World War II.
Status: Competition Entry
Location: Somerville, MA, US
My Role: Conceptual design, VectorWorks computer modeling, VRay rendering
Additional Credits: Brian Slozak