What will the memorials of the future look like? "Climate Chronograph," the competition winner, would disappear over time as water levels rise in Washington, D.C. (Azimuth Land Craft)
What will the memorials of the future look like?
Lexile

Take a walk through Washington. You'll find plenty of marble memorials. These are rife with statues and staid plaques. But is that what the future of the memorial-rich city holds? If the winners of a new design competition have their way, probably not.
 
As Jason Sayer reports for The Architect's Newspaper, the memorials of tomorrow don't bear much resemblance to the ones that can be found in the District today.
 
The winners of the Memorials for the Future design competition recently were announced. The competition was co-sponsored by the National Park Service, National Capital Planning Commission and the Van Alen Institute. As Sayer reports, the six-month competition challenged participants to rethink memorials for Washington. And, help spark ideas for new types of memorials around the U.S.
 
Michelle Z. Donahue reported for Smithsonian.com earlier this summer that the competition invited submissions from teams throughout the world. There were 89 teams from eight countries. The teams garnered over 300 participants. Ultimately, 30 semifinalists were identified. From them, four finalists were selected by a jury of architects, planners, fine arts experts and Washington stakeholders. Though the memorials selected won't actually be built in the city, they were intended to spark discussion about how to think of memorials in a dramatically different future.
 
Climate Chronograph was the winning project by Team Azimuth Land Craft (San Francisco-based landscape architects Erik Jensen and Rebecca Sunter). It dramatically departs from memorials as we know them. The project memorializes the bleak legacy of climate change. It proposes a memorial at Hains Point. That's a spot nestled between the Potomac River and Washington Channel. Just 100 years ago, the manmade island was part of the river. It came into existence after the National Park Service decided to turn the confluence of the waters into a tidal basin. That was to protect the nearby National Mall from floods.
 
Those floods are expected to come more and more often as the climate changes. Climate Chronograph will memorialize those changes. Cherry trees will be planted as a kind of tidal gauge. Future visitors will be able to determine just how much water levels have risen.
 
"Nature will write our story, our choices, into the landscape as we face this most vulnerable moment," the team writes in its project brief.
 
The winning concept may be bleak. But the larger competition is anything but. Honorable mention projects included a project that unleashes mechanical parrots. These would fly over the Jefferson Memorial and collect and retell stories about monuments. 
 
Another project was a podcast platform that puts immigrant stories on public transportation. And another was an interactive memorial that brings national parks to the D.C. Metro. The competition also produced a report that points to ways America can better memorialize the things that matter - strategies that could help cities save money and space.
 
That's good news, especially given that D.C.'s iconic Mall has been closed to new construction. The memorials of the future won't just turn collective memories toward the stories of new phenomena and groups like climate change and immigrants. Rather, it seems that they'll make use of space in new, creative ways. No marble needed.

Filed Under:  
Assigned 166 times
CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
What has changed that will influence the look of future monuments?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (46)
  • andrewt1-pav
    9/20/2016 - 09:56 a.m.

    This is a good idea because not only will the park be beautiful, but the trees will soak in the water during floods and help reduce flooding.

    • lexieh-stu
      10/04/2016 - 11:55 a.m.

      I agree. It will definitely make the park look amazing, and it could also help the environment in so many ways.

  • nataliak-pav
    9/20/2016 - 09:56 a.m.

    memorials made of marble are a classic but with these new designs of memorials in the water will be a great way for people to get up and moving. Not only will it be historical but it will be a trip to remember.

  • lizm-pav
    9/20/2016 - 09:58 a.m.

    I think it is cool that they are remaking the memorials. I also think its cool that they are trying to platform the stories of many immigrants. People are trying to start becoming more and more useful of natural resources and cutting down on things that are very expensive like marble. If they achieved all of their goals, D.C. will not only look better, but will have more money to use on other projects that they need to do.

  • hayleel-ste
    9/21/2016 - 01:32 p.m.

    This is a good idea because it will make it look really pretty. It could also help the environment in so many ways leading to a better world, making it a better place.

  • carmenh-orv
    9/22/2016 - 02:50 p.m.

    I think technology has influenced the way future monuments will look like because machines will be able to make more precise cut and chisels in the art work. Making them look more realistic.

  • kmadison-dav
    9/22/2016 - 05:34 p.m.

    I think it is cool that they are remaking the memorials. I also think its cool that they are trying to platform the stories of many immigrants. People are trying to start becoming more and more useful of natural resources. If they achieved all of their goals, D.C. will not only look better, but will have more money to use on other important things.

  • nathanm14-ste
    9/23/2016 - 01:46 p.m.

    This is a very interisting idea and a much different and revolutionary one at that. We have been making marbel statues and huge stone structures ever since the begining of recorded human history. Its kinmd of getting old. As well, this idea is far more friendly towards nature than destroying land to make room for statues. This also makes use of a vacant manmade spit of land in the middle of the Patomic River. Cool idea, very cool.

  • aleahs-kul
    9/26/2016 - 12:33 p.m.

    Climate has an effect on memorials and wearing away the texture. I like the big stones to remember loved ones. I think there will be more creative ways and ideas to remember the lost and loved ones. They should still have something that means something more than just the person. It would be neat to have memorials that connect to the person in some way in how they lived. (69 words)

    • andrewf-kul
      9/27/2016 - 04:03 p.m.

      That would be awesome to be able to like connect with a Vietnam war vet and like experience what the war was like.

Take the Quiz Leave a comment
ADVERTISEMENT