Coalescence blends the unique character of a memorial space with the social and ecological functions of a contemporary urban park. As a counterpoint to the largely formal, geometric and lawn-dominated memorial spaces in D.C., the park is curvilinear and planted with lush vegetation to provide experiential richness while acknowledging important sightlines and incorporating a central space for remembrance.
The circular shape of the memorial symbolizes both unity and infinity. Yet, rather than a single element, the memorial consists of countless individual posts referencing the thousands of soldiers that fought in WWI. The gaps symbolize the fallen soldiers and are ‘filled’ with in-ground spotlights to illuminate the monument at night. At the same time, the gaps allow sights and pedestrian movement through the memorial. Created out of highly reflective aluminum coated steel, the memorial adapts to, and reflects the changing sky as well as the night-time illumination. Subtle grading of the ground plane not only unique accentuates the memorial circle, it also makes that visitors entering from either the north or south side of the memorial will have a completely different experience—shifting slowly from open to more enclosed or visa-versa. The statues of John J. Pershing and the Bald Eagle are relocated to the northwest and southeast corners of the park respectively.
The north side promenade incorporates existing trees and provides comfortable gathering spaces. In contrast, the benches situated along the curvilinear pathways in the vegetated areas create more intimately scaled experiences. These lush grasses, perennials and scattered canopy trees provide year-round interest while simultaneously creating microclimates and habitat areas for birds and insects. Moreover, the vegetation will help infiltrate and filter stormwater, absorb pollutants and CO2, and reduce urban heat island effects.
Washington, design outdoor space and landscape, competition, i.c.w. Kees Lokman, landscape architecture, public space design, urban design, ecology, garden design, Flux landscape architecture, Utrecht, 2016