Monuments and Memorials
| How can we
best honor our dead? Should we pay tribute with realistic sculptures of our
heroes? Or, will the monument be more meaningful and profound if we choose
abstract forms? |
Often the most powerful memorials — the monuments that stir strong emotion — are surrounded with controversy. The memorials listed here show various ways architects and designers have chosen to honor heroes or respond to tragic events.
|Holocaust MemorialIn May 2005,
on the 60th anniversary of the fall of the Nazi regime and the end of World War
II, the city of Berlin
dedicated their Holocaust Memorial, designed to commemorate the murder of six
million European Jews at the hands of Hitler and his forces.|
The idea for a Holocaust Memorial was first proposed in 1988 but the design for the monument wasn’t approved until 1999. At that time, U.S. architect Peter Eisenman’s controversial design was chosen as a fitting tribute to the Jews that died before and during World War II as part of Hitler’s plan to exterminate the race.
Eisenman’s design is quite unique and has drawn both praise and criticism. Occupying about 205,000 square feet 19,000 square meters) of space near the Brandenburg Gate and just a short distance from where the ruins of Hitler’s bunker is buried, the Berlin Holocaust Memorial is made up of 2,711 gray stone slabs that bear no markings, such as names or dates.
The slabs undulate in a wave-like pattern. Each is a five-sided monolith, individually unique in shape and size. Some are only ankle high while others tower over visitors. Eisenman hoped to create a feeling of groundlessness and instability; a sense of disorientation. Most will agree that he succeeded.
Visitors may walk through the memorial in any direction as there is no set pattern to the stones. The architect has said that he hopes it will merely become a natural part of the city, blending in with its background; used for shortcuts on the way home from work or a place of peace and quiet on a chaotic day.
Vietnam Veterans Statue The controversy over Maya Lin's abstract design for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial led to the inclusion of this figurative work, erected two years after the Wall's completion. This bronze work is in a grove of trees near the west entrance to the wall. Three servicemen, wearing the uniforms of the various military and naval branches, represent the racial diversity of the troops.
The Martin Luther King Memorial in Seattle, Washington. Robert Kelly designed the sculpture and fountain for the Martin Luther King Memorial in Seattle, Washington. It was dedicated November 16, 1991.
Rising from an elliptical reflecting pool in the Martin Luther King Memorial Park, Robert Kelly's sculpture is a symbolic memorial to the slain civil rights leader. Carved from black granite, the 30-foot sculpture was inspired by Martin Luther King's "I've Been to the Mountaintop" speech, made the day before he was assassinated in 1968. The monument is composed of three segments representing the Christian Trinity and also the union of mother, father, and child. Twelve bronze plaques around the edge of the pool relate key events from Martin Luther King's life: his birth, his winning of the Nobel Peace Prize, his assassination and the creation of the national holiday in his honor. The sculpture and fountain are surrounded by a hillside with six curving terraces offering views of Rainier Valley.
Robert Kelly was a Seattle native and an instructor at Edmonds Community College. The concept for the memorial originated with Seattle resident Charlie James.
September 11 Monuments and Memorials
Can stone, steel, or glass convey the horror of September 11, 2001? The monuments and memorials listed below pay tribute in very different ways. Envisioned by Michael Arad and Peter Walker, "Reflecting Absence" will be built to honor those killed at the Trade Center on September 11, 2001 and February 26, 1993. As part of the memorial, architect Craig Dykers designed a museum that incorporates parts of the original towers that were destroyed.
Mausoleum in Moscow |
1924 - 1930: Designed by Alexei Shchusev, Lenin's Mausoleum is made of simple cubes in the form of a step pyramid.
Interest in the old styles was briefly reawakened during the 1800s, but with the 20th century came the Russian Revolution -- and a revolution in the visual arts. The avant-garde Constructivist movement celebrated the industrial age and the new socialist order. Stark, mechanistic buildings were constructed from mass produced components.
Designed by Alexei Shchusev, Lenin's Mausoleum has been described as a masterpiece of architectural simplicity. The mausoleum was originally a wooden cube. The body of Vladimir Lenin, founder of the Soviet Union, was displayed inside a glass casket. In 1924, Shchusev built a more permanent mausoleum made of wooden cubes assembled into a step pyramid formation. In 1930, the wood was replaced with red granite (symbolizing Communism) and black labradorite (symbolizing mourning). The austere pyramid stands just outside the Kremlin wall.
de Triomphe de l'Étoile |
Commissioned by Napoléon I to commemorate his military conquests, the Arc de Triomphe is the world's largest triumphal arch. Architect Jean François Thérèse Chalgrin's creation is twice the size of the ancient Roman Arch of Constantine after which it is modeled. Work on the Arc stopped when Napoléon was defeated in 1814, but started up again in 1833 in the name of King Louis-Philippe I, who dedicated it to the glory of the French armed forces. Guillaume Abel Blouet completed the Arc based on Chalgrin's design, and is the architect actually credited on the monument itself.
An emblem of French patriotism, the Arc de Triomphe is engraved with the names of war victories and 558 generals (those who died at war are underlined). An Unknown Soldier buried under the arch and an eternal flame of remembrance lit since 1920 commemorate victims of the world wars. On national holidays like Armistice Day and Bastille Day, the decorated Arc de Triomphe features at the beginning or end of a parade or other celebration.
Each of the Arc's pillars is adorned with one of four large sculptural reliefs: The Departure of the Volunteers in 1792 (aka La Marseillaise) by François Rude; Napoléon's Triumph of 1810 by Cortot; and Resistance of 1814 and Peace of 1815, both by Etex. The simple design and immense size of the Arc de Triomphe are typical of late 18th-century romantic neoclassicism.