Ok, I Hate It. There I Said It: Pentagon Memorial Takes Shape

On this Memorial Day, I looked with great anticipation to the completion of the Pentagon memorial. After all, it has taken years and $22 million dollars (with a $10 million endowment) to complete. The first pictures were released below and I must say that I positively hate the design.

I simply cannot believe that this is the best that we could do to honor the fallen of 9-11. I have a special connection to this site because the plane essentially exploded in my rear-view mirror. I was driving past the stop of the collision when the plane hit seconds later.

I have watched the massive construction project for years. Both my wife and I were astonished when we saw the pictures this weekend. It is cold, uncreative, and devoid of artistic value. The designers appear to have struggle to make the scene as lifeless and barren as posible. I simply do not understand how the design could have been approved. While this may be a bit harsh, but there is a disturbing similarity with the Mars pictures released in the same weekend. Just add benches and a minimal number of trees and you have the same lifeless landscape.

I am a great fan of our memorials. Coming from a family of architects, I was raised to expect memorials to have lasting artistic significance. The two best are the Vietnam Memorial and the Oklahoma City bombing memorial. Indeed, every time that I go to Oklahoma city, I immediately go to the memorial and just sit there in that wonderfully moving space. The people of Oklahoma gave the nation as gem for generations to experience. The New Air Force memorial also meets the artistic and engineering expectations of a great memorial.

While I knew one of the victims on this plane, obviously the families have the greatest call on the design. However, I would have wanted something a bit warmer and less sterile. This could have been so much more for the families and other Americans.

You can be the judge with the pictures below.
For pictures, click here.

For the latest story, click here and here.

8 thoughts on “Ok, I Hate It. There I Said It: Pentagon Memorial Takes Shape”

  1. this diatribe against the pentagon memorial is completely inconsiderate of how emotionally moving the space actually is. have you seen the memorial plaza in person? no? i suspect you should go. i recommend nighttime viewing. do not let the simplistic minimalist aesthetic distract you from the consideration and planning that this memorial encompasses. if you took more than three braincells and two seconds to discuss, i believe that you would see how emotionally inclusive this tribute to the lives lost really is.

  2. I’m still going back and forth on this one, but I will say it strikes me as somewhat odd that the most post-modern memorials in Washington will likely be the two closest to the Pentagon (this one and the Air Force Memorial, which I freely admit to never having liked).

  3. Cindy:

    “… present callous, no-one-is-innocent, no-one-is-safe, jihad threat facing us that those at the Pentagon work to protect us….”

    Well that’s a little chicken little-ish if you ask me. We face threats everyday from a myriad of places and the Pentagon does their part along with scores of other agencies. We would do well to remember that our defense lies not in geometric buildings, but in our resolve not be more afraid that circumstances warrant. “Fear itself” is the real threat.

  4. I like it–the cold remembering of the pain is particularly appropriate for a memorial at the Pentagon, since it reminds us of the present callous, no-one-is-innocent, no-one-is-safe, jihad threat facing us that those at the Pentagon work to protect us from–the memorial reminds me that the pain is here to stay but to be channeled–it recalls those servants in defense of our country, and how in a way it honors them to live with this awareness rather than anaesthesize ourself to the reality of the threat facing us. It mobilizes popular sentiment to support the Pentagon and reflect gratefully upon those remembered.

  5. Kiddo:

    One of the finest comments I have read here–or anywhere– on the topic.

  6. I was on the parkway just in front of the pentagon when the plane hit. The shock wave made my car wiggle sideways. I looked up and saw the thin black mushroom cloud shoot up into that beautiful morning sky. I looked to my right for what would follow. I heard my own voice in my mind loudly say, “it’s over.” Its meaning occurred to me simultanously. My way of life, my innocence, my home was gone and would never again resemble what it had all my life.
    Practical concerns took over, and I rolled up the window thinking if the smoke is filled with especially harmful toxins, I had better not breathe it in.
    For weeks afterwards, I caught glimpses of what I can only describe as smudges. They were blurry airborne smears, black and opaque, and represented people who knew me when I was a kid. I told myself they were just saying goodbye. There were no crows that fall (at least none for me) just the smudges. This park evokes those. I don’t want to remember them as they were then, but as happy idealists, my Dad’s friendly coworkers. I wish the memorial did not seem to be one of the pain, but rather of the days before.
    Sorry for imposing my deeply personal disappointment on this usually lighthearted blog.

  7. What do you expect for a monument designed by committee? Rather than an uplifting experience to unite, it is a solitary experience to divide. That is the state of current monuments, purely introspective with no sense of camaraderie. It started with the black, descending Vietnam Veterans Memorial designed by Maya Lin and just got worse. (Obviously, we disagree on the architectural worth of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial as did many Veterans groups who felt that the heroism and patriotism of the conflict was overborne by the dark, contemplative nature of the structure and surrounding park.) Contrast that structure with the National WWII Memorial. If the French are correct, and you can truly judge a nation by its monuments, then we are in deep trouble.

  8. Very Eastern Block. Perhaps the plans were taken for the one’s cheney stole from putin to commemerate the reestablishment of the soviet union?

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