i+D - July/August 2019 - 34

Commemoration & Inspiration - By Brian Libby

Architect
Daniel Libeskind
designed the National
Holocaust Monument-
Landscape of Loss,
Memory, and Survival-
which conveys the
singularity of
the Holocaust.
(Image: doublespace
photography)

Libeskind believes that, while memorials and monuments are
typically outdoor installations, they often act like indoor spaces.
"The memorial has to have interiority," he says. "It's not just
as you approach it from the outside. What does it feel like when
you're immersed in a space? It has a lot of echoes of being
in an interior space. It's striking that balance between creating
a symbolic whole, but also creating a space for every participant
to have their own experiences. A memorial can't be just an
abstract idea, but has to provide each person with their own
holistic experience. You're involving the visitor as a co-creator
in a sense. I think that's what I always seek. It's only half of the
design. The other half is completed by visitors, in my view."
Stastny agrees. "I believe a great memorial is very much like a
great piece of interior design," he reveals. "It isn't necessarily
the exterior envelope or architecture. It's what you experience
coming into it. The most important thing is that sense of
entry, and the sequential experience you go through: how you
use the space. I think a great interior designer could do a
great memorial."

A Memorial in Conversation
If part of a memorial's role is storytelling, ultimately some of the best ones
take this a further step, making for a two-way conversation. Two recent
collaborations between MASS Design Group and artist Hank Willis Thomas-
the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama, and
"The Embrace" on Boston Common-do just that.
The National Memorial for Peace and Justice sits on a hill like The Acropolis
of Athens seen from a distance. Its long, low-slung rectangular structure,
open to the sky at its center, suspends 800 weathered steel blocks from its
ceiling, each one etched with the names of lynching victims. But, there also
are additional installations and artworks that tell the story of racial violence,
including Thomas' piece "Raise Up," depicting a cement wall with statues
with their arms raised.

At the National
Memorial for Peace and
Justice, "Raise Up" by
Hank Willis Thomas
expresses issues of police
violence and racially
biased criminal justice.

Perhaps most ingeniously, the memorial includes an additional group
of steel blocks that have been offered to counties across America, so that
they too may express responsibility for lynching by displaying the blocks,
making this truly a national memorial. "Understanding comes at different
times and through different mechanisms," explains architect Michael
Murphy, MASS Design Group's founding principal and executive director.
"It's a testament to when we aspire to something greater than ourselves;
things come together and merge."

(Image: Equal Justice
Initiative ⁄ Human Pictures)

34

i+D - July/August 2019



i+D - July/August 2019

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https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20200910_french
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