Memorials for the Future

Memorials for the Future
Washington, D.C.

2015-2016 (Developed as part of Van Alen Institute employment)

Memorials enshrine what we, as a society, want to remember. But the places, people, and stories that we memorialize, and the audiences who engage with them are constantly changing. A memorial tells its story through subject matter and design. This story is often complex and multi-dimensional, as a memorial’s interpretive elements embody ideas of identity, culture, and heritage, and each has intensely personal interpretations for every individual.

As a national capital, Washington is a place of collective memory. The wealth of monuments sited throughout the city take on heightened significance as they reflect relationships among nations, of national remembrance, and of many important events and figures in our history. Often the traditional and fixed nature of memorial design does not allow for adaptation and redefinition over time and does not encourage more than one interpretation of a given narrative.

The National Park Service (NPS), the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC), and Van Alen Institute collaborated on Memorials for the Future, an ideas competition to reimagine how we think about, feel, and experience memorials. Memorials for the Future called for designers, artists, and social scientists to develop new ways to commemorate people and events that are more inclusive and flexible, and that enrich Washington’s cultural fabric.

Cultural Forecasting

  • – Intuitive assessments of cultural and institutional context
  • – Qualitative and quantitative research and context interpretation
  • – Future scenarios and impact assessment

Institutional and Program Strategies

  • – Vision and mission strategies
  • – Content and program ideas from concepts to implementation

Design Process Development

  • – Space program and design brief development
  • – Selection process development
  • ­- Jury and Advisory Committee development
  • – Team structuring (from project managers to capital campaign consultants)
  • – Design reviews