One of the core beliefs we have at Leslie Saul & Associates is that space– indoor and outdoor– has the power to affect our emotions, and we believe that any good architectural project or interior design harnesses that power.
The approach of Memorial Day brings to mind perhaps the most powerful example of how landscaping can create a space that stimulates and supports the outpouring of emotions– that’s the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Readers too young to remember might be surprised at how controversial the monument was when it was dedicated in 1982. The design was chosen from over a thousand submissions. The fact that such a prominent new addition to the National Mall was conceived by an female undergraduate student certainly raised eyebrows. But Maya Lin’s idea for the moment turned the traditional idea of a war memorial on its head. Or on its side, to be accurate.
Instead of a towering, awe inspiring, slab of marble with cravings of heroic images, the marble was essentially laid on its side. It lies in a V-shaped landscaped gash that creates an enclosed space. The memorial must be entered, in essence. The viewer is left to contemplate the names of the individuals who died in the conflict.
Many observers at the time just didn’t seem to understand the message. But as Americans saw the overflow of emotions the memorial from visiting former servicemen and women and the families of those killed in the war, it became hard to argue that the moment had not done its job of honoring those who sacrificed their lives.
The memorial is as much an experience as it is an edifice. And even decades after the end of the war, it remains a very powerful experience.
So, as we remember the sacrifices so many have made for our country, we’d also like to pay respects to the power of space to inspire and and comfort and to heal.
Have a good Memorial Day weekend.