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  Design Winner: 'Passage of Remembrance' by Susan Narduli & Andrea Cochran  

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Project Proposals:

Larry Kirkland & J. Douglass Macy

Norman Lee, Scott Slaney & Ricardo Supiciche

Selected Design: Susan Narduli & Andrea Cochran

Proposal Overview

San Francisco Veterans Memorial Selected Design:
"Passage of Remembrance" by Susan Narduli & Andrea Cochran

Susan Narduli & Andrea Cochran

The heart of this project lies as much in its materials as in its form: in the consecrated earth, which anchors us in memory; in stone, which endures; in water and the sky, which are always flowing and changing.

The fourth material is time, because this is a project that is revealed gradually, that can be entered. Time makes room for the enormity of what has happened. It makes a place for community and understanding and hope.

For half a century, the octagonal lawn in Memorial Court has served as a little-known repository of earth from
lands where Americans fought and died. On this same site, built upon those geometric forms of Thomas
Church's historic design, an octagon of faceted planes of stone will hold that earth and bear witness to the
sacrifice of those men and women.

The Memorial starts with the circle and the octagon of the original Beaux Arts design. But here, those timeless
and formal geometries become the vehicle for personal experience, a place of memory and contemplation.
At the east entrance to the memorial is an inscription on the octagon:


Within this octagon of stone, remembered earth from battlefields where Americans fought and died. Here, we bear witness to their sacrifice. The people of San Francisco dedicate this memorial to our nation's veterans in honor of their service.
11 November 2013

San Francisco Veterans Memorial Design Winner: Susan Narduli and Andrea Cochran

At the upper edge of the reflecting pools that encircle the octagon, water flows gently toward the garden over sloping, faceted planes of polished black basalt. The shallow, steady water washes over the stone, a metaphor for the blood shed in battle. Against the polished black stone, this water will act as a mirror, bringing the everchanging reflection of the sky into the Memorial to represent hope and transformation. Here, earth, water and sky coexist.

The ground slopes down as you enter the Memorial, a physical and metaphorical separation from the bustle of
the civic center. The sound of the water flowing from the upper to the lower pool adds to the sense that this is a place apart. A woven stainless steel walkway, suspended just above the ground plane, traces the perimeter of the octagon. It follows the slope and leads into the Passage of Remembrance.
Susan Narduli & Andrea Cochran
Design Winner: 'Passage of Remembrance' by Susan Narduli & Andrea Cochran

The walls rise as you move forward, and you feel the mass of the stone around you. Here, in the center of the
octagon, is the heart of the Memorial, the place that holds the soil where Americans fought and died. Basalt, a volcanic rock common to both the land and oceanic crust, is one of the hardest and most durable materials on earth. In the Memorial, it is a symbol of the constancy and unity of our Armed Forces. And here, in the Passage of Remembrance, the rough finish of the octagon's exterior becomes highly polished and reflective.

Susan Narduli & Andrea Cochran

This Memorial is a moment within a process. We don't know what our military will face in the future and what
will be expected of us as a nation. Within the Passage of Remembrance, the planes of stone can be removed
temporarily to accept newly consecrated earth from battlefields not yet known. This earth will become part of a continuum, with the soil of one battlefield mingling with that of another and, over time, with our own American soil, as the memory of battle filters into our communal understanding. It is an expression of the bonds of commitment and sacrifice between those who serve, and a statement that our combatants always are and will be of one American people, part of us.

Being there, inside the Memorial, invites contemplation of what that soil means today, what it meant to the men and women who strove for it, what it means for the future, what it means when a democracy goes to war. It's a personal conversation, but one held in a civic space. The polished stone that holds the soil captures your reflection and the reflection of those around you. This is the face of that democracy.

Design Winnder: 'Passage of Remembrance' by Susan Narduli & Andrea Cochran
The left wall of the passage is unmarked, save a thin reveal cut in the stone for placing remembrances.
On the right, a poem by World War I veteran Archibald MacLeish, written for a memorial service held at the
Library of Congress during World War 11:


Nevertheless they are heard in the still houses: who has not heard them?

They have a silence that speaks for them at night and when the clock counts.

They say, We were young. We have died. Remember us.

They say, We have done what we could but until it is finished it is not done.

They say, We have given our lives but until it is finished no one can know what our lives gave.

Susan Narduli & Andrea Cochran

They say, Our deaths are not ours: they are yours: they will mean what you make them.

They say, Whether our lives and our deaths were for peace and a new hope or for nothing we cannot say: it is you who must say this.

They say, We leave you our deaths: give them their meaning: give them an end to the war and a true peace: give them a victory that ends the war and a peace afterwards: give them their meaning.

We were young, they say. We have died. Remember us.

--by Archibald MacLeish


The landscape extends the influence of the Memorial into the larger civic space. Sloping the central lawn toward the Memorial creates a processional through the space from the west. This elevation change re-focuses the attention toward the Memorial and offers a contemplative zone at its base.

Our goal is to respect the historic Beaux Arts architecture, and to reinforce the geometries that Thomas Church intended. We aim to preserve the original design intent by maintaining the edge that defines the interior space. However, we have re-imagined this edge as a cut in the earth with layers of soil revealed in rammed earth walls.

These walls express a tactile sense of the consecrated earth in the courtyard in a visual, tangible way. The
rammed earth construction strengthens the relationship between the larger landscape and the Memorial itself,
creating a subtle extension of the Memorial's influence. These walls also act as seat walls along the edges to
provide seating for daily use and quiet contemplation.

Another priority for the landscape design is to encourage more use of the space by breaking down the barriers
in the perimeter and providing more opportunities to access the central green. By eliminating the hedge on the
western side, which was not part of Church's original design, our intention is to create an inviting gesture toward the Memorial and a longer view to City Hall. In addition, we propose simplifying the geometries of the perimeter pathways and planting areas to better connect the central lawn with its surroundings. To unify the whole Memorial Court, we propose removing the existing brick pathways and curbs along the north and south edges, which have a strong directional orientation. In their place, open pathways of decomposed granite would extend to the rammed earth walls. At the east and west entries to the site, the existing concrete paving will be replaced with new concrete.

Susan Narduli & Andrea Cochran

In the center of the space, the newly re-graded lawn area will be planted within Grasspave rings. Grasspave can bear the weight of anything from a truck to a wheelchair without giving way. Using it makes the entire lawn area accessible, in any weather.

At the eastern entrance to the Memorial, benches are arranged in an arc. They are a demarcation line for this
separate space of contemplation, and take their semi-circular form from the existing hedges of Thomas Church's original design.

As the Central Lawn slopes towards the Memorial, concealed lighting recessed in the earth walls will softly wash
light across the lawn and accentuate the gentle grade change. At the Memorial, lighting at the Reflection Pools
will highlight the water rippling across the planes of stone. The Passage of Remembrance is illuminated from
below. The use of grazing uplight on these vertical surfaces is in striking contrast to the ambient lighting and enhances the drama of this exterior experience. With light washing the inclined vertical stone surface, the glowing passage will be visible from both the Civic Center and the Central Lawn, clearly demarcating the Memorial and drawing visitors to it. Throughout the site, the color and intensity of light will be carefully balanced to the adjacent buildings and public space to ensure a unique but harmonious nighttime experience.

Susan Narduli & Andrea Cochran
About Media Resources The Memorial Site   Welcome Introduction:
The San Francisco Veterans Memorial Site
The San Francisco Veterans Memorial will honor a 75-year promise to our nation’s military veterans by installing a Veterans Memorial in the Memorial Court, located between the War Memorial Veterans Building and Opera House. Landscape architect Thomas D. Church’s original 1920’s vision called for a memorial and the Veterans Memorial Steering Committee is raising private funds for its design, installation and maintenance.



San Francisco Veterans Memorial
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Phone: (415) 554-9999

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