landscape architecture · urbanism · planning

Veteran Memorial Competition, San Francisco, California


A concept is inspired by the transcendent form and symbolism of a wreath. For many cultures, wreaths represent notions of eternity, continuity, and memory. Within military history, wreaths carry special layers of meaning: victory, bravery, peace. In the military tradition of wreath-laying ceremonies, this reverent gesture marks sacred ground. A suspended wreath eternally embodies this ritual of remembrance. In this landmark tribute to our nation’s veterans, a sculptural wreath of military dog tags hovers above the Memorial Court. The wreath defines a powerful place for contemplation and memory through archetypal symbolism and pure sculptural form. The gilded representation of dog tags transforms these functional objects into resonant icons, which echo the architectural elements of City Hall and the Memorial Court gates. The wreath is illuminated from a circular plaza of granite below, which preserves the original octagon of Thomas Church’s design as the articulated centerpiece. As visitors approach the memorial from the west, the suspended wreath forms a visual and conceptual nexus unifying the Memorial Court, Veterans Building, Opera House, and City Hall. Seen from a distance, it creates a dialogue between old and new. The use of suspension respects Church’s original landscape design and the historic architecture of the site.

RE:site (Shane Allbritton + Norman Lee) – Artists
SWA Group, Scott Slaney, FASLA, Design Principal, Principal-in-Charge

Conceptual Design and Schematic Design, Cost Estimation

Client: Norman Lee Artist

Stakeholders: San Francisco Arts Commission

Consultants / Collaborators:
Metalab – Mock-up Fabricators, Second Story – Interactive Data Base Design

Date Complete: 2011

Area: .10 acre (.03 hectares)

Sustainability: Renewable Energy