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Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall

Vietnam Veterans Memorial Receives Architects Award

20 December 2006


The Vietnam Veterans Memorial has been selected to receive the 2007 American Institute of Architects (AIA) Twenty-Five Year Award, said Jan C. Scruggs, founder and president of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund. The award is given for architectural design that has stood the test of time for 25 years.

“The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund is excited that The Wall has been chosen for this special recognition,” said Scruggs. “Maya Lin’s design was controversial 25 years ago. But now, The Wall is seen as a simple, moving memorial—the standard by which all new memorials are judged.”

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, led by Scruggs, pursued the idea of creating the Memorial to honor the courage, sacrifice and devotion of all who answered the call to serve during the Vietnam War. To find a design, the Memorial Fund hosted the largest design competition in U.S. history, with 1,421 designs submitted. Unanimous approval was given to the entry from 21-year-old Yale undergraduate Maya Lin, whose idea was a black granite wall with the names inscribed by date of casualty.

“The memorial speaks to the power of design,” said Richard Logan, AIA, chair of the 2007 architecture jury. “It creates a magical moment of the living and the dead touching, and it is still as potent as the first time you saw it…Even after 25 years, you watch people touching it and being touched by the stone.”

The black granite, V-shaped Memorial sits on two acres of land on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Inscribed on its panels are the names of the over 58,000 men and women who either died or are classified missing in action during the Vietnam War. The names are listed by casualty date.

“In 1980, Congress decided that The Vietnam Veterans Memorial would be the first significant structure to be built on the Mall in many decades,” said Bill Lecky, formerly of the firm Cooper-Lecky, the architect of record for the Memorial. “Neither Maya Lin, the designer, nor Cooper-Lecky, the architects of record, had any idea what level of visitation the Memorial would draw. As literally millions of people converged on the Memorial, however, it quickly became clear that The Wall would serve as the predominant catalyst for healing our nation from that conflict.”

Decades later, the Memorial is seen as the standard by which other memorials are measured.

"The Vietnam Veterans Memorial, in its simplicity and elegance, is also at once both powerful and complex,” said Memorial Fund board member Harry G. Robinson III, FAIA, AICP, president of TRG Consulting in Washington, D.C. “The emotional density of the names of those who gave the ultimate gift to freedom and democracy is solemn, and mind numbing. The complexity of its many names and the oneness of The Wall are its magic, its majesty. As an architectural statement, it without equal, past or present, in attracting pilgrims and symbolizing the loss and pride of a nation.”

As a national memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was listed on the National Register of Historic Places the same day it was dedicated. It was recognized with a National AIA Honor Award for Architecture in 1984.

The AIA award is one of many ways that The Wall’s 25th anniversary will be observed. The Memorial Fund has embarked on a year-long commemoration of the 25th anniversary of The Wall, which was kicked off on Veterans Day 2006. The next ceremony to mark events from The Wall’s history will be on March 26, 2007, when the Memorial Fund will commemorate the 25th anniversary of the groundbreaking for The Wall. Other events will take place throughout the year, culminating with Veterans Day 2007, which will include a four-day Reading of the Names at The Wall and a Veterans Day observance. For more information, click here.

Established in 1979, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund is the non-profit organization authorized by Congress to build the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. Today, through a series of outreach programs, the organization works to preserve the legacy of The Wall, to promote healing and to educate about the impact of the Vietnam War.
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