News Release: Vietnam Veterans Memorial Center Site Approved by NCPC

07 August 2006

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Center took another step forward today when the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) approved the site proposed by the National Park Service and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.

The site, which is south of Constitution Avenue between 23rd Street and Henry Bacon Drive, was one of seven analyzed in a 10-month study commissioned by the Memorial Fund.

“It has been a long process, but our success today makes it all worthwhile,” said Memorial Fund Founder and President Jan C. Scruggs, who has led the effort to make the Memorial Center a reality. “Today’s schoolchildren were not even alive during the Vietnam War. The only way we can make the Memorial have context for them is with an education center that will help them put faces to the names on The Wall.”

The NCPC was the last of three federal commissions whose approval was necessary for the site to be confirmed. The Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) and the National Park Service (NPS) approved the site in 2005.

The next step will involve fully developing a design for the Center. On July 26, the CFA approved a series of 14 design guidelines for the Memorial Center, to assist the Memorial Fund and the National Park Service in keeping within the Commission’s parameters during the design phase. The NCPC also approved these guidelines at today’s meeting. The Memorial Fund expects to have a design by the end of the year and plans to take it to the federal commissions for approval in early 2007.

The Memorial Center poses a unique design challenge, as it cannot interfere with the historic views or standing trees in the area. To accomplish both of these goals, and to conform with the stipulations of the 2003 enabling legislation, the Center will be built underground.

The Memorial Fund held a national competition in 2004 to select an architect to design the new center. A panel of judges that included community leaders, design experts and Maya Lin, who designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, ultimately selected Polshek Partnership Architects, with  Ralph Appelbaum Associates as exhibit designer.

Past projects the two have worked on include the American Museum of Natural History Rose Center for Earth and Space in New York City and the William J. Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, Ark. Polshek is also responsible for the underground Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall and the Newseum in Washington, D.C. Appelbaum designed the exhibits for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.

The 2003 enabling legislation also stipulated that it would be paid for completely through private funds. Work has already begun on a national capital campaign to raise the estimated $75 million to $100 million necessary to complete the project. On June 28, the Memorial Fund announced that Time Warner Inc. had given $10 million to the project, making it the lead gift benefactor. The fundraising is expected to be complete in late 2008.

Gen. Colin L. Powell, USA (Ret.), is serving as honorary chairman of the national fundraising effort. He is joined by Dr. Christos M. Cotsakos, the founder, chairman and CEO of Mainstream Holdings, who is serving as campaign chairman.

Once constructed, the Center will be operated by the National Park Service to enhance the visitor’s experience at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. “The Center will provide a wonderful opportunity for the millions of visitors to this special place of healing, memory and tribute to gaining a deeper understanding of the Vietnam War and its human cost, as well as the impact of the Memorial on contemporary society,” said Vikki Keys, superintendent, National Mall & Memorial Parks.

Established in 1979, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund is the nonprofit organization authorized by Congress to build the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. Today, through a series of outreach programs, it is dedicated to preserving the legacy of The Wall, promoting healing, educating about the impact of the Vietnam War and is building the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Center, an underground educational facility, near The Wall.
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