[ Content | Sidebar ]

Archives for Washington monuments

Victimology and the 47%

First there was Occupy’s 99%, now there’s Mitt Romney’s 47%.  This the 47% of the country whose mission in life, he says, is to sponge off the federal government.  The 47% who believe themselves victims, entitled to compensation from the other 53% for the real or imagined wrongs they have experienced.  It’s as if the [...]

Design competitions, part 2

After my last post on design competitions, I got a very interesting response from Paul Spreiregen, who organized the design competition for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial over thirty years ago.  Hearing directly from him helped me understand better why that competition was so exemplary.  He was determined to make it, in his own words, “the [...]

Design competitions, in theory and practice

I’m sympathetic to a recent piece by Sam Roche on the HuffPost blog which argues against the “closed competition” process used by the Eisenhower Memorial Commission to select architect Frank Gehry.  After all, if not for the open, blind-juried design competition organized for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in 1980, Maya Lin wouldn’t have created her [...]

Monuments and vanity

A century and a half ago, the great conservative critic Thomas Carlyle railed against the statue-monuments going up all over Britain – “black and dismal” he called them, “like a set of grisly undertakers come to bury the dead spiritualisms of mankind.”  But despite their ugliness the statues for him were not the real problem. They [...]

The “Education Center” at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Yesterday Mike Ruane of the Washington Post published an excellent profile of Jan Scruggs, founder and director of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, and of his quixotic crusade for an $85 million underground visitors center near Maya Lin’s famous wall.  I was quoted briefly in the article, questioning why monuments should need visitors centers and [...]