Concept Review and Approval
At the March 21, 2019, public meeting of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts (CFA), the Commission voted APPROVAL of the Peace Corps Commemorative CONCEPT. At this meeting, the National Park Service (NPS) and the Peace Corps Commemorative Foundation, with its design team, presented the overall design concept to the CFA for the first time.
CFA approval of the design concept at its initial review is exceptional, a testimony to the artistic talent of the design team and the compelling aesthetic and interpretive quality of the design. Based on comments made by the CFA Commissioners, the design team is refining the design concept and will make additional CFA presentations as the design evolves and is developed in much more detail.
Meanings and Messages
The meanings and messages of the national Peace Corps Commemorative are about America’s outstretched hand reaching compassionately around the world to enhance mutual understanding and promote peace. By living, working, teaching and learning alongside individuals aspiring to better their own lives and their country’s future, Americans have transcended, and have helped global citizens transcend, differences in culture, faith and ethnicity. Engagement with diverse peoples and communities, in the spirit of mutual respect and trust, is fundamental to the Peace Corps mission. Thus this commemorative work will be an inspiring homage to the better angels of our nature, those attributes of the American ethos that motivated creation of the Peace Corps and that Peace Corps volunteer service embodies.
Why a Peace Corps Commemorative NOW in the Heart of the Nation’s Capital
Building this permanent Commemorative could not be more timely. It will be a symbolic reaffirmation of America’s historic generosity; of our commitment to helping others, both at home and abroad; and of our shared humanity in the face of daunting national and global challenges. This is why creating this unique, memorable, meaningful commemorative work in the heart of the nation’s capital is so vitally necessary and important.
Many Washington, DC, monuments and memorials honor not only those who have led this nation since its founding, but also millions of patriotic Americans who have served in the military at home and overseas in defense of our country and freedom around the world. Yet a commemorative work recognizing and honoring a different manifestation of the nation’s historic ideals and experiences is missing and today is needed in the national capital landscape. The Peace Corps Commemorative will help meet this need by more fully telling America’s story. It will occupy a small, triangular, well located National Park Service site visible from the National Mall and a short walk from the U.S. Capitol Building and Union Station. There, for generations to come, it will attract and inspire visitors of all ages, from America as well as from every corner of the globe.
On the .16 acre site facing Louisiana Avenue, NW, artist Larry Kirkland (www.larrykirkland.com) and Michael Vergason Landscape Architects (www.vergason.net) have blended abstraction and figuration to create a Commemorative landscape unlike any other in America’s capital city.
A grove of trees will shade the Commemorative landscape, extending and continuing tree-covered Taft Park, the nearby Capitol grounds, and tree-lined Constitution Avenue and the National Mall. Granite-paved, gently curving pathways will lead visitors from the two Louisiana Avenue corners, where most pedestrians arrive, toward the central, elliptical plaza.
A unique, visually dynamic pergola charismatically embraces the triangular site creating a memorable sense of place. The pergola's individual, stainless steel and glass elements of differing color symbolize both the diversity and unity of humanity. To express disparate peoples engaging and interacting with each other, the pergola's elements progress toward the center, drawing closer to one another, then overlap and arch above the Commemorative’s elliptical plaza.
A world map without national boundaries inscribed in the plaza symbolizes transcending political, cultural and ethnic differences between disparate peoples. Three sculpted granite benches depict outreaching human hands that surround and embrace the plaza, symbolizing those positive attributes of the American ethos inherent in the Peace Corps idea and Peace Corps volunteer service.
The symbolic visual form and interpretive texts of the ensemble will artfully convey the Commemorative's inspiring meanings and messages. For generations, visitors will stroll, gather and relax in the park as well as contemplate and interact with the Commemorative art. As they share this serene experience, visitors will become part of the unified, living ensemble.
This enduring work will evoke positive emotional responses and elicit feelings of pride and optimism about America, about its character and its credo - E Pluribus Unum. This Commemorative will remind us and the world’s peoples that we all must work together in pursuit of mutual understanding and peace.
Nighttime internal lighting will illuminate the glass elements, enhancing the Commemorativeis visibility from afar, its visual presence and its aesthetic memorability. Other lighting will gently illuminate the sculpted benches and plaza to provide visual comfort and increase safety. Thus the park and plaza will be an attractive, animated destination day and night throughout the year.
For additional site maps, plans and photos, see Project Site »