The 9/11 and Vietnam Veterans Memorials: Interpreting Experience in the Landscape of Loss
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Experiential memorials are agents of memory, constructing experiences for visitors that evoke memory, emotion, and thought. This project begins by defining the ‘language of loss’ and exploring the role of memorials through a literature review. It then investigates two seminal built memorials in order to gain a fuller understanding of how each employs this language of loss. Research into the contextual development of these memorials – Maya Lin’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial (1982) in Washington D.C., and Michael Arad and Peter Walker’s 9/11 Memorial (2011) in Lower Manhattan – provides a framework for interpreting each work. Following preliminary literature and design research, a series of on-site research methods were undertaken to record and map the experience of visitors to each memorial. This process intends to reveal to what degree each memorial exemplifies this definition of the experiential memorial. Research strategies included the author’s personal experience narrative, observations, photography and face-to-face interviews with visitors. Findings from this interaction, as well as interviews with knowledgeable individuals connected to each memorial, then informed a comparison of both memorials and suggestions for the design of future memorials. The findings and outcomes of this thesis aim to provide designers and scholars with knowledge of how to conceive and construct meaningful memorials that impact users and contribute to cultural memory.
dissertation or thesis