World War II Memorial

While we were in D.C., I had the chance to see the new WWII Memorial. I don't know much about the design or construction process, but I'm pretty underwhelmed by the whole thing. It pales next to the stark power of the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial Wall, or the simple majesty of the Washington Monument.

There's too much going on. From the central rainbow pool surrounded by the columns and wreaths and two winged victories, to a series of relief sculptures showing soldiers leaving the farm and preparing for war, it suffers from a lack of focus. The 56 columns each represent the states and territories of America during the second world war. They're ordered in two seperate arcs by the date the territory entered the union and alternating north or south. The organization system is too clever by half, and distracting in its complexity.

But there's a more subtle deficiency that's hard to pin down until you see it in person. The other structures around the capitol mall show an old-world mastery of materials and technique and unfailing neoclassical design. Even the postmodern Vietnam wall celebrates the beauty of its black marble. The World War II Memorial, for all its complexity, looks like it was prefabricated from the Garden Department at Lowe's.

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