Marlon Blackwell Architects has been selected as the designer of an important new memorial to veterans and service members lost during America’s decades-long War on Terror on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
The Arkansas-based firm was announced as the project’s lead following a search process that began last summer with submissions from 177 different U.S. and international competitors. Its development will be guided by a newly-created Design Advisory Council (DAC) comprised of Gold Star family members, veterans, and “other stakeholders.” The project was commissioned by the nonprofit Global War on Terrorism Memorial Foundation, which was first founded in 2015.
The foundation’s President and CEO Michael “Rod” Rodriguez complemented the designer’s “ability, credibility, and humility to lead the design of an inclusive and reverent Memorial,” adding “Marlon’s proven track record as a world-class designer, combined with his personal experiences in a family with a history of military service, will contribute to a design that serves as a lasting tribute to the courage and sacrifice of all who have served in the Global War on Terrorism — especially those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.”
Considering the significance of its place and the history of the National 9/11 Memorial as a backdrop for the new project, the firm will likely face a considerable amount of outside scrutiny in the delivery of a memorial whose subject matter is difficult to unlink from the charged politics of the era. The DAC says they will ensure a design that “reflects the experiences of all who have served and sacrificed.” The task now is for its architect to deliver something that is deeply respectful of their experiences while retaining its poignancy and palatability to a dissociative and still broadly critical American public.
For his part, Blackwell said: “It’s a great and humble honor for our firm to design the Global War on Terrorism Memorial. It is a profound opportunity to provide a place to honor all those who have served and sacrificed to defend our country against terrorism, along with the many individuals and families who have been impacted by this conflict with no clear end in sight. Our firm will create a place of reverence, reflection, and restoration which fulfills the Foundation’s vision and mission.”
No timelines or further project details have been made available at press time.
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