San Francisco Veterans Memorial
place: Civic Center
San Francisco CA
For almost a century, the octagonal lawn in Memorial Court has served as little-known repository of earth from battlefields where Americans fought and died. On this same site, built upon the geometry of the historic design, an octagon of faceted planes of stone will hold that earth and bear witness to their sacrifice.
At the upper edge, reflecting pools encircle the octagon. Water flows towards the garden over sloping of polished black basalt. Against the stone, the water acts as a mirror, bringing the ever-changing reflection of the sky into the Memorial. The ground slopes down as you enter, a physical and metaphorical separation from the bustle of the civic center. The sound of the water flowing reminds us that this is a place apart.
A suspended walkaway leads into the Passage of Remembrance. The walls rise as you move forward, and you feel the mass of the stone around you. Here, in the center of the octagon, is the place that holds the soil from battlefields where Americans fought and died. The left wall of the passage is unmarked, save a reveal for placing remembrances. On the right, a poem by World War I veteran Archibald MacLeish.