Pentagon Memorial / KBAS Studio

Photo by KBAS

The Pentagon memorial will be inaugurated tomorrow, 7 years after 9/11. This memorial is the result of a competition won by KBAS Studio, who worked closely with the familiars of the victims. Pre fabrication and computer modelling where vital on the design and construction process of this memorial. More pictures after the architect’s statement.

“Like many people, from the moment we witnessed and learned of the horrific loss of life on the morning of September 11, 2001, we simply wished to extend our hearts to those whose lives had changed forever.  Words will never describe how honored we feel to have played such a significant role in the Pentagon Memorial.  It has been a true privilege to be part of a stellar team, and to have worked so closely with so many people who gave the project their absolute best.  Further, we will forever be inspired by the strength and determination that carries all of the family members we have come to know so well over the past 6 years.  Thousands of people contributed to this place so that its contemplative integrity will persist into the distant future and with its dedication, the Pentagon Memorial will take on its own life, attracting meaning and contemplative interpretation from all of those who visit this special place.”

Keith Kaseman
Julie Beckman

Project Description

Adjacent to the point of impact of American Airlines Flight 77, the Pentagon Memorial is a place like no other.  Inviting personal interpretation on the part of the visitor, the Memorial provokes thought yet does not prescribe what to think or how to feel.  Both individual and collective in nature, the Memorial intends to record the sheer magnitude of that tragic day by embedding  layers of specificity that begin to tell the story of those whose lives were taken.

Organized by a timeline based on the ages of these individuals, 184 Memorial Units are uniquely placed along Age Lines parallel with the trajectory of Flight 77– each marking a birth-year, ranging from 1998 to 1930.  Highly articulate in its form and placement, the Memorial Unit is the heart of the project, as each Unit demarcates a special place dedicated to each individual.  As such, directional orientation inherent to the cantilevered Unit provides specificity to whether an individual was aboard Flight 77 or in the Pentagon at the time of impact.  Each individual’s name is engraved at the end of the cantilever, hovering above a pool of water that glows with light at night.  Fully designed in a 3-dimensional computer modeling environment, the Memorial Unit will be produced through Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) technologies and cast in a highly specialized Stainless .

These Memorial Units are dispersed throughout a tactile, sensory driven environment with all materials contributing to an emphasis on life.  A porous stabilized gravel system will not only allow visitors to hear their own footsteps and those of others, but also allows the grove of trees to thrive and grow directly through the gravel without protective grates.  Consistently shading the Memorial Units, brilliant Paperbark Maples will create a dynamic canopy of light and color throughout the day and seasons.  Planted as healthy saplings, elegantly exfoliating bark will register their growth into the future.  Finally, the Memorial Park is surrounded by a continuous perimeter bench which is backed by a soft border of ornamental grasses.

When combined with the Memorial Units, there is over 2,100 linear feet of seating throughout the Memorial.

Cite: "Pentagon Memorial / KBAS Studio" 10 Sep 2008. ArchDaily. Accessed 23 Sep 2014. <>


  1. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Great design. But how about a memorial sending out a message of compassion towards the victim and a message of wrath towards a government that insults the victims by lying about such huge things as, for example, big passenger airlines crashing into Pentagon, and leaving only a 5m-wide hole behind?

  2. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    The memorial is for victims, not for your conspiracy theories. Be sensitive to the victims families with your postings.

  3. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Great job Keith and Julie! Looks great- I can’t wait to see the finished work. It truly makes me proud to have had a part in this project.
    Sean Dorsy
    (formerly w/ OEC)

    • Thumb up Thumb down 0

      Disagree. Blocky and the worldwide placement of the various individual memorials ensures that no one will see the work as a whole.

  4. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    no memorial should be this slick. architects, with few exceptions, are terrible memorial designers. they turn something that should be a visceral experience into a neutered, designed composition.

  5. Thumb up Thumb down +1

    I have to disagree with Dee as well, my reaction to this memorial was quite visceral. It’s an amazing representation of the crashing together of lives in an abrupt ending, the scraping of the earth, the tearing up of the foundation of the collective illusion of mortal immunity. There is a reference to “peeling back the facade” to discover the light within that I find particularly provocative. Architecture like this is only artifice if one never takes the time to let it speak to them.

    And to Truthseeker, I have to agree with you, there are many questions left to be answered, and simply calling something a conspiracy in order to blindly disregard it does not make it so – a conspiracy is not a conspiracy if there is hard evidence, which the truth movement has in spades, the only thing lacking is societal will to overcome the obstacle of denial. Regardless of this however, I think that this memorial leaves these questions open, it is not a “closing of the book” so to speak, but as is referenced in the architecture, suggests we “peel back the layers” and honors the victims individually at the same time.

    overall I think this memorial has accomplished a rare feat, to articulate loss in all it’s horror and abruptness, while still maintaining a hint at a silver lining. It is an elegant memorial, and has achieved an articulation of the event not always met through the language of architecture.

  6. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I just want to say that its very clever in its design strategy- its that automatic design concept that’s spurred by a single idea which is nice to think about but I think that the design qualities/experience as a result of that might lose to the ideation.

    We get that its very sleek and illuminated and cool bc its a CNC milled form, but I feel like that agenda is abit strong.

    I like that one can explore the memorialization of the individual in respect to their age, but I also feel like the whole thing needs to be seen from a platform or above since it is a phenomenon seen from above. Its abit stark and I think that memorials don’t necessarily have to insist on that quality.

Share your thoughts