Adjaye and Libeskind Among 6 Proposals Unveiled for Canadian Holocaust Monument

David Adjaye and Daniel Libeskind are among six interdisciplinary teams competing to design Canada’s National Holocaust Monument. Planned for an empty, triangular site adjacent to Ottawa’s Canadian War Museum, the monument designs are currently undergoing public review before a final decision that will be made by an international jury of design and art professionals this spring. Construction is expected to begin in 2015.

Review the proposals, after the break...

Team Lord: Museum planner Gail Lord, architect Daniel Libeskind, artist Edward Burtynsky, landscape architect Claude Cormier, and Holocaust scholar Dr. Doris Berger (Toronto, Ontario)

Carved from the flat, ground plain of the historic LeBreton Flats, the Monument stands as a silent and dignified space shielded from the highway and road traffic providing controlled vistas toward the Canadian War Museum, the surrounding landscape and the Canadian Parliament. This Monument is a “Landscape of Loss, Memory and Survival” in which a star is created by six triangular volumes at each of its points organized around a large gathering space for ceremonies. Each one of these volumes provides a unique theme and ambiance for interpretation, contemplation and artistic expression.

Team Szylinger. Image © Government of Canada

Team Szylinger: Art historian and curator Irene Szylinger, architect David Adjaye, artist/architect Ron Arad (Toronto, Ontario/London, UK)

The monument centres on an array of thin walls or foils, each up to 14m in height and 20m in length, spaced 120 centimetres apart from each other – just enough for a visitor to pass through in single passage. While we resist prescribing an ‘experience’ or enforcing didactic content onto the memorial, our proposal does pose a central, unavoidable theme – the voyage the visitor makes through these foils must be made alone.

Team Wodiczko + Bonder. Image © Government of Canada

Team Wodiczko + Bonder: Artist Krzysztof Wodiczko and architect Julian Bonder (Cambridge, Massachusetts)

Conceptually and formally, our project responds by evoking the Holocaust and its impact on the lives of Jews who were forced to flee from their lands and communities and then found safe refuge and new life on Canadian soil. This proposal’s design thus proceeds through two fundamental, complementary gestures: exposure and immersion, which together create a layered, in-depth experience through which visitors discover and interpret both the history of the Holocaust and the memory of events which drove its survivors to Canadian shores. In this Working Monument, we literally expose bedrock in order to anchor new meanings, stories, and memories in it—in which visitors will !nd themselves immersed.

Team Saucier. Image © Government of Canada

Team Saucier: Gilles Saucier of Saucier+Perrotte and artist Marie-France Brière (Montreal, Quebec)

The new monument is envisioned as a geological form emerging from the earth, lifting a portion of the Canadian landscape. This geological event symbolizes the process of becoming, the creation of a space for living, a place where the power of memory turns toward the future but whose roots remain implanted in a past whose repercussions we continue to live. 

The monument is not merely an object erected in space as one might expect. It is a path, a passage, a form of “space-time” through whose moments of discovery and meditation we experience a range of emotions and epiphanic realizations. The “passage” is analogous in its commemorative significance to Pesach Passover, whose literal meaning is to “pass through”, to “pass over”, to “go beyond”. The passage — a “materialized memory” — is therefore comprised of these three principal stages, notions that will shape our personal experiences sensorially and cognitively. Indeed, as we pass through this architecture of memory, we are not spectators but active participants, actors.

Team Amanat. Image © Government of Canada

Team Amanat: Architect and urban designer Hossein Amanat with artist Esther Shalev-Gerz, landscape architect Daniel Roehr, architect and project manager Robert Kleyn, and architect David Lieberman (Vancouver, BC)

For the National Holocaust Monument in Ottawa, we will represent a world torn in half. [...] This broken world is represented as a half-sphere formed in white marble. The cut of the sphere is not clean, rather it is jagged, uneven. Poised at an angle and standing 20 metres wide and 14 metres high, this bisected sphere will be a landmark recognizable from the distance, while on closer view offering an immersive experience of recognition and commemoration. Its formidable physical presence, with its pronounced and fragmented cut tilted to the sky, hovers between destruction and construction, and asks us to consider what remains, what is lost and what is, as yet, unknown. As an invitation to experience the space between these two conditions, this monument offers visitors the possibility to construct a third space between matter and memory, as a personal way of understanding and recognizing the state of partiality.

Team Klein. Image © Government of Canada

Team Klein: Leslie M. Klein of Quadrangle Architects, Jeffrey Craft of SWA Group, Alan Schwartzof Terraplan, artist Yael Bartana, artist Susan Philipsz, artist Chen Tamir, and Holocaust scholars Dr. Debórah Dwork and Jeffrey Koerber (Toronto, Ontario).

The monument creates a place of respectful commemoration, quiet contemplation and illuminating reflection. Rooted in the earth, its forms emerge from the landscape, signifying at once death and renewal, a grave-like memorial and an emblem of resurgence and rebirth. [...] The space framed by the monument creates a processional, drawing visitors into a contemplative interior, immersing them in artistic expressions of profound memory, loss and renewal, and only then leading them back out to the landscape of contemporary Canada, mirroring the arrival of survivors after the war.

These descriptions are excerpts taken from each team’s presentations.

Reference: Government of Canada, The Globe and Mail

About this author
Cite: Karissa Rosenfield. "Adjaye and Libeskind Among 6 Proposals Unveiled for Canadian Holocaust Monument" 04 Mar 2014. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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