A team of Drury University faculty have created a crystalline design for the Springdale Veteran Memorial Competition. Sited in Arkansas, the proposal was made by Sara Khorshidifard, Payman Sadeghi and Karen Spence. Using the crystal metaphor and drawing inspiration from its shape, formation, and built tactility, the concept is made to capitalize on the Diamond State’s history and topology.
As the team states, the competition entry strives to create spaces and experiences that, like stages of crystallization, "manifest intermediary qualities, seizing manifold realities, variant emotions, and even contraries." Looking at in-between spaces, the project is a play in opacity and symbolism. "Like human life, crystals hold many facets, substances shaping from uncertainty and hesitation of liquid crystal, hardening with strength and determination of solid gem." The monument and memorial site are directly driven by the physiographic of the place, stemming from the regional prevalence of crystals due to synergies between thermal waters and magnetic lodestone.
"The Arkansas Plateau’s unique geography offers inimitable ecologies and geologies that form gemstone deposits, precious diamonds, turquoises, and quartz crystals. Site design assemblies also use conceptual shaping forces that reflect abstract dimensions in an act of crystallization, generating a continuous landscape of plentiful thresholds and sophisticated strata." The new memorial proposal was made to resemble a folded-out crystalline structure with triangulating plains carved and tacked with/in rhizomatic connections.
The memorial landscape concept was envisioned with three united parts: a linear elevated platform (Scar), a triangulated open field (Stitch), and a healing garden (Settle).
Hovering over existing topography grades, the elevated platform (Scar) stretches to create a linear axial connection from the northern entry towards the Crystalline Monument. The bar edifice accentuates three anchors at entry, mid, and ending points. The entry anchor includes ADA-accessible ramps, stairs, and an elevator. The current pavilion at mid anchor is now shifted under the raised platform and is wrapped, re-skinned and repurposed to serve as garden shed. A new, elongated pavilion structure is added to the west to serve the playground area and healing garden patches to the south. Experienced on foot and at human scale, the elevated path is programmed as an open-air gallery space expressing the experiences of veterans.
The field (Stitch) is a constructed landscape shaped as a continuous triangulated quilt consisting of folded edges and wedge-shape plains. The field connects the elevated memorial platform with the adjacent neighborhood. Symbolically, the crystallized landscape pleats form six node intersections, representing six branches of US military. The field is also engraved with two specifically pathways notches. Extending in parts underneath the memorial platform, these walkways are carved at a lower grade to act as physical linkages from neighborhood edges to the parking.
The healing garden (Settle) is placed in the southern end of the site. The circular juncture of the platform and the field acts as main entry into the garden. The memorial concept considers healing to be an important stage in a veteran’s journey. Landscape planning keeps the existing trees intact, while using them as a buffer to define a spatially secluded sanctuary. Arkansas native sensory plants are placed throughout the garden. In addition to herbs with medicinal properties, garden patches include other native and adaptive shade and sun plants. Overall, the healing garden component is integrated to provide closure in a veteran’s experience of the site and a way to serve the larger community.