Work: Memorial to Victims of Gun Violence
In 2016 the National Park Service (NPS), the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC), and Van Alen Institute collaborated on Memorials for the Future, an ideas competition that intended to reimagine how we think about, feel, and experience memorials. The competition asked to rethink Washington DC’s traditional approach to permanent commemoration, and then create new ideas for honoring our diverse histories, heritage, and culture.
Our project, shortlisted as a semi-finalist from the 89 submissions, selected to commemorate, Victims of Gun Violence in America. Gun violence encompasses so many Americans deaths each year by gunfire that the death toll between 1968 and 2011eclipses all wars ever fought by the United States. According to research by Politifact, there were approximately 1.4 Million firearm deaths during that period, compared with 1.2 million American deaths in every conflict from the War of Independence to Iraq. On April 27, 2016, the Brooking Institute released findings, “Gun Violence in Major U.S. Cities is Massively Underreported” suggesting that the toll of victims of gun violence may be significantly more problematic than what has been reported or ever considered. It is indisputably a subject matter that requires national, and local, memorialization, attention and education. It is a problem that at once is massive and intensely sad, affecting all our lives – at home, in our backyards, our schools, our workplaces and our playgrounds. With several national memorials dedicated to commemorating soldiers and heroes of war – the Nation’s capitol is overdue to recognize the Victims of Gun Violence in America. This issue naturally and understandably spirits debate, and a variety of perspectives, about gun control legislation in America.
The United States was founded by civil liberties including freedom of speech, democracy and the right to bear arms. These basic constitutional liberties make us, very simply, American. Our memorial will simultaneously honor and reflect upon the lives lost by gun violence in America while also hosting an interactive framework that will capture the history of gun violence, a real-time conversation by citizens about each side of the issue and trace the evolution of one of our most inalienable rights: the right to bear arms.
We see the memorial of the future as a portal. It is not only a physical tribute to honor the lives lost in America to gun violence – but it is also a place to contemplate the misuse of one of our most fundamental civil liberties and how we might find ways to evolve towards creating a better, more peaceful, society while remaining true to our Founders vision of what it means to be an 'American'.