The design of Grega Vezjak has been chosen for a monument planned at Veterans Memorial Park in Jeffersontown, Kentucky, that is intended to honor and express gratitude for the effort of Americans and the South Vietnamese people in the long Vietnam War.
An international jury selected Vezjak’s design from among 128 entries from 29 countries.
Vezjak’s winning design resembles a “monumental courtyard” situated on a park hillside with green terraces in front of the existing, mature forest border. Eight bamboo-formed concrete columns will honor the eight allied countries that fought for Vietnam’s freedom. The monument’s walls will be covered with images and words related to the war. And seating areas will allow for rest and contemplation.
The project will include a digital element. Visitors will be able to scan a code and read about the history of a battle or the story of a soldier as told by family or friends. Visitors also will be able to use a smartphone app as a guide to aspects of the monument. The monument is expected to be a frequent destinations for school field trips.
The winning design was announced Wednesday at an afternoon news conference at the Jeffersontown park.
A foundation has been developed to pursue the memorial project. The City of Jeffersontown is providing the land for the monument. Construction will be paid for by private donations.
Kevin Borland, a spokesman for the project, said the project budget is estimated at $1.5 million to $2 million. He said a capital campaign is ongoing, with the monument’s construction expected to start this fall. Once built, the maintenance and upkeep will be assumed by the City of Jeffersontown.
Yung Nguyen, an immigrant from Vietnam, has been a leading local advocate for the project that a release said is intended as a memorial to “the tremendous sacrifices the American and South Vietnamese armed forces made during the Vietnam War in order to give the Vietnamese people a chance to live in freedom.”
The so-called Tri Ân Monument means “deep gratitude” in Vietnamese.
“It is important to recognize the numerous humanitarian efforts and good deeds done by the U.S. military and the many Americans who went far beyond the call of duty to help the South Vietnamese people,” according to the design competition brief. “It is important and proper to solemnly recognize all who served and sacrificed, and to memorialize all who fought and died in that war, and in the struggles that followed.”
The designs were judge by a panel consisting of: Susan Rademacher, writer, consultant, and curator of the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy; Yung Nguyen, founder and chairman of the Tri An Foundation; P.Q. Phan, professor of music at Indiana University; and David M. Biagi, director of the University of Kentucky School of Architecture.
The winning designer will work with the Tri Ân Foundation and an exhibition designer to refine the proposal around specific historical elements.
The monument will go on a hillside near other existing monuments dedicated to veterans, the competition brief said. “As envisioned by the Tri Ân Foundation, the physical monument is made up of an assemblage of features and spaces that will accommodate the anticipated uses, and serve to engage the attention, imagination, and feelings of each visitor as they experience it.”
The monument wlll be interactive and describe events that happened during the Vietnam War in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Entries were judged on the following criteria that included: uniqueness; dramatic, timeless, and contemplative qualities; the proposal’s “seductive power to invite a closer look, even to the casual observer”; harmony with landscape; and creative use of the hillside site and its views, topography, and wooded backdrop.