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Women's Memorial and Education Center

The winning design of a national competition, The Women's Memorial and Education Center celebrates and honors the more than two million women who have served in the defense of the United States.

The memorial recasts an historic hemicyclic retaining wall, designed by McKim, Mead & White, as a new gateway to Arlington National Cemetery. The design for the memorial pierces the formerly blank niches of the hemicycle’s granite retaining wall, a barrier between the cemetery and the city that was dedicated in 1932 but never fully completed. These carved openings lead to glass-enclosed stairways that ascend to an upper terrace which offers views to the cemetery above, the gallery below, and the city beyond.  

Passage through the historic retaining wall mediates the change in grade along one of Washington’s important monumental axes while serving as a metaphor for the barriers women have faced in their efforts to serve their country. 

An excavated arc of space between the hemicycle and the cemetery forms a commemorative gallery. This space is defined by concrete counterforts and a new marble wall, concentric with the original structure. The marble wall opens to exhibition spaces, a theater, the hall of honor, and a computer register in which visitors can learn more about the women who served and their stories.

A 240-foot arc of glass tablets, held in place by a stainless-steel armature, is suspended over the gallery. These tablets are carved with texts by and about the women who have served. Sunlight passing over the inscriptions creates legible shadows on the marble wall of the gallery; ephemeral memories and histories are thus told by shadow and light.

Concept sketch of hemicycle gateway

The commemorative gallery is formed by an excavated arc, defined by concrete counterforts and a new marble wall, concentric with the original structure.

Awards
Cooper-Hewitt Design Triennial Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
AIA Honor Award AIA National
Federal Design Architectural Award
Distinction Award, Environments Category I.D. Magazine
AIA Excellence in Design Award AIA New York State
AIA Honor Award AIA New York Chapter
Honor Award ASLA Potomac/Maryland Chapters
Award of Merit ASLA
National Excellence in Construction Awards: First Place Eagle Award Associated Builders & Contractors
Craftsmanship Award Washington Building Congress
Winner: First Stage, World War II Competition Memorial and Education Center on the Mall in Washington, D.C.
National Design Competition for Women's Memorial and Education Center at the Gateway to Arlington National Cemetery
Press
Memorials Harper Collins
Their Last Battle: The Fight For The National World War II Memorial Basic Books Publisher
Women's Memorial And Education Center Presidential Design Awards 2000
Women's Memorial And Education Center Landscape Architecture Magazine
Women's Memorial And Education Center And Museum Of The Earth NY Arts Magazine
Military Honours Architectural Review
Anti-retorica Women's Memorial Center, Arlington L'Arca
Art And Politics Vie In A Battle To Honor A Memorial War The New York Times
Remembering Women Architecture Magazine
Chicago Tribune Military Women Journeyed Long for Memorial
New Memorial To Women Is Artful Work The Washington Post
A Memorial Passes Muster The Washington Post
Women's Memorial and Education Center The New York Times
US Honors the Daughters Who Served The Washington Post
G.I. Janes Flex Muscle In New Monument New York Post
Transcending A Wall The Philadelphia Inquirer
The Women's Memorial And Education Center Architecture Magazine
A Just Victory For WWII Memorial Design The Washington Post
World War II Memorial Competitions
Designs On History, Finalists Chosen For World War II Memorial The Washington Post
Underestimated Sites: The Women's Memorial At Arlington Cemetery The Sex of Architecture
Women's Memorial And Education Center George
Women's Memorial And Education Center Ground Breaking Ceremony The Washington Post
Women's Memorial And Education Center Ground Breaking Ceremony USA Today
Women's Memorial And Education Center Ground Breaking Ceremony CBS News
Women's Memorial: Stunning Surprise The Washington Post
Women's Memorial, Winning Design Landscape Architecture Magazine
Why Washington Needs The Women's Memorial Boston Globe
Women's Memorial Winner Announced Architecture Magazine
"Women In Military Service For America Memorial" Winner Announced The Washington Post
"Women In Military Service For America Memorial" Winner Announced Los Angeles Times
"Women In Military Service For America Memorial" Winner Announced San Francisco Chronicle
"Women In Military Service For America Memorial" Winner Announced Boston Globe
"Women in Military Service for America Memorial" winner announced Baltimore Sun
Winning Design For Women's Memorial In Washington, DC The New York Times