The Peace Corps Commemorative is expected to be completed and dedicated in 2023.
By Ana Victoria Cruz
Just in time for the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Peace Corps, the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts (CFA), at its September 17 meeting, voted unanimously to approve the design concept for the national Peace Corps Commemorative. Designed and presented by artist/sculptor Larry Kirkland and landscape architect Michael Vergason of MVLA, the commemorative will be located on a small, triangular National Park Service site facing Louisiana Avenue, NW, in the heart of Washington, D.C., one block from the National Mall and the U.S. Capitol Building grounds, and three blocks from Union Station.
The Congressionally authorized Peace Corps Commemorative will symbolize, honor, and celebrate those aspects of the American ethos, our country’s noblest ideals and values, that motivated creation of the Peace Corps in 1961 and that will remain forever meaningful. The American ethos, "the better angels of our nature,” is implicit in Sargent Shriver’s words about the idea of the Peace Corps and what it represents:
“Transcending boundaries of culture and language…on the common ground of service to human welfare and human dignity…to live and work with, and to learn from, peoples in need around the world, in the cause of mutual understanding and peace.”
The Commemorative design concept comprises three curved, sculpted granite benches within an intimate circular plaza, each bench with an outreaching human hand symbolizing giving and receiving, teaching, and learning. The bench-hand sculptures surround a world map inscribed within the granite plaza and showing earth’s continents without geopolitical boundaries. Interpretive texts inscribed on the three bench backs will face the three surrounding streets and will be seen by visitors walking into the plaza.
Photo by Drew Altizer Photography. Rendering courtesy Peace Corps Commemorative Foundation
A grove of deciduous trees will define, frame, and shade the entire triangular park. The integrated ensemble of sculpture and vegetation will create an attractive, ecologically sensitive park for the neighborhood and city, as well as a memorable, national commemorative work.
“At this moment in American history,” said Peace Corps Commemorative Foundation president Roger K. Lewis, “permanently conveying this message at this place within the national capital’s urban landscape could not be more timely or significant.”
For additional information and images, visit www.peacecorpsdesign.net.
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