Memorials and Monuments on Campus

Penn has recently had a fascinating display of topic specific yet quiet memorialization. I don’t recall seeing quite as much of this last year. As it is nearing the end of the semester and time is short I have not had the time to truly research these memorials and their significance or link to campus.

Memorials and monuments are fascinating design challenges that bring up so many questions. Who is the author? Why is this space the best space to place a memorial or monument? Is the temporary nature key to its success? Does it migrate gathering a following as it goes? Is the material or design striking enough to make its point? Does it need to make a point? What is its role? Does it shape conversations, allow for grief, stir people to protest?

A few readings in the theory/critcal analysis landscape architecture course I am taking this semester have hinted at this idea of the role of memorials, monuments, and landscape as a narrative of those who occupy it. Studying landscapes through their drivers, the people/economics/cultural value has changed the way I appreciate landscape architecture. There is much more than an environmental benefit to these spaces which seems to be forgotten in favor of ecology and climate crisis analysis. Memorials and monuments, often situated within landscapes, bring this role to the forefront and help drive designs beyond a naturalized non-human habitat.

Perhaps a study of monuments and memorials in landscape and architecture could be the best bridge to connecting the two and informing how I design both harmoniously. If any of my readers have thoughts, suggestions on readings, or general pointers I would love to hear them!


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