The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, November 21, 2008

Concepts for new veterans memorial unveiled

On Thursday, November 6, the Veterans Memorial Advisory Committee offered a public viewing of three different preliminary designs for a memorial to replace the Honor Roll on the Town Common (see full story in last week’s Mosquito, November 14). Designers from Levi and Wong detailed their research on the history, topography, and uses of the Town Common, and explained how those considerations were reflected in each design.

The Town Common is the site of the proposed new veterans memorial. The two current Honor Roll plaques are located at the bottom of Concord Street. Dotted lines show the location of the new memorial, on the School Street side of the Common.

Committee chair Doug Stevenson noted that Town Meeting 2008 voted to dedicate about $100,000 in Community Preservation Act (CPA) funds to the project. Six firms responded to the request for design proposals and the firm Levi and Wong of Concord was chosen.

Three designs were developed, all located on a flat area at the base of the Common accessible from School Street. Each included pathways drawing the public to a low granite wall where the names would be inscribed in bronze. According to Willie Wong, Levi and Wong Principal, the current trend in memorial design is to present “a landscape scheme, not just an obelisk or figure,” and to consider the memorial “in context to where it is.” The designated location at the bottom of School Street provides an opportunity to relate the Common to the Town Center, and introduces “a better townscape so [the memorial] won’t sit in isolation” and will “contribute to the energy

of the center.”

Principles and background research described

Stevenson denoted some of the principles that drove the designs. Criteria included a permanent, low-maintenance structure in keeping with the character and history of the Town Common. Integration into the current uses of the Common was considered, and a sense of repose and reverence was sought. The committee also wanted to recognize residents who had served in the Vietnam and Gulf Wars, as well as those already included. The current Honor Roll lists Carlisle residents who served in World Wars I and II and the Korean War.

Wong explained that the designers considered the project in the context of its surroundings. “[The Common] really is the town’s living room. It takes a little bit of thought.” They reviewed the Memorial Day ceremonies to understand that it was important to provide public gathering space and access. They also examined old photographs for clues as to how the Common had been used in the past. Wong noted that those photos show the Common as “a place of ceremony” as it is today, but also document “a sense of openness [that] is gone” because trees have become overgrown.

He noted a desire to honor the space in front of “a pretty majestic building,” the First Religious Society. A decision was made, said Wong, to “level the area around the flag pole, but leave the area by the church alone.” Another constraint was the topography of the Common, which includes a 20-foot elevation drop from the church to Concord Street. The designated location near the tip of the Common offers “a slope more conducive to building” and a spot “more visible to the town” that does not impinge on the church’s front yard.

Design concepts

Carlisle resident and Levi and Wong designer Neal Emmer presented three concepts, B, C, and D:

Concept B shows a granite platform, grassed on top. This would form a gathering place for ceremonies in front of the wall, which would be recessed into the hill and would face Concord Street. Granite steps would lead down to a path connecting the site to parking on School Street.
Concept C shows a serpentine wall perpendicular to Concord Street, and visible from all directions.
Concept D shows a circular pathway, which begins at the point of the Common, and then meanders around the area, ending at a granite wall set into the slope.

The committee includes Stevenson, Al Cameron, Larry Bearfield, Ned Berube, Greg Fairbank and Alan Carpenito. ∆

© 2008 The Carlisle Mosquito