Normandy American Cemetery Visitor Center
Designing a new building to go in an historic and contextually sensitive site is a challenge. However, we believe that the old and the new can seamlessly integrate if the new design actively responds to the old. This project, with the subtle allusions it makes to the cemetery and to the sea, is an example of this kind of responsive design.
American Battle Monuments Commission
Architecture, Cultural, Cultural Landscapes, Interiors, Programming, Visitor & Interpretive Centers
American Architecture Awards, The Chicago Athenaeum, 2008
International Architecture Award, The Chicago Athenaeum, 2008
Award of Excellence, Washington (DC) Chapter AIA, 2007
Honor Award, AIA Maryland, 2007
Honor Award, Virginia Society AIA, 2007
Merit Award Unbuilt, Virginia Society AIA, 2004
Award of Excellence, Conceptual/Unbuilt, Northern Virginia Chapter AIA, 2005
American Architecture Award and International Architecture Award -- Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design Awards, 2008
How does one adequately commemorate the loss of life? How can designers create spaces that represent pain and longing, while also communicating resilience and fortitude? We were aware of the immense responsibility that came with designing the Normandy American Cemetery Visitor Center and navigating the challenges it entailed. We explored how we might create a center that was evocative, subtle and beautiful, yet did not detract from the cemetery and the surrounding site.
The answer lay in SmithGroup’s architectural vocabulary and integrating it with the landscape. We were creating to remember the past, but designing for the present and future, and wanted the style to depict a modern and minimalist feel.
Because of our efforts to design in continuity with the existing infrastructure, the center from afar appears as an extension of the cemetery.
A modern remembrance of an historic and tragic day, the new Normandy American Cemetery Visitor Center blends the beauty of the site and the significance of the war, with the tempered grief that lingers today.