Remembrance Through Public Installation—15 Memorials Built This Century

Scroll through the slideshow above.

We asked several experts within the SEGD community for their picks of the most memorable and moving experiential graphic design in the context of memorials.

NOTE: This list has been compiled from our experts' top recommendations and is presented in order of date of completion.


Oklahoma City National Memorial, April 2000  

The Oklahoma City National Memorial, designed by Butzer Design Partnership, honors the 168 victims of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing with a Memorial Museum and an Outdoor Symbolic Memorial consisting of eight separate areas, including Gates of Time, Reflecting Pool, Field of Empty Chairs and Survivor Wall. The Field of Empty Chairs’ pieces are constructed of etched glass and steel and are particularly striking when lit at night.  (photo courtesy of: Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum)


Isurava Memorial, August 2002   

The Isurava Memorial commemorates Australian military losses in a desperate battle fought in 1942 on Papua New Guinea. The Australian government commissioned Hewitt Pender Associates to design the memorial, whose main element is a commemorative circle, which boldly reads “Battle of Isurava Kokoda Track 1942,” flanked by four black granite stones each weighing 3.5 tons, inscribed with four words: courage, mateship, endurance, sacrifice.


United States Air Force Memorial, October 2006

Located in Arlington, Virginia on the grounds of Fort Myer, adjacent to Arlington National Cemetery, the United States Air Force Memorial rises from the ground in three enormous stainless steel spires that represent the contrails of Air Force jets in a funeral fly-over maneuver. The installation, designed by Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, includes a stone plaza, an engraved glass contemplation wall, a bronze sculpture, information kiosks and a granite wall bearing the names of Medal of Honor recipients. (photo courtesy of: Marcel Mächler, Inc.)


National World War I Museum and Memorial, (Re-opened) December 2006

The National World War I Museum and Memorial of the United States is located in Kansas City, Missouri originally opened to the public in 1926. The site includes a massive stone Liberty Tower, and museum buildings in a classical Egyptian Revival style complete with Assyrian sphinxes and a field of poppies representing the dead. The award-winning main museum exhibits were designed by Ralph Appelbaum Associates and they encompass a vast artifact collection.


Atocha Station Memorial, March 2007

The Atocha Station Memorial mourns the loss of the 191 victims of the 2004 Madrid train bombings and the special forces lost in the pursuit of the perpetrators. The memorial, designed by FAM Arquitectura y Urbanismo S.L., is a 36-foot-tall tower over the train station completely composed from glass blocks and a clear membrane printed with the text from letters of grief from around the world following the attack. (photo via: Flickr by felipe_gabaldon)


Pentagon Memorial, September 2008   

Designed by Kaseman Beckman Advanced Strategies, the Pentagon Memorial honors the 59 passengers on board Flight 77 and the 125 personnel inside the Pentagon who lost their lives during the 9/11 tragedy. The site lays just southwest of the Pentagon building in Washington D.C. and features 184 lit benches over pools of varying lengths, corresponding to each victim’s age and inscribed with each of their names. (photo courtesy of: Kaseman Beckman Advanced Strategies)


Los Angeles Police Department Memorial for Fallen Officers, October 2009

The Los Angeles Police Department Memorial for Fallen Officers, designed by Gensler, sits on an elevated plaza in downtown LA and is constructed of more than 2,000 brass alloy plaques—a material reference to police badges—that have been engraved with the names of fallen police officers. Despite the physical weight, the memorial seems to be light and floating due to its porous design and special lighting enhances the shimmering effect of the brass.


Empty Sky (New Jersey September 11 Memorial), September 2011

Empty Sky is the Memorial to the New Jersey victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks and is located in Liberty State Park, across the Hudson River from the World Trade Center site. Designed by Jessica Jamroz and Frederic Schwartz of Frederic Schwartz Architects, the 2.6-acre site houses two parallel stainless steel walls, each 210 feet long and 30 feet high with the 476 names of the New Jersey victims engraved in large letters at eye-level. The shapes of the walls dramatically replace the buildings missing from the skyline and reflect a halo of light at dawn and dusk.


Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park, October 2012

The Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park in New York City is a memorial to the former President and now is a New York State Park as well. The monument boasts superior craftsmanship and was one of Louis Kahn’s last works, but the project did not advance until a 2005 exhibition brought attention to it. The triangular four-acre park is located on the southernmost tip of Roosevelt Island and employs a symmetrical design inspired by FDR’s love of boats and the sea. (photo via: Wikimedia Commons, Alexisrael)


American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial, October 2014

The American Veterans Disabled for Life in Washington, D.C. is unique in that it is a memorial to the living—the more than 3.5 million U.S. military veterans living with disabilities as a result of their service. Deep research went into this Cloud Gehshan design sits off the National Mall with a star-shaped fountain representing the five branches of the military and 48 panels of glass etched with deeply-moving photographs and quotations.


Ishi-no-kinendo (Memorial to 2011 Japan Earthquake), December 2014

Ishi-no-kinendo is a small, yet steeped-in-meaning, 70-square-foot memorial that sits atop a hill in Ishinomaki—an area that was one of the worst hit by the earthquake. The fan-shaped structure designed by Koishikawa Architects is constructed from 18,000 slate stones that represent the dead and missing, and adorned with an inscribed, folded chromed plate depicting the scale of the disaster and words of prayer. (photo via: Koishikawa Architects)


Buchanan Park ANZAC War Memorial, April 2015 

The ANZAC War Memorial in Buchanan Park in Queensland Australia commemorating and illuminating the sacrifice and legacy of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps and Peacekeeping Services from World War I through today. Brisbane-based firm Dotdash worked with a veteran to design the memorial, which incorporates military symbols throughout and focuses on a series of concrete panels referencing WWI bunkers. Etched glass, bronze panels and LED lighting help to tell the story of significant battles and lives lost.


Gordan Lederer Memorial, August 2015 

The Gordan Lederer Memorial was opened on the 24th anniversary of the Croatian photographer’s death by sniper while documenting the Croatian War of Independence. The monument was designed by NFO and prof.Petar Barišić. The giant depiction of a camera lens shattered by a bullet sits atop a picturesque hill and the engraved walkway leading to it recalls the look of film, while illustrating the path of Lederer’s life. Metal lettering at the end of the path displays a contemplative quotation. (photo: Bosnić+Dorotić via


The Ulma Family Museum of Poles Saving Jewish People, March 2016  

The Ulma Family Museum is a memorial and museum designed by Nizio Design dedicated to recognizing the victims of the Holocaust and the Polish citizens who helped hide Jewish community members. Names are displayed on a sandblasted granite wall that leads into the museum whose rusted steel exterior tells of the passage of time. Inside, artifacts from the Ulma family and the families they hid are displayed. An adjacent orchard references both the site’s past and Yad Vashem. (photo: L Kwartowicz/Nizio Design International via


New York City AIDS Memorial, December 2016

The New York City AIDS Memorial designed by Studio ai recognizes those lost to the tragic disease and their caregivers, acknowledging those activists who changed the trajectory of the crisis. The memorial was a grassroots advocacy effort that resulted in an installation in the now-dubbed “New York City AIDS Memorial Park at St. Vincent’s Triangle.” The triangular canopy frames donor signage, benches and granite pavers engraved with sections of “Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself.” (photo courtesy of: Max Flatow Photography)


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