CWVM: Cold War Veterans Memorial

Pritzker Archives & Memorial Park Center - Somers, Wisconsin



“It is big labor to rescue all mankind, every mother’s child.” Athena, The Iliad by Homer.

The Cold War Veterans Memorial is an object composed of manifold concepts. With precise symbolism and carefully presented content, the memorial articulates the valor and perseverance of the veterans who brought an end to the Cold War.

On top of the abstract cartographic circle plinth are arrayed cubes that represent nation-states. The two largest cubes are engaged in a struggle: the open western cube (USA) and the closed eastern cube (USSR).

The Memorial Cube is 45 feet in width, length, and height. This 45 feet dimension is symbolic of the start of the Cold War (1945).
The 91 feet from the eastern edge of the Memorial Cube to the western face of the gateway is symbolic of the year 1991, the end of the Cold War(1945+45+1=1991).

30 feet stair leading to the memorial is symbolic of the 30 years since the end of the Cold War to the present (1991+30=2021).

The formal detailing symbolizes contributions by the U.S. armed forces and civilian personnel. The aggregation of squares and boxes represents these veterans. These individual parts of varying sizes are indispensable to the whole. Originating from the western open cube, these patterns move eastward to open and transform the closed cube.

The procession leads inward through the abstraction of the "iron curtain" and the Berlin Wall.

The ritualistic procession above leads into a solemn space, open to the firmament. Enshrined inside is a large marble relief illustrating the spirit of the Cold War veterans; below it are twelve marble blocks with text themes of the CWVM engraved.

Harmonizing with the landscape, water, concrete, steel, and stone, the memorial’s primary material is copper. The initially red copper will gradually weather into a blue-green patina reminiscent of the Statue of Liberty. The 25 year patina of the copper parallels the aging of the Cold War veterans, as the memorial will grow old with them.

The Cold War ended on December 25, 1991, at 7:32 pm when the Soviet flag was finally lowered over Kremlin. In Wisconsin, that time was 11:32 am. To commemorate this event, the solar angle, at the site at that moment, is used to trace the shadow of the conceptual outline of the memorial as it becomes a reflecting pool on top of the plinth. (Left: The Origin of Drawing by Karl. F. Schinkel).

The part to whole relationship is guided by the morphology of the human figure and its relationship to both embodied parts and other figures. (Left: Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci, redrawn by the architect).