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Stage I began in September 2004. All registrants received a competition manual that relayed the purpose, Mission Statement, and congressional mandate for the National Memorial. The manual also described the initial Design Program as well as the site, community, and environment in which the memorial will be set. With this information, registrants were challenged to present design ideas for a “memorial expression” that portrays the issues, ideas, and passion contained in the Mission Statement. The “memorial expression” could range from an individual artwork to a larger landscape treatment.

The competition participants were given an opportunity on three separate occasions during Stage I to visit the site and take a guided tour with the Competition Advisors, Donald Stastny, FAIA FAICP and Helene Fried, and representatives of the National Park Service. Since many people were unable to attend the scheduled site visits, a photo tour was provided on the project website, and participants were given the opportunity to ask questions and request additional information online. Individual questions were answered and posted to the competition website for the benefit of all participants.

The intent of Stage I was for registrants to provide a design concept, including narrative and graphic descriptions, that responded to the Mission Statement and Design Program. This design concept was to be submitted on a single 30 x 40 inch board, which was to contain no marking or indication of their identity so the entries would be anonymous to the public and jury. The competition received over 1,000 entries for Stage I from throughout the nation and around the world. All entries that complied with the presentation criteria were placed in a public exhibit in Somerset, Pennsylvania and on the competition website. The exhibit provided family members and the public an opportunity to witness the thoughtfulness and creativity of the design concepts.

An independent jury comprised of design professionals, family members, and local and national leaders rigorously evaluated all the entries. The jury discussed the merits of the design concepts and challenged each other to find the entries that best embodied the spirit of the Mission Statement and an understanding of the landscape. From their deliberations over the course of a three-day meeting, the jury selected five finalists to advance to the second stage of the competition.

The five finalists were announced on February 4, 2005. The finalists were:
  • Leor Lovinger and Gilat Lovinger, Berkeley, California

  • Ken Lum, Toronto, Canada

  • Laurel McSherry, Columbus, Ohio

  • Paul Murdoch, Los Angeles, California

  • Fritz Steiner, Karen Lewis, Jason Kentner, and E. Lynn Miller,
    Austin, Texas.

Click Here to view the finalists, honorable mentions, and all designs

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