Although the Vietnam Veterans Memorial attracts more visitors than any other site in Washington, D.C., and is perhaps the single most effective war memorial in the country, its design narrowly missed the scrap heap of history. The saga has been told many times over, but it still serves as a worthy introduction to one of the most fascinating figures in the field of design today, Maya Ying Lin. As a nerdy, faculty-brat child of Chinese immigrants, Lin reshaped the notion of what a memorial can be. She was a mere undergraduate when, in 1981, a panel of architecture experts unanimously chose her memorial design, done for an architecture class at Yale, from among 1,421 submissions. No one thought they had made an easy choice, especially given the complicated emotions surrounding the war. Yet the vets who headed the memorial fund were convinced that Lin's understated, polished black wall was special enough to be... More >>>
Detail from Maya Lin's Untitled (Topographic Landscape).