Memorial's design under way


Stadium's lettering to be included in wall

May 27, 2002|By Edward Gunts | Edward Gunts,SUN ARCHITECTURE CRITIC

Time will not dim the glory of their deeds," but it will take a little longer to make sure that's the case.

Today is the first Memorial Day since wrecking crews took down the 10-story-high front wall of Baltimore's Memorial Stadium, dedicated to honor "all who so valiantly fought and served in the world wars."

Now that it's gone, there won't be any sort of replacement for at least a year, as a result of action taken this spring by the General Assembly.

The Maryland Stadium Authority sought $1.2 million from the state legislature this year to finish design work and build a "Veterans Memorial" in Camden Yards that would contain some of the lettering from Memorial Stadium's wall.

The state chose not to allocate the $1 million to build the memorial, effectively blocking construction for the year that begins July 1. But legislators did approve up to $200,000 to pay for completion of design work, including architectural plans, lighting and landscaping.

Richard Slosson, executive director of the stadium authority, said his office will seek the construction money from the general assembly next year. In the meantime, he said, "we just want to complete these drawings so they'll be ready to go."

If the legislature isn't willing to fund construction, he said, proponents of the Camden Yards memorial may have to consider a fund-raising campaign.

The stadium authority voted this month to hire a group headed by the architectural firm of Cochran, Stephenson & Donkervoet of Baltimore to finish designing the memorial for a site along the promenade between Oriole Park and Ravens Stadium, near the south end of the restored B&O Warehouse. The contract price was $115,000. Crampton/Dunlop of Baltimore will be the lighting consultant. Rummel Klepper and Kahl is the civil engineer, and ReStl is the structural engineer.

CS&D had provided the preliminary design for the memorial, a curving granite wall and a paved area where pedestrians could pause and read an inscription. The wall would be a backdrop for the stainless steel letters from Memorial Stadium. An additional line or lines, carved into the granite, would supplement the primary inscription.

Michael Bolinger, president of CS&D, said the design team considered several sites before selecting the land at the south end of the warehouse.

Bolinger said CS&D originally considered a convex wall that would echo the curve of the Memorial Wall on 33rd Street but decided a concave wall would be more appropriate for the site and more protective and "enveloping" of visitors.

He said the design team has indicated the curved wall would be 10 feet high, but it may be increased to about 12 feet, so the letters from Memorial Stadium can be placed well out of reach of passers-by. The wall also will be designed to incorporate as many as three flags and a 10-inch-high sealed urn that was inside Memorial Stadium and contains soil from every cemetery in the world that has American service personnel buried in it.

In the new memorial, Bolinger said, wording will be adjusted slightly to honor veterans not only from the two world wars but from other wars fought since Memorial Stadium was completed in 1954. He said the exact wording will be determined by the stadium authority and others.

The text from Memorial Stadium read: "... To All Who So Valiantly Fought And Served in the World Wars With Eternal Gratitude To Those Who Made The Supreme Sacrifice To Preserve Equality and Freedom. Time will not dim the glory of their deeds."

One proposed version of the new wording reads: "... To all those who so valiantly fought and served in our Nation's battles with special gratitude to those who made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve equality and freedom throughout the World. Time will not dim the glory of their deeds."

Bolinger, a Vietnam veteran, said the project has taken on more meaning for him the more he has worked on it and talked with other veterans.

"There was a desire to take part of the existing memorial wall and save it, and the letters are what people read and see," he said. "They were the easier things to reuse."

Bolinger said the Camden Yards memorial will be different from the front wall of Memorial Stadium because it is a free-standing memorial, not part of a larger building, and is meant to be seen primarily by people walking past, not driving. He said it won't be vulnerable to being torn down when the building to which it is attached is judged obsolete, because it won't be attached to a larger building. At the same time, he said, it will be in a heavily trafficked area between two stadiums.

"We all knew what that big wall was at Memorial Stadium. But that was a stadium. Now we're creating a memorial. It stands alone as a pure memorial. It's designed just for that purpose."

The letters from Memorial Stadium's wall have a typeface that was designed specifically for that location. Slosson said the letters that aren't being reused in the Camden Yards memorial have been turned over to Baltimore's Department of Public Works, which is responsible for their safekeeping.

The stadium site, bounded by 33rd and 36th streets, Ellerslie Avenue and Ednor Road, was awarded several years ago to the nonprofit developer Govans Ecumenical Development Corp., which proposed a $47 million, 430-unit retirement community called Stadium Place and a YMCA branch. Baltimore's Design Advisory Panel this month approved plans for the YMCA but withheld approval of plans for the retirement community, pending receipt of additional information. GEDCO intends to build the housing in stages over the next several years.

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