Design for planned Armenian Genocide Memorial in Pasadena unveiled

Proponents of a planned memorial commemorating the Armenian Genocide unveiled the design Sunday for their proposed monument, the Pasadena Star-News reports.

The simple, yet deeply symbolic design created by an Art Center College of Design student Catherine Menard was greeted with acclaim and admiration as it was unveiled during a ceremony at the school.

Menard’s design was chosen by judges from the Pasadena Armenian Genocide Memorial Committee over 16 other entries. She is working with renowned architect Stefanos Polyzoides to translate the design into an architectural blueprint.

“I only hope it matters to the people that it’s for,” Menard said.

The 26-year-old Environmental Design student added that the idea of leaving her mark on her hometown of Pasadena by designing a memorial that will stand for generations to come was a source of pride, and a bit overwhelming.

It was a difficult and thoughtful process coming up with a design to honor the 1.5 million Armenians slain by the Ottoman Turks in what was then the Ottoman Empire between 1915 and 1923, Menard said.

The final product is minimalist in design, yet densely packed with meaning and symbolism.

A 16-foot-tall tripod sits at the center of a 26-foot-diameter circle of stonework, which ringed by ornamental pomegranate trees. Within the circle is a row of bushes that create a path around the center of the memorial.

The tripod is symbolic of similar ones which were used to hang Armenian leaders during the genocide, Menard explained.

Drops of water illuminated by lights will fall every 21 seconds from the top of the tripod to a basin below. In one year’s time, it will release 1.5 million drops, symbolizing a tear for each of the genocide victims.

Each of the pomegranate trees lining the circle will be named for one of the 12 “lost provinces” of Armenia, located in modern-day Turkey.

But the memorial is designed not only to cause onlookers to meditate on the horrors that unfolded in the 20th century’s first genocide, but to inspire hope.

The water drops do not gather in the stone basin, but rather they land on it, leaving their impact and altering it’s shape overtime, before vanishing into the earth, as if spirits into the afterlife, she said.

While remembrance is a vital purpose of the memorial, the memorial is also designed to convey the message that “we must press forward.” Art Center College of Design Environmental Design Professor James Meraz, who mentored Menard along the design process along with six other students from the school who submitted entries, described the memorial as a “convergence of horror and hope. ”

The plan had received criticism from Turkish government officials, who do not agree with the characterization of the mass killings as a genocide.

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