National Park Service and National Capital Planning Commission Launch Memorials for the Future Competition with Van Alen Institute

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News Release Date: April 11, 2016

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WASHINGTON (April 11, 2016) –The National Park Service (NPS) and National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC), in collaboration with Van Alen Institute, today launched Memorials for the Future, a competition that aims to rethink the way we develop and experience memorials. Announced by the White House in October 2015 to celebrate the fifth anniversary of, Memorials for the Future will re-imagine Washington, D.C.’s traditional approach to permanent commemoration, creating new ideas for honoring our diverse histories, heritage and culture.

Memorials enshrine what we as a society want to remember. But the places, people and stories that we choose to memorialize and the audiences who encounter them are constantly changing. Memorials for the Future challenges entrants to imagine the possible future of memorials: How can they look forward and not only back? How can we commemorate in more adaptive, interactive and ephemeral ways?

“While we are proud of our tradition, we need to challenge ourselves to think creatively about the future,” NPS Regional Director Bob Vogel said. “As the National Park Service looks toward its second century, we will continue to preserve and tell America’s stories—Memorials for the Future asks ‘What might that look like?’”

Entrants are challenged to consider how the next century’s memorials will be woven into the capital’s urban public spaces, largely located off the National Mall.

“This competition is a remarkable opportunity to consider ways to make our commemorative landscape more inclusive and accessible, expanding our ideas for who and how we memorialize,” National Capital Planning Commission Executive Director Marcel Acosta said.

Van Alen Institute, a New York-based design nonprofit that organizes public programs, research projects, and design competitions will lead the development of the final design outcomes for the project.

“This is an inspiring competition that gives us the opportunity to take a step back and assess how we can be more adaptive when creating memorials to pivotal people, movements and events in the future,” Van Alen Institute Executive Director David van der Leer said.

A jury will select three finalist teams to receive a $15,000 stipend to continue their research and design process. The finalists will be announced this summer. The competition winner will be announced in fall 2016, and the competition results will be displayed in an exhibition, along with an illustrated report of final outcomes. The results will inform NPS, NCPC and their partners on future memorial design and policy opportunities.

Teams must include at least one designer (e.g. architect, landscape architect, urban designer, planner, artist), and are encouraged to include members with expertise in storytelling, history, commemoration or the social sciences. Van Alen Institute will accept requests for concepts beginning today, April 11. The deadline for registration and electronic submission of the request for concepts is 11:59 p.m. EDT on May 4, 2016 at the competition website:

Teams are encouraged (but not required) to pre-register their interest by 11:59 p.m. EDT on April 18, 2016, at Project updates and any answers to questions submitted about the request will be emailed to team leads who have pre-registered.


  • Marcel Acosta, Executive Director, National Capital Planning Commission 
  • Mark Gardner, Principal, Jaklitsch / Gardner Architects 
  • David van der Leer, Executive Director, Van Alen Institute 
  • Thomas Luebke, Commission Secretary, Commission of Fine Arts 
  • Jonathan Marvel, Principal and Founder, Marvel Architects 
  • Julie Rhoad, President & CEO, The NAMES Project Foundation 
  • Deborah Rutter, President, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts 
  • Kirk Savage, Professor, History, Art, and Architecture University of Pittsburgh 
  • Jason Schupbach, Director of Design Programs, National Endowment for the Arts 
  • Eric Shaw, Director, District of Columbia Office of Planning 
  • Gay Vietzke, Superintendent, National Mall and Memorial Parks, National Park Service

About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America's 410 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Visit us at, on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube

About the National Capital Planning Commission. Established by Congress in 1924, the National Capital Planning Commission is the federal government’s central planning agency for the Washington, DC region. NCPC preserves and enhances the extraordinary historical, cultural, and natural resources and federal assets of the region to support the needs of the federal government and enrich the lives of the region’s visitors, workers, and residents. Website: Twitter: @NCPCgov Instagram: @ncpcgov Facebook: /NCPCgov

About Van Alen Institute. At Van Alen Institute, we believe design can transform cities, landscapes, and regions to improve people’s lives. We collaborate with communities, scholars, policymakers, and professionals on local and global initiatives that rigorously investigate the most pressing social, cultural, and ecological challenges of tomorrow. Building on more than a century of experience, we develop cross-disciplinary research, provocative public programs, and inventive design competitions. Website: Twitter: @van_alen Instagram: @van_alen Facebook: /vanaleninstitute

Last updated: April 11, 2016

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