Environmental Context and Design Response
The site is not hospitable to telling these stories or creating a solemn memorial. It is physically dominated by the new Liberty Bell Center, whose porch and columns disturb a significant part of the site as well as the sounds and visual clutter of the adjacent City.
The Memorial will have a primary entrance on Market Street distinct from the cue entrance for the Liberty Bell Center. Visitors are given choice to enter at many other locations and to bypass any of the core storytelling locations as they choose.
Within the house, walls partially enclose spaces to provide visual and acoustical isolation, and imply a direction for visitor movement, while allowing choice. Minimal text and images are engraved on the walls where source material is available to add visual interest and to assist the hearing impaired.
Overlaying this simple approach is using the cue of voices and sound to provide a physical expression or signature for the rest of the physical design:
The resultant geometry of radiating sounds from each locus forms the overhead pattern of the trellis that covers the yards and open spaces. As the plantings grow, shade and visual enclosure on the site improve, creating a welcome and shady environment for visitors. The intersections of these radiating voices are supports or columns representing the nameless millions.
- Voices of History Written, represented at the bay window in the State Dining Room where Washington and Adams defined the presidency. Heard is represented by the sound wave of the normal speaking voices (40 decibels) and spaced accordingly.
- Voices of History Lost and Found, represented at the Slaves' Quarters, where the nine enslaved Africans dwelled. Unheard (20 decibels) just below the audible level, is spaced at twice the density.