This is one of those projects that goes under the radar, relatively unknown to most. I had the fortune several years ago to see Wes Jones speak, and he presented several of his architectural projects, nearly all forgettable. The work was fine, maybe even great (I don’t remember) but paled in comparison to the Astronauts Memorial (completed 1989) for one simple reason, the concept behind the project, the daring to propose to the bureaucratic agency NASA what he did , and nearly pull it off 100%.
The Space Mirror is a huge plane of mirror polish black granite, meant to reflect the sky above. In the granite slabs are carved straight through the names of fallen astronauts, scattered across the plane of granite, grouped by the tragic events in which the lives were lost. Behind the plane of granite an array of silvered mirrors was meant to be placed to reflect the light of the sun through the cut out names effectively burning the names of lost astronauts into the retinas of the viewers. Yes. The idea was to burn afterimages of the names of deceased astronauts into visitors eyes. The sheer violence of this small bit seals the deal for me and this project. It is some thing I will never forget. The power, and the metaphor contained in that simple move makes this project .
This is in addition to the fact that the several hundred ton steel structure and granite slabs rotated and tilted to track the sun across the sky, to insure that users eyes were continuously exposed to the full strength of the suns rays. Sadly, the bureaucracy being what it was, as per Mr. Jones, the mirrors were replaced with white painted surfaces to reduce the intensity of the light. After an malfunction with the equipment controlling the rotation & tilt sun tracking, flood lights were installed to provide a sanitized continuous source of light through the crippled memorial.tags:archinect astronaut design memorial sun
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