A Symbol of Gratitude: The Tri An Monument Competition



©Grega Vezjak Architect

 

For residents of Louisville, Kentucky, it would come as no surprise that the city’s Vietnamese community would support a competition commemorating the friendship and support of the Americans both in Vietnam and the U.S. and our welcome for the Vietnamese people who have arrived in this country. The foundation established to realize this concept was named “Tri An,” which means “deep gratitude.” According to the competition brief, “It is important to recognize the numerous humanitarian efforts and good deeds done by the U.S. military and the many Americans who went far beyond the call of duty to help the South Vietnamese people.

As is the case with many non-government supported projects, this one also had a patron who lent his support to project, Yung Nguyen, the local founder and patron of the Tri Ân foundation, also the founder of a high-tech firm. To administer the competition, the foundation engaged the services of a local architecture firm, Bravura, which had a notable track record in memorial competitions, having previously acted as professional adviser for the acclaimed Patriots Peace Memorial competition in Louisville.

In setting the bar for the anticipated winner, the competition brief stated that the design:

  • Be unique;
  • Be dramatic, timeless, and contemplative;
  • Have many levels of meaning;
  • Have the seductive power to invite a closer look, even to the casual observer;
  • Be in harmony with the landscape, and be compatible with the other features and uses of the park in which it will reside;
  • Be a creative use of the hillside site; incorporating its views, topography, and natural wooded backdrop;
  • Successfully convey the Overriding Purpose and Interpretive Themes stated in these Guidelines.

To attract the widest possible audience, the organizers decided on an international, open and anonymous, two-stage competition as the best model. It was decided to award three finalists the opportunity to have their designs equally reviewed for the possible realization of the project in a second phase. For their efforts, each was to receive compensation of US $4,000.

To adjudicate the process, a four-person jury was empaneled:
• Susan Rademacher, FASLA
  Landscape Lecturer, Writer, Curator, Consultant & Designer
• Yung Nguyen
  Immigrant, Successful Entrepreneur & Founder of the Tri Ân Foundation
• P.Q. Phan
  Composer, Educator & Professor of Music at Indiana University
• David M. Biagi
  Architect & former Director of the University of Kentucky School of Architecture

Of the 128 entries this event attracted from around the world, the choice of the three finalists and ten honorable mentions certainly illustrated the international character of this competition:

Finalists – ($4,000 each)

• Grega Vezjak, Architect (Winner)
  Bilje, Miren-Kostanjevica, Slovenija
David Chisholm
 
CMC Architects, Prague, Czech Republic

Jordan Hines, Informal Office, llc, Lexington, KY USA


Honorable Mentions

• Young Song, Buffalo, New York
• Yongwon Kwon, New York, NY
• Yi-Chen Lee, Taipei, Taiwan
• Rob Kiester, Denver, Colorado
• Tommy Haddock, San Francisco, California
• Palita Simapaisal, Bangkok, Thailand
• Tom Lucey, Perth, Australia
• Justin Arleo, Chandler, Arizona
• Anh Nguyen, Riverside, California
• Tianyu Wu, Athens, Georgia


The Final Selection Process

The three premiated finalists were submitted to a review by the Tri Ân foundation, assisted by the competition adviser, James Walters. In the final evaluation process, it was determined that the very expressive entry by David Chisholm of CMC Architects had to be eliminated from consideration because it well exceeded the announced budget of $850,000 by almost $350,000. As a result, the entry by Grega Vezjak of Slovenia was a unanimous choice for the realization of the project. It should be noted that the jury’s choice of Vezjak matched that of the jury from the high-profile 2015 Christchurch Earthquake Memorial Competition in New Zealand, also won by the Slovenian architect over 340 entries from around the world. That memorial is slated for its dedication in February.

 

 

Winning Entry
Grega Vezjak, Architect
Bilje, Miren-Kostanjevica, Slovenija


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Images ©Grega Vezak Architect

 

 

Finalist
David Chisholm, CMC Architects
Team Members: Vít Máslo + Adria Ferrer
Prague, Czech Republic


 
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Images ©CMC Architects

 

 

Finalist
Jordan Hines, Informal Office, llc
Team member: Erin Ruhl
Lexington, KY USA

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Image ©Jordan Hines

 

 

 

Honorable Mentions

 

Jin Young Song
Buffalo, NY USA



Image ©Jin Young Song

 

 

Yongwon Kwon
New York, NY

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Image ©Jin Yongwon Kwon

 

 

Yi-Chen Lee
Taipei, Taiwan

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Image ©Yi-Chen Lee

 

 

Rob Kiester
Denver, CO USA


Image ©Rob Kiester

 

 

Tommy Haddock
San Francisco, CA USA

Image ©Tommy Haddock

 

 

Palita Simapaisal
Bangkok, Thailand


Image ©Palita Simapaisal

 

 

 

Tom Lucey
Perth, Australia


Image ©Tom Lucey

 

 

Justin Arleo
Chandler, AZ USA


Image ©Justin Arleo

 

 

Anh Nguyen
Riverside, CA USA


Image ©Anh Nguyen

 

 

Tianyu Wu
Athens, GA USA


Image ©Tianyu Wu