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Why This Commemorative

Meanings and Messages: An Evocative Design Concept

The meanings and messages of the national Peace Corps Commemorative are about America’s outstretched hand reaching compassionately around the world to enhance mutual understanding and promote peace and justice.

Many monuments in Washington, DC, commemorate historic figures and Americans who served in the military. Yet absent is a memorial honoring a different manifestation of the nation’s historic ideals and experience: promoting peace, prosperity and social justice through direct outreach and human-to-human interaction. This Commemorative will enrich and more fully tell America’s story.

Digital rendering of Commemorative park granite benches and glass canopy
View from 1st Street showing inscriptions and views toward Taft Park and the Capital Grounds.

By living, working, teaching and learning alongside individuals aspiring to better their own lives and their country’s future, to date 230,000 American volunteers have helped global citizens transcend differences in culture, faith and ethnicity and economic disparity to build a better world.

Engagement with diverse peoples and communities, in the spirit of mutual respect and trust, is fundamental to the Peace Corps mission. Thus this commemorative work will be an inspiring homage to the better angels of our nature, those attributes of the American ethos that motivated creation of the Peace Corps and that Peace Corps volunteer service embodies.

Digital rendering of three park benches in the form of the human arm and hand embracing the world map with people sitting and standing in conversation.
View of central space from entry at Louisiana Avenue showing the world map framed by the hand benches.

A world map without national boundaries connotes our shared humanity, our aspiration to transcend barriers between peoples to gain mutual understanding and promote peace.

Three granite benches, each with an outreaching hand, embrace the ellipse. The hands express giving and receiving, teaching and learning from others, thereby symbolizing positive attributes of the American ethos inherent in the Peace Corps idea and Peace Corps volunteer service.

Pencil drawing of two people standing next to a sculptured granite bench forming an arm and hand. Digital rendering of Commemorative park with walking path and glass canopy
View from C Street entry showing an inscription and the path that slips around the outstretched hand bench.

For generations, visitors will stroll, gather and relax in the park as well as contemplate and interact with the Commemorative art. As they share this serene experience, visitors will become part of the unified, living ensemble.

This enduring commemorative work will evoke feelings of pride and optimism about America, its character and its credo, reminding us and the world’s peoples that we all must work together in pursuit of mutual understanding, peace and justice.

Artist Larry Kirkland (www.larrykirkland.com) and Michael Vergason Landscape Architects (www.vergason.net) have blended abstraction and figuration to create a Commemorative park landscape unlike any other in America’s capital city.


Digital Rendering of Commemorative Park trees looking southwest from corner.
View looking southwest from Louisiana Avenue and C Street corner shows how shade trees help to transition the scale from the buildings of the surrounding urban context to the more shaded comfort at the center of the Commemorative Park.
Digital Rendering of Commemorative Park showing tree canopy, street lamps and benches with people sitting.
View from C Street looking southeast across site to the Capitol Grounds and the Taft Memorial shows a high headed tree canopy with a clearing for the central gathering place at the center.
Digital Rendering of Commemorative Park trees
View looking northwest from Louisiana Avenue and 1st Street corner showing planted ground covers surrounding the central gathering place.


In the Heart of the Nation's Capital

The PCCF is working closely with the National Park Service, which will own and maintain the Commemorative and chosen NPS site in perpetuity. Although modest in size, the Peace Corps Commemorative site is favorably located near the heart of the nation's capital. Within easy walking distance are the U.S. Capitol Building and Capitol Grounds; Constitution Avenue and the National Mall’s museums and monuments; Union Station; Metro subway stations; and nearby hotels and restaurants.

Image: Peace Corps Commemorative Vicinity Map Aerial View of the Washington D.C. Capitol and Peace Corps Site location

A grove of trees will frame and shade the Commemorative park landscape, extending and continuing tree-covered Taft Park landscape, the nearby Capitol grounds, tree-lined Constitution Avenue and the National Mall.

Photo: Aerial view of Commemorative site



Existing Site Views

Photo: View of Commorative Park site, Taft Memorial Park and Capital on a winter day
Existing site looking southeast toward Taft Park and the U.S. Capitol Building.
Photo: Peace Corps commemorative site, looking North
Existing site looking looking north.
Photo: Peace Corps commemorative site, Louisiana Ave view
Existing site looking northeast along Louisiana Ave toward Union Station.

Site Design Goals

  • An attractive, inviting public park and a desirable site for a historic, national commemorative work
  • A place to gather for contemplation and inspiration, for rest and relaxation, serving visitors of all ages, genders, ethnicities and nationalities
  • A park landscape and commemorative work occupying the triangular site while also harmonizing with the much larger, surrounding urban space
  • Visibility day and night for pedestrians and occupants of vehicles
  • Ability for visitors to see well beyond the site with views toward the U.S. Capitol, Taft Park and the National Mall
  • Aesthetically unique, meaningful, memorable design imagery conveying symbolically the key meanings and messages of this commemorative work

Pencil drawing and images of Commemorative Park tree canopy and ground cover strategy.

We hope you will help bring this National Commemorative to fruition.