Veterans Memorial
Bartholomew  County, Columbus, Indiana

The winner of a national design competition, the memorial is sited on the Bartholomew County Courthouse Square at the entry to the city. A grid of 25 pillars of rock-cut Indiana limestone, the memorial honors the county’s veterans of 20th century wars. When viewed from afar, it appears to be carved from a monolith; from its interior spaces, it is a meditative sanctuary of soaring columns on which veterans’ names, letters and diary entries are etched. At night, lights embedded in the base create a dramatic play of light and shadow and illuminate the memorial’s interior.

The upward visual movement of the columns, silhouetted by the sky, evokes a sense of awe in response to the deeds of others as well as a sense of participation in events which transcend the individual and everyday experience. The names of 156 local veterans are etched on the smooth column surfaces; further within the grid are their letters and diary entries. Viewers experience a layered passage into the heart of the grid of pillars in which the recorded experience of the veterans grows more and more intimate as one delves deeper into the space.

View from the inner columns

Residents of Columbus, Indiana on opening day

Incorporating the letters into the memorial liberated the architect from the Modernist’s memorial conundrum: imparting associative meaning to abstract form without the use of traditional iconography or symbols. The memorial’s narrative makes the design more accessible without being maudlin and provides Columbus with a handsome addition to its renowned architectural inventory.

Reed Kroloff, “Columns of Memory,” Architecture Magazine

The rough exterior columns and the smooth carved faces beyond

This sanctuary solidifies past deeds and allows today’s and future generations to understand the histories of their families, county, and country.

Site plan; column grid and bosque of trees

Physical model

The grid of pillars compliments the grid of the city and that of the flowering trees it stands amongst.

View towards the memorial

The grid of pillars creates a profound and meditative space – a place of solemnity that engenders a powerful sense of communal gratitude to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

Veteran’s letters are inscribed on the innermost columns

Two women admire the names of local veterans