What Inspired Maya Lin’s Design of the Vietnam War Memorial?

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Maya Lin is an award winning Asian American architect. Lin was born in Athens, Ohio, in 1959. Her parents had come from China to America in the 1940s. They both taught at the University of Ohio. Her father was a ceramicist and the art school’s dean. Her mother was a poet and a professor of literature.

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Education

Lin was a talented student. She studied at Yale University. She wanted to major in both sculpture and architecture. The school wouldn’t let her do that. So she enrolled in the architecture programme. However, she still took classes in sculpture.

Biography

A nationwide competition for the design of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was held in 1980. The memorial was to be constructed in Washington, D.C. The location was between the Lincoln Memorial and the capital.

Its final design was two long, black granite walls. The walls were joined together to form the giant V. On the wall were the names of 58,000 men and women who were killed or missing during the war. The names were written in the order in which they had died or had been reported missing. Design and construction were opposed in favour of a more traditional design.

However, everything changed as people started to visit the monument. Thousands have come to find the names of their loved ones killed in the war. Many of them made rubbings of the engraved names. The memorial has become a place of healing.

She designed the Civil Rights Memorial at the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1987. The monument was designed in two parts. There was a black granite disc about 2 metres above sea level first. Twenty-one essential events in the civil rights movement have been written on it. Forty individuals were listed who died in the fight.

Recent works

Redesign of Neilson Library at Smith College

Lin redesigned the 200,000-square-foot building to provide one-stop access to 40,000 linear feet of archived content and a new digital media hub. The centre atrium’s oculus, a round skylight that captures and magnifies external light to create private study nooks, is surrounded by a reflective, curved glass wall. Additionally, she made the grounds public to honour Frederick Law Olmsted’s initial design for the campus as a botanical garden. Lin demonstrated that her whisper still carries weight by transforming the structure into a serene sanctuary for learning.

Lin Work Recognition

Lin was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016.

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Sources

Byars, M., Riley, T. (2004). (2004). The Encyclopedia of Design. Publishing by Laurence King.

List of Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients. (2023, March 13). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Presidential_Medal_of_Freedom_recipients

Oh, Lobb, N. [1996]. 16 Outstanding Asian Americans. Publisher of J. Weston Walch.

Presidential lectures: Maya Lin-University of Stanford. https://prelectur.stanford.edu/lecturer/lin/

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