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American veterans honoured in glass

A look inside the creation of a very special project.


October 7, 2014
By Rich Porayko

disabled_veterans_life_memorial_foundation._1Robert McDonald, U.S. secretary of veterans
affairs, Sally Jewell, secretary of the interior and actor and musician
Gary Sinise will speak at the
much-anticipated American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial's historic
dedicationin Washington, D.C. – an event more than 15 years in the
making. Unlike other national memorials, the
American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial will pay tribute to disabled
veterans both living and deceased across all conflicts throughout the nation’s
history. The design of the Memorial, by the acclaimed firm Michael Vergason
Landscape Architects, envisions a hallowed place amid the bustle of the
surrounding Washington streets. Vergason’s design was meant expressly for its
audience – disabled veterans, their loved ones, friends and caretakers – who
will now have a place for commemoration and quiet reflection.

Robert McDonald, U.S. secretary of veterans affairs, Sally Jewell, secretary of the interior and actor and musician Gary Sinise will speak at the
much-anticipated American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial's historic dedicationin Washington, D.C. – an event more than 15 years in the making.

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Unlike other national memorials, the
American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial will pay tribute to disabled
veterans both living and deceased across all conflicts throughout the nation’s
history. The design of the Memorial, by the acclaimed firm Michael Vergason
Landscape Architects, envisions a hallowed place amid the bustle of the
surrounding Washington streets. Vergason’s design was meant expressly for its
audience – disabled veterans, their loved ones, friends and caretakers – who
will now have a place for commemoration and quiet reflection.

disabled_veterans_life_memorial_foundation._8

 

One of the most challenging aspects of the
Memorial was the preparation of the 48 laminated glass panels that display the
soldiers' stories through quotations and photographs. These etched glass panels
form the heart of this living monument.

​"Glass is a material of disclosure
and transparency," said Jerome Cloud, principal in charge of design for
Cloud Gehshan Associates in Philadelphia. "It liberates and illuminates
the imagery and veterans' voices in a way that carving them into stone would
not have done."

​The Memorial's lead designer and landscape
architect, Michael Vergason, specified the use of oversize glass panels for the
three interpretive walls at the site, providing a suitable monumental artistic
effect. Seattle, WA-based Hartung Glass Industries, a veteran-owned company,
cut, polished and tempered each glass sheet of a ¾” thick, ultra-clear glass
known as Starphire Glass by PPG, which is used in the Apache helicopter and B-2
bomber. Each individual layer is 48×106 inches and weighs 360 pounds.

As a result of laminating, the Memorial’s
panels are strong enough to withstand hurricane-force winds without bending,
breaking or leaning.  With five layers of
glass, plus four layers of lamination, the total weight of each glass panel is
approximately 1,800 pounds. 

Once the creative design was completed,
Moon Shadow Glass, Inc., located in Sandy, Oregon, handled the etching process.
"We had to produce detailed stencils and film from the original
artwork," said Tim Frasier, founder and owner of Moon Shadow Glass.
"After putting those images on the glass, we manually sandblasted the
surface to achieve just the right effect."

Project brief 
Cutting, polishing and tempering Hartung
Glass Industries, Seattle, Wash.
Glass makeup¾” Starphire by PPG
ArchitectShalom Baranes Associates
EtchingMoon Shadow Glass
LaminationGlass Strategies
Bronze sculpture artistLarry Kirkland

 

Some of the etchings appear on the outside
surfaces of the panels, allowing visitors to touch and feel the indentations,
which are 1/16-inch deep.  "The
majority of the etching is on the interior side, where the words and images
aren't exposed to the elements," said Kris Iverson, Moon Shadow's
marketing and creative director. “The interior etching also provides a subtle
sense of depth for the artwork.”

Because the etching process results in
clear images, some of the words and images have been hand painted for greater
clarity and a touch of color. "The process of making the photo etchings
was very challenging," added Frasier. "We used special films to
reproduce the shading of black and white photographs and captured those
incredible images on glass."

​​The individual etched sheets of glass
were then delivered to Rich Lamothe and his team of artisans at Glass
Strategies in Portland, Oregon to be sand-sealed, a process where specially
formulated paint is applied by hand to an etched surface.

disabled_veterans_life_memorial_foundation._7

Using overhead and wheeled cranes, the
massive sheets were placed on custom tilt-tables for lamination. Laminating the
separate sheets of glass to create a panel was done by hand using a liquid
resin called Polylam, manufactured by Glasslam, to fill the irregular etched
spaces between the sheets of glass before hardening into a solid, unbreakable
bond.  Extraordinary care was required to
eliminate any visible bubbles and debris specs while the Polylam was curing.

“The scope and complexity of the panels,
combined with the size and weight, provided unique challenges throughout the
process” said Lamothe. “We are truly honored to have been a part of this
incredible testament to those who made such enormous sacrifices in service to
America.”

 ​Once the lamination was completed, a
computer-controlled waterjet was used to trim each panel to its finished size.
That required a careful placement of each panel into a holding device to ensure
that the edges were precisely aligned vertically and horizontally. After the
trimming was completed, the edges of the glass panels were rounded and polished
to ensure a smooth finish that visitors can easily touch.

At the start of the design process,
visionary artist Larry Kirkland created four silhouette designs for the bronze
sculptures and selected the most appropriate accompanying photographs.  Research firm History Associates identified a
wide variety of disabled veterans' stories and carefully selected the most
suitable quotations for inscription in the Memorial.

disabled_veterans_life_memorial_foundation._2

The artwork is illuminated by light passing
through the bronze cut-outs and lit up at night, animating and bringing the
glass panels to life, said Cloud. "We wanted to create an interaction and
a dialogue between all the elements. For example, one of the cut-out
silhouettes is an image of a soldier with a crutch who appears to be standing
in front of an image of Arlington Cemetery, but it is actually a projection
from behind. The juxtaposition of images is a powerful and moving reminder of
loss and sacrifice." 

​As Frasier said, "This is a very
special project for us as well as the entire nation. Most monuments are
designed to honor those who have passed away, while this will be a memorial to
the living.  We salute these brave men
and women who have made great sacrifices for the sake of our country."

More photos of the project are on the Glass Canada Facebook page.

For more information

avdlm.org

 

 


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