Client: The Patterson Foundation
Location: Sarasota, FL, United States
Completion date: 2014
Artwork budget: $2,000,000
Social Sector Solutions
The Patterson Foundation
Patriot Plaza within Sarasota National Cemetery is an 85,000 sqft assembly space. The design emphasizes transparency and open sight lines. Sweeping curvilinear canopies of translucent glass rise 50 ft and protect the 2800 seat amphitheater and 60 foot rostrum. Three entrances feed into circulation paths along which art installations tell stories in a palette of white stone, colorful mosaics and bronze. Small spaces along the paths allow visitors to step off to contemplate art. Landscape transitions from outer, park-like green space to structured, paved inner core
The Patterson Foundation decided to incorporate significant art into Patriot Plaza early in its planning in recognition of the power of art to communicate the goal of the project which was to “Honor Service, Inspire Patriotism” Embrace Freedom". Art was sought that told stories of military service and of military families for whom national cemeteries exist. TPF wished to create a space that was a destination for visitors interested in the military, art and history. The selection and incorporation of art was given a high priority. The Art Consultant was included in early design discussions and all members of the team, including project manager, architects and construction team, acted to support and accommodate the requirements of the art. Constructive meetings among designers, consultant and artists resulted in a seamless process in which artists and designers continually adjusted to reinforce the impact of the art and the overall design.
Art team and designers developed compatible conceptual programs for the space. Both desired an uplifting, energized space and were concerned with helping visitors enjoy the long circulation pathways. Both desired open sight lines; visual connection between the areas of the large elliptical space; lightness and transparency; and contemporary design vocabularies, as opposed to visual recapitulations of traditional military architecture and art. Each responded to the other’s program with changes, adaptations, deeper thinking. Lead artist Larry Kirkland took a wall concept and broke it up into eight pairs of sculptural wall segments named tablets, with space in between and a sculptured bench for each – opening up the space and visually linking the art with the field of graves across the road. Designers added recessed “roomlets” off the path for tablet pairs, creating a setting for viewers to spend as much quiet time as desired with the art, which includes text. Kirkland chose the same white Georgia marble as the cemetery headstones, compatible with the white canopy structural beams. also a strong design statement. Designers adopted Kirkland's benches for the entire site. Similar dialog occurred with other artists.
Patriot Plaza was designed and built by The Patterson Foundation in a first-ever partnership between the VA and a private entity. The gIft includes a maintenance endowment for the entire site. TPF underwrote a docent program and K-12 curriculum for student field trips. The collection includes: :two stone series, Larry Kirkland, "Testimonies" with text by vets and families, photography. etched drawings, bench, and documentary photography "Witness To Mission" ; Ellen Driscoll mosaics include a 50 ft mural, two 20ft spires on 12x12 ground mosaics; bronze eagle entrance sculptures by Pablo Eduardo (Guardian Eagles), Ann Hirsch (Home).