Client: Minnesota Veterans Home
Location: Minneapolis, MN, United States
Completion date: 2019
Shane Allbritton, Norman Lee
Design Optimization / Project Management
In River Spire, the chevron symbol is interpreted into Corten plates that are configured in a dramatic, spiraling vertical array. Taken together, the chevron plate frames create a sculptural spire that is characterized by a dynamic, flowing wave-like surface that evokes the nearby river and creeks. The poetic and harmonious form also celebrates the friendship and solidarity of the service men and women from all branches of the armed forces that have found community at the Veterans Home. The river stones change in density and color as they move up the artwork, providing a sense of lightness and drama.
Our inspiration for this project came from the unique challenge to “promote healing and support the organization’s mission of serving those who have served, focusing on life at the home rather than being a war memorial.” We envisioned a sculptural expression that had the power and honor of a battle monument, like the Battle Monument at West Point, but imbued with the unique natural beauty of the Minnesota Veterans Home site landscape, specifically using the river and creeks as a metaphor for life’s journey after dedicated service in the U.S. Armed Forces.
We often take familiar materials or symbols and recontextualize them to create new narrative meanings and resonances. For this project, we were interested in the symbols or insignia of the U.S. military that are a badge of honor and a great source of pride and accomplishment. The chevron, a "V" shaped symbol, has been historically worn on the sleeve as a piece of cloth or braid, in one form or the other, in all branches of the U.S. Military since 1821.
Sculpturally, we were interested in juxtaposing the regimented and stoic quality of the military with the holistic and organic quality of the natural world. Specifically, we drew upon landscape architect H.W.S. Cleveland’s own inspiration of using the natural features of the Mississippi River banks when designing the Veterans Home Complex.