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Award-winning project ‘earthcasts’ veterans’ legacy

The Architectural Precast Association has announced winners of its 2013 Design & Manufacturing Excellence competition, recognizing examples of outstanding member works. The competition was expanded in 2009 to include nine unique entry categories ensuring each entry, whether large or small, is judged solely on the design and manufacturing merits of the respective category. Under the new program, 15 projects shared top honors this year, including the Garner Veterans Memorial (Garner, N.C.), a Lucas Concrete Products project that won in the Trim/Landscape category.

The project was designed by Clearscapes, an architectural design firm in Raleigh, N.C., to honor Garner area veterans since the country’s beginning in 1776. Each of the 37 concrete wall panels was individually molded and poured utilizing an “earthcasting” technique that was tested and developed by Clearscapes. Working with Lucas Concrete Products, Inc. (Charlotte, N.C.), the architectural team tamped about 40,000 lb. of local clay, broke the compacted clay into clods, and packed it into molds to create the texture of broken ground. The concrete was then pigmented with iron oxide to match the local clay soil. In contrast, the concrete benches and paving were acid-etched to impart a smooth, non-directional surface. The honed Mt. Airy granite wall panels and the engraved brick pavers were also chosen as North Carolina materials.

The Design & Manufacturing Excellence judges noted: “This really ‘wowed’ us. Layer of texture protects the smooth inner panels. Precast concrete panels designed to simulate the area’s indigenous red clay is highly imaginative. Reflection and awareness of past is greatly stimulated with this architecture.”

The memorial stands in proud formation within Lake Benson Park’s serene setting. Two walls composed of individual panels undulate across the landscape beneath the United States and North Carolina flags. Light gray panels commemorating North Carolina’s contributions to various U.S. conflicts—one for each decade—are attached to the supporting clay wall panels. Once inside the memorial and screened from the public path, a second smaller-scaled series of walls is encountered. On their honed surfaces are the names of 67 Garner-area veterans who have died in combat. Looking east through the memorial, notes the design firm, a final pair of walls frames the view of a solitary oak—a living symbol of the future’s potential.