This prize is awarded to buildings erected 25-35 years ago and have not lost their relevance and significance during this time. All this is especially significant for the monument designed by the architect Mayi Lin, who opened a new page in the memorial architecture of the United States and the whole world.
The strict minimalism of this monument, far from the officialdom of fluttering banners and monumental figures of heroic soldiers, initially aroused the rejection of the American public, including the veterans of the Vietnam War.
But Lin's project, which won an open competition, was nevertheless implemented in 1982, and in 1984 received the AIA Honorary Award. With each passing year, it was more and more appreciated both as a work of art and as an example of a monument evoking deep emotions.
The building is located among other monuments in the center of Washington. It is a memorial wall faced with polished black granite. In plan, it resembles a Latin V, with one end directed to the Lincoln Memorial, and the other to the Washington Monument. Each side is 75 meters long. The names of 58,000 soldiers killed or missing during the Vietnam War (1959-1975) are engraved on this wall. They are arranged in chronological order of the deaths of these soldiers.
The granite slabs are polished to a mirror-like shine, so the visitor to the memorial sees the names of the dead against the background of his own reflection. This, according to the architect, should give a personal aspect to the perception of both the monument and the Vietnam War as a historical event.
Lin also used an allusion to an open book: the wall with the names is also "open", bent at an obtuse angle, its height decreases towards the outer edges. It should also be noted that it is dug into the ground; the architect explained this decision by the fact that she wanted to create "not an object placed on the ground, but some kind of fracture in the soil, which smoothed over time … [recalling] the formation of the Earth before man."
Thus, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is not a reflection of one or another point of view on US foreign policy, but a reminder that the cost of any war is measured in human lives. This was once again noted by the American academics, who awarded this structure the "25 Years Award".