Rouge Bouquet

Location

Washington DC

 

Client

World War One Centennial Commission

 

Status

Competition entry

 

Rouge Bouquet is inspired by the Joyce Kilmer poem of the same name which describes an artillery bombardment of an American trench in March 1918 resulting in the loss of 19 American soldiers. Kilmer himself perished at the Second Battle of the Marne five months later. Our aim was to depict the sense of suffering and loss described in Kilmer’s poem, within the context of a peaceful 21st century American park. Rouge Bouquet is formed from two parallel worlds. The first is a beautiful green landscape broken into courtyards by sixteen monumental white marble obelisks, a dignified yet mysterious backdrop to the park.

 

The focus point for gatherings and services is a large commemorative wall detailing the number of Americans who served and died in the war. From here, a long, ramp leads visitors to a subterranean trench connecting the sixteen obelisks, revealed to be light wells for the chambers below. Sounds from above flood in, but the outside world is unreachable. Each chamber is lined with a mosaic of white marble tiles with a stanza from Joyce’s poem written in black granite. In total 4,700,000 tiles are used, one for each American who served. The words of Joyce’s poem are formed from 116,516 black granite tiles, one for each American who died. The various chambers mimic the rhythm of Kilmer’s poem.