The winning design has been unveiled in the town of Cornelius' veterans monument contest.
The town received 19 entries in a juried design contest for a monument that will be built along N.C. 115/Main Street, behind town hall. Anyone could participate, and some professional entries came from local and regional architectural and engineering firms.
A jury of veterans, civic leaders and design professionals including David Walters, a professor of architecture at UNC Charlotte, and Jean Greer, the Arts and Science Council's vice president of public art, selected the winning design.
"The first-place design provides a rich community space to honor the veterans and will allow the community to continue to return and build traditions there," said Greer.
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Walters said, "The design of the plaza works well from a drive-by view and is even more rewarding when one returns as a pedestrian."
The space is scheduled to be completed for Veterans' Day ceremonies this November, but it depends on the fundraising efforts.
Gary Fankhauser, 54, worked on the design with his wife, Alais, 42, over a series of dinners at their home. The couple has lived in Cornelius for seven years.
Alais' landscape design firm, Pedra Grande Associates, will manage the project. All Green Irrigation and Landscape will construct the monument.
Gary, a professional landscape architect for 28 years, said he entered the contest because he likes anonymous competitions.
"So many memorials have to deal with large crowds, so we wanted to make a place that was about home and homecoming for service members more than just a memorial for the fallen," said Gary.
"Instead of creating a veterans monument, we created a veterans plaza. We wanted it to be a place that people could use on a day-to-day basis, as well as for national holidays. It's almost like an urban park - a place to be used as opposed to just a monument to be looked at."
The 3,000-square-foot plaza will have a very home-like feel, Gary said.
There will be roses, wooden benches and a "yellow ribbon" oak that will grow up to 60 feet tall.
Gary is honored that he and his design will be a lasting part of Cornelius history.
"This is probably one of the most meaningful and significant projects that I've worked on in the last 28 years," he said. "It's meant to be timeless. When I see people using the space, that'll be better than anything."
The cost of this joint project between Cornelius and American Legion Post 86 is budgeted for $100,000. Cornelius has pledged a matching grant up to $50,000.
Fundraising efforts are expected to raise another $50,000. If not, the town will match whatever is raised. Donated building materials and services also will help keep costs low.
The fundraising is managed by the Cornelius Veterans Monument Committee, which is made up of members of Post 86 and the town.
The monument will honor all veterans, living and deceased, who lived in Cornelius and served in any branch of the U.S. military during war or peacetime.
The monument will have space to list the names of 1,200 veterans.
The monument committee has gathered 600 names so far.
All design entries will be on display in the Cornelius Town Hall lobby for at least the next few months. They also soon will be listed online at www.corneliusveteransmonument.org.