National Japanese American Memorial – DBA


Previous Project

 Next Project arrow-25-512_2



National Memorial
Public Law 102-502
34,000 SF
Washington, DC

Memorial Design, New Construction, Construction Administration

U.S. Commission of Fine Arts
National Capital Planning Commission
DC Historic Preservation Review Board
National Park Service
Department of the Interior
Advisory Council on Historic Preservation
National Capital Monuments Commission
Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority

2002 Tucker Architectural Award
2001 Superior Craftmanship Award for Stone Masonry, Washington Building Congress
2001 Award for Excellence in Construction, Washington/Virginia Chapter Associated Builders and Contractors
2002 Mid-Atlantic Golden Trowel Award, International masonry Institute
2002 Henry Hering Memorial Medal, National Sculpture Society

The Memorial is designed to commemorate patriotism of Japanese Americans during World War II. Its design is a response to a dark chapter in our nation’s history when war hysteria and prejudice led to the internment of 120,000 Japanese Americans.  Many were American citizens by birthright and despite the egregious injustice done to them by their own country, they still felt compelled by a sense of loyalty and duty to fight for our country.  When he signed the Civil Liberties Act in 1988, President Ronald W. Reagan stated, “Here we admit a wrong.  Here we affirm our commitment to equal justice under the law.”  This statement, meant as an apology to all those who suffered civil liberties injustices, is a key part of the ideological fabric of the National Japanese American memorial to Patriotism during World War II.

Located on a triangular urban site adjacent to the U.S. Capitol, the design of the memorial elegantly responds to the surrounding streetscape.  Sensitive landscaping enclosing the memorial creates a space of solitude for an optimal experience.  The simple spiral plan juxtaposes the harsh geometry of the site and creates an architectural experience of confinement and release.

Dimensional granite with the inscribed names of those Japanese Americans who died while fighting in World War II envelopes the space and a pool still of water encourages visitors to pause for a moment of self-reflection.  The pool is illuminated at night with energy efficient fiber optic lights transforming the memorial.  “The Golden Cranes” sculpted by Nina Akamu, a third generation Japanese American, majestically stands at the center of the space.

A program combining water elements, wall inscription, statue, and landscape are designed sensitively and work brilliantly together to create a moving, yet informative, monument.


  • Davis Buckley Architects and Planners
    1612 K Street, NW, Suite 900
    Washington, DC 20006
    T: 202-223-1234
    F: 202-223-1212

  • Follow Us