Title: JOHN FITZGERALD KENNEDY MEMORIAL
Author: Philip Johnson
Location: Dallas, Texas
Year Complete: 1970
Description: a cenotaph – 30 ft x 50 ft x 50 ft, openings facing the north and south
John F. Kennedy was the 35th president of the United States of America. He was in office from 1961 until the time of his assassination in 1963. Notable during his presidency was the Civil Rights Movement, the Space Race, Cuban Missile Crisis, Bay of Pigs Invasion, and erection of the Berlin Wall.
On November 22, 1963 Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas on his way to a luncheon with Democratic Party leaders. His route was to be scenic to give him the maximum exposure to the people of Dallas. Before reaching the final destination of the Dallas Trade Mart he was shot by Lee Harvey Oswald. He was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at Parkland Hospital in Dallas Texas.
The architect of the John Fitzgerald Kennedy memorial was famed architect Philip Johnson. He was a close friend of the Kennedy family. Its location is a block away from the Dealy Plaza, where Kennedy was assassinated. The citizens of Dallas funded the project but it was thought of as a memorial for everyone, honoring the life and death of Kennedy.
The design of the memorial is an empty tomb that is 30 feet by 50 feet by 50 feet. It is empty save for a granite square in the middle of the tomb with John Fitzgerald Kennedy inscribed in gold. The granite square is a bit disconcerting, as it doesn’t fit the physical description of a tomb, table, or base, but is meant to memorial John F. Kennedy. The tomb itself is made of 72 pre-cast concrete columns that are meant to give the appearance of floating when lit up at night, as if the light itself keeps the tomb afloat.
It is meant to be “a place of quiet refuge, an enclosed place of thought and contemplation separated from the city around, but near the sky and earth”
A plaque near the tomb reads:
“The joy and excitement of John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s life belonged to all men. So did the pain and sorrow of his death. When he died on November 22, 1963, shock and agony touched human conscience throughout the world. In Dallas, Texas, there was a special sorrow. The young President died in Dallas. The death bullets were fired 200 yards west of this site. This memorial, designed by Philip Johnson, was erected by the people of Dallas. Thousands of citizens contributed support, money and effort. It is not a memorial to the pain and sorrow of death, but stands as a permanent tribute to the joy and excitement of one man’s life. John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s life”