The winning design for a public memorial in Pasadena commemorating the Armenian genocide was announced Tuesday.
The design by Catherine Menard – a student at the Art Center College of Design, which submitted the concept to the Pasadena Armenian Genocide Memorial Committee for consideration – was praised as an “an emotionally compelling design” that would serve to “inspire a similar emotional connection in those who encounter it, for generations to come,” according to an announcement issued Tuesday.
The central feature of Menard's design -- a carved-stone basin of water straddled by a tripod arrangement of three columns leaning into one another -- is a single drop of water that falls from the highest point every three seconds, each "teardrop" representing one life lost, according to the college.
A rendering of the winning design was not immediately available.
Over the course of one year, 1.5 million “tears” will fall into the pool, representing the estimated number of people who died during the Armenian genocide of 1915 to 1918, which occurred under the Ottoman Empire, or what is now the modern republic of Turkey.
The Turkish government disputes that a genocide took place, claiming the victims were killed in the chaos of World War I.
The project is slated for Memorial Park in Pasadena and is expected to be completed in time for April 24, 2015 – the 100th anniversary for commemorations of the genocide.
Menard – a 26-year-old of French Cajun heritage who is majoring in environmental design at the college – had to first immerse herself in the brutal history of the Armenian people to come up with concept.
In a statement, Menard said the research process was engrossing and inspirational.
"At first I felt unworthy -- who am I to respond to such loss?” she said. “But art lends itself to the deepest, darkest parts of human experience. It can create sympathy, empathy, understanding. I wanted to pair this horror with something uplifting and beautiful, to create a way to remember.
"I developed three different ideas and settled on the one that I felt most terrified and most moved by."
According to the organizers, the decision was unanimous.
"This was a competitive process, and we considered a number of very fine proposals," committee Chairman William M. Paparian, an attorney and former mayor of Pasadena, said in a statement. "But our final decision was unanimous. We were deeply impressed by Catherine, who developed and presented an emotionally compelling design for a historical event that she initially knew nothing about.
"We hope that this memorial will inspire a similar emotional connection in those who encounter it, for generations to come."
Menard's concept was one of 17 submissions the Pasadena Armenian Genocide Memorial Committee received.
In December, the three finalists were chosen by an independent panel of judges -- Stefanos Polyzoides, a principal of Moule & Polyzoides, Architects and Urbanists; architect Ruben Amirian, who has served on the Design Review Board and Historic Preservation Commission in Glendale; and Neshan Peroomian, a contractor and Armenian-American community leader, according to the college.
A budget and construction timeline for the memorial is expected to be developed over the next several months, according to the announcement.
[For the Record 3:15 p.m.: An earlier version of this post incorrectly referred to the Art Center as a joint organizer of the competition. Students at the college were merely among the competitive pool of candidates.]
--Jason Wells, Times Community News