American Battle Monuments Commission


Normandy American Cemetery Visitor Center


SmithGroupJJR's design for Normandy American Cemetery garnered awards and an appreciative following even before it opened. The solemn yet powerful visitor center reverently encourages focus on a memorial cemetery, deepening the tribute to those who served in World War II.

Part of a dignified processional, the stone and glass center draws visitors beyond the cemetery and beach views, connecting them to the natural setting. As they leave, visitors once again pass the memorials, emphasizing our honor to the fallen. Its distilled forms and simple materials - rough-cut stone and aged wood, contrasted with frameless glass and polished stone slabs - are modest and solemn, deferring to the monumental axis and surroundings. The stone recalls the markers of the burial grounds.

Critical acclaim in both Europe and the U.S. also notes the design's poetic elements. The visitor center is condensed and connected to existing pathways, reinforcing solemnity while reinterpreting the landscape. Inside, interpretive galleries and spaces are mainly underground, gently illuminated by skylight. They link thematically to Operation Overlord -- "they came from the air, land and sea" -- with spaces for orientation, reflection and relief.

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