It’s happened. The final design for the new Ocean Beach Veterans’ Memorial Plaza has been publicly unveiled.
Over the last week and a half, presentations of the new design have been made in front of both the Ocean Beach Mainstreet Association and the OB Community Development Corporation (OBCDC) – the project’s sponsoring organization. And both groups gave green lights to the project that will replace the current memorial, one that has been worn down literally by salt air, sand, ocean water, foot traffic – not to mention marshmallows – .
Yet it may be years before the new memorial project itself is completely constructed.
The OB Veterans’ Plaza has also been in the news for months (for instance San Diego Newsroom ) because of a connection with the developer Sunroad and accusations of ‘pay to play’ monies given to the City, that former Mayor Filner wanted to go to the memorial. (It was mentioned in last weeks San Diego Reader cover story entitled “Did Sunroad pay to play?” )
Once built, the new plaza will have a final design that resulted from a process that involved two community workshops earlier this year and the creative input of the design consultant, and will be located next to the current reserved parking lot south of the main lifeguard station, butting up to Abbott Street. It will have a mosaic walkway from Abbott Street to a gathering plaza next to the sand, and includes four granite walls with the names of the honored vets. A crosswalk at Newport Avenue and Abbott Street is also being considered as part of the design.
Named the “Life Journey” the new design was made public by the design firm KTU+A and supposedly gives the memorial more of a beach feel with an emphasis on the coastline.
The OB Rag spoke with Steve Grosch on Wednesday, Sept 18. Steve is the Chair of the Redevelopment Committee of the Veteran’s Memorial – and has been leading the effort for over a year; also he’s a board member of the sponsoring group, the non-profit OBCDC. Steve sounded very pleased with the progress and reception the new design is getting from the community. However, he added, that it looks like its presentation before the OB Planning Board, originally scheduled for October, will probably have to be put off until November.
Grosch, son of Rich Grosch ( the well-known OB activist and planning chair, former teacher and current college board member), is a volunteer for the project, and puts in about 10 hours a week on the project, he told me. He works full time at the OB Hotel, owned by his family.
He said there is a dedicated amount of $76,000 in the fiscal 2014 year community improvement project budget. “That will get us through the permitting process,” Steve said.
He hopes that the project will ultimately be completed in 3 years from now. “I’d like to see it break ground in 2 and a half years,” he said.
When asked why it will take so long, Grosch explained:
I’d love to see it completed real soon. But looking at how long the permit process is … , and right now it looks like will have to go through the Coastal Commission as well, it will take that long.
The reason this project exists is because of the erosion to the original design. The entire point is being very respective to the veterans, take their names off the Rock.
The new ground and design can’t be eroded. It’s a long-lasting design. Every material being used can withstand the elements and things like graffiti.
Certain concerns raised by different groups will be addressed by the new design, Steve added. The OBMA wanted to ensure that the current flag poles would be moved – they will; plus the VFW was concerned that the plaque with the vets’ names will also be retained in the new memorial – it will. “It will be integrated into the new design,” Steve said.
Asked if the new design would intrude into the grassy area just south of the lifeguard station, Grosch replied:
It was clear to us that we couldn’t go too far into the lawn, that that was not an option. So, no. The original design was a bit wider, so we took out the “flair”.
He did say that the current landscaping will need to be redone. But the design will have four large palm trees.
The project itself was kick-started with money from County Supervisor Ron Roberts’ office, a $20,000 grant from the county’s neighborhood reinvestment program. That money paid for the design phase and the architectural firm KTU+A. ( KTU+A also worked on the OBCDC’s other big project, the Ocean Beach Entryway at Sunset Cliffs Boulevard and West Point Loma Boulevard.)
Raising money to pay for the entire project, estimated to be over $250,000, is obviously still the goal of the sponsoring organization.
Here is what the OBCDC says about the new design and the process that got us here:
The following is from OB CDC website:
The Final Design was conceptualized through community input that was gathered at two public workshops held earlier in the year. The first workshop identified the area and key principles for the design which included creating a raised memorial off of the ground so that names would not be worn down over time like the original memorial, as well as, a better defined memorial so that visitors to the area were aware of the respect deserved in the space they were standing.
Additionally, the community decided that a more appropriate place for reflection would be just south of the main lifeguard tower. Many great ideas were shared at this first workshop through public discussion and surveys that were distributed to the ground and available online.
From this input gathered at the first workshop, professional architecture and landscape design firm KTU+A created two design alternatives – one being a more formal in nature and the other being more reflective of a beach, artistic feel. At the second workshop, the beach design, “Life Journey”, was strongly supported along with certain elements from the more formal design. The community again shared ideas on improving the designs to lead to a final design for the project.
Since the second workshop, KTU+A along with the OBCDC Design Committee have been working on a final design that reflects the community input regarding the chosen design, “Life Journey”. Solutions were found to all of the concerns that were voiced at the second public workshop. The final design reflects the respect that the space deserves and incorporates beach design elements to fit in with the nature of Ocean Beach.
Life Journey (OBCDC website)
Stylistically, “Life Journey” fits the category of artistic/beachy informal. An artificial rock wall designed to mimic the stratified geology of Sunset Cliffs along the north side is the backbone of the memorial, and blends into the Ocean Beach community and its natural landscape.
The Veterans names are etched into a series of four polished beige granite slabs that are set into the artificial cliff wall and face southeast to provide an ocean backdrop to viewers of the memorial.
The ground plane adjacent to the memorial wall has an inlay of stars that represent lives lost in battle and those who served and have since passed on.
The stars run into an outgoing tide comprised of a paving pattern of cobblestones, lithocrete, or some other durable paving material.
There are four prominent palms standing at attention behind the memorial wall. A low mound and a decorative- wall with an artistic themed treatment meander along the south border of the memorial to provide definition and separation of the memorial area from the adjacent lawn/event space.
The design culminates to the west in a family gathering plaza with decorative walls for reflection that overlooks the ocean.
• More intimate spaces to observe memorial
• Harmonizes with the community identity
• Mounding is more gradual
• Enter memorial from one side
• Artificial rock expense
• Less traditional memorial
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