The Arlington Cemetery area offers several architectural specimens worth note and is well worth an afternoon walk. One can park at the Iwo Jima memorial and then walk south through the cemetery, thereby coming upon a bell tower that was given “to the People of the United States from the People of The Netherlands” in 1952.
Leading Dutch architect Joost W. C. Boks designed this rather imposing bastion of the “International Style.” With it’s smooth black monumentality and utter lack of applied ornament, the tower tests the public’s acceptance of a high modern style that has since been accused of being unresponsive to human emotion. But in memorializing such a universal catastrophe as WW2, this seems appropriate. The tower evokes a piece of industrial machinery, starkly posed against the multitudes of headstones.
Across the cemetery to the south sits an absolute gem of local architecture that I think goes largely unnoticed. The Women in Armed Services memorial was designed in 1997 as a renovation to an existing classical colonnade.
Subterranean space was made for the museum by excavating behind the colonnade, exposing the back surface of the retaining wall to the new interior corridor. There is a very pleasing upper level that looks across the Potomac to the mall and beyond. Spider-joints hold panels of an inclined glass ceiling, which protrude upward through the semicircular roof patio.