The National Purple Heart Hall of Honor is a modern temple for honoring the valor and sacrifice of the recipients of the Purple Heart Medal. The United States Purple Heart Medal is given to military service women and men who courageously gave of themselves in conflict. Sitting on the slope of Temple Hill in New Windsor, New York, the site where General George Washington established the Badge of Merit—the precursor to the Purple Heart—for valorous efforts during the American Revolution, the 12,000-sqaure-foot Hall of Honor museum and visitor center is distinctive yet integrated into the rustic landscape.
Inspired by the 18th-century rough-hewn log cabins set into the wooded hillside of Washington’s historic cantonment, the Hall of Honor is sited to announce its presence from the road with the historic cantonment as its background. A one-story sculpted arcuated portal addresses the visitors’ approach from the road and creates a civic monumentally appropriate within this delicate historic landscape. A welcoming promenade negotiates a steeply sloping site from parking and is lined with five granite benches dedicated to each branch of military service. Internally, all exhibit and gathering spaces focus visitor views out to the landscape to connect them with General George Washington’s cantonment. Externally, weathered carbon steel and bead blasted stainless steel provide a color and texture for the museum that complement the deep russet colors of the historic log cabins that surround this sloping wooded site, thereby feeling both a part of and distinguished from its historic context.
This project removes a portion of an existing obsolete Hall of Honor and attaches to an existing historic barn structure that houses the museum for the New Windsor Cantonment. Internally, an enclosed court links the new addition to the existing structure. This enclosed court houses the Purple Heart Roll of Honor, the place where veterans and their families can register medal recipients and any visitor can search for any of the nearly two million recipients in the Roll of Honor database. Programmatically, the Hall of Honor includes a welcome gallery, exhibit space, a program orientation theater, and a gift shop. Adjacent to the Roll of Honor is an exterior contemplative garden that houses an eternal flame for all Purple Heart recipients, and an outdoor reflection terrace that overlooks the nearby Catskill Mountains.