- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 2, 2002

The building will surely turn the heads of drivers along Interstate 95: a glass atrium topped by a 210-foot spire that rises above the trees and tilts at a 45-degree angle.
The spire, or mast, is the most striking feature of the design for a new Marine Corps Museum that will be built on the Quantico Marine Corps Base in Quantico, Va.
The mast is tilted at the same angle as the flagpole in the famous flag raising by the Marines at the Battle of Iwo Jima.
"When people see the sketches of the atrium, about a third pick up on it immediately that's a stylized rendition of the flag raising," said Col. Joe Long, the Marines' project manager.
Workers will break ground on the $50 million museum and heritage center in April 2003. It is expected to be finished in November 2005.
Col. Long said he expects the museum to draw 250,000 to 400,000 visitors a year.
A smaller museum on the base now draws about 30,000 visitors a year and displays only a fraction of the artifacts that will be in the new museum.
Meanwhile, a new Army museum is planned for Fort Belvoir in neighboring Fairfax County. That museum, slated for completion in 2009, is expected to draw up to 1 million visitors a year.
Jeb Bennett, director of Army museums, said he thinks the two museums will complement each other and anchor a corridor of historical sites along I-95 and U.S. 1, including Mount Vernon, home of George Washington, and Gunston Hall, home of his fellow Founding Father George Mason.
"I think we see a nice historical trail developing," Mr. Bennett said.
The new Marine Corps museum will be built on 135 acres in Prince William County acquired specifically for the museum. The museum will have its own entrance, meaning visitors will not have to go through the often-strict security to get on the base proper.
The building will not be easy to construct, with a mast that looks like it ought to tip over emerging from a 160-foot-high glass atrium.
"It's a challenge for the engineers. It's going to be a challenge for the contractor to build," said Jerry Rasgus, project manager for Weidlinger Associates, the engineering firm on the contract.
Weidlinger and architect Fentress Bradburn won the design competition last year.
Architect Curtis Fentress said the architects who worked on the project immersed themselves in Marine Corps history, creating a collage of Marine images. He said the flag-raising photo, the angle of howitzers and the way Marines hold rifles all suggested the 45-degree angle that led to the design.
"We really tried to absorb what it was to be a Marine," he said.
The museum will also be designed to give people a taste of what it was like to be a Marine in different eras. Rooms off the main atrium will represent different periods in military history.
The Vietnam room, for instance, will be hot and humid not so humid that it would damage the artifacts on display, but enough to give visitors a sense of what it was like in the jungle.
The Korea room, by contrast, will be cold, just as it was in the months following the Marines' landing at Inchon in September 1950.
Col. Long has accompanied the museum designers on trips to a variety of sites, including Iwo Jima and Belleau Wood, site of a famous World War I battle in France, to gain a sense Marines' experience.
"If they're going to recreate it, they need to see it," Col. Long said.

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