National Museum of the United States Army Public Affairs Office
Even before entering an exhibit gallery, the symbolic stage for the ensuing connection among the visitor, the American Soldier, and the U.S. Army is dramatically set at the National Museum of the United States Army.
As visitors approach the entrance to the National Army Museum, they are greeted by several Soldier Story pylons that appear to escort visitors through the Museum entrance. These individual stainless steel pylons lead to a larger formation of pylons, creating the Soldiers’ Stories Gallery. Directly to the right, the full- color Army Emblem, twenty-one feet in diameter, is stunningly inset in the white terrazzo floor at the center of the spacious Lobby.
The Army Emblem was recently recreated at the Museum now under construction at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. The David Allen Company, under contract by Clark Construction Group, LLC and the Army Historical Foundation, lent their expertise to this unique flooring process. Terrazzo is a composite material consisting of marble, quartz, granite, and sprinkled glass chips poured with a binder.
“Terrazzo has become one of the most innovative and cost-effective flooring materials,” cited Mabry Sumner, Chief of Facilities and Security for the Museum. “Using terrazzo for the flooring provided the opportunity for this striking design and the use of custom coloring–each terrazzo color formulated for the emblem was coordinated with the United States Army Institute of Heraldry to ensure its accuracy,” Sumner added.
The multi-week process began with creating and laying a metal frame replicating the emblem with the most finite measurements. Once the frame was securely weighed to the floor, the specially-trained craftsmen began pouring the colored terrazzo material. Each color was poured individually and within carefully timed segments so the materials could be spread properly within their exact shape before drying. “This is a simplified explanation,” Sumner said, “but imagine the process of framing and filling in colors to create a work of stained glass.”
When all the individual colors were poured and dry, the craftsmen ground and polished the entire piece to complete the project. The emblem is now covered by protective flooring until potentially damaging construction inside the building is complete.
“Seeing the finished product and the enormous letters in the emblem of ‘This We’ll Defend’ is inspiring to all of us involved in this project,” remarked Tammy Call, Museum Director. “It will be a fitting tribute to all of our nation’s Soldiers that the Army Emblem will welcome and bid farewell to our visitors and staff every day.”