Plaza of Heroes
United States Air Force Academy, CO
The Plaza of Heroes is a privately funded addition to the Southeast Asia Memorial Pavilion at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. Both of these projects were designed by HB&A under the design-build general contractor. Jointly planned by the USAFA Classes of ’65 and ’70, the Plaza honors Academy graduates who received commendations for their service during the armed conflicts in Southeast Asia. The Plaza is nestled atop a bluff overlooking the Cadet Area and mountains to the west, surrounded by Gambel oak thickets and pine trees in a beautiful natural setting. The concrete surface steps gently down the hillside in three terraced platforms, creating an amphitheater suitable for class gatherings and memorial services. The material palette is reserved and dignified, consisting of salmon colored concrete with white accent bands, gray granite walls, clear anodized aluminum wall panels, and clear glass railings.
The focal point of the Plaza is a larger-than-life bronze sculpture of the Academy's only Medal of Honor recipient, Captain Lance Sijan '65, placed in front of a backdrop of clear and etched glass panels. Inscribed in gold leaf on the glass panels are the “American Fighting Man’s Code of Conduct” and the “Medal of Honor Citation” for Capt. Sijan. To one side of the Plaza is a gray granite wall on which are mounted bronze plaques honoring the 16 Air Force Cross recipients and 205 Silver Star recipients from the Air Force Academy. The other side is bounded by a metal-clad building with restrooms and storage for events at the Plaza. The Southeast Asia Memorial Pavilion with its polished black granite memorial wall and cantilevered roof is perched above the sunken Plaza, offering a reminder of the sacrifices given by so many Academy graduates in service to their nation.