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What will the memorials of the future look like?

A contest challenges teams to envision what new memorials will look like — and what they'll commemorate. See pictures of the semifinalists' designs, and descriptions in their own words.

WASHINGTON — The next memorials built in the nation’s capital may be more than just names, faces or quotes on stone. It might be nowhere near the National Mall. It might even be a virtual memorial. It depends on who wins a contest that’s been years in the making.

The Memorials for The Future competition started with 89 teams and is down to 30 semifinalists. That list will be pared to a mere three — to be announced June 8. Each team in the finals will get $15,000 to research and design their visions.

The semifinalists’ ideas include new memorials as well as new ways to enjoy and expand upon structures already in place. One proposal isn’t a memorial at all: It’s an app that integrates GPS and your phone’s camera to survey the land before you and add history and context to what you’re seeing.

Other proposed memorials envision structures that pay tribute to a vast array of events, people and ideas. Among them are a memorial to the victims of gun violence, a memorial to cities that may be lost to rising seas, a memorial to biodiversity, a memorial to public space and a memorial to “personal tragedy.”

The Memorials for The Future competition is a joint venture of the National Park Service, the National Capital Planning Commission and the Van Alen Institute. The goal is to envision future memorials “that are adaptive, ephemeral, virtual, event-focused, or interactive.”

The winner will be announced Sept. 8. According to the park service, “The results will inform NPS, NCPC and their partners on future memorial design and policy opportunities.”

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