Rays of Remembrance

Completion: 2019

Location: Waterworks Park, Kansas City, MO

Description: Steel I-beams have always been palpable icons of modern city infrastructure, and in this sculptural context, they are simultaneously both medium and symbolic element. Rays of Remembrance features 18 steel I-beams symbolizing 18 construction trades represented in this memorial to Kansas City Workers. The steel rays are elevated by a monumental plinth created from stainless steel. The sculpture is set into a circular plaza that is carved into a gently sloping landscape, surrounded by a semicircular array of trees. The circular plaza is defined by a low bench retaining wall composed of stone or concrete that provides seating, creating a serene place for personal reflection and remembrance.

On the plinth’s north face is laser etched text, providing a brief interpretive history of the working men and women who built Kansas City into one of the nation’s great American cities. This text is strategically placed on the north side of the plinth, so that viewers look out upon Kansas City’s dramatic skyline as they encounter this powerful story. Below the interpretive text, visitors encounter the emblems representing each of the trade unions. 

Just as I-beams find poetic meaning, the engravings also take union emblems out of their everyday context, and lifts them up as icons that carry each union’s enduring values and legacies of struggle. The viewer is invited to reflect anew on each emblem, each with historical and artistic significance, each representing a story, a trade, and a people.  

Architect: METALAB