Uniek moment: vijzelen fascia bezoekerscentrum Margraten


The American Battle Monuments provides preview of new visitor center at Netherlands American Cemetery

The American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) provided a first look today of its new visitor center at the Netherlands American Cemetery (NEAC) located in Magraten, Netherlands. Once, complete, the facility will highlight the site’s rich history and the long and unique relationship with the local Dutch community. 

At today’s event, the NEAC facility began to take on its finished shape with the installation of a massive concrete fascia through an unusual and complex multi-day construction process. The fascia will be slowly and carefully lifted over the course of several days by a coordinated system of hydraulic jacks to its final position where it will permanently hang from the visitor center’s roof structure, allowing light to enter behind and giving it the appearance of floating in place.

“This is quite an extraordinary process to witness,” said Karen Wurzburger, ABMC’s director of Visitor Services and Interpretation. “It was incredibly important to us to get this right given the relationship with the local community, and we are thankful to the teams involved for their work bringing this project closer to finalization.”
The project’s fascia is formed out of one continuous piece of concrete and steel, the fascia weighs 386 tons (772,000 pounds) and is approximately 29 meters (95 feet) long per side, four meters (12.4 feet) high, and 30 centimeters (12 inches) thick. 

The AMBC selected KAAN Architecten to design the building that is a seamless blending of meticulously-crafted modern architecture and the cemetery’s historic and serene landscape, creating a subtle tension with the natural environment. 

“We tried to be very respectful to the surroundings,” said Nicki van Loon, architect with KAAN Architecten, noting considerations in the planning and design process of the site location and materials used. “It’s a very special way of building concrete. Instead of doing it all in one go, we did it in different layers. It’s a buildup of five different concrete mixes, all with a slightly different shade hinting at the color of the monument and complimenting the site.” 
Van Roey is the general contractor for design and construction, overseeing the complex and groundbreaking process. 

“It was a year of firsts for us,” said Kyo De Fraeye, Van Roey Project Director. “It was the first time we’re doing the jacking up, it was the first time that we made this type of special concrete, and it was also the first time that this has ever been done in our view in the world.”

The new visitor center will help ABMC innovatively tell the World War II story, including the local importance to the site and the U.S. military history of the region, to the tens of thousands of visitors who visit NEAC each year.   

“Evolution will be the key to providing our visitors with the in-depth storytelling experiences they are looking for to connect with this site and, especially, the individuals commemorated here,” said Jason Bordelon, NEAC superintendent. “We know a facility like this is in high demand here, and we look forward to its opening and to sharing this new and powerful experience with all those who pass through our gates in the years to come.” This will be the tenth such location for ABMC worldwide, is slated to open to the public in 2023. 

“Next year will mark ABMC’s 100th anniversary, so it is truly a fitting time for us to introduce this new facility as we look to the next century and how we continue our work of communicating to the next generation the stories of sacrifice that made this site necessary nearly 80 years ago,” said Wurzburger. 

We would like to thank our technical partners for their important contribution to this unique project: Keulen beton, Arenatum, PERI, alkus AG, Declerck & Partners and CT De Boer.