Design: A Go-Ahead for Bad Manners

Washington will get a deliberately disturbing Holocaust museum

It used to be a rather simple task to design monuments for Washington. The requisite material was marble, the form was strictly neoclassical, the intended effect was stirring -- Sousa in stone. Thus the memorials to Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, even Kennedy. But then in the 1970s Congress started authorizing the commemoration of darker history, epochs for which symbolic expression was a complicated, contentious enterprise. No sooner was there an end to the dispute over Maya Ying Lin's rueful, abstract Viet Nam Veterans Memorial than a new debate arose over another unorthodox, intentionally disturbing design: the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum by Architect...