When you’re building a final resting place for possibly 10,000 or more fallen heroes, it helps to have state-of-the-art technology to help visitors get around.
GPS, the global positioning system, is among the features planned for the new national cemetery to be built in Sarpy County for the Department of Veterans Affairs, said Dave Ciaccio, whose Omaha landscape architecture firm, Vireo, has just signed a contract to begin the design.
The Vireo team includes Nebraska-based firms Leo A Daly and Olsson Associates, as well as the LA Group of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., which specializes in national cemeteries. Construction is to begin in 2015.
Vireo’s role calls for the creation of a master plan for the 237-acre site near 144th Street and Schram Road. The $25.8 million first phase, Ciaccio said, involves buildings, roads and 5,500 traditional burial plots and cremation areas on about 35 acres. Also on site will be a memorial walkway, memorial walls and a grand entrance of flags. When complete, the site could exceed 10,000 resting sites, said Ciaccio.
The cemetery will be up-to-date. Designers, for instance, will incorporate environmentally friendly principles. Plots and buildings will be equipped with GPS coordinates, Ciaccio said, to help visitors with mobile devices easily find what they’re looking for.
Of course, he said, the overriding goal is to create a shrine of respect that also reflects the landscape and culture of Nebraska.
“We’ll spend time with the land and listen to what it’s telling us in the way of preserving and enhancing its character,” said Ciaccio. “We’ll study views, sounds, wind and solar orientation and drainage.”