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  THE TOWN PAPER
VOL. 4, NO. 1 -- DECEMBER 2001/JANUARY 2002
 

The Gift: The Memory Palace

By Diane Dorney

Architect Michael K. Medick said it didn't take him very long to come up with the idea of designing a pyramid-style time capsule for the Seaside Ceremonial Landmark Competition. And plans for the construction of the monument are already being discussed, so it may not be long before it can be seen. However, it is going to be a very long time before its contents are revealed.

"The Memory Palace," which will contain mementos donated by prominent contributors to Seaside's history, is to be sealed after the contributions are placed inside and reopened on December 20, 2081, the 100th anniversary of Seaside's founding. The date was selected by Medick -- it is also his wife's birthday.

Designed as a 12-foot high, copper-clad pyramid with a 14-foot square base, Medick came up with the idea of the time capsule after realizing his neighborhood (Roland Park in Baltimore, Md.) was nearing its 100th birthday. "I thought about how great it would have been if the Olmstead brothers [Roland Park's planners] had left something behind for us," said Medick. He said he would like to know what they envisioned -- how they saw the neighborhood unfolding.

That opportunity may have passed, but not in the case with Seaside. "We're fortunate," Medick said. "So many people involved in the original planning of Seaside are still with us."

Those original people include founders Robert and Daryl Davis, planners AndrÚs Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, architects, builders, homeowners and others. As to the date selected to view the contents, Medick said he realizes he is probably going to miss the event. "I would like to think my grandchildren would be there for the reopening," he said.

Sponsored by the town of Seaside and The Seaside Institute, Medick said the rules of the competition were pretty loose. Not wanting to compete with the architecture in Seaside, Medick said he decided to pursue winning the competition with the idea versus the architecture. "How do you top Krier's towers?" he said.

Medick describes the monument as a "pure form." Placed on one side of the pyramid will be a plaque bearing the names of the founders, planners and other prominent Seaside-related folks. An eternal flame will beam atop the pyramid, which to Medick represents "the spark that created the fight against sprawl."

And that spark, said Medick, proved to be the little town of Seaside.