Construction Starts on New Visitor Center at Sicily-Rome Cemetery

To help tell the story of the competence, courage and sacrifice of the nearly 11,000 members of the U.S. armed forces buried or memorialized at Sicily-Rome American Cemetery in Italy, construction of a new visitor center began November 6, 2012. The American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) expects to open the visitor center in late 2013.

The 2,500-square-foot center will honor those who fought in the World War II campaign of Sicily to the Liberation of Rome. Through interpretive exhibits that incorporate personal stories, photographs, films, and interactive displays, visitors will gain a better understanding of this critical campaign that contributed to the Allied victory in Europe in World War II.

This new building will be located next to the existing visitor center at the cemetery, which also is being reconditioned to house restrooms and storage, and serve as a gathering area for cemetery visitors. The goal of the design is to link the new and the old visitor centers and create a welcoming complex for guests that’s characterized by a custom-made bronze wall. The formal landscape of the cemetery is being preserved as part of the process.

“Our first Chairman, General John J. Pershing made a promise to the nation that time will not dim the glory of their deeds,” said ABMC secretary Max Cleland. “This new visitor center will enable us to better tell the story of the people memorialized at Sicily-Rome so that we will indeed understand and remember the glory of their deeds.”

The Sicily-Rome facility is the third of three ABMC visitor center projects that began construction in 2012. A small visitor center at the Pointe du Hoc Ranger Monument in Normandy, France, will be expanded and renovated, and a new center will be built at Cambridge American Cemetery in England. Sicily-Rome American Cemetery will not be closed at any point during construction.

The architecture and engineering firm of Ottavio DI Blasi of Milan, Italy designed the new center, which is being built by Pasqualucci Impressa Di Costruzioni. Expected construction costs for the new facility is $1.5 million. Exhibit design is by the U.S. firm of Gallagher & Associates, Silver Spring, Md. The visitor center design was approved by the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts.