Maya Lin designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in 1981. She was a twenty-one year old architecture student at Yale University. A professor challenged his students, including Lin, to participate a national design competition for the proposed Vietnam Veterans Memorial to be built in Washington D.C. After visiting the site where the memorial would be built Lin envisioned the design. Her professor encouraged her to submitted the design.
Maya Lin's design featured two polished black granite walls set in a "V" shape. The wall would have the names of around 58,000 dead and missing veterans of the Vietnam was inscribed on it. The design followed all of the criterias required.
The contest sponsors set four major criteria for the design. It must: (1) be reflective and contemplative in character, (2) harmonize with its surroundings, especially the neighboring national memorials, (3) contain the names of all who died or remain missing, and (4) make no political statement about the war.
Lim's design was chosen from around 1,500 entries.