Five finalists have been named in the competition to design a new World War I Memorial in Washington, D.C. The U.S. World War One Centennial Commission received more than 350 proposals for the memorial, which will rise on Pershing Park near the White House. The park is named for John J. Pershing who led the American Expeditionary Force during the war.
The five teams will work with the Commission and public agencies to refine their plans over the next few months, and a winner will be announced in January. Here is a bit about each of the finalists.
“Plaza to the Forgotten War” by Brian Johnsen, Sebastian Schmaling, and Andrew Cesarz from Johnsen Schmaling Architects.
From the architects: “A steadfast grid of 1,166 illuminated bronze markers, one for every hundred U.S. deaths in the war, immediately conveys the scale of these losses in a seemingly endless expanse created by gently folded landforms. … Allées of distinguished red oaks and somber paper birch trees unite to create metered spatial definitions buffering the plaza from the noise of the surrounding environment while maintaining open and inviting views through the site. The use of bronze extends to a colonnade of memorial pillars that lines the plaza’s main pedestrian boulevard.
“World War One Memorial Concept.” (Courtesy Kimmel Studio)
“World War One Memorial Concept” by Devin Kimmel, Principal at Kimmel Studio, in Annapolis, Maryland
From the architect: “The style of the monument is inspired by the time of the Great War. …Once in the site the visitor immediately begins to descend into the heart of the monument. As the visitor moves down, the walls move up and in. The noise of the street gradually dissipates. Once in the monument’s most sacred space, a still black pool of water seeps from within the rusticated stone base of the tower above. It becomes evident that the visitor is no longer in the realm of the street and the smooth cut marble of the victory tower. They are in the space of in-between, caught for a moment between life and afterlife.”
“The Weight of Sacrifice.” (Courtesy Joseph Weishaar)
“The Weight of Sacrifice” by Joseph Weishaar of Chicago, IL
From the architect: “For those who were, and those who will be, let the weight of one-hundred thousand men stand firm in common interest and absolute resolve as to become a singemasse who’s [sic] volume may never be surmised, greater than any force could rend in a single blow. Not a memorial of trenches and wire, but rather a shadow of the great tirade amongst continents, oceans, and skies. A platform from which we may stand and look out on loftier horizons… across a sea… to those we lost on distant shores.”
“An American Family Portrait Wall in the Park” by STL Architects in Chicago.
From the architects: “Our proposal for the new WWI Memorial in Pershing Park pays tribute to the American men and women who participated in the war by remembering that each of them were members of a great family: the American Family. These are the stories of our brothers and sisters, our aunts and uncles, our mothers and fathers. We honor them in the Family Portrait Wall of America, and through these photographs we acknowledge their commitment and sacrifice as we celebrate the bonds that were forever created, the friendships that were sealed, the covenant of brotherhood that echoes even today.”
“Heroes’ Green” by Maria Counts of Counts Studio in Brooklyn, NY.
From the architects: “Heroes’ Green seamlessly blends memorial, park, and garden into a new type of public space. A highly integrated composition of topography, paths, walls, and plants create a landscape of dynamic views, distinguished prospects, shaded valleys, and woodland glens. Five 30-40’ wide arcing pre-aged copper walls embedded in monolithic earthworks render historic imagery through digitally perforated Ben-Day holes. These abstracted life-size images are woven into the landscape and become moments of reflection, while recognizing the diversity and scale of American contributions and sacrifices in the War. The Memorial Tree Garden is comprised of 116 Ginkgo trees planted within a sculptural composition of earthworks and meandering paths. …Soldier’s Glen is an elevated hillside landscape of native woodland plants and sweeping views, punctuated by 16 stately Tulip Poplar canopy trees… The resulting grove of trees shades Doughboy Plaza, the symbolic heart of Heroes’ Green.