National World War One Memorial Design Competition
Stage I Report
Note: The Stage I Report is issued by the Competition Managers in accordance with the Competition Manual. Primarily, the Report is the official record of Stage I of the Competition describing the competition process to date, the Jury evaluation and analysis, and the Jury recommendation as to those selected to participate in Stage II. Secondarily, the Report briefly describes how Stage II will be conducted. Details regarding Stage II can be found in the Competition Manual.
The Design Challenge
Even among other memorial projects in Washington DC, the design of a national World War I Memorial at Pershing Park on Pennsylvania Avenue poses a number of unique challenges:.
- Unlike the World War II, Korea and Vietnam memorials on the Mall, the World War I Memorial will commemorate a generation of American servicemen and women who are no longer with us. Thus it will not serve as a place of grieving, like the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, or a place to applaud returning heroes, as the World War II Memorial. This raises particular questions regarding the memorial’s theme, its primary intended audience, and appropriate design style of the memorial.
- Again unlike the memorials on the Mall, the World War I Memorial in Pershing Park must serve not only as a war memorial, but also as an attractive, well-functioning urban park. The memorial and park elements must be integrated so that the memorial serves the primary function of the park without overwhelming it, while the park elements are dignified and appropriate to the memorial theme.
- Because the memorial does not have a constituency of living veterans, and will not benefit from the natural visitor flow on the Mall, it must be an attractive destination in its own right, yet the features that make it an attraction must contribute to, or at least not distract from, the memorial theme.
- Unlike the Vietnam and Korean War veterans memorials, and to a greater extent than the World War II memorial, the World War I memorial design must take appropriate account of the existing memorial elements and other design features at Pershing Park. The historical and cultural significance of these features is not yet fully understood, adding yet another challenge to a competitive design process whose parameters and constraints have not been definitively articulated.
- Underlying all these considerations is the fundamental objective, as instructed by Congress, of properly honoring the service of American forces in World War I, whose collective sacrifice – 116,516 lives lost -- was greater than that of American forces in Korea and Vietnam combined, who are commemorated on the National Mall.
Design Competition Process
In order to have a broad array of concepts for approaching these challenges, the World War I Centennial Commission (the Commission) chose to conduct the World War I Memorial Design Competition as an open, two-stage competition, with no restrictions on eligibility. Stage I was an open call to submit design concepts for evaluation, on an anonymous basis, by the Competition Jury. The Jury selected five design concept finalists to advance to Stage II. In Stage II the designers will continue to define and develop their concepts in consultation with the Commission, the government agencies that will ultimately have design approval authority, and other stakeholders. All procedures, rules and regulations governing the conduct of the World War I Memorial Design Competition are set forth in the Competition Manual.
The Competition Jury was composed of experienced professionals in landscape design, architecture, urban design, landscape and memorial history, architectural criticism, and knowledge of the “making” of memorials and parks in Washington DC. The Jury was charged by the Commission to evaluate the submitted design concepts and select three to five concepts whose authors would be invited to participate in Stage II of the Competition. At the culmination of Stage II, the Jury will recommend a design concept to the Commission to proceed into design development, approval processes and eventual realization. The names and biographies of the members of the Competition Jury are likewise set forth in the Competition Manual.
Stage I Jury Deliberations
In response to the open call to submit design concepts, the Commission received more than 350 separate entries from around the world. Each submission was examined for compliance with the requirements listed in the Competition Regulations. The Competition Managers determined that 26 of the submissions were not in compliance; those designs were ultimately viewed by the jury, but none of them were selected as one of the five finalists. Over a two day period, the Jury methodically viewed each submitted concept, and through an iterative system of individual rating, group discussion, re-evaluation and consensus, arrived at a final list of five design concepts whose authors will be invited to participate in Stage II of the Design Competition.
Where the Design Competition Stands
Stage I of the Design Competition will conclude with the announcement of those submissions that are selected to continue into Stage II. These submissions are to be understood as concepts only, which will undergo further development and refinement through the ensuing stages of the design process. The authors of the selected submissions will next begin an interactive process with the Commission and the Design Oversight Committee (DOC) to evolve their initial concepts into more defined design solutions. The Design Oversight Committee consists of representatives of the World War I Centennial Commission; the public agencies that will have design approval authority over the ultimate design of the memorial, including the National Park Service, National Capital Planning Commission, Commission of Fine Arts, and General Services Administration; and other stakeholders, including the American Battle Monuments Commission, District of Columbia Office of Planning, and U.S. Secret Service.
Stage II will provide the opportunity for each concept to evolve into a more mature design based on consideration of scale, form, style, detail and philosophic approach, and also to conform to regulations and policies governing the establishment of the World War I Memorial at Pershing Park. Stage II will begin in early September with a briefing of those invited to participate in Stage II. In October and November, the DOC will hold individual Mid-course Reviews with each of the five design teams to provide input and advice regarding their respective designs. Stage II will conclude with a public exhibition of the five designs, with opportunity for public comment, and a presentation to the Jury early in January to which the public will be invited as observers. The Jury will evaluate all submissions, and the input from the public exhibition, to determine the design concept that will be recommended to the World War I Centennial Commission.
After selection of the final design concept, the Commission, designer and the public agencies will continue to develop the design concept in accordance with policies and regulations governing memorial design and construction in the nation’s capital.
Stage I Jury Action
The Vision, Design Objectives and Design Goals listed in the Competition Manual constitute the evaluation criteria utilized by the Jury. Through their individual evaluations and group discussion, the Jury collectively identified three fundamental objectives that selected concepts should be able to address:
- Development of a significant memorial experience that appropriately honors the service and sacrifice of America’s World War I generation, commensurate with the national war memorials located on the National Mall.
- Appropriate integration of the memorial elements within the context of an outstanding urban park.
- Acknowledgment of, and contribution to, the evolving context of the memorial’s location in Washington’s “monumental core” and on Pennsylvania Avenue, including appropriate deference to existing design elements of Pershing Park.
Additionally, the Jury determined that those concepts selected to be a part of Stage II should represent a diverse set of design approaches. The Jury also acknowledged that the selected concepts either include the existing statue of General Pershing and interpretive walls, or have the potential to incorporate these elements in their individual design evolution. This incorporation, and position within the park, would be addressed in the Mid-course Reviews with the DOC.
Stage I Selection
The following is a listing of those Stage I submittals selected by the Jury whose designers will be invited to participate in Stage II of the World War I Memorial Design Competition.
1. Plaza to the Forgotten War
Situated on a seam between the National Mall and the dense urbanity of downtown DC, the Plaza to the Forgotten War commemorates the service of World War I American Forces by creating a place that devotedly holds onto the memory of the tragic losses endured by the United States. The concept is simple, elegant and open with a strong and integrated form and meaning that reveals itself in layers. The memorial message is clear and there is great potential for the creation of an outstanding park. The field of lights presents a technological challenge that will need to be resolved and the Pershing Statue and walls will need to be integrated in the evolving design.
2. Heroes' Green
The concept seamlessly blends memorial, park and garden into a new type of public space. There is a strong sense of movement through the space, balancing park-like qualities with memorial episodes and providing opportunities for integration of art as an integral part of the memorial experience. The sculptural landscape in itself is symbolic, memorable and will provide a welcome respite to the visitor. The inherent potential of “inventing” a new typology of civic space that works well as a memorial is the challenge.
3. World War I Memorial
The style of the monument is inspired by the time of the Great War. Neoclassical in form and concept, the space and elements combine to create a narrative about the current condition and the historic precedent of monuments. The plan develops a strong park concept and includes a number of elements that add interest and focus. The challenge in evolving the design will be creating a sense of openness balanced against the enclosure of the central space, a continued evaluation of the scale of the elements, and relationships of non-traditional elements (like the grotto) with memorable historic forms.
4. An American Family Portrait Wall in the Park
The design concept is founded on paying tribute to the American men and women who participated in World War I through a memorial collage of photographs integrated into the park design. By seamlessly blending framed memories into the landscape, it provides an experience that is both park and memorial, open and inviting exploration. The park is organized by a northwest-southeast axis axis visually connecting the park to the Capitol. While this concept has the potential of a truly unique park, the thematic, technical, and curatorial issues of the story boxes will require resolution. The statuary design, scale and execution will need to be an integral part of the interpretive and memorial experience.
5. The Weight of Sacrifice
A simple intervention of a platform into the existing landscape of Pershing Park provides a quietly elegant place within the park. Relocation of the walls and statue of the Pershing complex give new meaning to the individual elements. The result is an integral expression of park and memorial. The subtleness and art of the sculpted relief walls will enhance the narrative of the place—utilizing art as architecture. To execute a memorial and park that maintains the inherent elegance of the concept, a strong collaboration between designer and artist will be the key.