New National WWI Memorial design continues to gain ground
By Chris Isleib
Director of Public Affairs, United States World War One Centennial Commission
WASHINGTON, DC — On Thursday, 15 February, the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission publicly presented its updated plan for a Memorial to be integrated into Pershing Park in Washington, DC. The presentation included artist Sabin Howard's scale-model sculptural maquette for the new National World War I Memorial. The maquette represents the sculptural element to the memorial being designed by Howard's collaborator, designer Joseph Weishaar. The two have been leading a Design Team, working on the memorial since 2015.
The maquette depicts a symbolic World War I soldier's story through the cycle of his wartime experience and the experience of the nation.
The presentation was for the benefit of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts (CFA), as part of scheduled regulatory reviews of the memorial's design concept by oversight agencies, which include the U.S. National Park Service (NPS), and the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC).
Reaction was generally positive, with suggestions on further development of various aspects of the design concept. CFA Chair Earl Powell said “The presentations were excellent”, and remarked on the project’s design, saying “It has come a long way.” Decisions were made to review certain detail issues of the memorial site, to include location & length of the sculptural elements, and their collaboration with other elements in the park.
The Centennial Commission leadership was pleased by the progress made at the CFA presentation. Commissioner Dr. Libby O’Connell stated "Today's meeting was helpful. We are still in the development process for the full vision of the site, so there were things that were agreed upon, and issues that we are still working out with our design oversight agencies. But this was a good meeting, overall, and an important step forward".
Since Congress designated Pershing Park in downtown Washington DC as the site of the new National World War I Memorial in 2014, the Centennial Commission has been collaborating with federal regulatory agencies to design an integrated park and memorial honoring the 4.7 million American men and women who served in World War I.
This collaboration has included efforts to balance the Memorial design and construction with park rehabilitation, restoration, and preservation. In 2016, government agencies found Pershing Park eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, which underscored the importance for getting the project's design concept right.
The U.S. World War I Centennial Commission was created by Congress in 2013 to provide education programs, public outreach, and commemorative events regarding America's involvement in World War I, which many see as the War that Changed the World.
The Centennial Commission is creating the National World War I Memorial through private donation. Founding sponsor for the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission is the Pritzker Military Museum & Library, in Chicago. Other supporters include the Starr Foundation, the Diana Davis Spencer Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, General Motors, The Richard Lounsbery Foundation, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the American Legion.
For more information about the Memorial project and to donate to the Memorial design and construction, visit www.ww1cc.org/memorial.