Organizers of the planned World War I memorial have selected five finalists from the 350 designs submitted to their open competition for a parklike memorial on Pennsylvania Avenue.
The finalists — including a neoclassical tower and a contemporary design featuring photographs embedded in the ground — will continue to evolve their designs over the next four months, organizers said. The final design is expected to be selected early next year.
Edwin Fountain, vice chairman of the World War One Centennial Commission, said the designs are wide ranging in style, a deliberate choice by the seven-member jury to offer a variety of options for the memorial, expected to cost between $20 million and $25 million and open Nov. 11, 2018, the centennial of the Armistice.
“Too many people know too little about World War I,” Fountain said. “We don’t want this to be a museum piece, but we want to convey some sense of their valor and heroism and the scale of their service and sacrifice.”
The finalists include:
●“An American Family Portrait Wall in the Park,” by Marta Bueno, Luis Collado, Ignacio Espigares, Jose Luis de la Fuente, Shoko Nakamura and Jose Luis Perez-Griffo, all of STL Architects in Chicago. The concept features a portrait wall, six bronze statues and framed, large-format photographs embedded into the ground.
●“Heroes’ Green,” by Maria Counts of Counts Studio in Brooklyn, features an undulating landscape with copper walls etched with historic images and a garden of trees.
●“Plaza to the Forgotten War,” by Brian Johnsen, Sebastian Schmaling and Andrew Cesarz of Schmaling Architects in Milwaukee, uses a simple grid of 1,166 illuminated bronze markers, one for every 100 U.S. deaths, to visually commemorate the enormity of loss.
●“World War One Memorial Concept,” by Devin Kimmel of Kimmel Studio in Annapolis, Md., uses the architectural language of the early 20th century, including a victory tower in the memorial’s center.
●“The Weight of Sacrifice,” by Joseph Weishaar of Chicago, incorporates walls on the perimeter with bas relief images.
The memorial will be built in Pershing Park, which opened in 1981 on Pennsylvania Avenue between 14th and 15th streets NW and commemorates Gen. John “Black Jack” Pershing, who was the commander in chief of the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I. Charles Birnbaum, chief executive of the Cultural Landscape Foundation in Washington, is among those who oppose the plan to demolish the park, which was designed by noted landscape architect M. Paul Friedberg.