A two-level design from a young architect that incorporates some of the elements of Pershing Park was selected as the winner of the World War I memorial design competition.
The competition’s jury unanimously selected “The Weight of Sacrifice” by architect Joe Weishaar and sculptor Sabin Howard for its balance of urban park and memorial spirit. The design features two statues as well as a bas-relief sculpture on walls to be built on the edge of Pershing Park, the designated site for the memorial on Pennsylvania Avenue between 14th and 15th streets.
The World War I Centennial Commission, which was authorized by Congress to erect a national memorial, accepted the recommendation Tuesday.
Commission Vice Chairman Edwin Fountain said the vote was for a “design concept” that will probably change significantly as it goes through the approval process. The U.S. Commission of Fine Arts and the National Capital Planning Commission must approve the design, which will also be subject to historic preservation and environmental laws.
Weishaar graduated from the University of Arkansas in 2013 and works at an architecture firm in Chicago. Howard is a sculptor and teacher who grew up in New York and Italy and has served on the board of the National Sculpture Society, according to his website.
The design was chosen from five finalists that were selected from more than 300 submissions. The estimated cost of the memorial is $35 million.
The memorial has many challenges ahead. Members of the boards of CFA and NCPC already voiced their opposition to the demolition of Pershing Park, designed by M. Paul Friedberg with landscaping by Oehme van Sweden. The park could be placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
“It’s not going to be the grand statement we might have wanted,” Fountain said. “The site has to relate to and comply with the area around it. It has to take into account existing features of the site.”
Commissioner Tom Moe, who cast the sole vote against the design, described the winner as “absolutely underwhelming.”
“It should be remarkable and capture attention,” Moe said. “It is unremarkable. This is a nice green space with walls that people can walk around.”