Originally, the plan was for a brand new WWI Memorial in Washington, D.C. to complete by November 2018, during the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI, but due to a final design approval yet to be had, that won’t happen. Even so, there are still plans for a ceremonial groundbreaking on November 9.
The WWI Centennial Commission previously received concept approval for their project, but still has not attained a building permit. The design team will also need to return to the Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) in February 2018.
So far, approximately $14 million has been privately raised for the project, according to NPR. The memorial is expected to cost up to $40 million.
When the WWI Centennial Commission last met the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) in July 2017, the project was reduced in size in order to not affect too much of Downtown’s 1.75-acre Pershing Park. Plans involve replacing the existing kiosk for a flagpole and adding a path across a pool for visitors to access a proposed 65-foot-long commemorative wall.
The park that the memorial is planned for was designed in May 1981 by award-winning landscape architect M. Paul Friedberg, whose previous projects include New York’s Battery Park City and Minneapolis’ Peavey Plaza. It is also the only Friedberg project with a planting plan by D.C.-based landscape architects Wolfgang Oehme and James van Sweden. The site is bounded by Pennsylvania Avenues on the north and south, 14th Street NW on the east, and 15th Street NW on the west.
One previous criticism on the project was by Philip Kennicott, a Pulitzer Prize-winning Art and Architecture Critic of the Washington Post who previously said that within less than a mile of Pershing Park, there are three WWI memorials. These memorials include the monuments to the 1st and 2nd Army divisions and the bandstand in West Potomac Park.
In a letter President of the WWI Memorial Foundation David J. DeJonge sent to the CFA on May 2017, he criticized the project for its major changes to the design of the park. DeJonge said, “The deaths of 116,561 veterans should clearly be remembered with a memorial that is more significant than a flag display on the corner of a park surrounded by traffic.”
In January 2016, the WWI Commission chose the design for the WWI Memorial after accepting 360 entries into a design competition. The winning design is titled, “The Weight of Sacrifice,” and designed by Chicago-based architect Joseph Weishaar and New York-based sculptor Sabin Howard.