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Final designs for World War I Memorial on Pennsylvania Avenue NW receive approval

Federal planning commissioners endorsed the memorial this week

A rendering of a sculptural wall showing soldiers. The wall has a fountain and is located in a pool.
Rendering of the proposed World War I Memorial
World War I Centennial Commission

Update, October 4:

The National Capital Planning Commission gave final approval Thursday to the World War I Memorial anticipated at Pershing Park in downtown Washington, clearing the way for work to kick off in the coming months. “The memorial has come a long way,” said Thomas Gallas, the commission’s vice chairman. “The landscape and memorial design, combined with the water element, reinforce each other in a positive way.” The park is on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Original post, October 1:

The congressionally established group leading the development of the planned World War I Memorial at downtown’s Pershing Park has submitted final designs for the project to federal planning officials. The designs, which the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) is slated to review Thursday, feature a freestanding sculpture wall with a fountain, an “island-shaped” walkway, a plaza, and a pool. The east face of the 59-by-12-foot wall would depict a sculpture of roughly life-size soldiers, while the west face would present an inscribed quote.

“Water would flow from the top of the sculpture fountain and cascade over the west face down to the pool to generate a sound and a cooling effect in a manner consistent with the original design of the historic fountain,” explains a document prepared for the NCPC. “The semi-circular seating to the west of the walkway would remain in place.” The site’s current circulation would also be maintained, but accessibility improvements—like new handrails and widened ramps—would be added. An existing statue of U.S. General John J. Pershing, who served on the Western Front during World War I, would be retained, flanked by walls.

A site plan for a memorial located in park. The park is filled with trees and a few monuments.
Site plan for the World War I Memorial
World War I Centennial Commission

The 1.75-acre park, located on Pennsylvania Avenue NW east of the White House grounds, debuted in 1981 and was designed by noted landscape architect M. Paul Friedberg. In 2016, the World War I Centennial Commission, earlier created by Congress, picked a proposal for the memorial by Chicago architect Joseph Weishaar and New York sculptor Sabin Howard.

The NCPC approved preliminary plans for the memorial this past February and is expected to green-light the final designs at its October 3 meeting. The U.S. Commission of Fine Arts separately approved these latest plans for the memorial at its September 19 meeting. They also include a “belvedere” area that would orient visitors to the site from an elevated point.

A site plan for a park memorial.
Site plan for the World War I Memorial
World War I Centennial Commission

Additionally on Thursday, the NCPC will review design concepts for a new memorial wall at the Korean War Memorial on the National Mall. The World War I Memorial plans are below.

A site plan for a park memorial showing trees and object locations.
Site plan and planting plan for the World War I Memorial
World War I Memorial Commission
A rendering of a sculptural wall with a cascading fountain.
Rendering of the west face of the World War I Memorial
World War I Memorial Commission
A rendering of a sculptural wall depicting soldiers.
Rendering of the east face of the World War I Memorial
World War I Memorial Commission
A rendering of a semi-circular elevated kiosk area in a memorial park.
Rendering of the belvedere at the World War I Memorial
World War I Memorial Commission
A rendering of a semi-circular, elevated enclosure in the midst of a park.
Rendering of the belvedere at the World War I Memorial
World War I Memorial Commission
A rendering of an inscription wall int he midst of a memorial park.
Rendering of the north berm inscription at the World War I Memorial
World War I Centennial Commission
A rendering of a sculptural wall with cascading fountain and inscription.
Rendering of the inscription on the World War I Memorial
World War I Centennial Commission
A rendering of a flagstaff at a park memorial.
Rendering of a flagstaff at the World War I Memorial
World War I Centennial Commission
A rendering of planters whose sides are inscribed.
Rendering of inscriptions on planters at the World War I Memorial
World War I Centennial Commission
A rendering of walkways and signs at a park memorial.
Rendering of wayside elements at the World War I Memorial
World War I Centennial Commission