The U.S. Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) has approved the U.S. World War One Centennial Commission’s design concept for a national World War I memorial in the nation’s capital. The presentation was a significant milestone in progress toward building the memorial. CFA is one of the two federal agencies with responsibility for design approval of memorials in Washington, D.C., along with the National Capital Planning Commission. The memorial will be located on Pennsylvania Avenue at Pershing Park, a 2-acre site one block from the White House.
Edwin Fountain, Vice Chair of the Commission explained, “ CFA endorsed our proposal to establish a memorial at Pershing Park in the form of a monumental work of bronze bas-relief sculpture. This sculpture will be the centerpiece of a trio of memorial elements, including the existing statue of General Pershing as well as a ceremonial flag stand that will offer additional opportunities for commemoration of the war.”
Concept approval, however, is just that—approval of a “concept.” The detailed work in designing the sculpture and the park as a whole remains to be done. Fountain clarified, “Our sculptor, Sabin Howard, will continue to develop the sculptural themes and images, in consultation with the WWI Centennial Commission and CFA. The design team will continue to work on other aspects of the site design, including subsidiary commemorative elements, the fountain, lighting, seating, overall site engineering, and so on.”
Joseph Weishaar, lead designer for the National World War I Memorial at Pershing Park commented, “Building a memorial is a tribute to our humanity and a marker of courageous acts in the most harrowing of circumstances. It sends a signal to our families, children and grandchildren that courage, honor and sacrifice still mean something. It is a message to our current and future veterans that they will not be forgotten.”
The U.S. World War One Centennial Commission will present the concept to the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) next month. NCPC is the other federal agency that has design approval authority for the park. The project also will continue to undergo review under the National Historic Preservation Act and the National Environmental Protection Act.
A timeline for completing the project has yet to be set. According to the Commission’s web site, “Given the elaborate regulatory processes involved, and the number of stakeholders who will participate, it is difficult to predict a schedule. Our fundraising efforts will ultimately drive the construction schedule, but we remain committed to beginning construction by Armistice Day (Veterans Day) 2018, the centennial of the end of the war.”