After announcing five finalists in August of 2015, the World War I Centennial Commission has announced the winner of its National World War I Memorial competition: The Weight of Sacrifice by 25-year-old architect Joe Weishaar and sculptor Sabin Howard. The design focuses on the sacrificial cost of war through relief sculpture, quotations of soldiers, and a freestanding sculpture. Visitors are guided through the memorial’s changing elevations by quotation walls that describe the war from the point of view of generals, politicians, and soldiers.
An upper plaza features the freestanding sculpture, “Wheels of Humanity,” which “recreates the engine of war.” Overall, the design would transform Pershing Park into a memorial site with an integrated park aspect both around the perimeter and atop an elevated section of the site.
The Commission selected the winning design based on “a number of criteria related to design merit, site considerations, environmental impact, historical preservation, sustainability, and cost,” all indicating a sense of deeper consideration about the future of the park.
However, if executed as proposed, the winning project would result in the demolition of Pershing Park, which was designed by landscape architects M. Paul Friedberg and Oehme van Sweden, and which the National Park Service (NPS) has determined eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. Despite this possibility for listing, the Commission is continuing with its plans to create the Weishaar and Howard design.
Controversy has surrounded the project essentially since the competition was announced, particularly concerning whether Pershing Park should be rehabilitated from its current state or completely reconstructed.
Learn more about the controversy by reading previous news: