World War I is one of the few major conflicts of the 20th century that does not have a dedicated memorial in the nation’s capitol. That is about to change. In 2014, Congress designated Pershing Park in the District of Columbia, along with the Liberty Memorial in Kansas City, as national World War I memorials. They also authorized the World War I Centennial Commission to redevelop Pershing Park to honor the Veterans of World War I.
“[Gen. John J. Pershing has] gotten a great deal of attention. But his great love was the troops who worked for him. I think it’s terrific that in my lifetime, and I’m the last Pershing, I can be here to see us honor everybody,” said Sandra Pershing, the granddaughter of General John J. Pershing.
The goal of the World War I Centennial Commission is to create a dynamic urban space and timeless memorial to honor those who fought in “The Great War”, while inspiring younger generations of Americans to better understand the profound effects it had on our nation’s history. In search for the perfect design, the commission created a two-stage international competition.
Stage I was an open call for designs to be submitted. After receiving more than 350 entries, judges narrowed it down to five finalists who were invited to participate in phase two. Judges on the design oversight committee include representatives from organizations involved in the final design approval, including the National Park Service, National Capital Planning Commission, Commission of Fine Arts, General Services Administration and the American Battle Monuments Commission.
During stage two, finalists met with the design oversight committee to provide additional their input and advice regarding their submissions.
“The designs have to do three major things. First of all, it has to be a great park. Second, it has to have a very strong memorial message of some sort. And the third is, because of this location on Pennsylvania Ave., it has a very urban responsibility to respond to the context of that particular place and add to the Pennsylvania Ave., experience, as well as the experience of the memorials around the area,” said Don Stastny, the competition manager.
After further refinement and development, the finalists showcased their revised designs on Jan. 6. The jury will select a winning design team to recommend to the World War I Centennial Commission. The winner will be announced on Jan. 25 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Click here to view the final designs and explore the concepts.