WASHINGTON — Five design concepts have emerged in a competition to build a new national World War I Memorial in Washington, with ideas ranging from neoclassical architecture to a portrait collage of the "American family."
A design competition for the project drew 350 entries, and a jury narrowed those to five finalists announced Wednesday, based on their concepts alone, without knowing the names behind the submissions. Organizers sought designs that could be built for roughly $20 million to $25 million.
Congress designated a park along Pennsylvania Avenue near the White House to become the first memorial in the capital honoring the 4.7 million veterans of the first world war and the 116,516 American lives lost. It would join the Liberty Memorial and National World War I Museum in Kansas City as the nation's official tribute.
The site, the dilapidated Pershing Park from 1981, currently includes a memorial to John J. Pershing, who led the American Expeditionary Force into Europe in 1917.
The Cultural Landscape Foundation said it opposes the demolition of Pershing Park for the new memorial. However, the existing memorial elements would be integrated into a new design, memorial organizers said.
The challenge is to capture the war experience of nearly 100 years ago for new generations.
"We're establishing a memorial to a generation of veterans and servicemen and women that are no longer here," said Edwin Fountain, vice chairman of the memorial commission. "You have to think about who is the audience today and 50 or 100 years from now and how do you speak to that audience?"
Here's a look at the five finalists:
Plaza to the Forgotten War, by Andrew Cesarz and Johnsen Schmaling Architects of Milwaukee
This simple concept relies on a series of pylons with text and images to convey the memorial's theme, rather than sculptural forms.
Notes from the jury called the concept "simple, elegant and open" with an integrated form and meaning that "reveals itself in layers." The existing memorial to Pershing would need to be integrated as the design evolves.
Heroes' Green, by Counts Studios of New York City.
A dense, wooded park would be created with images set into the landscape in copper walls. Paths would guide visitors through the memorial, evoking the trenches of World War I.
"The concept seamlessly blends memorial, park and garden into a new type of public space," according to the competition report. "The sculptural landscape in itself is symbolic, memorable and will provide a welcome respite."
World War I Memorial, by Devin Kimmel and Kimmel Studio of Annapolis, Maryland
With a style inspired by the time of the "Great War," this neoclassical design is traditional. It includes an oval memorial space centered in a trapezoidal park. The memorial includes a victory tower monument that would draw visitors to a pool of water and grotto of remembrance.
According to the competition notes, "the space and elements combine to create a narrative about the current condition and the historic precedent of monuments."
An American Family Portrait Wall in the Park, by Luis Collado, Jose Luis de la Fuente and STL Architects of Chicago
Photographs are at the center of this unconventional design with a concept focused on paying tribute to servicemen and women of World War I through photographs embedded in the park. The designers wanted to show the full scale of the war, beyond generals and heroes. Bronze sculptures would draw visitors to the pictures.
"While this concept has the potential of a truly unique park, the thematic, technical and curatorial issues of the story boxes will require resolution," according to competition notes.
The Weight of Sacrifice, by Joseph Weishaar of Chicago
A platform built at the center of the park would reclaim paved space as parkland. The walls of the platform would be sculpted with images telling the story of World War I. The designer proposed images depicting a chronological timeline of major events in the war.
"The subtleness and art of the sculpted relief walls will enhance the narrative of the place — utilizing art as architecture," according to the competition notes.
World War I Centennial Commission: http://www.worldwar1centennial.org/ .