WASHINGTON (DoD News, Feb. 4, 2016) — Just a few years out of college, architect-in-training Joseph Weishaar said it is an incredible honor to have been selected to create a national World War I memorial in the nation’s capital.
“To have such an opportunity so young is – it’s indescribable,” the 25-year-old said.
The United States World War One Centennial Commission announced last week it chose Weishaar and collaborating artist and veteran sculptor Sabin Howard as the winning design team for the project.
A 2013 graduate of the Fay Jones School of Architecture at the University of Arkansas, Weishaar said it was the “best feeling ever to get that call” and to be notified of the selection. He said he is still trying to digest the magnitude of creating such a memorial, which is expected to last for generations and to have millions of visitors from all around the world.
“It’s hard to fathom how long this will last and what it will mean to the country,” Weishaar said.
The memorial is to be located in Pershing Park, near the White House. The design concept, “The Weight of Sacrifice,” includes a raised sculpture honoring those who served, as well as a central lawn area and a wall of remembrance that features quotations and images of service members.
The concept includes the park’s existing statue of World War I Army Gen. John J. Pershing, Weishaar said.
MEANT TO INSPIRE
The memorial, which will serve as an urban park, is meant to inspire, uplift and help visitors understand the magnitude of the war and the service and sacrifice of the men and women who served, Howard said.
“This project is really fascinating to me, because it’s making art that is public – it’s a whole different arena,” Howard said, adding that making something so enduring “gives you a great sense of purpose, and it drives the project forward.”
Weishaar and Howard said they envision the memorial as a “space for freedom built upon the great weight of sacrifice” of the nearly 5 million Americans who served and the more than 116,000 who were killed during World War I.
The art is within reach of the visitor; there is no separation between the art realm and the real world in the design concept, Howard said.
“This memorial that we’re doing has far greater context than just being something beautiful or a park,” he added. “It really carries a message about potentiality and transformation and what can be in humanity.”
CONCEPT FACES DESIGN REVIEW
The concept will go through an extensive design review from a number of agencies, including the Commission of Fine Arts, the National Capital Planning Commission, and the National Park Service.
The World War One Centennial Commission, which received more than 350 entries in its open design competition, hopes to begin construction on Veterans Day 2017, with a possible dedication on Veterans Day 2018. The commission is looking to raise $30 million to $40 million for the memorial, according to commission officials.
Though there are no surviving veterans of the war, it still is important to have a national memorial in Washington for those who served and did so much for the nation, commission vice chairman Edwin Fountain said.
World War I began in July 1914 with the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand. It ended with the armistice on Nov. 11, 1918.