Fights over repurposing DC park into WWI memorial push expected completion back to at least 2021
When Joe Weishaar conceived of America’s first national World War I memorial, he imagined something dramatic. It was January 2016, and Weishaar, then just a 25-year-old intern at an architecture firm in Chicago, had beat out more than 350 applicants around the world to design the memorial. His proposal, “The Weight of Sacrifice,” would transform Pershing Park—a dilapidated 1.8-acre space a block southeast of the White House—by replacing the park’s dried-up sunken pool with a lawn, removing its once-cascading fountain and inserting bronze bas-relief walls depicting soldiers and battlefields. As recently as last fall, at a ceremonial groundbreaking on the site, the commission overseeing the memorial hoped to complete it in time for the centennial of the war’s ending, in November of this year.
Now, not only has that date been pushed back—organizers are crossing their fingers for a final dedication in November 2021—but Weishaar’s design has been radically scaled back. In fact, it’s not even clear yet what the memorial will ultimately consist of.