Pershing Park, Pennsylvania Avenue between 14th and 15th Streets, NW
Dear Ms. Mendelson-Ielmini:
In its meeting of 16 May, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed a submission of refinements to the concept design of the interpretive program for the National World War I Memorial within Pershing Park, located on Pennsylvania Avenue between 14th and 15th Streets, NW. The Commission approved the proposed revisions, providing the following comments for the development of the design.
The Commission members commended the design for the strength and layered meanings of the interpretive program, including the larger themes exemplified by the sculpture, the judicious use of quotations, the possibility for accessing further information by digital devices, and the aspirational message of peace proposed for the fountain wall inscription. Specifically, they endorsed the selection, location, size, and graphic design of the proposed inscriptions on the memorial’s walls and planters, and at the belvedere. For the markers indicating locations for digitally accessed information, they recommended using a raised metal disc where applied to a metal surface, and incising the digital-access poppy symbol where it occurs on a stone surface. In their discussion, the Commission members raised concerns about the appropriateness of digitally accessed interpretation, cautioning that too much reliance on hand-held communication devices and the mediated experience of the memorial may detract from its solemnity. However, they concluded that the understanding and commemoration of World War I, which now lies beyond living memory, may best be served by additional information that visitors can choose to access at the site without undue disturbance to the memorial’s dignity.
The Commission looks forward to the review of any outstanding items of design refinement, particularly the resolution of the memorial wall’s bronze sculpture and its stone base, in the next submission in anticipation of concluding its review of the memorial’s final design. As always, the staff is available to assist you.
/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA
Lisa Mendelson-Ielmini, Acting Regional Director
National Park Service, National Capital Region
1100 Ohio Drive, SW
Washington, DC 20242
cc: Libby O’Connell, U.S. World War I Centennial Commission
David Rubin, Land Collective
Sabin Howard, Sabin Howard Sculpture
Joseph Weishaar, UU+ Designs