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25-Year-Old Architect Wins Contest to Design WWI Memorial

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Talk about a nice line on your resume. The United States World War One Centennial Commission just announced that 25-year-old Chicago architect Joseph Weishaar and New York sculptor Sabin Howard have been selected to design a monument that will be built in a park in the nation's capital. Their entry,"The Weight of Sacrifice," one of 360 entered in an international design competition, was selected from a group of five other finalists. Weishaar, who works as a project architect with Brininstool+Lynch in Chicago and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville in 2013, told the Chicago Tribune that "It's overwhelming, entirely. Just even making it to the second round of the competition was entirely overwhelming. It's the greatest opportunity I've ever had in my life, and I'm enthralled to see where it goes."

The commission hopes to complete the project, expected to cost $30 to $35 million, by November 2018, the centennial of the end of the Great War. So far, roughly $1 million has been raised for the completion of the memorial, which would take over 1.8 acres of Pershing Park, named after famed General John J. "Blackjack" Pershing, who commanded U.S. forces during the war. The proposed plan needs to be approved by the National Park Service, among other government entities, and would replace the modernist landscape designed by M. Paul Friedberg.

"The Weight of Sacrifice" would feature a sunken wall meant to function as a "shadow" of the conflict, decorated with scenes from the war, as wall as a new statue honoring Pershing. Each cubic foot of the memorial represents a U.S. soldier who died in the war: 116,516 in all.

Weishaar and the other four finalists, which were announced in August, all received a $25,000 honorarium.

The memorial joins a number of projects that will reshape public space in Washington, D.C., including the National Museum of African American History and Culture by David Adjaye and a massive revamp of the Smithsonian by Bjarke Ingels Group.

Update: The Cultural Landscape Foundation released a statement today noting that the design, if built as planned, would ruin a park that's eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.

Should the design be executed as proposed, it would result in the demolition of Pershing Park, which was designed by landscape architect M. Paul Friedberg with a planting plan by landscape architects Oehme, van Sweden and which National Park Service (NPS) has determined eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. The decision comes despite reservations and concerns registered by the Commission of Fine Arts (CFA), the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) and the District of Columbia State Historic Preservation Office (DCSHPO), all of which must approve the project. More recently, Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post critic Philip Kennicott wrote: "All five of the designs obliterate the Friedberg park, rather than building on it," adding that, "None of the proposals, selected in July from 360 entries, rises to a standard the commission should champion." Commissioner Thomas Moe from Ohio, in the course of a conference call announcing the decision, panned the winning design as "unremarkable."

· Chicago architect, 25, wins design contest for World War I memorial in D.C. [Chicago Tribune]