Friday, August 21, 2015

Still Life With Robin: Another Memorial Design Competition

DC's World War I Memorial
Photo by Thomas S Mann
by Peggy Robin

On the subject of DC urban planning and design, I’m on a lot of lists, blogs, website feeds, and e-newsletters, and this week they all were atwitter with the same news: five finalists had been selected in the design competition for the World War I Memorial, to be built in Pershing Park.  You can look at the five designs, each with short descriptions and layouts, here: 

One of those e-newsletters, Curbed DC, sent out this article about the design competition with the headline, “Cast Your Vote: Which Design Is Your Favorite?”

Before you click on the one you like best, you might want to take a look at the ground rules and design parameters the contestants were told to take into account before creating their submissions: - scroll down to “The Design Challenge” to read the five-point list.

I’m not quite sure what happens when you vote for one of the five. I see that Curbed DC tallies the vote immediately and produces a pie-chart showing how the votes are apportioned among the finalists, but there’s no indication that the design jury will see the results – or that they would be interested in them, if they did see them.  Given that situation, if you hope to have a voice in the matter, you might want to send your comments directly to the World War I Centennial Commission via the Facebook page set up by that Commission: -- though we don’t know whether anyone’s reading or reacting to those posts, either.

My worry is that this whole experience could all too easily turn into a re-run of the Eisenhower Memorial design committee fiasco, in which a committee trumpets a winning design, followed by a loud chorus of boo’s from all kinds of people -- critics, other designers, and members of the public, and loudest of all, the Eisenhower family -- followed by a long period of tinkering and tweaking of the design, followed by an announcement that the revised design is now just great -- thank you all for your input -- and it’s going to be built, so everyone shut up.

But I’m getting way ahead of things. We have only just seen the five designs, and we have this chance to weigh in for one of the five, so I say, vote while you have the chance. And may the best park win!


Still Life With Robin is published on the Cleveland ParkListserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays.

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