In celebration of the united strength of the American people during World War I, the World War I Memorial Gardens honor the heroes at home, as well as the heroes who served. World War I was the first modern war in which citizens came together to contribute to the war effort. In planting an active and inviting urban landscape in the heart of the Nation’s capital, the Memorial Gardens pay tribute to the support of Americans through their creation of victory gardens during the war, while the site’s new undulating topography simultaneously evokes the terrain of trenches, where so many lost their lives.

The Memorial Gardens are maintained by selected communities across the Nation, bringing people together once more to commemorate World War I through active participation. The Gardens will change color and texture throughout the four seasons—a continually transformative landscape. The spaces carved from between the Gardens provide moments of respite for visitors as well as casual use by locals. The terrain is open along its southern edge and gently slopes up to the north, where the axiality of Pennsylvania Avenue is highlighted by a honed concrete and glass structure that shelters a farmer’s market, and offers space for gathering and events. The use of structural glass embodies both strength and weightlessness, retaining a transparency across the site and towards the surrounding urban context. The structure simultaneously offers an elevated terrace—a space to overlook the landscape, allowing a moment of quiet reflection, and framing views of three of the capital’s icons.

Client: The World War I Centennial Commission

Program: Cultural, Plaza, Pavilion

Status: Complete

Size: 225,000 SF

Location: Washington, D.C.

Architect: KM,A (Kyle May)

Images: KM,A