College of Agriculture & Natural Resources
Landscape Architecture

LARC Alum is a FINALIST to Design WWI Monument in D.C.!

Congratulations, Devin Kimmel!
Photo Credit: 
Kimmel Studio, LLC.

Congratulations, Devin Kimmel (BLA '03, M. Arch. '06) on being chosen as a finalist to design the WWI Monument in Washington D.C.!


Memorializing the Great War

By: Karen Shih '09 (published on January 12, 2016)

More than a century after the first shots of World War I were fired, there’s still no national memorial in Washington, D.C., to honor the 116,516 American servicemen who gave their lives overseas.

Devin Kimmel ’03, M. Arch. ’06 has a chance to change that. The Annapolis-based architect’s design for a memorial was one of five finalists chosen by the World War One Centennial Commission from more than 350 submissions. They made final presentations last week, and the commission will announce a winner at the end of January, with a groundbreaking planned for Veterans Day 2018.

“It was like magic,” says Kimmel, when he got the call in August. “I had a really good feeling about it and just hoped someone else would see my vision.”

Designed in the neo-classical style that reflects both existing monuments to WWI in Europe and to other wars and famous figures in D.C., Kimmel’s memorial, called the “World War One Grotto of Remembrance,” seeks to evoke an ancient, hollowed-out burial mound.

He imagines visitors walking down tree-lined paths to enter through one of three entrances to the elliptical space, which will contain three scenes from WWI artists about changing technology, life as a soldier, and sacrifice and loss. The focal point of the monument, featuring two lamps of “Democracy” and “Liberty” surrounding a quote from President Woodrow Wilson, will rise from a grotto and reflecting pool surrounding an eternal flame. Kimmel’s design includes era-specific details, like iron gates, as well as lighting mimicking the soft glow of gas lanterns.

The judges praised his design’s “strong park concept” and told Kimmel his design received the most public comments of any of the 350-plus submissions.

The memorial will take the place of Pershing Park on Pennsylvania Avenue (the existing Gen. John Pershing statue will be incorporated into the new design), just a block from the White House.

Growing up in Bel Air, Md., Kimmel was always fascinated by structures and shapes. He remembers accompanying his mother to Lovely Lane Methodist Church in Baltimore for her dance practices. The 7-year-old would wander around the space as he waited, and one night, he ended up in the main church, where someone turned on the lights to illuminate the Romanesque-style interior.

“I’ll never forget the space,” says Kimmel, who has since returned to the church for inspiration.

He was lucky enough to have drafting and architectural drawing classes in high school, giving him a leg up when he came to UMD for his bachelor’s in landscape architecture and master’s in architecture.

“It’s unusual for an architect to be trained in both disciplines, and it’s very fun working with Devin because he’s very holistic, thinking about gardens and site and how the house is integrating into the site,” says builder Ray Gauthier, president of Lynbrook of Annapolis Inc. “He’s very creative and sure of himself and his design sense.”

They’ve collaborated for the past decade, primarily on high-end residential design, which gives Kimmel freedom to incorporate the early American styles he’s fond of into stately waterfront houses. He’s worked on some campus projects, like consulting with Ayers Saint Gross Architects on UMD’s Edward St. John Teaching and Learning Center, under construction on McKeldin Mall, and he also submitted drawings for the Enoch Pratt Free Library renovation in Baltimore. Working with Ayers Saint Gross, Kimmel was one of three finalists to design the Revolutionary War Museum in Philadelphia—a loss he feels strongly.

Today, though, he’s optimistic about the WWI memorial, a project that finally brings together his love of both landscape and traditional architecture, and one he hopes will convey a message not only to the public, but to military members serving now.

“We want to tell soldiers today they won’t be forgotten,” he says.

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