Landscape of Hope

Washington, D.C.

“Men whom the trenches cast into intimacy entered into bonds of mutual dependency and sacrifice of self stronger than any of the friendships made in peace and better times. That is the ultimate mystery of the First World War. If we could understand its loves, as well as its hates, we would be nearer understanding the mystery of human life.”

- John Keegan, The First World War 


The U.S. World War One Centennial Commission, established in 2013 to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the Great War, recently held an open design competition for a planned memorial that will be constructed on Washington, DC’s Pennsylvania Avenue. Inspired, Ahmed Aly, a senior architectural designer at SMMA, utilized his extensive rendering and conceptual abilities to create a submission that he entitled “Landscape of Hope.” 

Ahmed’s concept for the memorial comprises a landscape that connects history and place, juxtaposing the memories of the scarred battlefield and the contemplative lawns of cemeteries, to evoke the union of human solidarity and the great sacrifice of those who fought in the First Great War of the modern era. The Memorial’s pathways sponsor places of learning—featuring historic plaques and timelines—and, within their transforming forms of protective enclosure, create places for both individual reflection and social engagement. 

Hope, Brotherhood, Communality

These pathways recall a traumatic history, and also create visual frames that connect to the present environs of the city and its monuments, linking the experiences of individual hope and brotherhood with the larger civic communality of Democracy. The Memorial carves out a peaceful respite in the City of History, to recall and honor the sacrifices essential to preserving our freedoms.