Counts Studio Design Selected as Finalist in World War I Memorial Design Competition | The Penn State Stuckeman School Skip to main content

Counts Studio Design Selected as Finalist in World War I Memorial Design Competition

“Heroes’ Green,” a design by two of Penn State’s landscape architecture faculty – Christopher Counts and Maria Debije Counts of Counts Studio – has been selected as one of five finalists for the World War I Memorial Design Competition sponsored by the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission. The Counts’ design is one of more than 350 entries submitted from across the globe. The competition is intended to revitalize Washington D.C.’s Pershing Park as a national recognition to the veterans of World War I.

The Counts are currently in stage two of the design competition that will end in December with a final presentation and public exhibition of the refined design proposals. In January, one of the final five design proposals will be selected for construction.

The Counts were inspired to enter the design competition due to the unique challenge of re-imagining a park to become a memorial and park. Rather than considering a memorial as an object to be merely observed, the Counts approached the design as a multi-purpose public spaces and site activities for visitors, residents and workers in the area alike, while also providing commemorate places to honor those who served in World War I. Christopher Counts characterized the design challenge as a “new paradigm for public space” and felt the “new typology was incredibly inspiring.” Maria Counts notes that in this spirit, their design “emphasizes landscape rooms that facilitate multiple programs, such as a quiet space, a space for running, a place for visitors and local residents.”

As Counts Studio explains, “Heroes’ Green seamlessly blends memorial, park, and garden into a new type of public space.” The design of Heroes’ Green features a memorial tree garden with 116 Gingko trees representing the 116,516 American Servicemen lives lost. Also echoing the realities of World War I, the landforms reference trenches and craters. In addition, the design features sculptural image walls, a civic amphitheater, the Capitol Promenade, and dynamically variable topography.

The Counts were pleased to have their design selected as a finalist in the competition. Maria Counts says, “I am very excited to be involved in such a project to take on the challenge of combining memorial and park in a new and innovative way.”

Christopher Counts is the Stuckeman Career Development Professor in Design at the Penn State’s Stuckeman School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. He teaches in the undergraduate and graduate studio courses focusing on climate change and topo-sequencing. He also is the founder and design director of Counts Studio, based in New York City.

Maria Counts is a visiting instructor of landscape architecture. Her teaching and research focus on representation and design visualization. She recently contributed two chapters of writing and student work on perspective drawings and axonometrics in Nadia Amoros’ Representing Landscapes: Digital. She is managing principal of Counts Studio.

For more information on the World War I Design Competition visit:

View the design proposals at:

Computer rendering of public park
Computer rendering of public park
Design board showing several views and features of memorial park design