Design Approved for WWII Memorial

Last night, the National Capital Planning Committee voted by a narrow margin to approve plans for a World War II Memorial on the National Mall.

The design for the memorial, which will cover seven acres, calls for a sunken stone plaza ringed by 56 stone pillars. There will be an arch to represent the European theater of war and another to represent the Pacific.

Despite the fact that most Americans are supportive of honoring the Second World War, the monument’s design has drummed up some controversy. Critics of the design say it’s too large, and that it will block views of the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument, two of the city’s most famous landmarks. They are urged that a different site for the memorial should be found.

But a report from the planning commission staff released this week said that a new lighting plan should provide security for night visitors “while not adversely affecting views of the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument.” The staff also wants to see a design for a sculptured “Light of Freedom,” the central element in the new monument, which is to be placed in the middle of the Rainbow Pool. The sculpture should not intrude on the east-west line between the two present memorials, the report continued.

‘Bursting at the Seams’

Although the site has been approved by government commissions and dedicated by President Clinton, criticism of both the site and the plans continue.

“The mall is already bursting at the seams,” says Jim McGrath, an opponent. “Soon it will be littered with marble.”

McGrath is not alone. On Sept. 5, the Advisory Committee on Historic Preservation told Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt that the new monument would have “serious and unresolved adverse effects on the pre-eminent historic character of the National Mall.” And a group called the National Coalition to Save our Mall launched a lawsuit today to stop construction of the memorial.

The government hopes to break ground for the memorial on November 11, Veteran’s Day.

ABCNEWS’ Peter Jennings and the Associated Press contributed to this report.