Gehry is Open to Change as the Eisenhower Memorial Controversy Continues On

Via Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission

In a letter presented at a House subcommittee hearing Tuesday, expressed his willingness to change the design of the controversial Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial in order to resolve objections from the 34th president’s family.

“My detractors say that I have missed the point, and that I am trying to diminish the stature of this great man,” Gehry wrote. “I assure you that my only intent is to celebrate and honor this world hero and visionary leader.”

Continue reading for more information on the hearing.

Framed by 25 meter-tall, woven metal tapestries, described by Leon Krier as embodying a “chain-link aesthetic”, the memorial park marvels at the idea of a young boy becoming a two-term, Republican president and World War II military leader.

Susan Eisenhower, the 34th president’s granddaughter, told the panel her family wants the memorial to be redesigned. They believe the current design focuses too much on Eisenhower’s roots and further described the modern metal tapestries as something generally found in the Communist world, as stated by ABC News.

“One of the main flaws of the current proposal is that Eisenhower’s contribution to the nation is not the central theme of the design,” Susan Eisenhower said. “The Eisenhower our nation wants to celebrate is not a dreamy boy but a real man who faced unthinkable choices, took personal responsibility and did his duty with modesty and humility.”

Gehry noted that he has met with Eisenhower’s granddaughters and is currently exploring other design concepts that will satisfy their concerns.

Members of the Eisenhower Memorial Commission, which selected Gehry for the project, also responded to the criticism. As ABC News reports, Rep. Leonard Boswell of Iowa thought depicting a young Eisenhower would attract the attention of millions of children who are visiting the nearby Air and Space Museum.

“The youngsters will come out of that museum and just naturally walk across the street and see what happened in a person’s life,” Boswell said. “Who would have ever thought, Abilene Kan., somebody would end up as supreme Allied commander and president of this great country? So I started really falling in love with this concept.”

The controversy continues, but many are optimistic that Gehry and the Eisenhower family will find common ground. The congressional hearing could pressure memorial planners to make changes, but the House panel has no direct role in approving the design.

“I can’t help but feel we’re micromanaging something well outside our purview,” said Rep. Raul Grijalva of Arizona. “I don’t think this subcommittee, the full committee or Congress is the appropriate place to litigate a memorial design or a potential family dispute.”

Reference: ABC News

Cite: Rosenfield, Karissa. "Gehry is Open to Change as the Eisenhower Memorial Controversy Continues On" 20 Mar 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed 29 May 2015. <>
  • Josh Conrad

    Maybe its because the renderings are kind of lame…?

  • Anna

    As a rule, leaders should NEVER be remembered according to how the family wants them to be. In fact, they should probably be near the end of the line, especially if you’re talking about a president. Since when is this how we design memorials? Why does the family get to spout Republican buzz words like “personal responsibility” and expect anyone to listen? Memorials are best designed by artists, not by committee, and certainly not by people who have a personal interest in warping who the person actually was (ie their family).

  • Gretti

    This is obviously about politics. Gehry is widely known Democrat. Krier is a widely known Republican and obviously the Eisenhower family is Republican, with their bizarre statements regarding the Soviet Union and the use of Republican spin phrases like “personal responsibility.” Gehry is being attacked for being a Democrat, this has nothing to do with design. And it’s sad to see it happening in a country that’s supposed to be free. I don’t think Dwight would even recognize today’s Republicans. He’d probably think they were Germans.

  • Facundo Antonietti

    maybe because the project is kind of lame, ghery ur time is over, u had ur chance with ur first buildings, and u just copied urself. Its not a family dispute, its a bad project.

  • archi

    Gehry has spent so much time recently relying on his technology to turn crumpled up bits of paper into rock-n-roll museums that he seems to have forgotten the fundamentals of good design. And this project has tripped him up. Perhaps this project will also allow him to rediscover the things that made him the great architect he once was.

  • Sean

    A quick search for “Gehry Controversy” returned about 2,740,000 results on Google, so i think controversy around anything involving him is par for the course

  • Pingback: House Bill Proposes to Eliminate Funding for Eisenhower Memorial | Nick Socrates Contemporary Art