In a letter presented at a House subcommittee hearing Tuesday, Frank Gehry 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