The Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial saga continues, as Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) proposed legislation that would forego Frank Gehry’s controversial design and eliminate federal funding. Although Bishop’s radical bill would save $100 million in future funding, it ignores any possibility of compromise.
In response, the AIA stated:
“Representative Bishop’s legislation allows Congress to exercise governmental authority in a wholly arbitrary manner that negates the stated selection process. It is nothing more than an effort to intimidate the innovative thinking for which our profession is recognized at home and around the globe. We intend to vigorously oppose it.”
Since the commission’s selection of Gehry in 2010, opposition has grown exponentially, with strong criticism from Chicago investment manager and philanthropist Richard Driehaus, neo-traditionalist architect Leon Krier, the National Civic Art Society, the Eisenhower granddaughters and many others. Regardless, support for Gehry’s design has also grown, making compromise a seemingly viable option with Gehry admittedly open to change.
With an estimated price tag of $142 million, Gehry’s proposal features a triptych of sculptures and text with “heroic-scale” stone bas relief’s representing Eisenhower as a president, general and “barefoot boy from Kansas”. The sculptures are located within a lush pedestrianized park on the four-acre Eisenhower square, which is framed by a series of 25 meter-tall columns supporting a boarder of woven metal tapestries – one of the most criticized elements of the design.