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 changes.
The $142 million proposal features a triptych of sculpture and text with “heroic-scale” stone bas relief’s representing Eisenhower as a president, general and “barefoot boy from Kansas” within a grove of trees on on the four-acre Eisenhower square. One of the most criticized elements of the design is the woven metal tapestries supported by 25 meter-tall columns that frame the site.