Gehry’s Controversial Design for Eisenhower Memorial Approved

Despite harsh criticism and a lingering threat from the House to scrap funding and start anew, the Eisenhower Memorial Commission has unanimously approved Frank Gehry’s design for the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial in Washington DC. The $110 million project, nearly fourteen years in the making, has undergone numerous revisions in the past couple years in search of a compromise between the commission and its opposition, namely the Eisenhower family.

Though the odds started to lean in the opposition’s favor, the commission is pressing forward with their plans and Gehry is expected to present his design to the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts next month and the National Capital Planning Commission in early fall for review and approval.

At the projects most recent unveiling, Commission Chairman Rocco C. Siciliano, who has spent the last 10 years as president of the Eisenhower World Affairs Institute, stated that the Eisenhower family “deserves to be heard, but does not deserve to be obeyed.” He continued, “I want to be very clear there is no attempt made here to railroad, or walk over outside opinions, particularly those of the family.”

Courtesy of Gehry Partners, LLP, 2013

The approved changes include the reinstatement of the memorial’s bas-relief sculptures and alterations in the statues of Eisenhower as a “barefoot boy from Kansas”, the 34th president and a World War II general. Also approved were the excerpts from Eisenhower’s Guildhall Address, his most important speech delivered after the allied victory in Europe, which will be inscribed on the memorial wall. 

Courtesy of Gehry Partners, LLP, 2013

Upon presenting the plans, Gehry stated he was “more humbled than ever to present the evolution of [their] design.”

Courtesy of Gehry Partners, LLP, 2013

The memorial will be located within a lush pedestrianized park on the four-acre Eisenhower square, just south of the National Mall on Independence Avenue and 4th Street. The site will be framed by a series of 25 meter-tall columns - one of the design’s most criticized elements - which will support a border of woven metal tapestries that depict scenes from Eisenhower’s hometown in Abilene.

References: The Washington Post

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Cite: Karissa Rosenfield. "Gehry’s Controversial Design for Eisenhower Memorial Approved" 26 Jun 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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