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Gehry Hopes to Meet with Eisenhower Family to Allay Concerns Over Memorial Design

April 2, 2012

By Ben Adler

Eisenhower Memorial Design
Image courtesy EMC
The memorial is slated to be built on Independence Avenue, across from the National Air and Space Museum.

 

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Frank Gehry hopes to meet with members of the Eisenhower family and work with them to assuage their concerns about his proposed memorial design, says the Eisenhower Memorial Commission (EMC), which is spearheading the $112 million project in Washington, D.C. The family has not responded to the invitation, other than to say they will confer before considering their next move, according to a March 30 post on Susan Eisenhower’s blog.

During a March 20 congressional hearing, Gehry’s scheme drew strong criticism from Susan, the president’s granddaughter. Speaking before a House of Representatives subcommittee on national parks, forests and public lands, Susan expressed several concerns about the design, notably that it obscures Eisenhower’s achievements and fails to present an appropriate summation of his career. “Eisenhower’s contribution to this nation is not the central theme of the design,” she stated. She objects to the fact that the central statue may depict Eisenhower as a boy and that sculptural elements could overshadow the bas reliefs of Eisenhower as a general and president.

Despite the opposition, the 11-member EMC issued a statement on March 27 expressing full support of Gehry and his scheme. “His design for the memorial is exciting, creative, and inspiring,” the EMC said, noting that Gehry’s concept is consistent with the direction he received from the EMC, of which Susan’s brother, David Eisenhower, was a member until he resigned in December 2011. Also, EMC noted, Gehry has consulted with the Eisenhowers in the past.

The current design drew praise in a March 22 New York Times op-ed from Witold Rybczynski, who sits on the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, a body that must approve the memorial’s final design and has already unanimously voted in support of Gehry’s concept. The National Capital Planning Commission must also approve the proposal. The memorial is slated to be built on Independence Avenue, across the street from Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.

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