CFA Briefed on Eisenhower Memorial Design Elements and Materials

 

U.S. COMMISSION OF FINE ARTS BRIEFED ON

EISENHOWER NATIONAL MEMORIAL DESIGN ELEMENTS

AND MATERIALS

 

 

November 20, 1024

 

Contact:

Chris Kelley Cimko

Members of the panel — one of two government agencies that must approve the memorial plan before construction can begin — described the edited version of Gehry’s design as a “stronger project” and a “substantial improvement” over the previous scheme, which the CFA had previously accepted.

 The federal agency that oversees planning for the nation's capital approved the preliminary building plans for the memorial project Thursday. The National Capital Planning Commission debated the design and voted 10-1 to approve the concept.

Gehry revised his design for a memorial park in September. He removed two large, steel tapestries on the sides of the park and left one as a backdrop depicting the Kansas landscape of Eisenhower's Midwestern roots. Sculptures in the park would depict Eisenhower as president and general.

 

The U.S. Commission of Fine Arts reviewed Gehry's plans for stone or bronze statues of the 34th president, and members voted 3-1 to approve the major elements. One commissioner voted no, saying the memorial's landscape design needed to be further developed.

The design has drawn criticism from Eisenhower's family and others for its departure from more classical monument architecture and for the large scale of some elements.

WASHINGTON -- This is a city full of statutes and statues -- but stingy with monuments.

What has fueled the Eisenhower memorial controversy in the media are the public pronouncements of two of the president’s granddaughters, Susan and Anne Eisenhower, who have proclaimed themselves dissatisfied with the design. Understandably, their position is being taken seriously. Yet I am concerned that the growing public brouhaha will ultimately weaken the memorial design.

Critics of the Jefferson Memorial wondered why this father of democracy was housed in a Roman temple. So controversial was Maya Lin’s spare homage to those who died in Vietnam that the highest-ranking member of the executive branch to show up for its dedication was the deputy interior secretary.