On Friday, architect Frank Gehry presented a revised design to the Eisenhower Memorial Commission, which unanimously approved it. Changes include the re-inclusion of several statues and bas-relief sculptures that were nixed in an earlier iteration. Quotations from Eisenhower’s Guildhall Address were approved as well. The design will now be presented before the US Commission of Fine Arts and the National Capital Planning Commission.
Much of the controversy centered on the design’s proposed metal tapestries that depict Eisenhower’s native Kansas as a flat land with leafless trees rather than scenes from the former president’s time in office or on the battlefields of World War II. Many architectural traditionalists were upset at the lack of marble and statuary in the memorial, while the Department of Education was concerned that the tapestries would block their views (this concern has now been addressed with greater-transparency in the tapestries). Critics were bolstered when members of the Eisenhower family withdrew their support from the design.
The memorial will be built on a four-acre site to be named ‘eisenhower square’, along independence avenue in the heart of washington DC. it will be a landscaped civic plaza which respects vistas to and from the U.S. capitol and the historic maryland avenue view corridor.thesite will include a grove of oak trees, two parallel colonnades of limestone pillars and loosely piled limestone walls and still generous sculptural programming. there will be a gap in the colonnade as it runs along the avenue, creating open frame views of the capitol, marking the informal pedestrian entrance to the memorial site. the complex will be bolstered by an on-site e-memorial that uses wireless technology and a mobile app to allow visitors access to historical footage, speeches and events in the context of the physical structure. the digital component is the first of its kind in the history of american commemorative architecture. the design remains a relatively quiet, restrained, and powerful composition of dynamic forms, despite seeking to capture to differing aspects of the leader as both modest and monumental. in a letter to the commission, gehry stated:
victory in the face of obstacles is eisenhower’s story, but it is also the story of america: the promise that anyone can rise from any background to become anything he or she wants, through hard work and diligence.this is our history, but it is also our future. it is the promise that should inspire each visitor to the memorial.
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