Gehry’s design for the Eisenhower Memorial has won general praise from the design community. But it has garnered the opposition of some in Congress and several members of the Eisenhower family.
Congressional opposition to Gehry’s design for the memorial began to galvanize last year. In March 2012, Rep. Bishop held a House subcommittee hearing on the memorial in which he questioned aspects of the design. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) also brought the matter up before the powerful House Oversight committee. In June, Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) told a supporter (and confirmed with ARCHITECT) that he did not support the Gehry design for the Eisenhower Memorial or even support its placement on the National Mall.
In response to his critics, Gehry unveiled a number of changes to the design in May of last year. The next month, in June, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar personally intervened, pledging to find consensus for Gehry’s design. The Gehry design for the Eisenhower Memorial has won its share of admirers: Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), who represents President Eisenhower’s home state, supports the design. But Daniel Inouye, the Democratic senator from Hawaii who served as vice chairman of the commission and co-authored the legislation establishing a national Eisenhower Memorial, died in December. The bill’s other co-author, Ted Stevens, the Republican senator from Alaska, died in 2010.
“Our commissioners, representing both parties across this great nation, have selected a prominent site and an appropriate, meaningful design by the world’s most celebrated living architect, Frank Gehry,” Siciliano says. “I believe the nation and the memory of President Eisenhower have been well served by all the Commissioners of the Eisenhower Memorial Commission. This bill by Congressman Bishop insults their efforts and the great legacy of Eisenhower, in whose administration I served.”
“The AIA doesn’t offer any assessment on whether the Eisenhower Memorial Design is good or bad. The Congressman says the intent of his bill is to seek consensus around a design for the memorial. We wonder how his bill can achieve that stated consensus when it specifically bans the current design proposal.”