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Posted at 01:09 PM ET, 01/31/2012

Eisenhower Memorial: What’s your take?

Special to The Washington Post


This artist rendering provided by the Eisenhower Commission on Oct. 6, 2011, shows an updated model which shows the Maryland Avenue vista and promenade for the national memorial in Washington for President Dwight D. Eisenhower. (AP Photo/Eisenhower Commission) (AP)

In last week’s "Shaping the City" column, I wrote a critique of the new Eisenhower Memorial being planned near the Air and Space Museum. The memorial would fill four acres and is designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry

The memorial really misses the mark. I seriously question both the design's interpretive strategy for commemoration and the overall size and form - but not the aesthetic style - of the proposed memorial.  

With so many memorials going up or planned near the mall, every future memorial to be showcased on a prominent location such as this must meet the highest possible standards of design excellence.

And many readers who wrote to me agree.  

One wrote:

"We simply have the wrong designer here. I have been surprised that this absurd notion of portraying him as a farm boy has survived. Your comparison with Lincoln's cabin was perfect. Similarly, I hope your "Fence on Steroids" will have a lasting effect similar to "Instant Stonehenge" which killed the competition-winning design (in the 1960s) for the FDR memorial. I too had hoped that this would become a civic plaza and perhaps it will. Keep up the attack!" 

Another wrote:

“Wouldn't it be bold for Mr. Gehry to propose a fitting and properly scaled memorial on half the site that re-tunes the message and acknowledges Ike's significant contributions." 


This artist rendering provided by the Eisenhower Commission on Oct. 6, 2011, shows a updated model for the national memorial in Washington for President Dwight D. Eisenhower.(AP Photo/Eisenhower Commission) (AP)

 I wrote the column for Post readers, but I also aimed it at decision-making authorities responsible for reviewing and approving or disapproving the design. My hope is that the critique will persuade official reviewers to ask Gehry and the Eisenhower Memorial Commission to develop a new concept for the site that eliminates the current scheme's fundamental thematic and urban design flaws. 


FILE - In this Oct. 18, 2011 file photo, renowned architect Frank Gehry talks about his concept for a Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial, to be built near the National Mall in Washington. President Dwight D. Eisenhower's family wants to halt the planning of a memorial honoring the 34th president because they object to the design. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak) (Charles Dharapak - AP)

What do you think of the design? And what do you think of the recent memorials that have been built in Washington lately, such as the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial and the World War II memorial? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section.

Related: Is the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial a sign of monument-itis?

Related: MLK ‘drum major’ quote to be restored

Roger K. Lewis writes the “Shaping the City” column for The Washington Post Real Estate section. He is a practicing architect and a professor emeritus of architecture at the University of Maryland.

By  |  01:09 PM ET, 01/31/2012

 
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