A memorial for Dwight D. Eisenhower
The proposed memorial, designed by Frank Gehry, is unlike any other in the world, and the site selected is a complicated intersection surrounded by dispiriting architecture. Gehry’s challenge was to do justice to Ike in a city square that required architecture finesse. Magazine Cover Story: The monument war
After critics complained that the proposed memorial focused too much on Ike's youth, Gehry offered a revision. The Eisenhower Memorial Commission will decide whether to forward the design to the National Capital Planning Commission.Related story
- The Core
- Maryland Ave.
The memorial's location between the Education Department and the National Air and Space Museum reflects two Eisenhower contributions. In 1953, the president played a major role in elevating education to a Cabinet-rank concern, and in 1958 he established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
Innovative metal tapestries will likely depict scenes from Eisenhower’s boyhood home of Abilene, Kan. Gehry worked with three separate fabricators to explore ways to make the screens. When mock-ups were hung on the site in September, members of the Commission of Fine Arts were impressed by their clarity and transparency. And a major hurdle in the design process was cleared.
Gehry has proposed a memorial core that will feature a sculpture of the young Eisenhower looking out at other sculpted forms depicting Ike’s double career as a general and a president. Two large stone blocks on either side will highlight quotations and accomplishments.
The memorial site is bisected by Maryland Avenue SW, and closing the avenue to traffic proved controversial. Gehry proposed alternatives that would keep the avenue open, but opted for a design that retains sightlines down the street with a tree-lined, grassy allee open to pedestrians. The memorial site will be a single, large square with the feel of an urban park.
SOURCES: Gehry Partners LLP, Eisenhower Memorial Commission. GRAPHIC: Alberto Cuadra, Philip Kennicott, Gene Thorp and Sisi Wei - The Washington Post. Published May 13, 2012. Updated May 15, 2012.
“I fell in love with the idea of trying to represent him in this unlikely state,” Gehry said about the planned memorial. (Video courtesy of Gehry Partners, LLP/The Washington Post)
Revered architect Frank Gehry’s design for a memorial to President Dwight D. Eisenhower has come under fire from critics and the Eisenhower family.