Representatives of architect Frank Gehry unveiled changes to the proposed memorial honoring Dwight D. Eisenhower Tuesday. The changes are designed to quiet months of roiling criticism that the original failed to adequately reflect the scope of the 34th president’s achievements. The revered architect’s design has come under fire from critics and the Eisenhower family.
The new proposal, detailed at an Eisenhower MemorialCommission meeting, retains the metal tapestries surrounding an urban park framework, but offers changes to the memorial core that the architect hopes give greater prominence to Eisenhower's stature and accomplishments. Gone are bas relief sculptures in favor of three-dimensional heroic-size statues of Eisenhower as president and general, with space for his accomplishments on the stone blocks and quotations on lintels above them.
In a letter to the commissioners read by Gehry's chief of staff, Meaghan Lloyd, Gehry wrote that he'd considered the feedback and criticisms of the initial proposal. "I love this type of collaboration," he wrote. “It is a process that I think is vital to the success of any endeavor and one that was necessary to make sense of sometimes contradictory characterizations of President Eisenhower." They are changes that help "tell the story of Eisenhower with more dignity and power" the letter said. The Eisenhower family, who invoked images of Soviet myth-making and Nazi-era barbarism in their criticism of the original plans, did not attend the meeting but are expected to weigh in on the new design before the commission meets to decide whether to send the plan forward to the National Capital Planning Commission.