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Eisenhower Memorial design by Gehry criticized by House committee

Eisenhower Memorial design criticized by House committee

The design for the long-planned Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial in Washington has been criticized in a newly issued congressional report that has called the project a "five-star folly."

Members of the House Committee on Natural Resources said in the report that architect Frank Gehry's design "continues to fall short of the required design principles" and that the process used to select Gehry for the project deviated substantially from protocol.

They also reported that $41 million has been "spent or obligated so far" -- an amount that includes nearly $16.4 million for the designer and more than $13.3 million to the multiple parties managing the project.

The 56-page report, which is dated July 25, is the latest blow to the Eisenhower Memorial, which in recent years has been attacked by a number of individuals, including members of the Eisenhower family who have expressed their disapproval of Gehry's design.

In April, the National Capital Planning Commission rejected the current design by Gehry, singling out the design's call for large, metal tapestries and the effect that those tapestries would have on the view to and from Capitol Hill.

The commission represents federal and local constituencies with a stake in planning for the nation's capital. The estimated final cost of the memorial has been reported to be as high as $142 million, which is expected to include some federal funding. 

The New York Times reported on Sunday that Gehry declined to be interviewed. But the architect said in a statement that "I regret to see that the memorial project has now been engulfed by a political process."

Overseeing the complex project is the Eisenhower Memorial Commission, which has stood by Gehry. The recent report from the House committee has criticized the commission by calling into question whether it is capable of seeing the memorial through to completion.

The report also stated that private fundraising for the memorial is significantly lagging, with only $500,000 raised in private donations so far.

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