Eisenhower Memorial Commission throws support behind Gehry


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On the heels of Frank Gehry’s recent defense of his design for a Washington, D.C., memorial to the late Dwight D. Eisenhower, which was viewed as inadequate in the eyes of the Eisenhower family, the Eisenhower Memorial Commission issued a statement of support Tuesday for the L.A.-based architect’s vision.

‘Frank Gehry has been a loyal soldier in our effort,’ the statement reads. ‘We confirm our selection of him, confirm our enthusiastic endorsement of his design concept, and express our regret and sadness at the tone and nature of the selected comments that have been made on Mr. Gehry’s design for the memorial.’


The commission selected Gehry to design the memorial in 2010, and the architect’s design includes a statute of a young Eisenhower surveying stone reliefs of his future accomplishments, which included his time as president and as Supreme Allied Commander during World War II. As reported in a Times story, Susan Eisenhower told a House subcommittee last week that ‘it’s time to go back to the drawing board,’ and took issue with a memorial that focuses on ‘a romantic Horatio Alger notion’ rather than Eisenhower’s legacy as ‘the president who championed freedom and prosperity.’

In a letter presented at the same hearing, Gehry described his design as an inspiration to children, intended to ‘give them courage to pursue their dreams and to remind them that this great man started out just like them.’

The commission’s statement goes on to reemphasize Gehry’s stated willingness to work with the Eisenhower family to resolve their concerns, adding that ‘we have great respect for the views of the family in this process and the commission will work to address the outstanding issues that remain.’

As reported last week, final approval of the memorial’s design rests with the National Capital Planning Commission.


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-- Chris Barton