Fight Over Frank Gehry’s Eisenhower Memorial Grows Tense, Family Sends Objection to NCPC, Arts Organization Joins Battle
The fight against Frank Gehry‘s Eisenhower Memorial in Washington D.C. continues to grow ever more heated. Already more than slightly contentious, with the Eisenhower family becoming more publicly vocal in their distaste for Gehry’s plans over the past few months, now they’ve taken their feelings directly to the powers that be. This week, the family sent a formal, written objection to the National Capital Planning Commission, stating that “The mandate is to honor Eisenhower, and that is not being done in this current design. Or, shall we say, it is being done in such a small scale in relation to the memorial that it is dwarfed.” Meanwhile, the arts organization, the National Civic Art Society, has joined the fight, launching a website “devoted to stopping Gehry’s Memorial” and preparing a “book-length report” on the flaws they found with the project, which they intend to submit to “Congress and other interested parties.” Here’s a collection of some of the particularly damning claims their report levels against the current Memorial plans:
The Memorial competition was secretive, exclusive, elitist, and undemocratic—if it was a true competition at all. Only 44 entries were solicited. This is hundreds fewer than the number of entries submitted in previous national memorial competitions, which were open to all. An unknown, unconnected designer could not have won, let alone even entered, the competition. It was thanks to America’s openness to talent that Eisenhower was able to rise to the presidency from a humble background. The Memorial competition should have been equally open. The design of the boy Eisenhower statue is being advised by an artist whose work sexualizes children and is obscene. The Memorial design has contained benches spelling out “IXXI,” the Roman numerals for 9 and 11. Whether this reference to the 9/11 attacks is intentional or negligent, the Memorial’s architect, Frank Gehry, can no longer be trusted with its design.
On the other side of the fight, it appears that Gehry and the project’s various partners don’t appear to be bending by these past few months of criticism. ABC News reports that the Eisenhower Memorial Commission is still moving forward in seeking “final approval of the design in March and hope to break ground this year.” What’s more, the project’s executive architect tells the news outlet that “he does not expect to make any major changes to Gehry’s design.”