Will Gehry Revisions Placate Memorial Critics?
In the latest turn in a controversy that has been boiling for months, representatives of architect Frank Gehry unveiled changes to his design for a four-acre memorial to the former president on Tuesday. To be located just south of the National Mall in Washington D.C., the memorial had drawn the ire of architectural traditionalists, conservative critics and, most prominently, Eisenhower's granddaughter, Susan Eisenhower, who "compared Gehry's design to Communist-era decorations that honored 'Marx, Engels and Lenin.'"
Gehry's team has modified the design of the memorial in an effort to address criticisms that it did not adequately reflect Eisenhower's accomplishments in the military, or as president. According to Parker, "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. The changes address some of the original design's focus on Eisenhower's modesty by putting forth a more muscular representation of his leadership."
"In a letter to the commissioners read by Meaghan Lloyd, Gehry's chief of staff, Gehry indicated that he had considered the feedback and criticism generated by his 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.' The changes help 'tell the story of Eisenhower with more dignity and power,' he said in the letter.
While critics, such as the National Civic Art Society, seemed unmoved by the changes, Eisenhower Memorial Commission members, "unanimously expressed support for moving forward."