It’s been a long and bitter fight, but soon the debate over a controversial design by architect Frank Gehry for a memorial honoring former president and D-Day commander Dwight D. Eisenhower just south of the National Mall may soon be all over.
Congress passed a law authorizing a memorial for Ike back in 1999. But it took 10 years—following a closed competition for designs—to announce the memorial’s architect would be the world-renowned Frank Gehry, who designed the famed Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, as well as the Pritzker Pavilion in Chicago’s Millenium Park.
A year later, Gehry’s design was released to the public: a memorial made of giant columns and tapestries and including a barefoot young Ike near the center.
Since then, things have quickly unraveled. The family decried Gehry’s design, with granddaughter Susan Eisenhower telling the Washingtonian Magazine it looked “like a theme park.” The National Civic Art Society began asking architects to submit alternate designs to Gehry’s. The House Oversight Committee chairman Darrel Issa, R-Calif., said he had questions about the closed process by which Gehry was chosen. And a group of historians, architects and concerned citizens formed to oppose the memorial, calling themselves “Right by Ike.”
Now, with the seven-year time limit up to build the memorial (and not an ounce of Earth turned in the effort), Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, has introduced legislation to scrap the design and eliminate $100 million in funding. A hearing will be held by the House Natural Resources Committee Tuesday to look at what went wrong.
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