Will Frank Gehry’s Eisenhower Memorial Design Finally Get Built?

A model of Frank Gehry's design for the Eisenhower Memorial in Washington, DC.
Photo: © Gehry & Partners.

There are signs of progress on the stalled Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial planned for the National Mall in Washington, DC. As reported by the Washington Post, a modified version of the controversial Frank Gehry design has been recommended for approval by the executive director of the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC).

After the NCPC initially denied approval in April, Gehry scaled back his original proposal, which called for 80-foot columns and three steel tapestries depicting scenes of Kansas inspired by the president’s childhood. The revamped design leaves just one tapestry, in order to maintain good views of the US Capitol.

Although the redesign was seen by some as a good compromise that maintained the architect’s vision while respecting the monument’s surroundings, others called for a drastically altered plan that would eliminate the column and tapestry elements altogether. Gehry threatened to remove his name from the project if such a version were chosen. Now, it seems likely that the NCPC will grant preliminary approval to move forward with the modified, Gehry-approved plan.

While the Eisenhower is already six years behind schedule and may not be built for years to come, that doesn’t mean there aren’t other new attractions on the National Mall. A new temporary earth art project from Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada that has been dubbed the world’s largest portrait was just unveiled this week (see “Artist Creates Giant Face on Washington DC’s National Mall“).

UPDATE: The Washington Post reports that the NCPC has granted preliminary approval by a 10-to-1 vote. The design will now be reviewed by Commission of Fine Arts for final approval.

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