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Frank Gehry defends Eisenhower memorial design

March 21, 2012 |  8:05 am


Frank Gehry didn't attend Monday's congressional hearing about his design for the planned Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial in Washington. But the Los Angeles architect sent a letter defending his controversial conception of the public memorial, while also stating that he is open to the idea of changes.

As the Times reported Tuesday, Gehry wrote in his letter: "My detractors say that I have missed the point, and that I am trying to diminish the stature of this great man.... I assure you that my only intent is to celebrate and honor this world hero and visionary leader who did so much for our country and the world."

The architect also wrote that if organizers and members of the president's family feel that the sculpture of young Eisenhower is "an inappropriate way to honor him, then I will be open to exploring other options with them."

Members of Eisenhower's family have been openly critical of Gehry's design. They have stated that the design insufficiently honors the man's military and political accomplishments and focuses too much on his youth in rural Kansas.

Gehry's design calls for (among other things): steel tapestries that evoke the Kansas landscape where the future president grew up, as well as a statue of a young Eisenhower looking at depictions of himself as a military and political leader. The memorial has an estimated cost of $112 million.

Tuesday's hearing on Capitol Hill wasn't expected to reach any definitive decision about Gehry's design. Final approval of the design rests with the National Capital Planning Commission. However, Congress will have to approve funding for the memorial's construction.


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-- David Ng

Photo: A rendering of the proposed Eisenhower Memorial, designed by Frank Gehry. Credit: Gehry Partners, LLP / Eisenhower Memorial Commission