after much public outcry and design revisions, frank gehry’s proposal for the dwight d. eisenhower memorial has been unanimously approved by a washington commission assigned to the task, itself comprised of a mix of congress members and private citizens. even amid opposition from the beloved president’s own family, the public work commemorating the 34th president of the united states and world war II allied commander will move forward. criticism was centered around the architect’s decision to feature aspects of the former president’s childhood in kansas, particularly in the monument’s sculptural programming.
all images courtesy of the eisenhower memorial commission
while the design will have to face additionally scrutiny by government commissions in the fall, gehry has successfully defended his design’s formal aspects as well as the notable focus on the president’s early life, stating that kansas was where einsenhower’s remarkable qualities and fundamental identity were formed and are thereby a fitting inclusion in the architecture. revisions from the first iteration of the building include the addition of figural statues depicting einsenhower as a military commander and world war II president. stone relief images were done away with, but narrative metal tapestries were kept.
green space bordering the building will be dubbed ‘einsenhower square’
the memorial will be built on a four-acre site to be named ‘eisenhower square’, along independence avenue in the heart of washington DC. it will be a landscaped civic plaza which respects vistas to and from the U.S. capitol and the historic maryland avenue view corridor.the site will include a grove of oak trees, two parallel colonnades of limestone pillars and loosely piled limestone walls and still generous sculptural programming. there will be a gap in the colonnade as it runs along the avenue, creating open frame views of the capitol, marking the informal pedestrian entrance to the memorial site.
the latest iteration of the model is more formally restrained
the complex will be bolstered by an on-site e-memorial that uses wireless technology and a mobile app to allow visitors access to historical footage, speeches and events in the context of the physical structure. the digital component is the first of its kind in the history of american commemorative architecture. the design remains a relatively quiet, restrained, and powerful composition of dynamic forms, despite seeking to capture to differing aspects of the leader as both modest and monumental.
in a letter to the commission, gehry stated: victory in the face of obstacles is eisenhower’s story, but it is also the story of america: the promise that anyone can rise from any background to become anything he or she wants, through hard work and diligence.this is our history, but it is also our future. it is the promise that should inspire each visitor to the memorial. see designboom’s previous coverage of the memorial here.
the memorial is to face independence avenue in washington DC, the united states capital
generous promenades characterize the public space
a wireless network and mobile app heighten the full experience of the memorial
the first ever digital campaign for an american memorial allows visitors access to historical footage
a reworked sculptural program allows visitors to experience narratives from eisenhower’s presidency
figural sculptures replace a strictly bas relief sculptural program
the war president is seen in a fully heroic composition of statues
one of the main controversies was the inclusion of eisenhower’s boyhood in the sculptural programming
the site plan shows the monumental design and public square