The US House Representatives has put forth a bill which, if passed, would result in the scrapping of the Gehry-designed Eisenhower Memorial.
As reported in Architecture magazine today, the new legislation, called the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Completion Act, would ‘facilitate the completion of an appropriate national memorial to Dwight D. Eisenhower’, mandating an alternative to Gehry’s winning memorial design. Speaking on the occasion of the bill’s announcement, Rocco Siciliano, Chair of the Eisenhower Memorial Commission, which selected Gehry for the project, said “I am saddened by Congressman Bishop’s attempt to thwart the memorialization of one of America’s greatest Generals and Presidents, Dwight D. Eisenhower.”
Gehry’s design while generally garnering praise from the design community, has been elsewhere panned as inappropriate both in its memorialization of a national figure and as a monument suitable for the National Mall. The design received strong opposition from several members of Congress and several members of the Eisenhower family. In response to the criticism, Gehry revised the design, making a number of changes in May of last year. Those changes however did little to quell the controversy or to win over the Eisenhowers.
Quoting from the article in Architecture magazine: “Congress has long had concerns about the memorial's time, process, and expense, and now members can see that this design can no longer go forward," says Justin Shubow, president of the National Civic Art Society, the nonprofit organization that has led the public opposition to Gehry's design. "It's time for a new competition, one that's democratic, open, transparent, and fair. We believe that this new beginning will allow the completion of a new design, one that is both faster to complete and more cost effective."
The Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation, which Rep. Bishop chairs, will hold a hearing on the Eisenhower Memorial Completion Act on 19 March to discuss the bill.