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Ike Memorial Denied Funding

Monday, February 17, 2014

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A 15-year-old plan to design, fund and construct a memorial to honor President Dwight D. Eisenhower has encountered yet another setback.

Congress has declined, in the fiscal 2014 omnibus funding bill, to issue some $50 million in funding requested by the Eisenhower Memorial Commission to begin construction on the monument.

Congress also asked the commission for a progress report on private fundraising efforts for the $142 million memorial, which is planned for a space just off the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

Eisenhower
NARA

A five-star general, Dwight D. Eisenhower served as President of the U.S. from 1953 to 1961. The plan for a memorial has been underway for 15 years.

While denying construction funding, the lawmakers approved $1 million for salaries and expenses to sustain the commission. In the past, the commission had been allotted $2 million for that purpose.

Reports say more than $62 million has been appropriated to the memorial commission thus far.

In 1999, Congress approved the Dwight D. Eisenhower National Memorial with the passage of Public Law 106-79, signed into law by President Clinton. The Eisenhower Memorial Commission was charged with building an official memorial honoring the President.

Design Disagreement

An ongoing row over the memorial's design by award-winning architect Frank Gehry has caused numerous delays in the process. The design won a memorial competition in 2008.

The Eisenhower family, however, has voiced concern that Gehry’s design is far too elaborate and expensive.

The denial of construction funds suggests that lawmakers are eager for the commission, the Eisenhower family, and other partners to work together to resolve the design issues.

Gehry Design for Ike Memorial
eisenhowermemorial.gov / Frank Gehry Design

Gehry’s design includes 80-foot-tall transparent stainless-steel tapestries framing the 40-acre site, giant columns, three statues of Eisenhower, and green space. The design won a memorial competition in 2008.

Family members even supported a bill introduced last year to withhold $100 million in funding for the project, and to re-start the design competition and selection process from scratch. That bill has yet to be passed by either the House or Senate.

The family prefers a simpler tribute to Eisenhower, the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe during World War II and the 34th President of the United States.

Critics have likened Gehry's design to a "theme park."

Moving Forward

Gehry’s design includes 80-foot-tall transparent stainless steel tapestries that frame the 40-acre site, giant columns, three statues of Eisenhower, and green space.

Supporters of the design have said that every major memorial in Washington was controversial in the beginning and that excessive political involvement could prove counterproductive.

The commission issued a statement saying that it is “pleased” its work is continuing and that it would move forward with the federal approvals process. That includes continued approvals from both the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts and the National Capital Planning Commission.

   

Tagged categories: Architecture; Contests; Design; Frank Gehry; Funding; Government; Government contracts; Monuments

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