Eisenhower Family Criticizes Gehry's Memorial Design

Granddaughter: "I don't see any bit of him in it."

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Eisenhower Memorial Commission

    Members of Dwight David Eisenhower's family came forward this week with criticism of renowned architect Frank Gehry's design of a memorial honoring the 34th President.

    "We have some serious concerns about the design," Eisenhower's 59-year-old granddaughter Susan told The Washington Post in a piece published Friday. "I don't think my grandfather would be comfortable with the scale and scope of this design."

    The memorial would be located on a four-acre parcel of land on Independence Avenue between Fourth and Sixth Streets, Southwest, across from the National Air and Space Museum. Gehry's design, which can be viewed at the Eisenhower Memorial Commission's website, is framed by 80-foot woven steel tapestries that would show winter images of Eisenhower's native Kansas and be attached to steel columns measuring 11 feet in diameter.

    The park itself would feature a statue of Eisenhower as a young boy looking toward bas-reliefs modeled after famous photographs of the former supreme commander of the allied forces in Europe during World War II. Gehry has stated that the idea for the statue of the boy Eisenhower comes from a 1945 homecoming speech that the general gave in his hometown of Abilene, Kansas, in which he referred to "the dreams of a barefoot boy."

    Susan Eisenhower disagreed, telling the Post: "“I just don’t think Dwight Eisenhower is remembered because he was a barefoot boy from Kansas. When I look at this memorial, I don’t see any bit of him in it.”

    The controversy took another turn late this week, when it was revealed that David Eisenhower -- the former President's only grandson -- had resigned from the Eisenhower Memorial Commission. No specific reason was given for his departure.

    The National Capital Planning Commission is currently scheduled to hold a hearing for preliminary approval of Gehry's design in February.