Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Gehry to design Eisenhower Memorial

It was announced this past week that starchitect Frank Gehry will make another attempt to have one of his designs actually built in the District of Columbia. Gehry beat out Krueck & Sexton of Chicago, PWP Landscape Architecture of Berkeley, Calif., and Rogers Marvel Architects of New York.

There is, perhaps, a certain appropriateness that the architect known for his curvy and often chaotic architecture would be selected to memorialize the president who created the National Interstate Highway System (undoubtedly there will be some reminiscent forms). But what I really wonder is how well the architect, who was selected because he " knows how to bring in the public" (according to the Commission's chairman Rocco C. Siciliano), will succeed at designing a monument that will memorialize rather than overshadow the achievements of Eisenhower. Is it okay that the monument will draw people as much for the designer as for the person or events it was built to represent? Apparently the commissions thinks so. At any rate we'll have to wait and see, as details of the winning design have not yet been disclosed.

What we do know is that it is to "
combine physical and living elements". Per the commission, "Perhaps a physical structure could house an organization or a monument could be erected with an active organization operating elsewhere. In either case, there will be a physical structure and programs in furtherance of President Eisenhower’s lifetime legacy of public service. The actual design questions remain open to those who will offer concepts."

The example given is the Kennedy Center, of which I must beg to differ with the commission's assessment as "a striking building in Washington, DC". Let us hope this "permanent remembrance" of Eisenhower fairs far better.

Learn More: Eisenhower Memorial Homepage

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