US lawmakers move to scrap Gehry's
Eisenhower memorial

| 9 comments

Frank Gehry Eisenhower Memorial

News: a Utah congressman has launched an attempt to scrap architect Frank Gehry's proposed Washington D.C. memorial honouring President Dwight D. Eisenhower, citing the project's cost and controversial design.

Last week Rob Bishop introduced legislation seeking to reject the current design by Gehry – whose best-known buildings include the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles – and invite new proposals for the memorial while eliminating $100 million of future funding.

The Canadian-born architect's planned memorial, which is projected to cost $142 million, includes statues of the president surrounded by large woven steel "tapestries" depicting images of his childhood home in Kansas – but members of the Eisenhower family have criticised the design as too extravagant.

The congressman's efforts to scrap the design drew strong opposition from the American Institute of Architects, which said last week that lawmakers should not attempt to censor architectural work.

"Representative Bishop’s legislation allows Congress to exercise governmental authority in a wholly arbitrary manner that negates the stated selection process," said Robert Ivy, the institute's chief. "It is nothing more than an effort to intimidate the innovative thinking for which our profession is recognized at home and around the globe."

Before submitting the planning application in 2011, Gehry had insisted he would take onboard concerns voiced by the public and Eisenhower's grandchildren about the concept and scale of the project.

Gehry recently completed a Maggie's Centre in Hong Kong, the first of the cancer charity's units outside of the UK. Earlier in the year he revealed proposals for a rippled 22-storey tower in his hometown of Santa Monica, California, and he's also working on the new headquarters for internet giant Facebook.

See all architecture by Gehry or see more architecture in Washington D.C.

  • recon::decon

    While I agree with the AIA that lawmakers should not censure architecture, are we really calling this architecture? Why? Because Frank Gehry did it?

  • Tyler

    This project is a monstrosity. I do NOT want my tax dollars paying for one of Gehry’s extravagant piles of crap.

  • Colonel Pancake

    I’ve looked at the plans for this memorial about a dozen times and I still have no clue what the intention of the memorial is.

    • recon::decon

      That’s really the problem with these newer memorials that attempt to be a biography of someone’s life. Look at the FDR memorial: while it’s not nearly as odd and confusing as this mess, it’s too much information for a memorial. Vietnam, Lincoln, etc are simple, bold statements that make so much more impact.

  • Daniel

    The author of the bill is a Republican from Utah. He is literally wrong about everything.

    • Colonel Pancake

      You sound like one of those people who is very open-minded and tolerant of others.

      • Daniel

        The guy is anti-gay, anti-abortion, anti-union, anti-Darwin and now anti-Gehry. I am absolutely not on his team.

        Even if you’re not a fan of Gehry, there is a process that this guy is trying to hijack. He is basically denying the efforts of those who organized this memorial, selected Gehry and worked through the design process. Every architect or any professional that understands the process of designing should be offended by Rob Bishop’s obstruction.

        • ElTonico

          Hear hear. Let’s not forget that Eisenhower was the one who warned us of the “military industrial complex,” which wouldn’t exactly endear him to politicians in a state whose sixth-biggest employer is an airforce base.

  • recon::decon

    What I find strange about this whole process from conception to competition to selection of Frank Gehry, is that until the design was revealed, no one from Eisenhower’s family was invited to participate in the process, as far as I can tell. That seems to me to be a huge oversight.