U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has personally intervened in the ongoing debate over the design of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial, telling the Eisenhower Memorial Commission that further deliberation and more time may be justified before going forward with the current design by Frank Gehry, FAIA.
"The Secretary believes it is important to build a national memorial that appropriately honors the legacy of President Eisenhower and reflects the shared vision of his family, the Commission, and the American people,” says Adam Fetcher, press secretary for the U.S. Department of the Interior. “It is important to move forward as quickly as possible, but our priority must be to get it right. We will continue to work with the Eisenhower family, the Commission and the National Park Service toward a plan that everyone can all be proud of and that will stand the test of time."
Secretary Salazar has expressed an interest in assembling members of the Eisenhower Memorial Commission, members of the Eisenhower family, and other interested parties to review the new Eisenhower Memorial designs provided by Gehry Partners. Such a discussion may necessarily lead to a delay, although that decision still stands with the Eisenhower Memorial Commission. The commission was scheduled to present Gehry’s memorial design to the U.S. Commission on Fine Arts on June 21 and to the National Capital Planning Commission on July 12—but the commission is unlikely to keep with that schedule now. The National Capital Planning Commission meets next in September.
Sen. Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii) and Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) issued a statement on behalf of the Eisenhower Memorial Commission.
“As a bipartisan body created by Congress and the President twelve years ago, the Commission’s goal has been to create a memorial that appropriately memorializes President Eisenhower using a diligent and thoughtful process,” the statement reads. “We appreciate that Frank Gehry has been extremely open to listening to the concerns of all stakeholders in the evolution of his handsome design. We want to make sure that any outstanding questions are answered as the process moves forward. We look forward to working with the Department of Interior to accomplish this while avoiding additional costs and excessive delays that would deny our nation’s dwindling population of World War II veterans the opportunity to experience the memorial in their lifetimes.”
Reactions among members of the Eisenhower Memorial Commission to the changes presented by Gehry Partners on May 15 were largely positive. But some House Representatives expressed new concerns in May, including Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.). Members of Eisenhower’s family did not returns requests for comment.