New potential features of the memorial commemorating the twin careers of Dwight D. Eisenhower—as the 34th President of the United States and as the Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in Europe during World War II—emerged at a summit on President Eisenhower's legacy.
Retired Brig. Gen. Carl Reddel, the executive director of the Eisenhower Memorial Commission, gave a presentation on the controversial memorial design by Frank Gerhy, FAIA, earlier this month. A Lawrence World-Journal photographer on hand for the event snapped a photo of a memorial design graphic, dated 2013 from Gehry Partners, that reveals several previously unseen features.
These features, which may not indicate a final memorial design, include new bronze statues and the return of what appear to be monumental bas-reliefs, reconciling aspects of two known designs.
The original bas-relief memorial design depicting President Eisenhower was based on a 1966 portrait by Yousuf Karsh that showed the president leaning on a vast globe. The memorial revision released by Gehry last summer replaced the bas-reliefs with cantilevered blocks bearing commemorative inscriptions as well as statues. The May 2012 phase also draws from Karsh's photo, but renders President Eisenhower in statue form rather than as a bas-relief.
The 2013 graphic offers both bas-relief and statue, but from a different setting. It shows President Eisenhower as he signs the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1954, the bill that authorized the Interstate Highway System, his greatest domestic legacy. Figures who witnessed the event, including Rep. J. Harry McGregor (R-Ohio) and Rep. George H. Fallon (D-Md.), are plainly evident in the photograph, depicted in what appears to be a bas-relief. A 9-foot-tall bronze statue of President Eisenhower, his right hand in his pocket, stands in front of the monumental scene.
The part of the memorial honoring Eisenhower as Supreme Allied Commander is also different in the 2013 graphic. The original bas-relief phase and subsequent statue phase both showed Supreme Commander Eisenhower addressing a regiment from the 101st Airborne Division in England on D-Day. Different scenes from Eisenhower's military career, however, appear to be the source for both the monumental backdrop and several larger-than-life bronze statues.
Along the central memorial wall, in the place where a life-size statue of Eisenhower as a young man stood as of May 2012, a figure now sits along the wall, one leg draped over its side. This version is consistent with the original young Ike statue, though its placement (standing along the wall, over the first "E" in Eisenhower) lines up with the May 2012 changes.
Reading from a photograph of a printed design graphic, it's impossible to guess the age range depicted by the seated figure—or even to be certain that this figure is a bronze Eisenhower statue.
A spokesperson for the Eisenhower Memorial Commission said that the 2013 graphic on view in Lawrence, Kan., showed the design during its "evolution." The commission would not release images of this design. The 2013 graphic from Gehry Partners is more recent than the official version featured on the Eisenhower Memorial Commission website, which still shows the inscription-bearing cantilevered blocks from the summer 2012 release.
Other graphics at the Lawrence, Kan., showed elements of the four-acre memorial in line with other design phases, including the steel tapestries. The public continues to debate Gehry's design for the Eisenhower Memorial. ARCHITECT has coverednumerousHouse hearings and actions on the design. A recent piece in National Review calling for the Gehry design to be scrapped drew a furious denunciation from Gen. Redell. Critic Fred Bernstein wrote in The Washington Post that the Eisenhower Memorial should be shelved altogether.
It's uncertain whether any design changes would placate Gehry's critics. The available clues nevertheless demonstrate that the design remains in flux.