The Eisenhower Memorial Commission met but could not resolve a major decision.
With only five of its 12 members in attendance, the Eisenhower Memorial Commission could not resolve a major design decision Wednesday, forcing another delay in the controversial project.
The commissioners will vote privately on whether to consider two alternatives to the memorial to the World War II general and 34th president. They have until Sept. 24 to submit their votes, and at that time the commission will announce the result.
“We are disappointed that we could not have the vote”, said Susan Banes Harris, the vice chairwoman. “People need to reflect on the two possibilities”.
The options are a downscaled version of the original Frank Gehry design, which was publicly unveiled earlier this month, and a second alternative that jettisons the controversial metal tapestries and columns and retains only the park’s core statuary and landscaping.
The meeting was supposed to be a showdown between opposing visions of the memorial to be built along Maryland and Independence avenues SW. The memorial was authorized by Congress in 1999 and was supposed to be completed by 2007. The commission Web site predicts a 2017 opening.
Gehry’s initial vision, estimated to cost $140 million, featured 80-foot columns that would support perimeter-defining tapestries depicting images from Eisenhower’s Kansas childhood. Critics blasted the massive structures, while Eisenhower family members questioned their focus on the president’s childhood, saying it diminished his legacy in leading the nation.
Supporters, including many nationally prominent architects and architectural critics, praised Gehry for his re-imagining of the traditional memorial.
The Commission of Fine Arts, the agency charged with advising the president and Congress about design issues, has approved the preliminary design. But in the spring, the National Capital Planning Commission, the other government agency that must approve the design before construction can begin, failed to give the go-ahead.
Gehry officials returned earlier this month with a downsized version that jettisoned two of the three steel tapestries but left two columns in place. The NCPC expressed lukewarm support.
But two weeks after the meeting, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) sent the memorial commission chairman a letter asking the commission to provide the NCPC with the alternatives that were discussed Wednesday. The NCPC meets again Oct. 2.
After the presentations of the two alternatives, new commissioner Bruce Cole addressed the flaws in both.
A great memorial is an exclamation point, not a question mark, he said.
Several dozen people attended the meeting, including granddaughter Susan Eisenhower, who had no comment.
En la foto: Susan Eisenhower, grandaughter of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, listens at a meeting of the Eisenhower Memorial Commission in Washington, DC on September 17, 2014 (Linda Davidson / The Washington Post).
Fuente The Washington Post (Peggy McGlone | Washington, DC): Design issues delay Eisenhower memorial...