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Frank Gehry’s long-awaited Eisenhower Memorial finally breaks ground in Washington DC

United States Architecture News - Nov 08, 2017 - 16:25   11467 views

Frank Gehry’s long-awaited Eisenhower Memorial finally breaks ground in Washington DC

Frank Gehry's controversial and long-awaited the Eisenhower Memorial has finally broken ground in Washington DC - with the participation of the members of Congress and the Administration, members of the Eisenhower Memorial Commission, the Eisenhower Family, and friends of the Eisenhower Memorial - all members of the family gathered to celebrate the groundbreaking of the Eisenhower Memorial on November 2.

The event, emceed by Greta Van Susteren, featured the President’s Own U.S. Marine Band Brass Quintet; a Presentation of Colors by the Color Guard Unit from the USS Eisenhower; an Invocation by Father Leo Blasi, Priest at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Hays, Kansas, and vocals by teenagers Emma and Annie Bathurst of Abilene, Kansas, Eisenhower’s home town.

Frank Gehry’s long-awaited Eisenhower Memorial finally breaks ground in Washington DC

Image © Gehry Partners, LLP

The $150 million memorial has been in the waiting process, as it has faced several opposition from different parties including members of the Eisenhower family, governmental officials and the architecture community described as "monstrosity". Even, in previous renderings of Frank Gehry, the project was described as "a five-star folly" by the Members of the House Committee on Natural Resources.

Gehry Partners, LLP was first selected to design Eisenhower Memorial in 2009 and since then, the project has received many revisions as it was exposed to numerous criticism. The national memorial - located at the site on the National Mall - is dedicated to the former US President Dwight D Eisenhower, who were the 34th president of the United States.

Frank Gehry’s long-awaited Eisenhower Memorial finally breaks ground in Washington DC

Image © Gehry Partners, LLP

The memorial has a key element, featuring a 440-foot-long woven-metal tapestry, remains. The memorials will features some scenes and memories from Dwight D Eisenhower's Presidential times, with commands of the D-day landings in Normandy and renewed scenes from the home state of the President.

In 2016, Members of the Eisenhower withdrew their rejections on plans to move forward for the project. The family's objection was based on the 447-foot 136-metre steel mesh "tapestries" that would depict the Kansas plains where the Eisenhower spent his boyhood.

Construction will begin immediately on site and it is expected to be completed on the 75th anniversary of VE day on May 8, 2020. The landscaped park will feature Frank Gehry-designed memorial, a sculpture designed Sergey Eylanbekov and a tapestry created by Tomas Osinski.

"We build this memorial today not only to honor a single person, but as a symbol for all generations of the greatness of America and what our values have made possible at home and abroad," said Senator Pat Roberts.

"Lest anyone forget what can be achieved in the land of the free and the home of the brave, let them come here and understand what Eisenhower, and America, have done. And what they, in turn, will do for themselves and for our nation’s future," he added.

Frank Gehry’s long-awaited Eisenhower Memorial finally breaks ground in Washington DC

Image © The Eisenhower Memorial Commission

Groundbreaking participants included members of three generations of the Eisenhower family, ten members of the bipartisan Eisenhower Memorial Commission; and memorial designer, Frank Gehry.

"This project has been an enormous honor for me both professionally and personally. I was sixteen years old when Eisenhower defeated the Nazis and led America to victory in WWII. I had lost thirty-three members of my family in the camps, so his victory was all the more meaningful to me," said Frank Gehry.

"His leadership in peacetime was as inspiring. He led the country with strength, but also with great humanity and humility. I hope that these values are captured in the memorial, and that it will be a place to honor and to learn from one of the greatest heroes that the world has ever known," Gehry added.

During the ceremony, Senator Roberts announced that the construction permit to begin building the memorial has been granted by the National Park Service and that construction will commence immediately.

Top image © Gehry Partners, LLP

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