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Eisenhower Memorial Commission approves revised Frank Gehry design

June 20, 2013|By David Ng
  • Architect Frank Gehry speaks to members of the Eisenhower Memorial Commission in Washington.
Architect Frank Gehry speaks to members of the Eisenhower Memorial Commission… (Rod Lamkey Jr. / MCT )

Amid rancorous public debate, the Eisenhower Memorial Commission voted unanimously Wednesday to move forward with a revised design by architect Frank Gehry.

The memorial, which comes with an estimated price tag of more than $100 million, is to be built in Washington, but it has been beset with problems, with members of the former president's family objecting to Gehry's design.

Gehry presented the revised design to the commission in Washington on Wednesday. He defended his decision to have the memorial feature aspects of the president's upbringing in Kansas.

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"It was here that his identity was formed. It was here where he developed the qualities that would take him from the beaches at Normandy to the White House," the Los Angeles architect said in his address.

Wednesday's vote by the commission doesn't completely clear the way for the Gehry design. It still faces scrutiny by government commissions scheduled for later this summer and into the fall.

Members of the Eisenhower family have objected to various aspects of Gehry's design, including the focus on the former president's childhood. In March, they publicly backed a House bill that would do away with Gehry's design and halt any additional federal funding for the design.

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Last week, the House Natural Resources Committee lent its approval to that bill, which would also call for the dissolution of the current memorial commission.

"A new commission and a new design competition is the right way forward as we work toward developing a fitting tribute to the legacy of one of our nation’s greatest leaders," the committee said in a statement.

The bill is sponsored by Republican Rep. Rob Bishop of Utah. 

The Eisenhower Memorial Commission is made up of members of Congress as well as some prominent private citizens. It is chaired by Rocco Siciliano, an attorney from Beverly Hills who once worked for the 34th president.

At Wednesday's meeting, Siciliano addressed the Eisenhower family's objections by saying that the "family deserves to be heard. They do not deserve to be obeyed," according to a McClatchy report.


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