Monday, January 31, 2011

Eisenhower Commanding the Mall


Three design alternatives for the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial will be presented this Thursday at a public meeting before the The National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC). One of the three concepts selected by the Eisenhower Memorial Commission will be chosen for the 400 block of Independence Avenue, SW, in a plan that could get final review as early as this year.

The Eisenhower Commission selected architect Frank Gehry early last year to design the memorial, and several subsequent rounds of revisions have honed the site plan into three designs, one that creates a circular pattern of smooth, non-supporting and seemingly unfinished columns surrounding the park and tribute (top rendering), a second that follows the colonnade and deference to L'Enfant but allows Maryland Avenue vehicular traffic to continue through the site (middle rendering), and a third that leaves the original concept of a road closure and block-filling park intact, along with the original concept of a screen - "tapestries of woven stainless steel mesh supported on the colonnade of limestone" (bottom rendering).
The $90-120 million project (Washingtonspeak for $180m) mandated by Congress for the 34th President is behind schedule on its projected 2015 opening, but whenever it wraps up, it will provide "a cohesive and contemplative space for learning about President Eisenhower and his vast accomplishments." Each version will have a central tree grove strategically placed to frame local vistas, underneath which visitors relax, sit and learn amid a new orthogonal grid of urban canopy.

The Eisenhower Commission, a 12 member, bipartisan group that includes senators, representatives, former presidential appointees, and Ike's grandson, has expressed its preference for the Scheme 3 that eliminates Maryland Avenue and breaks up the L'Enfant plan, creating a more cohesive tribute to the General and President. "It would be extraordinary if we can build this memorial designed by the foremost architect in America in today" said Daniel Feil, Executive Architect for the Eisenhower Commission. "This will be the 7th monument for a President [in DC] and the first in a century."

The presentation by NCPC is the first of three phases before the Commission, in this case to render design guidance on each of the three plans. The second of three required NCPC hearings will review the ultimate plan once it is selected, with a third hearing for final plan review; NCPC reviewed and approved site selection in 2006, and Gehry made an informational presentation before NCPC a year ago. NCPC Public Affairs Director Lisa McSpadden notes that the Commission "did give very specific design principals" to the National Park Service, incorporating 7 guidelines such as maintaining views of U.S. Capitol. The U.S. Commission on Fine Arts CFA reviewed and approved it on January 20th, the next step will entail a public review and comment period. Gehry and his team will be on hand at Thursday's meeting to hear out the Commission's presentation.

Washington DC real estate development news

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

All of these are unbelievably awful. Start over!

Anonymous said...

so ridiculously overblown!! Why does it have to be this 'monumental'? We are going to have ten zillion presidents and ten zillion memorials...when will they cease to be of this grand scale? A statue is enough :)

Anonymous said...

Wow. These really are mid-bogglingly bad. Once again, a talented architect (okay, Gehry's had his duds, but he has done great stuff, too) is saving his worst work for Washington. This is unacceptable! Where is the exciting sculptural form? Where's the innovation? I agree with the previous respondent--start over!

Anonymous said...

I am completely serious when I say that I've seen better designs from first year architecture students. These are shocking.

Anonymous said...

Yo, it's Gehry Mofo! Show some respect. You'd think everyone's strong reaction would be worth something, but that's the way starchitects roll, and the suckers that promote his stardom.

Anonymous said...

What are those screens for? Movies? it looks like something left over from the Springfield Mall! Leave the road plan intact...Again start over!

Anonymous said...

Personally, I think that the design is beautiful and will be a great memorial to such an amazing President. I'm excited to see the work go forward.

Anonymous said...

All of these designs suck. Please reject all three of these designs and start over, and please keep the roads intact. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I agree. Enough with these memorials to presidents. Honestly!

Anonymous said...

A drive-through memorial?
We spend millions building vehicular baricades for the existing memorials and design new ones with a road through it?
Ike did start the Interstate System, but can this idea be taken seriously?

Anonymous said...

I like Ike. And I like the idea of a Memorial to Ike (and one for John Adams while we're handing them out). But none of these designs are worthy of the man they seek to honor. In my opinion, they're ... ugly. And the idea to break up again the L'Enfant grid... awful. Let's start over and leave the grid intact.

Anonymous said...

Who would have guessed that Eisenhower would be best honored by a modern version of Stonehenge or giant torahs?

Anonymous said...

So we're dedicating a huge, golden palace adjacent to the Washington Monument to a guy who gave a few speeches and was a radical communist, but the guy who won WWII gets a few trees and cement posts off of the Mall, in a place where no tourist really goes?

Look, they already renamed the Old Executive Office Building in his honor. Spend some of the money refurbishing the existing little park on Maryland Ave, and give the rest to the D.C. school system in order to attract teachers who aren't as dumb as their students. Everyone would be much happier.

Wills said...

This is perhaps the least inviting public space I've seen in DC, and yes this include L'Enfant Plaza. I don't think we need more empty spaces that invite neglect in this part of town.

The fundamentals of engagement for design aren't that elusive or difficult to grasp. Perhaps Gehry should take a refresher course before trying again.

Anonymous said...

It's hard to disagree with any of the comments, other than the person who somehow feels that Martin Luther King is unworthy of a significant memorial.

Of these, I would favor the drive-through, because at least the cars would add some animation.

But really -- this is the last thing that sterile Southwest needs. And the last thing that we architects need: another architectural tourism site (doubtless it will be lauded by the academic and media architecture gang and we'll all feel compelled to visit) that's lifeless and embarassing.

Anonymous said...

this monument is a fitting match to all the beautiful highways that mar the landscape and destroyed the cityscape

Mike Licht on Jan 31, 2011, 8:13:00 PM said...

Perhaps some earlier designs should be reconsidered.

Like this one -- http://bit.ly/fCUHej

Anonymous said...

Why was an architect selected over a landscape architect? The Commission's to blame, not Gehry.

Anonymous said...

The commission made Gehry do it! Gehry's just a sucker draftsman in the hands of powerful men!

Naw, Gehry sucks and everyone knows it. The architectural elite is a dystopian world where black is white and ugly, agressive, and obnoxious work passes for beautiful, powerful, and profound.

Anonymous said...

Why wasn't this an open competition? I designed a memorial two years ago and contacted the Commission to participate in a competition. The Commission never had the courtesy to respond. Rather, I was informed via the news media that they had selected an architect to design the memorial. (I happen to be a sculptor. I guess we don't design memorials anymore...)

Anonymous said...

is there some sort of venue where people can make some noise in opposition to this?

it's that bad, seriously.

Anonymous said...

Hate to be a bandwagon jumper, but I looked through the NCPC files to see other images and agree: ugly is the verdict. The Commission should have chosen a landscape or sculptor over star value, it doesn't work.

jeff on Feb 1, 2011, 6:20:00 PM said...

yes they are all ugly and overpriced. At least keep MD Ave, SW open for traffic. In fact recerating MD Ave is a more worthwhile effort. Combine the two; not either or?

Boots on Feb 2, 2011, 8:04:00 AM said...

There is another way. The National Civic Art Society and the Institute of Classical Architecture & Classical America have partnered to sponsor a counterproposal competition.

It is the hope of the NCAS and ICA that this competition will encourage dialogue among designers and the general public about the meaning, inspiration and dignity of designs that are suitable to commemorate a distinguished president and general.

http://www.civicart.org/eisenhower.shtml

Anonymous said...

To Boots,
From your mouth to god's ears...

Mike said...

I am all for giving the man some sort of recognition, but really, a whole city block? This idea sucks. Can have a design that adds to the Mall and not takes over. Grade = Fail. Start again from scratch, and PLEASE scale it down.

Nikki Smith on Feb 2, 2011, 2:18:00 PM said...

Ironic a memorial to the president who created our interstate highway system wants to block off that section of Maryland Ave to vehicular traffic.

Anonymous said...

There was a competition, here are some of the other architects:
http://www.rogersmarvel.com/Eisenhower.html
http://www.ksarch.com/

IMGoph on Feb 20, 2011, 5:14:00 PM said...

first in a century?

has it been 100 years since the FDR memorial opened up? i didn't realize i was that old.

 

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