Tuesday, June 07, 2011

What Would Ike Like?

Over forty American architects and artists submitted a design to the Eisenhower Memorial Counterdesign competition hosted by the National Civic Art Society (NCAS) and the Institute for Classical Architecture & Classical America (ICA&CA) Mid-Atlantic Chapter, and sixteen of these designs were on display at the reception following the competition's finale last night, which coincided with the 67th anniversary of D Day.

For a memorial that has been estimated to cost U.S. taxpayers between $90 and $110 million, guest-of-honor and Ike's grandaughter Susan Eisenhower was apt to end her address by saying, "I'm not at all surprised that this group has decided to step up to the plate and start a debate, who could do anything but say this is the American way?"

The counterdesign competition was launched in direct opposition to current Frank Gehry designs for the memorial to honor the 34th president and five-star general. Gehry was selected by the GSA to design a memorial on the approved site adjacent to the National Mall, contained in a boxed area between 6th and 7th Streets SW, Independence Avenue and the U.S. Dept. of Education, and falls over a three-pronged section of Maryland Avenue SW.

Ms. Eisenhower acknowledged the challenge of making any design truly "timeless," yet mused over the success of the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument as being "perhaps because they don't say too much."

Below are the first place, second place and third place (tie) winners, followed by the Commission Commendation and the Committee Commendation, and finally the Frank Gehry design currently awaiting NCPC approval.

First place: Daniel W. Cook

Second Place: Sylvester J. Bartos, Jr. / Whitley E. Esteban

Third Place (tie): Robert Firmin & Bruce Wolfe

Third Place (tie): Francisco Ruiz

NCAS Commendation: Scott Collison

Committee Commendation: Michael Franck / Rodney Cook

Frank Gehry design:


John Mitchell on Jun 7, 2011, 5:44:00 PM said...

Idunno - a lot of those designs look appropriate for memorializing Mussolini or other Axis leaders Dwight spent a lot of time defeating.

Erik Bootsma on Jun 7, 2011, 6:08:00 PM said...

So was Lincoln a fascist?

Anonymous said...

Right, obviously Jefferson was a fascist too?

Associating classical architecture with Mussolini and Hitler is the typical modernist defense to no longer build in the way that our founding fathers set forth for our nation's capital to grow.

Some concrete columns with metal mesh screens as a "theater for cars" I'm going to go ahead and guess wasn't what L'Enfant or the McMillan Commission really imagined.

Anonymous said...

Now it's time to re-clad the surrounding buildings to make a truly humane urban space. Anyone for some fascist mixed use?

BigBlueFanInDC on Jun 8, 2011, 8:04:00 AM said...

These designs cheapen Eisenhower's memory because they're all meer copies of other monuments. They're not original or innovative. They're simply like many other monuments throughout DC. They're forgettable and the casual observer will be like, "you know, the monument with the stone and corinthian columns...oh wait, who was that again?" We don't build buildings the way they were built 100 or 200 years ago. So, why should we design buildings as if they were? And what sets the Jefferson Memorial and Lincoln Memorial apart is their settings. The Jefferson Memorial would not be what it is without the tidal basin. The Lincoln Memorial would not be what it is without the reflecting pool. Heck, the first place design forgot to put the triumphal arch in the middle of a round-about.

BigBlueFanInDC on Jun 8, 2011, 8:06:00 AM said...

The last thing DC was missing was its very own Arc de Triomphe! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Arc_Triomphe_2010.jpg

Anonymous said...

Yeah, ever since the Greeks, all we've done is copy them. First those unimaginative Romans! Then the whole Rennaisance with their carbon copies of Roman stuff. And who the heck did McKim Mead and White think they where ripping off the Rainessance. Now this!!!

What would really be original is to copy some abstract piece of junk from the early 20th century that doesn't even try to be beautiful, becasue after WWII we all stopped caring about beauty.

Give me those original concrete pillars with metal wire mesh any day. Once I'm done reading all about how deep and meaningful they are I'm sure I'll really love it!

Anonymous said...


The competition solicited Classical designs, solely.

James said...

I really like the design submitted by Frank Ruiz. His contained the most detail and appears to be the best rendition of a memorial capturing the essence of this great general's career.

Silver Spring: Then and Again on Jun 8, 2011, 2:08:00 PM said...

The best way to honor Ike's memory is to instead spend the estimated $90-$110 million cost on repairing the aging infrastructure of I-270 between the Capital Beltway and I-70 in Frederick, Maryland, I-70 to I-25 in Denver, I-25 to I-80 at Cheyenne, Wyoming, and I-80 to San Francisco...collectively known as the Dwight D. Eisenhower Highway.

yawper on Jun 9, 2011, 2:06:00 PM said...

Part of the trouble is there doesn't seem to be a pressing need for an Ike memorial. There's no deep reservoir of feeling or affection for the man in the general public or a sense that he had an indispensible role in American history, other than being a generally popular and amiable president and an accomplished administrative general. Lincoln is rightly situated in a temple as he is the most venerated American president and the symbolism of his assassination. Jefferson's memorial is in keeping with his own taste in architecture and entirely appropriate to the man. Ike is much more difficult to pin down; he seems quintessentially unassuming and midwestern and managerial in outlook. How do you best memorialize those qualities? I'd say just give the man a statue in a nice plaza or park and skip the idea of a grand "destination" memorial. It's good enough for Ben Franklin and more than John Adams has got in DC.

Anonymous said...

A triumphal arch? A pseudo-classical colonnade? You must be joking. What year do these people think it is? Gehry's design is awful, but that doesn't mean the alternative is some pompous neoclassical pile. Blech.

Anonymous said...

Lincoln was very much a fascist: He closed down northern newspapers that dared challenge him, he attempted to arrest a sitting Supreme Court justice, he ran concentration camps, and he lead the slaughter of 620,000 people all in the name of securing (and increasing) federal power. Here's a good book for you, Boots:

"Lincoln Uber Alles: Dictatorship Comes to America"

Ken on Jun 11, 2011, 3:40:00 PM said...

Above guy, you're an ill-informed dolt. Read any of the hundreds of other books about Lincoln for a true understanding, but start with Doris Kearns Goodwin for an appreciation of a great man.

Anonymous said...

Gehry's design sucks, and these "classical" proposals are kitsch.

Andrew W on Jun 20, 2011, 1:38:00 PM said...

What is this, 1890? These are ridiculous.

Anonymous said...


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existing circular park would be eliminated and the traffic circle would be modified into a

smaller traffic circle at a location closer to I-395..

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