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Eisenhower memorial panned at hearing

March 19, 2013 at 7:27 PM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, March 19 (UPI) -- Frank Gehry's design for President Eisenhower's memorial in Washington is "unworkable" or even "a monstrosity," critics told a congressional panel Tuesday.

The memorial has been years in the planning and originally was to have been completed by last August. But it's stuck on the drawing board with stiff opposition by the late president's family and others. A bill has been introduced by the House Natural Resources Committee's Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation calling for a new design competition and a three-year extension of the memorial-site designation, set to expire this year.

"I want to know how we came up with this monstrosity," The New York Times quoted Rep. Thomas M. McClintock III, R-Calif., a committee member, as saying.

That would be Gehry, one of the nation's top architects, whose design includes metal tapestries and statues depicting various stages of the general-politician's life. It is to be built on the National Mall across from the National Air and Space Museum.

Eisenhower granddaughter Susan Eisenhower told the House panel her family "thinks the design is flawed in concept and overreaching in scale," The Washington Post reported. She asked that funding for the $142 million project be stopped and a new design be created.

"It is time to go back to the drawing board," the Times reported she said.

Justin Shubow of the National Civic Art Society questioned whether the memorial would be built to last, despite its high cost.

Carl W. Reddel, executive director of the Eisenhower Memorial Commission, testified family members' concerns had already been taken into consideration and Gehry had made design changes to address them, including ditching a statue of World War II's top general as a young boy for one of him as a West Point cadet.

Reddel said the design also has its strong supporters and said "the historical record suggests that great, iconic architecture is controversial."

"I sort of like the design," said Rep. Rush D. Holt Jr., D-N.J., another member of the committee, though he allowed "the only thing that's worse than art designed by a committee is art designed by a congressional committee."

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