Gehry Partners, LLP, the Los Angeles-based architectural firm headed by Frank O. Gehry, has been selected as lead designer of the national memorial to Pres. Dwight D. Eisenhower. The Eisenhower Memorial will be the seventh national presidential memorial in the Nation’s Capital, and the first since the Franklin Delano Roosevelt memorial opened in 1997.
The selection of Gehry Partners, LLP, was announced by the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission and the General Services Administration. According to Commission Chairman Rocco C. Siciliano, “It’s appropriate to have one of today’s most outstanding architects design a memorial for one of our country’s greatest leaders.” The Gehry team was one of four finalists in a three-stage competition that began with forty-four design firms from across the United States. Evaluation factors included previous work, interviews, and responses to the memorial’s pre-design program, which addressed Ike’s extraordinary accomplishments and the physical parameters of the memorial site.
One of the world’s most celebrated architects, Frank Gehry has designed iconic buildings such as the Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park in Chicago, and the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, Canada. In addition to members of the Gehry firm, the design team is comprised of landscape architects EDAW, Inc., lighting designers L’Observatoire International, and information designers ESI Design.
The memorial will be built on a four-acre site to be named Eisenhower Square, which is at the base of Capitol Hill, across from the National Air & Space Museum. Although the memorial has yet to be designed, it will be a landscaped civic plaza that respects vistas to and from the U. S. Capitol and the historic Maryland Avenue view corridor.
Other finalist firms were Krueck & Sexton Architects (Chicago), Peter Walker, PWP Landscape Architecture (Berkeley), and Rogers Marvel Architects (New York City).
President Eisenhower now ranks among the most successful and most respected U.S. presidents. He led America to invest in infrastructure by creating the Interstate Highway System, completing the St. Lawrence Seaway, and establishing the Federal Aviation Administration. He took America into space and ensured that it would be explored for scientific, not military purposes. He ended the Korean War and created the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. He laid the groundwork for major advancements in civil rights through legislation, the Civil Rights Act of 1957, and through executive authority, integration in Little Rock, Arkansas, and desegregation of Washington, D.C. He defused international crisis and inaugurated the national security policies that led to the peaceful end of the Cold War. A soldier from America’s heartland, President Eisenhower became a president dedicated to building peace based on international cooperation and respect.
The General Services Administration (GSA) conducted a rigorous, three-stage design excellence competition that began in August 2008. It sought design teams with four core disciplines: architecture, landscape architecture, lighting design, and information design, as well as project management.
The Design Excellence Program streamlines the way GSA hires architects and engineers, while retaining the competitive requirements of federal contracting. A jury of experts and an evaluation panel of design peers, GSA architects, and representatives of the Eisenhower Memorial Commission were involved in the selection. Commissioner David Eisenhower, the president’s grandson, who served on both the jury and the evaluation panel, said, “My family and I are pleased that America will honor my grandfather’s leadership as a president, a general, and as a selfless public servant.”
The Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission was created by Congress in 1999 to manage the memorial development. The bipartisan Commission has 12 members — four Senators, four Representatives, and four private citizens. It is led by Chairman Rocco C. Siciliano and Vice Chairman Senator Daniel K. Inouye, combat-decorated World War II veterans. Senator Inouye stated that “Celebrating General Eisenhower’s leadership in both World War II and as President is specially meaningful to me in the 50th anniversary year of Hawaii’s admission into the Union as the 50th state. On August 21, 1959, I was in the White House together with other elected Hawaii officials to witness the signing of the Statehood Bill by President Eisenhower. This is a moment of great memories.”