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Eisenhower Memorial design revisions meet Commission of Fine Arts largely with disapproval

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“Incoherent,” “illegible,” “bombastic”

This Thursday, a revised final design of the planned Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial met with the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) with much discussion and largely more to be desired for. Still, the final concept of the design needs to be approved. This meeting was simply to approve the revisions to the design.

The three main changes to the design include a relocation of the plinth that will hold the statue of a young Eisenhower, the removal of four trees from the site, and a new tapestry design of Normandy, which was previously approved.

The CFA advised that the four trees remain in order to provide as much shade as possible in the park. On the relocation of the Eisenhower statue, the CFA seemed dissatisfied with its new location, remarking that it should be more central so that every visitor will be able to see it.

When it came to the positive comments made by the CFA, these were more towards the large-scale tapestry, which seems to have a good connection with the park, acting interval to the site rather than simply as a backdrop. Despite this, the tapestry was also seen as “more abstract” and without much narrative coherence.

During the public comment section of the meeting, words that were used to describe the design included “bombastic,” “incoherent,” “illegible,” and “preposterously overscaled.” The statue was also seen as breaking up rather than uniting the sculptural elements in the planned memorial.

This past March, the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission commented that they felt “confident” that groundbreaking will begin this fall, maybe as early as September.

Rep. Ken Calvert, the chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, told Roll Call, “I don’t think there are any obstacles in front of us.”

The project is planned for a four-acre site that the National Capital Planning Commission approved in September 2006. It is only one block away from the National Mall and four blocks away from the U.S. Capitol. Its boundaries include Independence Avenue SW to the north, 4th Street SW to the east, 6th Street SW to the west, and the Lyndon Baines Johnson Department of Education Headquarters to the south.