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Panel rejects design for Eisenhower Memorial

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 3, 2014 at 5:33 pm •  Published: April 3, 2014

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal commission that oversees plans for monuments in the nation's capital voted Thursday to reject the current design for a memorial honoring President Dwight D. Eisenhower, sending the concept back to its architects for revisions.

The National Capital Planning Commission voted 7-3 to endorse its staff's report opposing the current design. The objections focus primarily on the scale and placement of columns that would hold large stainless steel tapestries framing a memorial park honoring Eisenhower.

One concern is preserving views of the nearby U.S. Capitol between the massive columns.

Architect Frank Gehry has designed large metal tapestries depicting the Kansas landscape of Ike's boyhood home held up by 80-foot-tall limestone columns. Statues of Eisenhower as president and World War II general would stand at the park's center. Gehry did not attend the meeting Thursday.

Eisenhower's family has opposed the design's large scale and the inclusion of metal tapestries. The 34th president's granddaughter Susan Eisenhower listened to the debate Thursday but did not testify. Other critics have opposed the project citing Gehry's style and a preference for more classical architecture.

L. Preston Bryant Jr., the planning commission's chairman, voted to oppose the current design but also voted to bring the project back every two months with updates on its progress.

"There is widespread agreement on the need for an Eisenhower Memorial," he said.

The commission's vote Thursday was its first formal action on Gehry's design and is the first major rejection that could force changes in the design. Gehry's concept has won support at the separate U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, which also must approve the design.

Now the design is caught between the two federal agencies, said Daniel Feil, the Eisenhower project's executive architect.

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