Architect promises better design for Washington Eisenhower memorial

WASHINGTON Thu Jun 5, 2014 5:56pm EDT

Architect Frank Gehry listens during a news conference in Toronto October 1, 2012.  REUTERS/Mike Cassese

Architect Frank Gehry listens during a news conference in Toronto October 1, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Mike Cassese

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An architect for the proposed Eisenhower Memorial in Washington pledged on Thursday to deliver a new design to District of Columbia planners at their next meeting in July after the original plan was rejected two months ago.

The design turned down by the National Capital Planning Commission on April 3 was criticized as being too big and inappropriate for a site near the U.S. Capitol building.

The architectural design team - headed by famed architect Frank Gehry - is working on new ideas to respond to criticisms from the planning commission, said Dan Feil, executive architect of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission.

"They have not yet reached a consensus," he told a hearing of the planning commission. "It's a difficult thing to try to figure out."

The original design for the memorial to the 34th president and World War Two general included bas relief sculptures of Eisenhower working on legislation and speaking to troops on D-Day. Between the sculptures is a statue of Eisenhower in a West Point uniform.

The bulk of the criticism focused on a plan for 80-foot-tall (24-meter) metal tapestries, depicting scenes from Eisenhower's boyhood home in Kansas, to surround the statuary on three sides.

Some members of the planning commission said the huge columns and tapestries could block the view of the Capitol. They also said the design clashed with other buildings on the 4-acre (1.6 hectare) site in front of the U.S. Department of Education.

Congress has cut funding for the $65 million needed to construct the memorial and reduced the administrative budget by about half until the design problems can be resolved. Total cost of the memorial, which Congress approved in 1999, is estimated at $142 million, including land acquisition and administrative costs.

(Editing by Scott Malone and Peter Cooney)

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