Obama’s Appointment Signals Change to National Memorial

RTAblog_2013_0904_NationalMallIn March, we offered comments about a prominent architect’s struggle with a commission for a Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. President Obama’s recent appointment of Bruce Cole may signal an end to the embattled design.

Frank Gehry’s commission to design the Eisenhower Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. was a challenge from the beginning since Gehry is well known for very free-form buildings… that look like crumpled metal. His trademark style is a significant departure from the conservative style and design of existing monuments on or along the Mall.

Still, we have to applaud the committee overseeing the Memorial for taking a chance – giving Frank Gehry an incredible opportunity to create a lasting tribute. In a single commission, the Guggenehim Bilbao, Gehry put an unknown Spanish town in the global spotlight and reinvented the way we think about museums. He’s demonstrated remarkable design skill.

You can find a link to Gehry talking about his design for the Memorial at the bottom of our previous blog post on the issue. The design that he describes has been attacked by critics. Chief among those critics is Bruce Cole, the man President Obama just appointed to the commission overseeing the Eisenhower Memorial.

The next major milestone for the Memorial is next Thursday, September 12, when it will be reviewed by the National Capital Planning Commission. The NCPC will decide whether to give Gehry’s proposed design for the Memorial preliminary approval. NCPC materials for the Memorial can be found here.

You can submit your comments to the commission by emailing them to Deborah Young [deborah.young(at)ncpc.gov] so she can distribute them. Here are the rules for submitting written comments. Please share your thoughts, especially if you submit a comment, by leaving a copy below. Thanks!

Image by thisisbossi used under creative commons license.

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