Where there's a Gehry, there's a fight, and these days that so happens to be happening on Washington, where the architect's proposed plans for the Eisenhower Memorial have more than just certain members of the Eisenhower family peeved. (Quick recap: Gehry was selected in 2008 to design the memorial, his ambitious plan was approved in 2010, and it's come under attack both topically—it focuses on Eisenhower's childhood rather than his accomplishments as an adult—and its design—many haven't been so into a proposed series of woven metal tapestries held up by 80-foot-tall columns.) Anyway, now the National Civic Art Society plans on submitting a "book-length" proposal to Congress proving "that the Memorial competition, planning, and design were and are irredeemably flawed," according to an email tip from NCAS president Justin Shubow. "This ought to be the biggest scandal in presidential memorial history," he writes.
Some key points of the report, aside from "cronyism and key conflicts of interest," per Shubow:
· "The Memorial competition was secretive, exclusive, elitist, and undemocratic—if it was a true competition at all. Only 44 entries were solicited. This is hundreds fewer than the number of entries submitted in previous national memorial competitions, which were open to all." · "An unknown, unconnected designer could not have won, let alone even entered, the competition. It was thanks to America’s openness to talent that Eisenhower was able to rise to the presidency from a humble background. The Memorial competition should have been equally open."
· "The design of the boy Eisenhower statue is being advised by an artist whose work sexualizes children and is obscene."
· "The Memorial design has contained benches spelling out 'IXXI,' the Roman numerals for 9 and 11. Whether this reference to the 9/11 attacks is intentional or negligent, the Memorial’s architect, Frank Gehry, can no longer be trusted with its design."
Additionally, the NCAS has set up a number of anti-Gehry resources online, including a collection of awfully damning quotes from the architect himself, and an illustration of how bad the proposed memorial would look if ever, say, rendered on American currency. One anonymous philanthropist is probably pretty pleased right about now, eh?
· Eisenhower’s granddaughters critical of Gehry’s memorial design [Washington Post]
· Gehry’s Eisenhower Memorial Makes Anything but Funny Money [NCAS]
· NCAS Report on Frank Gehry's Eisenhower Memorial [NCAS]
· Philanthropist Offers $300M Prize For Not Hiring Frank Gehry [Curbed National]