Eisenhower Memorial Commission Moves Forward Despite Calls For Delay

By: CNN Posted By Doug Brown
By: CNN Posted By Doug Brown

(CNN) -- The Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission plans to vote on a controversial design for the memorial honoring the 34th U.S. president despite public objections from the Eisenhower family and members of Congress.

Commissioners are expected to vote "yes" or "no" Friday on the latest design revisions by architect Frank Gehry in an effort bring the project to the National Capital Planning Commission, according to an internal e-mail obtained by CNN.

The push comes from commission leaders who want to "press ahead to prepare for a presentation to the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) on July 12, which they plan to publicly announce on June 6, the anniversary of D-Day," according to the e-mail dated May 29.

House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa asked the commission to delay any decision until a review has been completed by the General Services Administration's Design Excellence Program, according to letters obtained by CNN.

"I would request that you and your fellow Commissioners refrain from making a recommendation to the National Capital Planning Commission until after all documents have been produced and there has been an opportunity for review. Given the ongoing controversy, an examination of the process for selecting a design for the memorial must occur before the commission's work can be considered complete," Issa wrote.

The Eisenhower Memorial controversy was also addressed Friday at a Congressional hearing. Speaking before the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, National Civic Art Society President and Chairman Justin Shubow said, "When giving official approval to the design of the Eisenhower Memorial—which is entirely inharmonious with our greatest presidential memorials—the Park Service did not even bother to consider its cultural and historical impact on the Mall and other protected sites in the area. The aesthetic and cultural confusion demonstrated by these sorts of agency decisions is astounding."

In a posted letter earlier this week, the Eisenhower family expressed the family's gratitude for recent changes by architect Frank Gehry, but opposed the memorial's expansive modern construction and asked that more time be given to the process.

"We are thankful to all the individuals who have contacted us with their views and suggestions. This will be their memorial -- America's gift to future generations. That's why it must be built as part of a transparent public effort that enjoys widespread consensual approval. Until that is accomplished, we will argue for more time to break the impasse in this process," the Eisenhower family statement said.


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