Dwight D. Eisenhower National Memorial
Intersection of Maryland and Independence Avenues, between 4th and 6th Streets, SW
Dear Mr. Whitesell:
In its meeting of 15 September, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed a revised concept submission from the National Park Service for the Dwight D. Eisenhower National Memorial at Independence and Maryland Avenues between 4th and 6th Streets, SW. The Commission approved the revised concept, expressing great enthusiasm for the development of the design and for the artistic quality of the tapestry mockups as displayed on the memorial site.
In their discussion, the Commission members expressed strong support for the revised configuration of the proposed memorial, including the 90-degree rotation of the two smaller tapestries and the reduction in the number of colossal columns. They again supported the overall height and scale of the columns and tapestries, observing that these elements of the proposed memorial enable a welcome transformation of its site, currently a poorly defined urban space. They also commented positively on the more unified treatment of the area within the columns; however, they noted that both the landscape and the series of raised elements at the center of the composition require further development to provide a focus for the memorial.
Regarding the development of the monumental tapestries, the Commission members expressed a strong preference for the technique using welded stainless-steel cable instead of the Jacquard-style woven alternative presented. They commented that the preferred method—derived from the hatched technique of engravers such as Albrecht Dürer—was highly sculptural when seen up close but appeared more photographic from a distance. While extremely supportive of this artistic approach, they raised concern about the literal translation of photography into art at this scale and encouraged further development of the conception of the image as a drawing. Reiterating their support for a landscape image for the memorial, they commented that the most powerful element of the image is the horizon line which, by extending across all three tapestries, would unify the sequence of panels.
In general, the Commission members commended the project team for the sophistication of the design, noting that the proposed artistic treatment will transform the site and the context of adjacent federal buildings. They look forward to the review of further development of the memorial's design, particularly regarding the character of the central memorial space. As always, the staff is available to assist with development of the design.
Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA
Steve Whitesell, Regional Director
National Park Service, National Capital Region
1100 Ohio Drive, SW
Washington, DC 20242
cc: Peter May, National Park Service
Carl W. Reddel, Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission
Frank Gehry, Gehry Partners
Joe Brown, AECOM