Last fall, supporters and critics of Frank Gehry's design for the Dwight D. Eisenhower memorial in Washington reached a compromise, allowing the project to proceed (with completion by June 6, 2019—the 75th anniversary of D-Da—a possibility). Now Gehry and AECOM have completed a revised design, reflecting the compromise, which will be presented to the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts on January 23.
The memorial’s key element, a 440-foot-long woven-metal tapestry, remains. But the subject of the tapestry has shifted. It had been a scene of Ike's hometown of Abilene, Kanas; it is now an aerial view of Normandy, where Allied troops under Ike's direction landed on D-Day. The other changes include relocating a statue of young Ike away from the center of the memorial and closer to the large Department of Education building behind it.
According to a document prepared Gehry and AECOM who formed a joint venture for the Eisenhower project, the location change "strengthens the thematic relationship between the memorial and the Department of Education." (The Department grew out of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, created by Ike in 1953.)
If the revisions are approved, construction could begin this year, according to Chris Cimko, the spokesperson for the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission. “We’re starting to think about putting out RFPs,” she said, adding that the site needs to be cleared of pipes and cables. “We’re literally going to dig down six, eight feet and move all the utilities out to the edge,” she said. She declined to give a total price for the memorial, saying, “We want to see what contractors come back with.” President-elect Donald J. Trump, who has tangled with Gehry in the past, is not known to have commented on the design.