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Eisenhower commission backs memorial design

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The commission behind the proposed Dwight D. Eisenhower memorial issued a statement Tuesday saying that its members all fully support the memorial's controversial design and its architect, Frank Gehry.

"The members of the Eisenhower Memorial Commission are unanimous in their total and unqualified support for Frank Gehry and his vision for the memorial,” the commission said in the statement.

The statement came a week after commission members and other stakeholders in the memorial design process discussed the design at a congressional oversight hearing during which Susan Eisenhower, President Eisenhower’s granddaughter, suggested that the memorial be redesigned.

At the March 20 hearing before the House subcommittee on national parks, forests and public lands, a subcommittee member asked the Eisenhower Memorial Commission’s executive director, retired Brig. Gen. Carl Reddell what it would take to redesign the memorial. Mr. Reddell said starting the design process again would take extra time and money after having already spent years and millions of dollars on it.

Susan Eisenhower said the family would like to see a simpler design that would have lower maintenance costs and give more focus to Eisenhower’s accomplishments.

"Eisenhower’s contribution is not the focus of the design. The Eisenhower our country wants to celebrate is not a dreamy boy," Ms. Eisenhower said, referring to controversy over a statue of Eisenhower as a boy that is a central element of the memorial’s current proposed design.

Architect Frank Gehry said in a letter submitted to the House subcommittee that he had been and would continue to be "open to talking with the family about the design."

"We confirm our selection of him, confirm our enthusiastic endorsement of his design concept, and express our regret and sadness at the tone and nature of the selected comments that have been made on Mr. Gehry’s design for the memorial," the commission said in the statement.

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