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In Defense of the Eisenhower Memorial Commission
A response to John Fund

Illustration of the proposed Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial

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4. “The EMC picked Gehry’s design in 2010 after a highly opaque process.”

The General Services Administration utilized its highly successful “Design Excellence Program” to procure the memorial’s designer. This procurement was open to any U.S. citizen who had a design portfolio. Please see the AIA news release of March 19 concerning the process.

 

5. Mr. Fund’s article quotes Sam Roche, a vocal opponent of the memorial: “It selected its designer before he developed a proposal, from a short list of established architects.”

Like Mr. Fund, Mr. Roche has never contacted the EMC to verify or correct the misinformation he presents as fact. Again, the Eisenhower National Memorial was selected using the General Services Administration’s Design Excellence Program. There was never a “short list of established architects” — rather, the design competition was posted to the interested public on the GSA website as well as those of the American Institute of Architects and the American Institute of Landscape Architects — thus ensuring information regarding the design competition was carried as far and wide as possible. The procurement was open to any U.S. citizen who had a design portfolio.

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6. “The Commission proceeded to stonewall the Eisenhower family for months, ignoring their objections.”

Shortly before David’s resignation from the EMC, Susan and Ann Eisenhower met with Frank Gehry and his team in an effort to identify and address the family’s then-stated concerns. Following that meeting, Mr. Gehry revised the design in response to the family. When the design changes were briefed to family members, all parties, including the family, acknowledged that meeting as the origin of the design refinements. No stonewalling by the Commission.

 

7. “The Vietnam Veterans Memorial, respected by art critics and loved by the public . . . ”

Another point that would have benefitted from a bit of fact-checking. When the design for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was first selected it caused an uproar. In fact, both the Vietnam and World War II Memorials encountered criticism. At the time, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was described as a “gash on the earth,” and its designer was criticized. Happily, both the Vietnam and World War II Memorials handily demonstrate how time and a good design ultimately soften the rhetoric and receive public accolades.

Whether Mr. Fund’s article falls into the category of “opinion piece” or “straight reporting,” either way, he has played fast and loose with the facts. Your readers deserve better. 

— Carl W. Reddel is a retired brigadier general of the United States Air Force and the executive director of the Eisenhower Memorial Commission.



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