A scale study by Leon Krier shows that the Jefferson Memorial (B), the Washington Monument (C), and the Lincoln Memorial (D) would all fit on the site of the Eisenhower Memorial, with room to spare. CLICK TO ENLARGE.
Source: Leon Krier, adapted from The Monumental and Commercial Center of the National Capital by Joseph Passoneau & Partners
"Why should the Eisenhower memorial be over twice the size of the WWII Memorial," Leon Krier demands to know. "Why should it be so vast as to comfortably house two Lincoln Memorials, two Washington, Monuments, and two Jefferson Memorials all six at once?"
In a sharp critique in Metropolis magazine, Krier, one of the world's leading exponents of traditional architecture and urbanism, argues that Frank Gehry's proposed memorial to Dwight D. Eisenhower is entirely wrong—both for its site in Washington and for its purpose of honoring a president whose own tastes were traditional.
The memorial as designed—consisting mainly of ten 80-foot-high cylinders supporting large woven screens of industrial steel wire depicting Eisenhower's native Kansas—is "an anti-monument if there can be such a thing," Krier contends. The outdoor room formed by the cylinders and metal screens lack a center or focus, he notes. What positive meaning can it have?
Gehry's design—subject of a scathing recent report from the National Civic Art Society, as covered by Better! Cities & Towns last week—is the work of "a great but greatly confused artist, who was appointed buy a commission who shares his intellectual confusion and distaste of a classical Washington, D.C.," says Krier. Both Gehry and Krier teach at Yale School of Architecture.
Krier argues that Gehry's signature language is "self-limited to an architectural 'newspeak'" hemmed in between German Rationalism and German Expressionism. It is at odds with the preferences of Eisenhower, who was "highly critical of modernist art," Krier points out, and it disrespects the the L'Enfant city plan and the spirit of the 1901-02 McMillan Commission Plan that created the National Mall as it is known today.
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