Posts tagged with "Memorials":

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Gehry to Unveil New Eisenhower Memorial Plans Next Month

Frank Gehry has had a hell of time with this Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial in Washington, D.C. Since the architect was selected to design the memorial in 2009, his plans to honor Ike have been met with sustained and scathing backlash. Countless columnists have pilloried Gehry's design, the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts objected to key elements of the memorial, Eisenhower's granddaughter compared the metal tapestries that frame the site to fences at a Nazi concentration camp, congress rejected $49 million in construction funding for the project, and then, in April, the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) voted 7-3 to reject the the plan. But it's going to take more than that to stop Gehry. According to Reuters, the architect will unveil a revised design to the Planning Commission at their next meeting in July. It will be interesting to see what that means for  the most controversial element of the project:  the 80-foot-tall columns and the large metal tapestries, which are intended to depict the Kansas landscape where Eisenhower grew up. Here is Gehry explaining his proposal to the NCPC in 2010.
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Major Rejection for Gehry’s Eisenhower Memorial Threatens Project’s Future

The road to fruition for the Frank Gehry–designed Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial has been full of twists and turns. And now, it seems, the Los Angeles architect’s plans may have reached a dead end. Last week, the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) voted seven to three to reject the preliminary site and building plans for the memorial. The vote followed five hours of testimony from the proposal’s supporters and detractors, including House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA). Issa spoke against one of the design’s most (but not only) controversial features: the massive stainless-steel “tapestries” meant to depict scenes from Eisenhower’s life. Gehry’s design, which centers around a colonnade supporting three 80-foot-high tapestries, has been the subject of fervent debate since its unveiling in early 2010. In late 2011, two of Eisenhower’s granddaughters expressed public dissatisfaction with the design. The following March, Congress held a hearing on the matter. Then, in March 2013, Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) proposed a bill to shut down the design. In the meantime, the most vocal of the Gehry proposal’s opponents, the National Civic Arts Society, launched a competition for a more traditional design. Last July, the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts approved an updated design, but in January, Congress, unimpressed with Gehry Partners’ revisions thus far, cut off funding to the Eisenhower Memorial Committee. The NCPC executive director’s recommendations [PDF], which the commission adopted on Friday, cited concerns with “the proposed scale and configuration of the tapestries” and how they jeopardize several of the design principles outlined during the 2006 site approval process. These include protecting views to and from the Capitol building, preserving building and tree lines along Maryland Avenue, and working within the L’Enfant Plan’s broader vision for Washington, D.C.’s civic core. The report asked Gehry Partners to modify the memorial design to address specific issues of pedestrian circulation, perimeter security, lighting, and public space. On a positive note, the NCPC report announced that the stainless steel alloy proposed for the tapestry panels passed a series of durability tests. No one has said for certain that Gehry’s design is a goner. The NCPC report “[n]otes the Commission’s continued support for a modern and innovative approach to commemorate President Dwight D. Eisenhower, including the possible use of stainless steel tapestries, although not as currently proposed.” If nothing else, the price associated with scrapping the Gehry proposal—an estimated $17 million—has kept the process going this long. But the question remains: how many more stops and starts can one project take?
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Memory Wounded: How Norway is Remembering the Utøya Massacre

It has been close to three years since a gunman detonated a bomb in Oslo and then stormed a small summer camp off the coast of Norway, killing 77 people and cementing a record as the worst mass shooting in modern memory. The Swedish artist Jonas Dahlberg recently won a competition, Memorial Sites After 22 July, to create an official memorial at the sites of the 2011 Norwegian massacres. Dahlberg was unanimously chosen by a group that included representatives of the Labour party and victim support groups. He beat three hundred other entrants including former Turner Prize winner Johnathan Deller. Two memorials will be opened on July 22, 2015—the fourth anniversary of the attacks—with an amphitheater to come at a later date. Dahlberg's design focuses on a memory wound. The designer sliced a 12-foot-wide slit into the Sørbråten peninsula, which faces the island of Utøya where Breivik killed 69 people. It marks a "symbolic wound" in the landscape. The designer was inspired to create this "wound" after visiting the site. "I noticed how different the feeling was of walking outside in nature, compared to the feeling of walking through the rooms of the main building," he explained in a statement. "The experience of seeing the vacant rooms and the traces of extreme violence brought me—and others around me—to a state of profound sadness." But, outside, things felt different, as though nature was already in regeneration. "Although we stood directly on the very place where many people had lost their lives, nature had already begun to obscure all traces," he said.

He came up with an idea rather than building a traditional monument he would focus on nature itself by creating 70-foot-wide gap carved out of the island, separating the headland from the main island.

"The design physically relates to the interruption that occurred in the everyday life flow of Norwegian society," he said. "Yet it is indeed everyday life that must carry on."

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The Saga Continues: Congress Rejects Funding for Gehry’s Eisenhower Memorial

Despite earlier indications of progress, Frank Gehry's design for a planned Eisenhower Memorial continues to encounter stumbling blocks. In November the US Commission of Fine Arts asked Mr. Gehry to make eight revisions to the proposal, a request that was then echoed and amplified in January when Congress turned down the Eisenhower Memorial Commission's request for $51 million in funding, a denial that was accompanied by a message imploring the architect "to work with all constituencies—including Congress and the Eisenhower family—as partners in the planning and design process.” The plan's most prominent feature, large metallic tapestries depicting the landscape scenes from the former president's childhood Kansas upbringing, has also proved to be its greatest sticking point. Some have suggested that the modern and outsize screens, coupled with the overall scale of the site, are not in keeping with Ike's humble and traditional image. The design has produced enough indignation in some circles that the National Civic Art Society launched a new competition for the commission courting more classically conceived memorials. Others have responded negatively to the narrative painted by the memorial, suggesting that the emphasis on the man's childhood found in the tapestries and many of the accompanying relief sculptures draw attention away from his later achievements as a public figure. Many of Eisenhower's family-members have been particularly vocal in their opposition to Gehry's vision. The closed process involved in the architect's initial selection for the project has come under fire for being undemocratic. The budget attached to the design has done little to assuage doubters, and Congress' leaves the Memorial Commission with $30 million in the bank for a structure estimated to cost over four times that amount. Though Gehry is to have responded to the CFA's request for adjustments, Congress was not impressed with the re-designs that bear a very close resemblance to their controversial predecessors. Some see more than a hint of ego in Gehry's stubbornness; an unnamed official affiliated with the Memorial claimed the largely unchanged plans reflected "tremendous arrogance." Responding to the latest development Representative Rob Bishop of Utah, chairman of the subcommittee on public lands and environmental regulation said, “To me this is very disappointing. It looks like tweaks here and there. It still means Gehry has not done what Congress asked him to do—to work with all the constituents, Congress, and the family.”
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Gehry’s Updated Eisenhower Memorial Design Gains Key Approval

Frank Gehry's design for the four-acre Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial in Washington D.C. has sparked controversy for its departure from traditional memorial design around the National Mall from the president's family and others, prompting a third-party design competition and calls for redesign from Congress. Now the beleaguered memorial is one step closer to reality as the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) voted 3-to-1 this month to approve an updated design with additional changes to proposed woven-metal tapestries that have generated most of the public outcry. Besides the tapestries, Gehry's design has been criticized for its scale and the presentation of the president's humble Midwestern upbringing. Situated at the base of Capitol Hill across Independence Avenue from the National Air and Space Museum, the contentious design, carrying a $142 million price tag, has undergone several revisions from its original design. The commission asked Gehry to remove two of the tapestries still remaining in the latest layout, a request Gehry was receptive to considering. Other changes reflected in the new memorial include reorienting the center of the public space to create a more-defined alleé directing views to the Capitol building and providing more emphasis to Eisenhower's wartime achievements, such as new quotes from his famous Guildhall Address. The CFA includes new Commissioner Elizabeth Meyer, Vice-Chair Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, Alex Krieger, and Edwin Schlossberg.  Meyer, the only landscape architect on the commission, held the sole vote against approval of Gehry’s updated design. According to ASLA blog, the Dirt, she was not comfortable approving the design without reviewing it as a complete landscape plan, noting that the success of the memorial is tied to how it operates as a park and that the “architecture of the trees needs more time and refinement.” AECOM is working with Gehry on the memorial's landscape. The revised design now heads to the National Capital Planning Commission for its next approval, but uncertainty remains whether Congress will withhold funding for the $142 million project and force a redesign. Based on past expenditure, legislation to terminate Gehry’s plan, revamp the commission, and select a new design would cost $17 million, according to the Congressional Budgets Office.  
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Congress Meets to Consider New Bill Seeking to Eject Gehry’s Design of the Eisenhower Memorial

Congress held a hearing today to discuss the funding and controversial design of the Dwight D. Eisenhower memorial designed by Frank Gehry. Representative Rob Bishop is leading the charge with a new bill that aims to oust Gehry from the $142 million project and hold a new competition to find a more “appropriate” design. The Washington Post reported that the main gripe is over the massive metal tapestries encompassing the memorial, which would display images of Eisenhower’s early childhood in Kansas. The Eisenhower family has expressed that the grandiose scale of the design, specifically the tapestries, is out of touch with the former president’s character. Architect magazine live tweeted that there were few defenders of Gehry's memorial at the hearing except for Rep. Holt, and a fair share of confusion over what this bill entails and ultimately means for the future of the memorial.
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Libeskind, Hamilton, Plensa Finalists for Ohio’s Holocaust Memorial

An artistic selection committee Thursday selected three semi-finalists for the Ohio Statehouse Holocaust Memorial in Columbus. Jaume Plensa of Chicago, Columbus’ Ann Hamilton, and Daniel Libeskind will visit the site, meet with the committee and then have six weeks to submit a proposal for review. The committee will pick the final project artist in May. Libeskind designed Berlin’s Jewish Museum, one of the most prominent memorials of its kind. Ann Hamilton has home-turf advantage, so to speak, and is coming off a spectacularly reviewed show at the Armory, The Event of a Thread. Spanish-born Jaume Plensa's evocative sculptures are pensive and humanistic, often involving glowing lights, and seem well suited to such a project.
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Protest> The Eisenhower Memorial at the Tipping Point

How many Americans know that the Eisenhower Memorial will be the largest presidential memorial in Washington, D.C.? Or that it will be using untested, experimental elements for the first time? Or that it will cost nearly as much to build as the neighboring memorials to Washington, Lincoln, and Jefferson combined? These basic facts are still not widely known because the current design has emerged from a planning process that limited rather than encouraged public participation. It has also led directly to a controversy that has stalled the project in regulatory and political limbo and left its supporters and critics without common ground. We need public input to find the consensus that this and every memorial needs. At least one federal agency is already working toward that outcome. Recently the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC), which reviews all major physical changes to the District of Columbia, called for more public feedback before it will decide whether to approve the current design. In September, it refused to hear the Eisenhower Memorial Commission’s (unannounced) request for preliminary design approval and published its application online. This was the first full public disclosure regarding the Eisenhower Memorial, and it reveals practical as well as principled reasons for the NCPC’s delay. These include unresolved technical questions about the design’s main feature, a set of suspended steel “tapestries” eight stories tall, and a record of official doubts about their size and placement. The Commission of Fine Arts has even suggested eliminating them altogether. The current design is neither as feasible nor as popular as the Eisenhower Memorial Commission has represented it to be. It won’t be cheap, either. The cost of the Eisenhower Memorial is $142 million, a huge increase over its original budget of $55 to $75 million, which was comparable to those of previous presidential memorials. The skyrocketing cost follows a familiar pattern with architect Frank Gehry, the memorial’s designer. The final cost of many of his buildings exceeds their original budgets, sometimes several times over. Typically, asthese buildings are private, wealthy donors and institutions pick up the additional cost. But the Eisenhower Memorial is public, which means we, the taxpayers,will be paying for it. Do we realize we are being asked to commit an open-ended budget to an experimental design? Public debate has been forestalled as well as squelched. The Eisenhower Memorial Commission rejected established practice to choose its architect through a process that excluded public participation. It considered only registered architects to design the memorial, whom it alerted on one government website. The Commission evaluated these architects on the basis of their reputations and experience, criteria that whittled away all but established contenders. The drawbacks of this closed process, moreover, are well known. The only other time it was tried, for the World War II Memorial, it had to be abandoned after a public outcry over its exclusive and undemocratic character. The Eisenhower Memorial Commission’s decision to revive this discredited process was so unusual that it is the subject of a Congressional investigation by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa. A public memorial conceived in this closed and secretive fashion is unlikely to become a unifying national symbol. We should return to the established democratic tradition rejected by the Eisenhower Memorial Commission. Our national memorials are typically designed through open public competitions, which consider anonymous designs from anyone who wants to submit one. This process echoes and reinforces our democratic political process, which helps explain why we keep using it, from the White House and the U.S. Capitol to four of the last five memorials built on the National Mall and all three of the national September 11th memorials. The current impasse over this memorial shows what happens in a democratic culture of competing ideas when consensus is hoped for at the end rather than planned for from the beginning. No one debates, however, that such consensus is necessary, and we should find paths to it wherever we can. The NCPC has now provided one. The public has the opportunity and the responsibility to make its opinion known. Sam Roche is a writer and a lecturer at the University of Miami School of Architecture. He is the spokesman for Right by Ike: Project for a New Eisenhower Memorial.
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After Four Decades, FDR Four Freedoms Memorial Park Dedicated

This morning former President Bill Clinton, Governor Andrew Cuomo, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined in a dignitary-studded dedication ceremony for the long awaited Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Memorial Park on Roosevelt Island’s southern tip. The four-acre triangular park, designed by architect Louis Kahn, features 120 Linden trees leading to a half-ton bronze bust of Roosevelt at its crest surveying the U.N. Headquarters and the East River. The sculpture by American artist Jo Davidson sits on a alcove of white granite inscribed with excerpts of the president’s renowned Four Freedoms speech.  While the forty-years-in-the-making memorial does not officially open to the public until October 24th you can catch an early glimpse on October 19th when the park will be featured as Archtober’s Building of The Day.
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Picnics, Monuments & Memorials: Two Centuries on Two Blocks

Literally in the shadow of One World Trade is a memorial for September 11 that has been overrun by tourists since the days after the disaster. Its quiet dignity has been maintained, outlasting the dozens of hawkers who sold Twin Tower replicas just a few feet away. The memorial bears but one name, "Mary Wife of James Miles," who died on September 11, 1796. Today's New York Observer weighed in on the New York Post's claim that tourists are turning the September 11 Memorial into a glorified playground. "When the construction barriers finally come down, the lines will be gone, people will come and go as they please. They will pray and they will play, and that is how it should be," wrote the Observer's Matt Chaban. As the debate continues as to what constitutes appropriate behavior at the memorial, one need only walk one block east to take in two century's worth of history on how New Yorkers memorialize. Mary Miles's headstone sits in the churchyard of Trinity St. Paul's Chapel, which served as the de facto memorial while the official one was being built. Without overt police supervision the small parish took on the unenviable task of welcoming millions into its historic walls and grounds. Its open gates and churchyard oaks have greeted office workers, picnicking parents, and frolicking children alike. It's a clear example of what one hopes the memorial across the street will become. But the parish has a deep heritage of combining daily life with the act of memorializing. After all, the nation's first official monument, commemorating General Richard Montgomery, fronts the church facade. While churchyard cemeteries were once a familiar sight in American cities, the construction of Paris's Pére Lachaise in 1804 ushered in the era of the rural cemetery. In America, Mount Auburn in Cambridge, Massachusetts opened in 1831, followed by Greenwood in Brooklyn in 1838. The pastoral landscapes acted as some of the country's first landscaped parks, where families often picnicked and played. By virtue of its location in one of the most densely populated area's in the world, the new memorial is anything but rural. But that doesn't preclude the notion of parkland that the memorial has the potential to encompass—even as city life continues amidst it. Decisions surrounding new World Trade Center were the result of a very democratic process, from the thousands of square feet of retail that are planned to abut the memorial below ground, to the swirl of pedestrian traffic above. Just last week, Paul Goldberger told AN, “Democracy is a great thing but it doesn’t always lead to the best architectural decisions.” A lot of voices were at play here. But if the history just one block east portends, when the construction and security barriers finally come down, the carnival atmosphere will dissipate and the memorial will eventually inhabit its rightful, respectful sense of place.
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New York’s AIDS Memorial Approved by a Beleaguered Community Board 2

It was a week of devastating lows and mild highs for Community Board 2. With NYU virtually assured of getting their 1.9 million-square-foot expansion plan through City Council next week, in spite of vigorous local objection, the mood at last night’s executive board meeting was decidedly grim. But a new design for the AIDS Memorial, to be incorporated into the proposed St. Vincent's Hospital Park across the street from the former hospital site in Greenwich Village, offered some hope. The new design was in response to a demand that the designers incorporate community input, providing hope for some that that the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) was not a waste of time. "With ULURP being ULURP, I didn't think this would happen," Village resident Robert Woodworth said of the memorial designed by Brooklyn-based studio a+i. The vote was nearly eclipsed by a visit from Council Member Margaret Chin who came to explain her position on NYU to the polite but angry crowd. Board Chair David Gruber didn't mince words, telling the Council Member that the vote earlier this week was "monumentally tragic" in its disregard for the community. The frustration with NYU made the memorial's evolution that much more poignant. Community member Steve Ashkenazi drew a direct comparison. "This group has responded to the community," he told the crowd. "It's a beautiful, relevant design."  Strange as it may seem, the memorial and NYU do share commonality, both the modest AIDS Memorial and NYU's huge expansion plan bid high in their initial proposals and eventually whittled the scale down after negotiating with the board. Indeed many had thought that a+i's winning design resulting from the ideas competition, sponsored by Architizer and Architectural Record , would be realized as it was presented, encompassing the entirety of the triangular park. But as it tuned out, site-owner Rudin Management had a plan of their own for a much smaller park. Under the banner of the Queer History Alliance, activists rallied media support for an AIDS memorial on the site, even as the board was trying to influence the design underway by Rudin's landscape architect M. Paul Feiedberg. In the process the site for the public park evntually expanded to encompass the entire triangle, with 17,000 square feet set aside for the memorial. The memorial's planted overhead canopy will mimic the angles formed by West 12th meeting Greenwich and is supported in turn by three inverse triangles. Cross beams of planters will run the width of the triangles, holding English Ivy, Virginia Creepers and Honeysuckle. Slats running opposite the planters will hold a galvanized Greenscreen grid, giving the vine a surface to grow on. A large oculus will hover above a reflective water element and granite benches will run along the north and south border. Under foot, carved poetry texts find their way in a series of large intersecting circular pavers. Lighting, planting, and irrigation systems include a detailed plan for maintenance. The memorial's co-founder Chris Tepper told the crowd that the compromise, which led to a much smaller memorial than the winning proposal presented last spring, still meets the group's "policy goals." He promised that he and co-founder Paul Kelterborn would remain committed to raising the $2 million for the memorial as well as $500,000 for a maintenance fund. In a first exclusive look, New York Magazine's Justin Davidson gave the project a thumbs up. With such media savvy, there is little doubt that the the group, now officially called the AIDS Memorial Park, will have trouble raising the funds to build.