Latest HuffPo Blog Post: THE PROBLEM WITH THE FRANK GEHRY MEMORIAL
Wednesday it was announced
that a federal commission charged with building a national monument honoring President Eisenhower voted unanimously to approve elderly architect Frank Gehry’s latest design for the monument.
I wrote, in part:
Notice, also, that this post is entitled, “The Problem with the Frank Gehry Memorial.” Because to examine the plans for the memorial is to see a monument to a prominent architect’s particular vision, not a memorial to a revered statesman, general, and President. While taste is personal and Americans love hubris, Gehry’s imposition of his personal style does seem to fly in the face of President Eisenhower’s modest origins, personal humility, and appeal to all sectors of society.
Gehry’s is not the only hubris in evidence regarding this “unanimous decision.” In reading the announcement, it is striking that Commission Chairman Rocco Siciliano speaks disparagingly of the Eisenhower family’s objections: “The family deserves to be heard, not obeyed,” he is alleged to have said.
It’s a rhetorical masterpiece to spin the family’s concerns as autocratic. But the rhetoric only thinly veils condescension, which reflects poorly on Siciliano in particular but also on the committee as a whole. For shame: surely this esteemed family deserves better than to be sneered at!
The Eisenhowers deserve better because their objections are thoughtful, persistent, echoed by many others, and valid. In fact, the Eisenhowers have courageously given voice to the concerns and objections of a great many people. But the announcement wasn’t written to express that fact.
It’s an ongoing shame that the Eisenhower family has been contemptuously dismissed by Siciliano and Gehry, those thick-as-thieves buddies from California; Eisenhower himself has been dismissed from this memorial. Not only that, but this ugly monument to folly is outrageously expensive, as well. See the report on the Eisenhower Memorial
for the figures, which exceed $40,000,000.