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Congress Introduces Legislation to Halt Eisenhower Memorial

Recently, Congressman Rob Bishop (UT) introduced H.R. 1126, legislation that would eliminate nearly $100 million in future funding for the proposed Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial and mandate the an alternative to the currently proposed design. 

Eisenhower Memorial
The memorial, designed by architect Frank Gehry for a site on Independence Avenue just south of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., has been controversial throughout the proposal process. Concerns have been raised about Gehry’s vision, the project’s cost, and sustainability. Last March, Congress held a hearing on the proposed memorial, during which members of the Eisenhower family and others were especially vocal about the project, calling the design “too extravagant.” The cost of the project is estimated at nearly $142 million, 80 percent of which will be paid with tax-payer dollars.

Bishop says that his legislation is “intended to encourage public design competitions, where judges will anonymously choose a design over a designer. Competitions could produce a viable alternative to the current design and can address concerns over cost and durability.”

However, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) vehemently opposes Bishop’s legislation. AIA CEO Robert Ivy, FAIA, states, “Representative Bishop’s legislation allows Congress to exercise governmental authority in a wholly arbitrary manner that negates the stated selection process and is an effort to intimidate innovative thinking for which our profession is recognized at home and around the globe.” AIA’s managing director for governmental relations, Andrew Goldberg, continues, “You don’t want Congress inserting itself and making design decisions.”

Congress will continue its review of the Eisenhower Memorial and the selection process during another congressional hearing of the House Committee on Natural Resources’ subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation on Tuesday, March 19. Witnesses for the hearing had not yet been announced at press time.

ASLA continues to support the construction of commemorative memorials and hopes that an appropriate resolution can be worked out in the near future.

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