WASHINGTON — Scrapping a disputed design for a planned Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial near the National Mall and developing an alternate concept over the next five years would cost about $17 million, analysts have found.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office developed the estimate based on a House bill that would have the 14-year-old memorial project redesigned. The current memorial concept by architect Frank Gehry has been criticized by some, including Eisenhower’s family, as being “too extravagant” and too “avant-garde.”
Utah Rep. Rob Bishop called for a new design with the family’s support. His office did not immediately comment on the report Friday.
Gehry — whose designs include the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles — has proposed an Eisenhower memorial park with statues of the president and World War II hero framed by large metal tapestries depicting the Kansas landscape of Ike’s home. The federal Eisenhower Memorial Commission selected Gehry to design the memorial and unanimously approved his design in June.
About $60 million has already been allocated by Congress for the $142 million project. Gehry has said his design is on budget.
The cost estimate for a redesign was to be delivered Friday to the House Natural Resources Committee, which has approved the bill calling for a new design competition run by a new staff and commission. The budget office said its estimate is based on historical spending for other national memorials. It projected the expenses for new staff and commissioners would be about the same as the current operation.
Some groups calling for a new memorial concept said a redesign could save money in the end by choosing a less expensive design. That’s not necessarily a guarantee, though. The estimated cost of a redesign does not project future construction costs.
The Eisenhower family has called for a simple memorial and has objected to Gehry’s idea of metal tapestries. Eisenhower’s grandson, David Eisenhower, was a member of the memorial commission that selected Gehry until he resigned in late 2011. Around that time, Susan Eisenhower and Anne Eisenhower, the former president’s granddaughters, began voicing objections to the scope and scale of the project on the family’s behalf.
In March, the memorial project had about $22.2 million unspent from $30.9 million allocated by Congress last year for design and construction, based on figures provided to The Associated Press. About $8.7 million had been committed for design work preparing for construction of Gehry’s plan.
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