WASHINGTON — Questions over the durability of stainless steel “tapestries” and other elements in the design of a planned Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial near the National Mall delayed the project anew Tuesday, continuing more than 18 months of setbacks.
The federal Eisenhower Memorial Commission announced Tuesday it will not appear before the National Capital Planning Commission as planned Thursday to seek preliminary approval for its building plans. The memorial group cited concerns raised by the planning commission’s staff over some of architect Frank Gehry’s design elements.
Gehry has proposed a memorial park with statues and images of Eisenhower as president, World War II hero and as a young boy from Kansas. Three large metal tapestries held up by large columns would frame the park, with images depicting the Kansas landscape of Eisenhower’s boyhood home.
The staff of the federal planning commission, which must approve building projects in the nation’s capital, has questioned the durability of the woven stainless steel tapestries and wants to see results from further testing.
Most memorials in Washington are made primarily of stone or bronze, including memorials to Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Martin Luther King Jr. Planning officials noted the use of stainless steel is “truly innovative” but is untested and unlike any other memorial.
The Eisenhower Memorial group said it will keep working to answer questions to gain approval for the project.
“These memorial elements will be constructed using proven materials that have been used in many Washington, D.C., memorials,” the Eisenhower Memorial Commission said in a statement. “Therefore, we have decided to forego appearing before (the planning commission) on Sept. 12 in the belief that the next few months would be better spent satisfying the concerns.”
In a report on the memorial design, planning officials also said the Eisenhower Memorial’s large columns and tapestries could block views of the U.S. Capitol, disrupting the original plan for the capital city’s layout.