Objections from the Eisenhower family

President Eisenhower’s family long objected to the proposed memorial design. A letter from his son John to Eisenhower Memorial Commission Vice Chairman Daniel Inouye in 2012 voiced the family’s concerns:

“The Memorial design is so far off base that I urged a delay in the planning process for a significant period…Though the members of the Eisenhower family are grateful to those who conceived of this memorial and have worked hard for its success, we have come to believe that the Eisenhower Memorial Commission has no intention of re-examining the concept, even though there would be ample historic precedent for it. It is apparently interested only in convincing us of the virtues of the present design…we as a family cannot support the Eisenhower Memorial as currently designed—in concept, scope, or scale.”

Read the letter here.

Divided Public Opinion

Washington Post: “Review: Frank Gehry’s Eisenhower Memorial reinvigorates the genre.”
Los Angeles Times: “First look at Frank Gehry’s Eisenhower Memorial”
Boston Globe: “Pressing Pause, for Cause, on the Eisenhower Memorial”
The New Yorker: “Rescuing the Eisenhower Memorial”
David Brooks: “The Follower Problem”
David Frum: “Redesign the Ike Monument”
Ralph Hauenstein: “Honoring Ike, a veteran’s perspective”
Michael J. Lewis: “The Decline of American Monuments and Memorials”
George Will: “Eisenhower Memorial misses the man.


No Public Selection Process

The Eisenhower Memorial Commission rejected the standard public process for designing national memorials, through public competitions that are open to everyone. Such competitions were used for every memorial designed for the National Mall since the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in 1981, and for all three of the national September 11th memorials.  

Instead the commission used a government program that considers only registered architects, on the basis of their reputations. That program was overturned as inappropriate and undemocratic the only other time it was tried for a national memorial (the World War II Memorial, in 1996).

A Congressional investigation found irregularities in the administration of this government program for the Eisenhower Memorial, which favored the eventual winner (see below).

Read more about the selection process here and here.

An Expensive Proposal

  • Thumbnail 1 Thumbnail 1
    Washington Memorial
    Cost: $45.3 million*
      Lincoln Memorial
    Cost: $48.6 million
    Thumbnail 1   Thumbnail 1
    Jefferson Memorial
    Cost: $42.4 million
      Eisenhower Memorial
    Currently $150 million

No Funding from Congress

Congress has withheld public funds to build the Eisenhower Memorial since 2012. Lawmakers also removed a waiver that would have allowed construction to begin without full funding, and since 2013 they cut the annual operating budget for the Eisenhower Memorial Commission from $2 million to $1 million. Explanatory language in the Congressional Budget for Fiscal Year 2014 “urge[s]the Commission to work with all constituencies — including Congress and the Eisenhower family - as partners in the planning and design process.”

Read about the 2013 budget here.
Read about the Fiscal Year 2014 budget here.
Read about the Fiscal Year 2015 budget here.

Congressional Investigations

In 2012 The House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform opened an investigation into “the process leading to acceptance of the Frank Gehry submission.”

Also in 2012 the House Committee on Natural Resources opened an investigation into activities of the Eisenhower Memorial Commission. In July 2014 it published the results of its investigation in a report titled “A FIVE-STAR FOLLY: An Investigation into the Cost Increases, Construction Delays, and Design Problems That Have Been a Disservice to the Effort to Memorialize Dwight D. Eisenhower.”  Among the findings in that report:

“[Commission] Chairman Rocco Siciliano stated at the commission’s March 30th, 2006 meeting that “he had a discussion several years ago with architect Frank Gehry, who indicated an interest in a possible design of the Eisenhower Memorial.” (p.11)

“Chairman Siciliano served as the Vice Chairman of the Los Angeles Philharmonic when Mr. Gehry was commissioned to design the Philharmonic’s Walt Disney Concert Hall…Both Mr. Gehry and Mr. Siciliano are Honorary Life Directors of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association Board of Directors.” (p.11)

“Rather than establish a design competition that would be open to all interested architects, artists, students, or designers regardless of professional stature or experience, as had been used for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and others, the Commission chose to utilize GSA’s Design Excellence Program for the memorial design competition.” (p. 12)

“The process used to select Frank Gehry as the designer substantially deviated from the standard Design Excellence Program. . . The evaluation board changed the weight of how the factors would be considered, giving more weight to a designer’s portfolio of work and less to the designer’s past performance. The low weight given to Past Design Performance and the greater weight given to the designer’s portfolio and profile may have assisted in the selection of Gehry, given criticism about previous notable Gehry projects coming in significantly over budget and allegations of leaks and other flaws in Gehry designed buildings. (p.14)

“As of 2013, the Gehry contract [for the Eisenhower Memorial] had been modified 23 times, increasing the total value of the contract by almost $6.5 million, nearly 65 percent of the original contract’s value.” (p.21)

“The cost under the Gehry contract to create mockups of the steel tapestries that form the border of the Memorial has thus far increased by 2,300 percent.” (p. 39)

A Poor Track Record for the Architect

Project Name Estimated Completion Actual Completion Estimated Cost Actual Cost
Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles 1997 2003 $100 Million
(rev. from $50m)
$274 Million1

Jay Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park, Chicago 2000 2004 $10.8 Million $60 Million2

Ray and Maria Stata Center, MIT, Boston January 2004 May 2004 $165 Million $315 Million3

Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC 20054
orig. 2003
Cancelled for lack of funding $40 Million $200 Million5
at cancellation

Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial 2017
orig. 2015
  $55-75 Million Currently $150 million

  • A Written Record of Controversy

    • June 29, 2017
      Independent Journal Review
      A Memorial to Eisenhower Is Being Built in DC. But There's a Glaring Problem With the Design...
    • June 4, 2017
      Washington Times
      Honoring a General and a President
    • May 26, 2017
      City Journal
      Monumental Folly
    • May 25, 2017
      Miami Herald
      Eisenhower Memorial won’t be done by D-Day 75th anniversary
    • May 3, 2017
      Battle for the soul of public lands stretches from Missoula to Washington, D.C.
    • March 27, 2017
      Breitbart News
      Roche: Save President Eisenhower's Memorial from Washington
    • March 21, 2017
      Roll Call
      Massive Eisenhower Memorial Could Break Ground as Early as September
    • March 13, 2017
      The Meridian Star
      Cochran to Serve on Eisenhower Memorial Commission
    • March 8, 2017
      The American Conservative
      Will Eisenhower Ever Have a Fitting Memorial?
    • February 3, 2017
      Photos: Design for the Eisenhower memorial changes again
    • February 2, 2017
      Curbed Washington DC
      NCPC 'puzzled' by Eisenhower Memorial design changes, approves project anyway
    • January 23, 2017
      Washington Business Journal
      Eisenhower Memorial goes slightly back to the drawing board
    • December 5, 2016
      Washington Free Beacon
      Commission Approves More Changes to Troubled Eisenhower Memorial
    • September 21, 2016
      Curbed Washington DC
      Eisenhower family finally supports Frank Gehry's Eisenhower Memorial
    • September 14, 2016
      The Daily Caller
      The Eisenhower Memorial Design Is So Unpopular Even Veterans Dislike It
    • September 13, 2016
      The Washington Free Beacon
      58 Generals, Admirals Sign Letter Opposing Design of Eisenhower Memorial
    • August 29, 2016
      The Washington Times
      Not Liking This Ike: The Eisenhower Memorial Design Needs a Do Over
    • June 14, 2016
      The Washington Free Beacon
      House Appropriations Committee Recommends Zeroing Funding for Eisenhower Memorial
    • May 11, 2016
      The Washington Free Beacon
      Veterans Call for New Design to Eisenhower Memorial
    • May, 2016
      The New Criterion
      All that's Gehrish
    • April 27, 2016
      Eisenhower Memorial Raises Just $5 Million of $150 Million Needed
    • April 26, 2016
      The Washington Free Beacon
      Fundraising Woes Continue for Eisenhower Memorial
    • February 12, 2016
      The Washington Post
      A Do-over for Ike: Scrap the Pricey Memorial Design and Hold a Public Competition
    • February 17, 2016
      The Washington Free Beacon
      Commission Requests $84 million to build the Eisenhower Memorial
    • February 14, 2016
      The Daily Beast
      It's D-Day for Ike's Memorial
    • December 17, 2015
      Washington Free Beacon
      Congress Zeroes Construction Funds for Eisenhower Memorial
    • November 13, 2015
      The Hill
      Sam Roche on a Way Forward for the Eisenhower Memorial
    • November 3, 2015
      The Washington Free Beacon
      Veterans group calls for new design of Eisenhower Memorial
    • October 31, 2015
      Veterans Group Slams Eisenhower Memorial Design
    • October 25, 2015
      Bristol Herald Courier
      A Memorial Like Ike: Ike's Memorial Should Be Reset
    • September 29, 2015
      Roll Call
      Can Eisenhower Memorial Go It Alone without Congress?
    • September 16, 2015
      The New York Times
      Presidents Bush join Eisenhower Memorial fundraising effort
    • September 14, 2015
      The Washington Post
      Tom Hanks joins Eisenhower Memorial advisory council
    • August 29, 2015
      Topeka Capital Journal
      Ike Memorial Refreshingly Representative
    • August 28, 2015
      Wichita Eagle
      Sam Roche to Wichita Eagle
    • August 28, 2015
      Roll Call
      Letter: Ike Memorial Gets Another Critic
    • August 27, 2015
      Power Line
      Enter Sensenbrenner
    • August 26, 2015
      Standard Examiner
      Sam Roche: Exploding Costs, Backroom Deals Have Delayed Eisenhower Memorial
    • August 26, 2015
      Washington Free Beacon
      GOP Congressman Demands Ike Memorial Commission Be Stripped of Funding
    • August 25, 2015
      Standard Examiner
      Our View: Get the Eisenhower Memorial Through, Bishop
    • August 25, 2015
      Wichita Eagle
      Judy Burgess: Proud of Ike Memorial
    • August 19, 2015
      The Washington Post
      The Proposed Eisenhower Memorial is a Monstrosity
    • August 17, 2015
      The Weekly Standard
      Dole, Gehry, and Ike
    • August 6, 2015
      Roll Call
      Bob Dole is Wrong: The Eisenhower Memorial Needs to Be Right, Not Rushed
    • August 6, 2015
      Harrison Daily
      Take Time to Do It Right
    • August 3, 2015
    • July 29, 2015
      Focus on Taiwan News Channel
      Taiwan Pledges Donation to Eisenhower Memorial Project
    • July 28, 2015
      Plans for Dwight Eisenhower Memorial Mired in Controversy as Family Refuses to Approve Designs

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