Frank Gehry’s design for the four-acre Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial in Washington D.C. has sparked controversy for its departure from traditional memorial design around the National Mall from the president’s family and others, prompting a third-party design competition and calls for redesign from Congress. Now the beleaguered memorial is one step closer to reality as the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) voted 3-to-1 this month to approve an updated design with additional changes to proposed woven-metal tapestries that have generated most of the public outcry.
An artistic selection committee Thursday selected three semi-finalists for the Ohio Statehouse Holocaust Memorial in Columbus. Jaume Plensa of Chicago, Columbus’ Ann Hamilton, and Daniel Libeskind will visit the site, meet with the committee and then have six weeks to submit a proposal for review. The committee will pick the final project artist in May.
Libeskind designed Berlin’s Jewish Museum, one of the most prominent memorials of its kind. Ann Hamilton has home-turf advantage, so to speak, and is coming off a spectacularly reviewed show at the Armory, The Event of a Thread. Spanish-born Jaume Plensa’s evocative sculptures are pensive and humanistic, often involving glowing lights, and seem well suited to such a project.
This morning former President Bill Clinton, Governor Andrew Cuomo, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined in a dignitary-studded dedication ceremony for the long awaited Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Memorial Park on Roosevelt Island’s southern tip. The four-acre triangular park, designed by architect Louis Kahn, features 120 Linden trees leading to a half-ton bronze bust of Roosevelt at its crest surveying the U.N. Headquarters and the East River. The sculpture by American artist Jo Davidson sits on a alcove of white granite inscribed with excerpts of the president’s renowned Four Freedoms speech. While the forty-years-in-the-making memorial does not officially open to the public until October 24th you can catch an early glimpse on October 19th when the park will be featured as Archtober’s Building of The Day.
Literally in the shadow of One World Trade is a memorial for September 11 that has been overrun by tourists since the days after the disaster. Its quiet dignity has been maintained, outlasting the dozens of hawkers who sold Twin Tower replicas just a few feet away. The memorial bears but one name, “Mary Wife of James Miles,” who died on September 11, 1796.
Today’s New York Observer weighed in on the New York Post‘s claim that tourists are turning the September 11 Memorial into a glorified playground. “When the construction barriers finally come down, the lines will be gone, people will come and go as they please. They will pray and they will play, and that is how it should be,” wrote the Observer’s Matt Chaban. As the debate continues as to what constitutes appropriate behavior at the memorial, one need only walk one block east to take in two century’s worth of history on how New Yorkers memorialize.
Amid the endless hand wringing about design and planning compromises and the pace of construction at the World Trade Center site, the dedication of the Pentagon Memorial on September 11 offered some solace. A simpler project by far, the Pentagon Memorial still took years longer to complete than expected. “When we got the commission, we took an 18 month lease in Alexandria, Virginia,” said Julie Beckman, one of the memorial’s designers, “but it ended up being a 66 month long project.” Fundraising for the memorial, all which came from private sources, proved challenging, but the architects believe the extra time improved project as built. “It was a blessing in disguise,” she said.