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“From a ‘New Paradigm’ to ‘Memorial Sprawl’: The Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Memorial

Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/Proceedings - With ISBN/ISSNChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

Publication date11/2018
Host publicationConstructing Presidential Legacy: How We Remember the American President
EditorsMichael Cullinane, Sylvia Ellis
Place of PublicationEdninburgh
PublisherEdinburgh University Press
Number of pages48
ISBN (electronic)9781474437349, 9781474437332
ISBN (print)9781474437318
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Publication series

NameNew Perspectives on the American Presidency
PublisherEdinburgh University Press


The chapter uncovers the design history of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Memorial currently being constructed in Washington, DC. It situates the memorial design in the context of a long-standing conflict between tradition and innovation in Washington monuments, in which innovative designs are often compromised in the process of design development. In this case, the planners of the Eisenhower memorial said that they wanted it to be so path-breaking that it would inaugurate a "new paradigm" in monument design; they commissioned the superstar architect Frank Gehry, known for his novel architectural forms, to produce the design. Members of the Eisenhower family, architectural traditionalists, and -- eventually -- influential members of Congress imposed a series of compromises on Gehry's original conception, among them the addition of portrait statuary, which Gehry had initially said were outmoded as a commemorative form. Ultimately, the revised design conforms to the late-twentieth century tendency to "memorial sprawl," a hodge podge of textual, representational, landscape, architectural and symbolic elements.