Three individuals were behind the successful effort to establish a memorial to President Dwight D. Eisenhower: Rocco Siciliano, Senator Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), and Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska). Siciliano, a Roman Catholic, Italian American born in Utah, was called to active duty as a Private in 1943 while a ROTC student. Promoted quickly to first lieutenant in the United States Army, he was awarded a Bronze Star for valor for his actions as part of the 87th Mountain Infantry Regiment during the Italian Campaign. A graduate of Georgetown Law School, he worked for the National Labor Relations Board from 1948 to 1950, and was appointed by Eisenhower in 1953 to be the Assistant Secretary of Labor for employment and manpower activities. In 1957, Eisenhower made Siciliano his Special Assistant to the President for Personnel Management. In 1958, he engineered a meeting between Eisenhower and African American civil rights leaders Lester Granger, Martin Luther King, Jr., A. Philip Randolph, and Roy Wilkins. After decades of public service, Siciliano became head of the Eisenhower Institute in the 1990s. The 50th anniversary of the Normandy landings and the approach of the 50th anniversary of Eisenhower's election as president increased interest in the 34th President. In 1999, his last year as the institute's chairman, Siciliano decided to push for a memorial to Eisenhower. Siciliano had a link to Senator Stevens, a highly decorated World War II Army Air Forces pilot who had worked in the Department of the Interior during the Eisenhower administration and who had proved critical in winning statehood for Alaska. The Eisenhower Institute had also honored Stevens with its Eisenhower Leadership Prize in 1999. Siciliano broached the idea of a memorial with Stevens. Stevens suggested a bipartisan effort, and brought Senator Inouye into the effort. Inouye had served in Italy with the 442nd Infantry Combat Regiment, winning the Bronze Star and losing his right forearm in combat. Siciliano worked with Stevens and Inouye to write the legislative that would authorize a memorial and establish a memorial commission.
No bill was ever introduced in the 106th Congress, and there was almost no debate about the memorial effort. Legislative language authorizing the memorial was inserted into the Department of Defense Appropriations Act. Neither H.R. 2561 (the House version of the bill) nor S. 1122 (the Senate version) contained memorial language. But Senators Stevens and Inouye were both appointed to the conference committee to reconcile the House and Senate bills. The conferees inserted language (Section 8162) to authorize the memorial and establish the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission into the conference report. The House approved the appropriations act 372-to-55 on October 13, and the Senate followed by a vote of 87-to-11 on October 14. President Bill Clinton signed the bill into law (P.L. 106–79) on October 25, 1999.
P.L. 106-79 appropriated $300,000 to fund the commission's initial activities. The law established a 12-member commission, four of whom were to be appointed by the President, four by the Senate (equally split between both political parties), and four by the House (equally split between both political parties). The law provided for a chair and vice chair (they could not be members of the same political party), the appointment of new members in case of vacancy, and a date for the initial meeting (nor more than 45 days after all appointments have been made). Members of the commission would receive no compensation. The commission had the power to spend money appropriated or donated to it, accept donations, hold hearings, and enter into contracts. It was required to make annual reports to the President and Congress, and make a report about the memorial plans as soon as possible.
In 2008, Congress enhanced the commission's duties and powers. Section 332 of the Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-229; May 8, 2008) more clearly defined the commission's ability to solicit donations and contract for specialized services, and permitted it to do so outside of existing federal law. The commission was also empowered to seek the assistance of any federal agency (so long as it paid for that assistance), enter into cooperative agreements with the same, and to procure administrative and support services from the General Services Administration (GSA). A commission staff was also established. An executive director was required to be employed, and the commission was authorized to hire staff (including an architect, and no more than three senior staff) and accept volunteers. Commissioners (and staff and volunteers) were now reimbursed for their reasonable travel expenses. Most importantly, an unlimited amount of money was authorized (but not actually appropriated) to carry out the commission's duties and to design and construct the memorial.
The basic theme of the Eisenhower memorial was outlined at the Eisenhower Memorial Commission's first meeting in June 2000. Senator Stevens said he wanted an "out-of-the-box" design, and Senator Inouye said the design should be so spectacular that the Eisenhower Memorial would surpass the Lincoln Memorial and Jefferson Memorial as the most-visited memorial in the nation's capital. According to Washingtonian magazine, commission chairman Siciliano early on raised the name of architect Frank Gehry as a potential designer. Siciliano was already friends with Gehry: They both lived in Santa Monica, California, and Siciliano's late wife had introduced them. Siciliano also sat on the board of directors of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, which in 1991 commissioned Gehry to design its Walt Disney Concert Hall. (The auditorium opened in 2003 to critical acclaim.)
Several Eisenhower family members, however, expressed their desire for a "living memorial". Susan Eisenhower, former president and chairman emeritus of the Eisenhower Institute, was a particular advocate of the concept. The "living memorial" would not be a monument but rather a program or think tank or some other organization which would help to perpetuate the legacy and values of President Eisenhower. The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars was raised as a potential model. Siciliano expressed his view that a "living memorial" would be far too costly to endow and operate, but Senators Stevens and Inouye thought the idea had merit. The Eisenhower Memorial Commission gave the Eisenhower Institute either a $200,000 contract or a $400,000 contract (sources differ as to the amount) to study the issue. While the Eisenhower Institute studied the issue, the Eisenhower Memorial Commission agreed to also study a physical monument, which meant developing a vision for the memorial and identifying potential sites in Washington, D.C.
The outcome of the "living memorial" study is not clear. Washingtonian magazine reported that, at a memorial commission meeting in June 2007, Siciliano said the Eisenhower Institute concluded a "living memorial" would duplicate the work of the institute and other "legacy organizations" (private foundations and nonprofits dedicated to perpetuating the legacy and carrying on the work of President Eisenhower). The Eisenhower Memorial Commission's March 2013 budget report to Congress, however, says that the "legacy organizations" were unable to agree on what form the "living memorial" would take. Whatever the reasons, the Eisenhower Memorial Commission rejected a "living memorial". According to the memorial commission, Susan Eisenhower and representatives from other "legacy organizations" reached a consensus that the existing legacy groups already formed a "living memorial".
In order to pursue a physical memorial, the Eisenhower Memorial Commission needed the authority to erect a memorial on public lands. Congress immediately gave it that permission in Section 8120 of the Department of Defense and Emergency Supplemental Appropriations for Recovery From and Response to Terrorist Attacks on the United States Act, 2002 (P.L. 107–117; December 20, 2001). The 2001 act gave the commission the right to erect a memorial on public lands under the jurisdiction of the United States Department of the Interior anywhere in the District of Columbia or its environs. The act also placed the memorial under the authority of the Commemorative Works Act (as then amended). This required the commission to work with the National Capital Memorial Advisory Commission in selecting a site, meet certain fundraising requirements, and meet certain deadlines. Once constructed, title to the memorial would be turned over to the National Park Service.
A total of 26 sites were reviewed by the Eisenhower Memorial Commission. The criteria for choosing a site included:"Prominence, public access, and availability";
"Thematic appropriateness to Eisenhower’s memory";
"Feasibility of use and avoidance of undue controversy".
Three sites were short-listed by the commission. The first was on the ground floor of the United States Institute of Peace building at 2301 Constitution Avenue NW. The structure's vast atrium, which looks out on Constitution Avenue, was discussed as early as June 2004. But according to an Eisenhower Memorial Commission report, a member of the Eisenhower family opposed co-locating the memorial there. The commission also considered Freedom Plaza on Pennsylvania Avenue NW and a site on Maryland Avenue SW. An Eisenhower family member requested in September 2004 that the commission also consider the Auditors Building at 14th Street SW and Independence Avenue SW. The commission hired M. Arthur Gensler Jr. & Associates, a design and architectural firm, to assist it in evaluating these three sites. A report on the sites was considered by the commission at its March 2005 meeting. Commissioner David Eisenhower successfully moved that the commission limit its focus to Freedom Plaza and the Maryland Avenue site. The Eisenhower Memorial Commission unanimously chose the Maryland Avenue parcel as its preferred site.
The commission unanimously chose the unnamed plaza bounded by Maryland Avenue SW, 4th Street SW, and 6th Street SW as its preferred site. The plaza is separated from Independence Avenue SW and the National Air and Space Museum by Seaton Section Park, and is adjacent to the north side of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Department of Education Building. The plaza is surrounded by institutions connected to Eisenhower's legacy, including the Department of Education, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Voice of America, and the National Air and Space Museum. The location is also just three blocks from the United States Capitol. The commission requested that the site be named "Eisenhower Square" once the memorial was built.
Selection of this site immediately caused controversy. Some urban planning advocates who wanted to restore Maryland Avenue SW to its original alignment through the square were angry because that the memorial would preclude it. Nonetheless, on November 8, 2005, the National Capital Memorial Advisory Commission approved the Eisenhower Memorial Commission's request that the Eisenhower Memorial be located on Maryland Avenue.
The choice of the Maryland Avenue site involved additional congressional action. The Commemorative Works Act barred the erection of any memorials within "Area 1", the National Mall and its immediate environs. Any memorial erect in Area 1 required the approval of Congress. Congress provided that approval in "Approving the location of the commemorative work in the District of Columbia honoring former President Dwight D. Eisenhower" (P.L. 109-220; May 5, 2006), which authorized construction of the memorial within Area 1.
The design process began in 2006. At a commission meeting to consider design principles in March 2006, Siciliano mentioned Gehry's name for a second time as a possible memorial designer. Susan Eisenhower, who was present as a member of the audience, asked if "the design vocabulary would be modern or traditional". A commission staff member said her question was "premature". Siciliano answered Eisenhower by saying the final memorial would be a "high-quality" one, and then mentioned again that Gehry was interested in designing the monument.
The commission moved ahead with pre-planning for the design competition in 2007. It hired the architectural firm of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill to create a document which would outline "what the National Eisenhower Memorial should be, including goals, requirements, constraints, and opportunities." The following year, the commission issued a call for proposals via the General Services Administration's Design Excellence Program. After initially denying a FOIA request filed by the National Civic Art Society, the General Services Administration revealed that it solicited and received design entries from fewer than 50 firms. None of the firms were minority-owned firms, six firms were owned by women, and 11 firms were small businesses.
After receiving more details from those on its selected "short list", the Eisenhower Memorial Commission selected the proposal submitted by Frank Gehry of Gehry Partners on March 31, 2009. According to Washingtonian magazine, Gehry was Commissioner David Eisenhower's second choice. Nonetheless, David Eisenhower was reportedly very pleased with Gehry's selection. In March 2009, David Eisenhower said he could "vouch for the integrity and excellence of the selection process."
The design competition has been strongly criticized. An early critic of the competition was Justin Shubow, a former magazine editor and head of the National Civic Art Society (NCAS). Shubow characterized the design process as rigged in Gehry's favor, and established a Web site, EisenhowerMemorial.net, to attack the Gehry design. Edward A. Feiner, former chief architect of GSA and the creator of the Design Excellence Program. also objected to the memorial competition for being a closed competition. Critics also included Paul D. Spreiregen, architect, professional advisor for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial competition, and former chairman of the American Institute of Architects' Committee on Competitions, who in 2011 called for a design competition open to the public. On February 29, 2012, Representative Darrell Issa, chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, launched an investigation into the competition. Although Issa's primary concern was the memorial's design, Issa requested that Eisenhower Memorial Commission chair Rocco Siciliano provide the committee with copies of all proposed designs submitted during the design competition, a detailed description of competition process, a detailed description of the means by which the commission selected the Gehry submission, and documentation on all votes taken by the commission regarding the design competition (broken down by member). Issa, in his capacity as an ex officio member of the National Capital Planning Commission, also directed the Eisenhower Memorial Commission to preserve all documentation related to the design competition and the Gehry design. Issa's investigation went no further than that in 2012. However, on March 20, 2012, the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands of the House Natural Resources Committee held a hearing into the design competition. Subcommittee chairman Representative Rob Bishop (R-Utah) asked how much it would cost to run a second design competition, and the political affairs newspaper Roll Call said Bishop "tried to restart the design competition". Although the subcommittee selected mostly witnesses who were critical of the Gehry design, a few defended the design competition process as fair. William J. Guerin, assistant commissioner for the Office of Construction at GSA, said critics mischaracterized the call for proposals as a closed competition. Ned Cramer, editor of ARCHITECT: The Magazine of the American Institute of Architects, wrote nine days after the hearing that the design competition as a "limited request for qualifications" rather than a closed competition. Art and architectural critic Aaron Betsky decried the general tone of the hearing as "mindless innuendo and vituperative allegations", and Cramer agreed. Lydia DePillis of the Washington City Paper described the debate as a disorganized parade of criticism which was reaching "historic proportions".
On March 25, 2010, the Eisenhower Memorial Commission unanimously selected the preferred design concept created by Frank O. Gehry and the commission and design team completed its first round of meetings with federal review agencies.
Maryland Avenue runs through the site with a vista that focuses on the U.S. Capitol Building.
The setting for the four-acre memorial will be framed by giant welded steel tapestries supported by columns 80-feet tall by 10-feet wide. The largest tapestry will extend nearly the entire city-block length of the Department of Education Building. The tapestry will depict an aerial view of Normandy Beach at the present day. Elements of Eisenhower’s home in Abilene, Kansas will be included, according to the commission.
Gehry's initial tapestry design, which depicted the Kansas landscape, received unanimous concept approval from United States Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) on September 15, 2011, including affirmation that the scale and artistry are appropriate. The Department of Education originally questioned the tapestries. However, following revisions and meetings including the review of tapestry mock-ups, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan wrote that the U.S. Department of Education supported the current design of the memorial. The National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) also expressed support for the design but had not yet given preliminary approval. The Architect of the Capitol endorsed Gehry’s design revision, and "applaud[ed] the decision, courage, and commitment of time" that the design team gave to the Section 106 Consultation Meeting process, noting that there are no negative impacts on the view and vista of the U.S. Capitol.
The commission's preferred design concept approved in March 2010, which included Commissioner David Eisenhower's approval (Dwight Eisenhower's grandson), represents Eisenhower as president and general through large stone bas reliefs and text. Although final images and quotations are still under consideration, the leading alternative image representing the general is General Eisenhower with 101st Airborne troops prior to the D-Day invasion in June 1944.
Memorials in Washington have historically been controversial. The design has been severely criticized by the president's son John Eisenhower and granddaughter Susan Eisenhower, who said her entire family opposes it. Robert Campbell, the Boston Globe's architecture critic, said about the design, "It’s way too big. It’s too cartoony. Someone should scrub the design and start over." Roger L. Lewis, an architect and a professor emeritus at the University of Maryland, criticized and opposed the design in the Washington Post: "Building a quasi-fenced precinct makes no sense. The narrative theme relating to Eisenhower’s boyhood, so visually dominant in the present design, also makes no sense. Gehry instead could craft a less grandiose yet visually powerful memorial composition..." Columnist Richard Cohen wrote that the Memorial does not accurately capture Eisenhower's life. George F. Will also opposed the design in the Washington Post. The design has been criticized in The New Republic, National Review, Foreign Policy, Metropolis Magazine, The American Spectator, and The Washington Examiner.
While some have expressed criticism, others have voiced support for the design. Philip Kennicott, the Washington Post culture critic, praised the design: "Gehry has produced a design that inverts several of the sacred hierarchies of the classical memorial, emphasizing ideas of domesticity and interiority rather than masculine power and external display. He has 're-gendered' the vocabulary of memorialization, giving it new life and vitality." Former member of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, Witold Rybczynski, whose critique of the memorial appeared in The New York Times, praised the concept of the roofless building and defended the size of the tapestries: "Mr. Gehry and his collaborators have developed hand-weaving techniques so that the screens really do resemble tapestries. Having seen full-size mock-ups of the screens on the site, I am convinced that their size will not be out of scale with the surroundings." David Childs, former chair of both the National Capital Planning Commission and U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, wrote to Congress in support of the design.
Landscape architects Laurie Olin and William Pedersen have called the design a worthy tribute to a great national leader that is "in sympathy with the character of Washington, D.C." The Washington Post editorial board also endorsed the project, noting that "Mr. Gehry's proposal promises to be a wonderful addition to the face of the Mall, a vision Washington is lucky to have. Moving forward, Congress should authorize these plans as quickly as possible so the memorial can proceed on schedule. As entertaining as these squabbles have often been, enough is enough already." Television producer Norman Lear expressed praise for Frank Gehry, citing Gehry's original concept of tracing the journey of a young man from Kansas to the pinnacles of success as a warrior and the leader of a great nation as "the very best way to illustrate President Eisenhower's significant achievements..." Pulitzer Prize-winning architectural critic, Paul Goldberger, lauded Frank Gehry in a Vanity Fair article for earnestly attempting to commemorate Eisenhower.
In December 2011, David Eisenhower resigned from the Eisenhower Memorial Commission. As the family's representative, Commissioner Eisenhower voted three times in favor of the preferred design concept, including most recently at the July 2011 Commission meeting. However, he now opposes the memorial design.
In January 2012, the National Civic Art Society published The Gehry 'Towers' Over Eisenhower: The National Civic Art Society Report on the Eisenhower Memorial, which was Quoted in a front-page New York Times story, the report is a book-length critique of the memorial's competition, design, and agency approval. The Washington Post said the report received "a remarkable amount of attention, offering talking points for conservative columnists and critics." Writing in Better! Cities & Towns, Philip Langdon called the report "scathing" and said it included "devastating pieces of information."
In May 2012, in response to public and congressional criticism Gehry proposed additional modifications to the memorial and the Eisenhower Commission published new mock-ups by his firm on its website.
On July 18, 2013, the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts approved the general concept of the memorial in a 3-1 vote.
In August 2013, President Barack Obama appointed Bruce Cole to the Eisenhower Memorial Commission. Cole had previously criticized Gehry's design in articles and congressional testimony. Cole serves on the board of advisors for the National Civic Art Society.
On September 8, 2013, the Eisenhower Memorial Commission cancelled its appearance before National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) meeting scheduled for September 12. The Eisenhower Commission explained, "We have decided to forego appearing before NCPC on Sept. 12 in the belief that the next few months would be better spent satisfying the concerns addressed in the [NCPC's Executive Director's Recommendation]." According to the Washington Post, the NCPC recommendation "calls the testing of the memorial materials insufficient, takes issue with the scale and placement of the columns and tapestries, and raises questions about whether the design fulfills its aim to be an 'urban park.'"
The Continuing Resolution approved by Congress on October 16, 2013, zeroed all construction funding and prohibited starting construction. It also required that all funding necessary to complete construction be in place before construction begins.
On November 21, 2013, the memorial again went before the Commission of Fine Arts, where commissioners critiqued the design, which did not receive approval. Commissioner Alex Krieger, Professor in Practice of Urban Design at Harvard Graduate School of Design, said the design would fail as a "traditional first-semester architecture exercise." Also in November, a "weary" Gehry told the Financial Times, “I don’t know whether [the memorial] will get built.” The New York Times reported that "The project's fate is uncertain."
Congress's fiscal year 2014 omnibus bill appropriated only $1 million to the project instead of the requested $51 million, which halved the Eisenhower Commission's annual operating budget. The bill effectively blocked construction until the next round of appropriations. According to Roll Call the bill "zeroes out federal funding for construction and asks for a progress report on private fundraising efforts."
On April 3, 2014, the National Capital Planning Commission voted 7-to-3 to deny preliminary approval of the memorial. The NCPC said it was supportive of a memorial, but rejected the current design because it failed to preserve the vista along Maryland Avenue SW, failed to preserve the view of the U.S. Capitol building, did not meet the L'Enfant Plan's requirements for preserving open space, and did not "[respect] the building lines of the surrounding rights-of-way". At the request of Representative Darrell Issa, chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, the NCPC asked the Eisenhower Memorial Commission to report back to it every two months on its memorial redesign.
In early September 2014, Gehry submitted another revised design to the Eisenhower Memorial Commission. This design eliminated the east and west tapestries, moved the columns back from Independence Avenue, and made other, smaller changes to the memorial. The following week, Representative Darrell Issa sent a letter to the commission, asking it to consider a memorial design that completely eliminated the tapestries and columns. Gehry threatened to remove his name from the project if the stripped-down version of the design Issa requested was approved and sent to the NCPC. The Eisenhower Memorial Commission met on September 17, 2014, to consider Gehry's design changes. But the commission lacked a quorum to conduct business, as only five members attended (all four presidentially-appointed members, and Rep. Sanford Bishop). In a private vote conducted via email on September 23, the Eisenhower Memorial Commission approved Gehry's revised design. A motion to delay consideration of the design for several weeks was defeated. The commission forwarded only one design (Gehry's preferred revision) to the NCPC for its consideration, rather than the two alternatives requested by Representative Issa.
On October 2, 2014, the NCPC voted 10-to-1 in to approve Gehry's revised preliminary design. The NCPC-approved design now headed back to the CFA. On October 16, the CFA approved the revised preliminary design. This approval allowed the memorial's designers to begin working on the specifics of the memorial, such as the statuary, the specific quotations to be used, the fonts for these quotations, landscaping, paving, and more. CFA and NCPC approval were needed for all design-specific elements.
Eisenhower Memorial architect Craig Webb met with the Commission of Fine Arts on February 19, 2015, to seek approval of the memorial's lighting design, but the CFA decline to approve his proposal and asked him to return with a more concrete plan (one which included details on the actual ground lights to be used, and the location and height of lighting poles). Webb delivered a presentation on the quotations to be used on the memorial, but CFA members questioned whether the plan to use extracted and combined quotations would create the impression of "authentic text" where none existed. Webb discussed landscaping and signage with the CFA in March 2015. The CFA was positive about the landscaping design, although it suggested some changes and ask for additional study. It was more critical of the signage, and asked for alterations. Webb discussed sculptural elements with the commission in April, and generally praised the improvements. A review of design concepts for the tapestries, columns, and overlook wall occurred in May 2015, and strongly approved of these. As is often the case, the CFA asked for full-scale mock-ups (both day and night) for these elements.
On May 8, 2015, the National Park Service issued a final draft of it Determination of Effect, a legally required assessment of the project's negative impact on nearby historic properties. The document affirmed that any impact would be minimal. Prominent local architect Arthur Cotton Moore challenged this finding in a May 22 letter to the District of Columbia's State Historic Preservation Officer, arguing that the memorial would significantly alter the L'Enfant Plan. NPS Facility Division Chief Sean Kennealy replied to issues raised by Moore and others on June 4, concluding that Maryland Avenue SW would be enhanced by the elimination of parking lots and the memorial's alignment of tree plantings.
The Commission of Fine Arts gave its unanimous final approval to the memorial's detailed plans on June 17, 2015. The approval meant that the memorial now needed the authorization of the National Capital Planning Commission, which scheduled a vote on for its final approval for July 9.
On July 9, 2015, the National Capital Planning Commission voted 9-to-1 to approve the final design submissions for the Eisenhower memorial. (At least one authoritative industry publication noted that the project was now a joint venture between Gehry Partners and AECOM, which provides technical and management support services.) Although the NCPC was worried about the durability of the tapestry material and welds, the memorial commission's submission assuaged these concerns.
With the Eisenhower family still unhappy with the memorial design, Congressional funding for the memorial appeared uncertain. James Baker, former U.S. Secretary of State and a member of the Eisenhower Memorial Commission advisory commission, met with members of the family and the design team and brokered a compromise. On September 14, Susan Eisenhower issued a letter in which she said Gehry Partners had agreed to include images of the D-Day landing sites (as they exist today) on the metal tapestry. A new quote ("The proudest thing I can claim is that I am from Abilene") would be added to the quotes carved into the blocks of stone. With these changes, the Eisenhower family agreed to support the memorial.
Additional design changes were made in early December 2016. The metal tapestry was changed to remove all images of Abilene, and now only featured the present-day Normandy coast at Pointe du Hoc. The statue of Eisenhower as a boy was relocated from its central location to a promenade located between the metal tapestry and the Department of Education building, and some text from Eisenhower's June 22, 1945, "Homecoming Speech" will be etched on a nearby wall. The architects felt this would better emphasize Eisenhower's attemts to create a Department of Education and in expanding the federal role in funding primary, secondary, and higher education. Four trees near the center of the memorial were also removed to improve views of the tapestry. The revisions needed to be approved by the NCPC and CFA.
At its meeting on January 23, 2017, the CFA approved of the tapestry change, but did not support moving the boyhood statue behind the tapestry nor the removal of the four trees. The agency asked for the architects to revisit and resubmit the design for final approval, and asked that a full-size, on-site mock-up of the Normandy tapestry be provided for commissioners' viewing to ensure the tapestry's legibility.
In August 2012, the Eisenhower Memorial Commission announced plans for an "e-memorial" to accompany the physical one. Eisenhower Memorial Commission officials claimed the Eisenhower Memorial would be the first presidential memorial to be augmented with an e-memorial.
The e-memorial will be a free mobile app designed by Local Projects, a media design firm which has worked with museums and historic sites to develop similar projects. Seven key episodes in Eisenhower's life—including his entry at United States Military Academy in 1911, D-Day in 1944, Eisenhower's election to the presidency in 1952, the racial desegregation crisis of 1957, and the creation of NASA in 1958)—will be augmented with still images, video, and audio to both provide greater insight into how these events were not only important to Eisenhower but also helped change national and world affairs. Some visual components will be superimposed onto the physical memorial, to provide interactivity between the physical and virtual worlds. The app will also include educational games for children. Some of the materials used by the app will be provided by the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum. Development costs for the app were anticipated to be $2 million, and the National Park Service would be responsible for maintaining and upgrading the e-memorial once the Eisenhower Memorial was dedicated. A memorial Web site, distinct from the National Capital Parks-Central Web site, was also planned.
The e-memorial drew criticism from Susan Eisenhower in August 2012, who argued that "storytelling" was better left to museums rather than the monuments. In June 2013, Susan Eisenhower said it was "surprising, even inappropriate" that the Eisenhower Memorial Commission was moving ahead with the e-memorial. She argued that there were "many issues still to be resolved" about the memorial's physical design, and she felt the memorial commission should be focused on design issues "rather than selecting inscriptions and making announcements about the E Memorial."
On June 6, 2013, The Eisenhower Memorial Commission premiered the first of six videos which it said would be part of the e-memorial. The new video focused on D-Day. The film, which put the viewer in the role of Eisenhower as he made critical decisions regarding the Normandy landings, used rarely-seen D-Day footage. The General Services Administration issued a "sources-sought notice" asking scholars and educators to submit their names and availability to help design elementary and secondary school lesson plans for used on the memorial's Web site.
As with most previous presidential memorials, the activities of the Eisenhower Memorial Commission and the design and construction of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial were initially intended to be fully funded by the federal government. The Eisenhower Memorial Commission assured the Eisenhower family that no private fundraising for the memorial would be needed. This was an important issue for the Eisenhowers, who have established or sit on the board of directors of six "legacy organizations". The family was concerned that fundraising for the memorial would negatively affect their ability to fundraise for these legacy organizations. In 2008, however, House Appropriations Committee staff informed the Eisenhower Memorial Commission that Congress was no longer likely to completely fund the design and construction of the memorial due to the economic downturn caused by the Great Recession, and that some private fundraising would be required.
The commission consulted with the fundraising consulting firm Odell, Simms & Lynch (OSL) in February 2011 to develop a fundraising strategy. Representatives of the Eisenhower family met with OSL in March 2012, during which time the Eisenhowers expressed their concern with the fundraising campaign. OSL, however, argued that the legacy organizations would benefit from the successful completion of the memorial. OSL crafted a fundraising plan for the commission, and outreach to 200 major donors (defined as those individuals of high net worth) began in 2013. The commission targeted "individuals with a direct link to President Eisenhower and his legacy; organizations and individuals with an interest in the E-Memorial educational component; and friends and admirers of Frank Gehry and his work" in "key markets" such as California, Georgia, Kansas, New York, Texas, and Washington, D.C. Working with retired Marine Corps General Paul X. Kelley and former Republican National Committee chairman Frank Fahrenkopf, both members of the Eisenhower Memorial Commission's Advisory Board, OSL also reached out to members of the Giving Back Fund, all of whom are capable of donating more than $10 million. As of March 2013, the Eisenhower Memorial Commission had already raised $1.7 million in donations and pledges. Once the memorial design was approved, the commission said it was ready to move forward on fundraising outreach to corporations, foundations, and international organizations and foreign governments.
Congress has appropriated some funds for the memorial's design and construction, however. Congress appropriated $16 million in the Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2010 (P.L. 111-88; October 29, 2009), and $30.99 million in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2012 (P.L. 112-74; December 17, 2011). The 2011 legislation was also important because it allowed the Eisenhower Memorial Commission to meet a critical fundraising challenge. The Commemorative Works Act (CWA; as amended) requires a memorial foundation to raise 75 percent of the construction costs before the United States Department of the Interior is permitted to issue a construction permit. Additionally, the CWA requires a memorial foundation to raise an additional amount, equal to 10 percent of the memorial's total construction costs, for deposit in a memorial maintenance trust fund (which is administered by the National Park Service). The 2011 legislation declared that the funds provided by Congress thus far shall be deemed to be sufficient to meet both fundraising requirements of the CWA.
By March 2013, the Eisenhower Memorial Commission had spent $8,721,000 of the $46.99 million in existing design and construction funds. However, in October 2013 Congress suspended the commission's exception to the full funding requirement of the Commemorative Works Act (CWA) until it had the necessary funds, essentially preventing the commission from building a memorial (even if approved by the Commission of Fine Arts or the National Capital Planning Commission).
The cost of constructing the memorial was estimated to be $65 million to $75 million in October 2014. The memorial commission said it had $22 million in appropriated funds to left to begin construction, which the commission said it would use for site preparation (estimated to cost $22 million). However, the Commemorative Works Act requires that the commission have at least 75 percent of construction funds in hand before work could begin. Although the legislation authorizing the memorial originally waived the CWA's requirements, the 2014 legislation barring the commission from expending its remaining funds also withdrew that waiver. The Eisenhower Memorial Commission said it would ask Congress to restore the waiver so that construction could begin immediately.
On December 16, 2014, President Barack Obama signed Public Law 113–235 (128 Stat. 2443), which set aside $1 million (available until expended) for salaries and expenses of commission members, and the cost of construction design. But all other funding for the memorial was zeroed out, and Congress eliminated the 2011 CWA funding waiver. But despite the design approval, Anne and Susan Eisenhower spent the first several months of 2015 lobbying Congress against the memorial.
The Eisenhower Memorial Commission asked Congress for a significant budget expenditure in fiscal 2016. In addition to a $2 million operating budget (for salaries and expenses), the commission requested $68.2 million to begin construction. However, the draft appropriations bill approved by the House Appropriations Committee in June 2015 contained no funding for the memorial, required the commission to limit its operations to "essential" daily functions only, and ordered the commission to comply with the CWA fundraising requirements before construction could begin. A nonbinding clause in the bill asked the Eisenhower Memorial Commission to consider restarting the design process. "However, the Commission's ongoing indifference to the views of the Eisenhower family, and the resulting lack of consensus on the memorial design, remain an area of significant concern," the bill read. "It is inconceivable and unacceptable to the Committee that a memorial to Dwight D. Eisenhower could be designed, approved, and built without the active support of the Eisenhower family." The full House Appropriations Committee approved the draft on June 16. The draft Senate version of the bill funded commission operations at $1 million in fiscal 2016. The Senate bill contained nonbinding language, advising the memorial commission that "Construction should not commence until there is broad support among the public, the Eisenhower family and Congress."
By June 2015, the memorial's cost had risen to an estimated $142 million to $150 million. This was the cost still cited in December 2016.
On July 13, 2015, the government of Taiwan announced a $1 million donation to the memorial. Fundraising had netted about $8 million as of December 1, 2016.
The Eisenhower Memorial Commission consists of 12 appointed commissioners. Four members are appointed by the President of the United States. They are:Rocco C. Siciliano
Susan Banes Harris
Four members are appointed by the President Pro Tempore of the United States Senate. They are:Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) - Chairman
Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia)
Gary Peters (D-Michigan)
Four members are appointed by the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives. They are:William (Mac) Thornberry (R-Texas)
Mike Simpson (R-Idaho)
Sanford Bishop, Jr. (D-Georgia)
Mike Thompson (D-California) - Vice Chairman