Then there’s Frank Gehry, the starchitect who designed MIT’s Stata Center among other landmark buildings. His Looney-Tunes design just got green lighted for the Eisenhower Memorial, a historic fiasco chronicled for the ages by the redoubtable Andrew Ferguson in the Weekly Standard last month.
Dole, Gehry, and Ike
Like Lazarus, or maybe Frankenstein’s monster, the appalling plan for the Eisenhower Memorial in Washington, D.C., appears to be sputtering to life once more. Only two months ago it seemed safely kaput.
The design by “starchitect” Frank Gehry aims for a deconstructionist fantasy that scatters its elements (massive stone blocks, a few statues, a vast metallic screen hoisted between 80-foot posts) across a chaotic city block just off the National Mall. It’s a sly insult to Dwight Eisenhower and the homespun virtues he typifies in the American imagination. And coming from the famously antibourgeois Gehry, it is very likely a pitiless joke—completely missed by its targets—on the aesthetic judgment of the bureaucrats and bumpkins responsible for preserving the integrity of the city’s memorials.
Yes, $60 million later, it was dead in the water – until, as Ferguson notes, “Bob Dole showed up.”
A Kansan like Ike, a genuine hero of the war effort that Eisenhower led, Dole has joined the commission’s new chairman, Kansas senator Pat Roberts, to lobby on behalf of the memorial . . .
Publicly Dole has expressed no opinion of Gehry’s design. He seems indifferent to it; what gets built is less important to him than when it gets built, and the sooner the better.
Because World War II veterans would “like to be around for the dedication,” Dole says.
We’ve always admired Bob Dole as a man (except when he mortgaged part of his soul during the 1996 presidential campaign), but his push for the Eisenhower Memorial feels totally compromised.
Then again, it seems to be effective: The Eisenhower Commission is pushing Congress to allocate another $60 million to begin construction.
One more riff from Ferguson:
Though the point is seldom explicitly made, the legacy of the greatest generation is decidedly mixed. It certainly got the big things right—saving the world from unspeakable tyranny, for example. In matters of architecture, design, and public planning, however, the greatest generation was a disaster, and for this reason: It lacked the confidence to question the say-so of frauds and cynics and ideologues who called themselves experts—whether in scholarship, social sciences, architecture, or art.
This whole enterprise is a shonda, and the Gehry design defiles the memory of Dwight Eisenhower and the many good people who died for this country.
Someone should put an end to it.
Paging Donald Trump . . . paging Mr. Donald Trump . . .