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Bruce Cole to Join Eisenhower Memorial Panel

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

Former chairman of the National Council of the Humanities and adviser to the National Civic Art Society Bruce Cole has been named to the Eisenhower Memorial panel, AP News reports. Cole has been an outspoken critic of Frank Gehry’s “metal tapestry” design, and will join a panel of 10 other commissioners to oversee the project’s development.

The Eisenhower Memorial Commission was authorized by Congress in 1999, and Gehry won the closed competition to serve as lead designer in 2009.  Gehry, notable for designing the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and the Walt Disney Concert Hall, planned a four-acre memorial park near the National Air and Space Museum, with statues and images depicting Eisenhower in different periods of his life, including as president, as a general in World War II, and as a child growing up in Kansas.

Gehry’s unique design has been controversial, with members of the Eisenhower family expressing their concerns about its emphasis on Eisenhower’s early life and the overall design. Cole has called Gehry’s design “unintelligible” and “more about [Gehry’s] ego than about Ike.”

President Eisenhower’s granddaughter, Susan Eisenhower, supports the selection of Cole to the panel:

It’s not just about memorials, but you know, his background indicates that he has a lot of experience with historic memory and other important things that are wrapped up in memorials. If anything, the commission has had some difficulty in having extremely, extremely busy commission members who perhaps have not followed the progress of developments as much as they might have.

For more on the importance of national memorials and, watch video from our “Monumental fights: The role of memorials in civic life” event, featuring Cole and co-sponsored by the National Civic Art Society.