Proposal for Eisenhower Memorial
The plan submitted by my firm last Spring for the Eisenhower Memorial received recognition by the National Civic Art Society in the competition which it sponsored for counterproposals for the design of the Memorial last year ("Plan".). The Plan locates the Memorial on one third of the large identified site, at its most visible and public northeast corner, where Independence, Maryland, and Fourth Street intersect. The various components of the Memorial are then arranged around a new ceremonial public space, "Eisenhower Plaza", conceived as a plausible articulation of and flanking Independence Avenue.
Here, the Memorial Hall is placed along the axis of Maryland Avenue,directly addressing the Capitol and housing a representation of President Eisenhower. The President is standing at the conclusion of the delivery of his landmark Farewell Address---an analog to Daniel Chester French's seated Lincoln at the close of his Gettysburg Address, likewise addressing the Capitol. Further punctuating Eisenhower Plaza is a Visitors Welcome Pavillion and the proposed General Eisenhower Column. Honoring the Supreme Allied Commander, the Column rises eighty feet and is placed at the center line of Fourth Street. This is in direct alignment with the standing Lincoln at the center of Judiciary Square across the Mall, and is intended both as a beacon announcing the Memorial and a strong formal link to the Mall itself.
Toward the west, Memorial Hall nestles comfortably into a re-established street-defining urban fabric formed by two proposed five-story mixed-use buildings, intended to be private-sector-developed. They define a casual and engaging pedestrian urban space, "Maryland Square", offering hospitable services to the visitor. It is both intended to function as a focus and principal gateway into the SW Quadrant, while serving as a powerful impetus to the restoration of urbanity in the rest of this district further along the Maryland Avenue corridor.
The components of the Memorial have been designed in the Greek Revival Style -- characteristic of the Capital's earliest decades and unquestionably the most American among Classicism's diverse manifestations. Once known as "our national style," it is identified by its simplicity, strength and directness --- traits all quite consonant with the character of Dwight D. Eisenhower.
The Plan provides a Memorial design of symbolic importance and engaging icharacter to guide and inspire. It creates an important new public space and monument in L'Enfant's Capital of highly emblematic and harmonious character. Most important, it is redolent with positive and healing implications for the reinvigoration and future of our Capital. As described by distinguished urbanist, Leon Krier, in his analytical essay on the Eisenhower Memorial, recently published in Metropolis Magazine, "........the New Eisenhower....[Memorial]......can also become the occasion for a critically needed Washington D.C. urban Renaissance, resurrecting the human scale, the measure, color, variety and soul of the original L'Enfant vision, as brilliantly demonstrated by Francisco Ruiz's proposal."