Designed by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry, the memorial encapsulates Eisenhower's legacy in a four-acre urban park at the base of Capitol Hill. Gehry's unique vision is a grand new civic space in the heart of the nation's capital. The memorial features a one-of-a-kind stainless steel tapestry depicting beaches of D-Day, heroic-sized bronze sculptures, and stone bas reliefs.
At the center of the site is the contemplative memorial space where Eisenhower's legacy unfolds. Heroic-sized bronze sculptures, stone bas reliefs, and quotations from his most famous speeches and addresses celebrate Eisenhower's contributions to our nation as Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in World War II and as the nation's 34th President.
On the left side of the memorial core, the bronze heroic-sized statue of Eisenhower as 34th President of the United States places him at the center of the White House Oval Office flanked by sculptures of civilian and military advisors, symbolizing the balance Eisenhower struck between conflicting demands of national security and peaceful progress. The bas relief global background depicts a map of the world symbolizing Eisenhower's role as a world statesman and preeminent internationalist pursuing universal peace.
On the right side of the memorial core, Eisenhower as the Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force during World War II is commemorated by a bronze heroic-sized statue with sculptures of his soldiers inspired by the famous photograph with the 101st Airborne Division before their jump into France. Behind the sculptures is a bas relief depicting the Normandy landings on D-Day, June 6, 1944.
On a pedestal at the northwest plaza entrance, a life-size sculpture of Eisenhower as a young man welcomes visitors as they enter the memorial. Inscribed in stone nearby is an excerpt from Eisenhower's "Abilene Homecoming Speech" given on June 22, 1945. Together these elements connect visitors with Eisenhower's personal story of a humble citizen raised in America's heartland.
Sculptor Sergey Eylanbekov designed, in consultation with Gehry, the sculptures that constitute an integral part of the Memorial Core. Eylanbekov, a world-renowned sculptor, was born in Russia. Growing up in the Soviet Union, he attended Moscow School of Fine Arts and was then accepted into the prestigious Surikov Academy of Fine Arts, from which he graduated with honors. During the tumultuous period of change that occurred in the 1980s during the Gorbachev era, Eylanbekov decided to start life over in the United States, becoming a U.S. citizen. In the past twenty years, his artwork has garnered praise all over the world.
The memorial is framed by a unique transparent tapestry which features an image of France's Normandy coastline made from artistically woven stainless steel cable. The iconic Pointe du Hoc landmark - featured in peacetime on the Memorial's tapestry- symbolically represents the peace Eisenhower won as Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in World War II and the peace he kept and nurtured as the 34th President.
Frank Gehry's abstract line drawing of the Normandy coastline as depicted on the Memorial tapestry.
An artist, architect, and industrial designer, Tomas Osinski has collaborated with Gehry on many projects, including the Delft porcelain fountain at the Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. Osinski, an American citizen, was born in Poland and attended the Visual Art High School in Warsaw. He subsequently obtained a Master’s Degree in Industrial Design from the Academy of Fine Art, also in Warsaw. Osinski’s art has been featured in individual shows in Warsaw, Poznan, London, Lodz, and Los Angeles and collected by The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; The Museum of Contemporary Art in Lodz, Poland; and by several private collectors.
Nicholas Waite Benson began working at the John Stevens Shop at fifteen under his father, John Everett Benson. By the age of eighteen, he was carving commissioned work from his father’s designs. In 1987, he began an intensive year of study in Switzerland at the Kunstgewerbeschule, Schule für Gestaltung, Basel. He returned to the U.S. in 1988 and continued to work under John Benson. Upon John’s retirement in 1993, Nicholas took over as owner and creative director of the John Stevens Shop where he continues to work to the high standards set by his predecessors. He designed and carved inscriptions for the National World War II Memorial, the National Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial and the Roosevelt Memorial, Roosevelt Island, New York City. In 2010, Benson was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship.
The site for the national memorial to Eisenhower bears a close and unique relationship to his life-long public service. Eisenhower’s legacy has specific thematic relationships with federal entities adjoining the Maryland Avenue site. Together these buildings demonstrate Eisenhower’s broad legacy of improved national infrastructure, the foundation upon which he worked to build “a peace with justice in a world where moral law prevails.”
Eisenhower was responsible for the first direct federal aid to education, believing that its true purpose is “to prepare young men and women for effective citizenship in a free form of government.” Through the National Defense Education Act he initiated federal student grant/loan programs, graduate fellowships, and grants to improve public school instruction in mathematics, science, and modern languages.
As President, Eisenhower signed legislation creating the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (predecessor to HHS), addressing his belief that “a sound nation is built of individuals sound in body and mind and spirit.” He appointed Mrs. Oveta Culpa Hobby as its first Secretary. She led the effort to pass Eisenhower’s Social Security legislation in 1954, the largest single expansion of Social Security.
Eisenhower led the effort to create the U.S. Air Force while Chief of Staff of the Army, and he strongly supported aircraft development. As President, he signed legislation and supported development of the Air Force Academy. He was the driving force in creating the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, “a new space agency under civilian authority.” He created a top-secret military aerospace reconnaissance program to ensure no future president would face another Pearl Harbor.
Along with bolstering infrastructure on land and providing access to the seaways of the world with the Interstate Highway System and St. Lawrence Seaway, President Eisenhower also addressed infrastructure issues in air and space. Eisenhower actively promoted airport development and regulation of air travel with the establishment of the Federal Aviation Administration, which fostered “greater safety in air travel.” He had a personal hand in selecting the site of Washington Dulles International Airport, the first U.S. international airport.
Eisenhower deeply respected the power, authority and responsibility of Congress, which he said alone “has the power of the purse.” He created and maintained close working relationships with the leadership of both parties, who in turn gave him the support needed to govern effectively.
Eisenhower believed in freedom of information throughout the world to strengthen democracy nationally and internationally. He established the U.S. Information Agency in 1953 and moved the the Voice of America to its present location in 1954. Eisenhower was convinced that international understanding, “like domestic unity, depends, in large part, on the free, full flow of information and its balanced presentation.”
From Eisenhower Square, visitors experience a dramatic view of the United States Capitol down Maryland Avenue.
The LBJ Promenade is designed as a pedestrian street leading to an enhanced entrance to the Department of Education building.
Hear award-winning architect, Frank Gehry, describe his process and design for the National Eisenhower Memorial.
Hear sculptor, Sergey Eylanbekov, describe the process for design and creation of the Eisenhower Memorial sculptures.
Hear artist and architect, Tomas Osinski, describe the process for design and fabrication of the Eisenhower Memorial tapestry.