Four Finalists Vie to Design Eisenhower Memorial

TOPEKA, Kan. -- After almost a decade of development, officials behind a Washington, D.C. memorial to former President Dwight Eisenhower are close to picking a designer.

The selection among four finalists -- Gehry Partners, Los Angeles; Krueck and Sexton, Chicago; Rogers Marvel Architects, New York; and PWP Landscape Architecture, Berkley, Calif. -- is expected in March.

"Eisenhower is overdue," said Carl Reddel, executive director of the Eisenhower Memorial Commission. "One of these designers will have the opportunity to bring Ike's legacy of integrity, leadership and public service to the forefront of American thought."

The four-acre site several blocks from the U.S. Capitol will be the first national presidential memorial of the 21st century. It will sit across the street from the National Air and Space Museum, which is fitting as Eisenhower is credited with establishing the Federal Aviation Administration and NASA.

The former president also started a precursor of the U.S. Department of Education, which sits near the memorial site.

Congress formally started the process of creating the memorial in October 1999 with an estimated price tag of more than $75 million, which will be raised through private sources.

The memorial commission whittled down an initial pool of 44 design firms and 26 potential sites in Washington.

Reddel, a retired Air Force general, said the memorial's design should tell Eisenhower's complete history in the context of American history.

The Texas-born Eisenhower was raised in Abilene in central Kansas, attending West Point and serving as an officer in World War I. He was appointed commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces during World War II, including the D-Day invasion.

He served two terms as president from 1953 to 1961, overseeing the birth of the interstate highway system and the ramping up of Cold War tensions.

Following his death in 1969, he was buried at the Eisenhower Library in Abilene.

Reddel said the memorial shows continued interest in Eisenhower and his legacy of "service and integrity" four decades after his death.