Plans Proceed on Eisenhower Memorial on National Mall

The site chosen for a memorial to President Dwight D. Eisenhower has cleared a hurdle, with final approval expected this week.

Planners are now working on a design concept for the four-acre site that will pay tribute to the nation's 34th president.

Earlier this month, the National Capital Planning Commission unanimously approved the memorial location across the street from the National Mall, near the National Air and Space Museum.

Another congressionally created body — the Commission of Fine Arts — is expected to endorse the site Thursday.

"The next step is what we're calling a predesign program," said Retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Carl Reddel, executive director of the Eisenhower Memorial Commission. "It's an effort to integrate all the different elements of his legacy into a focused way that will enable us to present to the designer what it is that we most want to see."

While there is no design yet, the memorial commission is committed to a landscaped, plaza-style memorial, given its urban setting, said executive architect Dan Feil.

He said the memorial would capture different facets of Eisenhower's career as five-star general, supreme commander of the Allied forces in Europe during World War II, president of Columbia University in New York and U.S. president from 1953 to 1961.

"A memorial has to have an emotional impact," Feil said. "What is someone supposed to feel when they enter the site? How would you like them to be thinking about when they leave?"

Once the predesign process is completed early next year, there will be a design competition to choose an architect for the project.

A dedication ceremony will take place early next year. Completion is expected within about five years, Reddel said.

Meanwhile, the commission has completed a related project to place all of Eisenhower's presidential papers online, allowing Internet users to access them with two powerful search engines. In the past few weeks, the commission added 700 of Eisenhower's speeches and addresses to its Web site.

"There are no other presidential papers that have that kind of search engine support," Reddel said. "It's a form of living memorialization of the president."

The physical Eisenhower memorial will be the seventh full-scale presidential monument in the nation's capital.

Most tourists are familiar with the grand monuments to Washington, Lincoln and Jefferson. The city also has Theodore Roosevelt Island in the Potomac River, a plaza-style memorial to Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Feil estimates the cost for the Eisenhower memorial will run between $60 million and $100 million, all of which will come from public funding.

Members of the commission, established in 1999, include Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and Reps. Jerry Moran, R-Kan. and Dennis Moore, D-Kan.