The congressional commission overseeing the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial development is moving ahead with plans for an interactive component for visitors to the monument even as the Eisenhower family remains opposed to the project's overall design.
Previews of the "e-memorial" debuted online this week at a new website and show how future visitors will be able to use a forthcoming smartphone application to access information while visiting the memorial near the National Mall. The interactive component was included in the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission's original request for proposals for the memorial's design.
"It's a preview," commission spokeswoman Chris Cimko said of the website. "It's the trailer for the movie."
The commission will unveil pieces of the interactive component starting this winter, she added.
"The plan is to roll out 90-second-to-two-minute videos of what we call pivotal moments," Cimko said. "Like anything from D-Day to going into politics to a lasting position on the world stage."
The commission will also have a booth at the Kansas State Fair -- in Eisenhower's home state -- the second week in September as part of its outreach, particularly to children.
The push to move ahead with the memorial, planned as a plaza at Independence and Maryland avenues SW, comes even as the controversial design has yet to be formally approved by the Memorial Commission. Since the design's unveiling by famed architect Frank Gehry more than a year ago, opponents have decried its modern elements. And the Eisenhower family's outspoken opposition to the design earlier this year has seemingly thrown a wrench into the commission's plans to move ahead. There are no plans yet to approve the design and send it to the National Capital Planning Commission for consideration.
Gehry's design features a statue of Eisenhower as a young cadet looking at two older statues of himself: One is a scene of him as a general addressing his troops, the other is of him as an elder statesman. The site is bordered by towering stainless steel panels that stretch 100 feet long and depict black-and-white etchings of landscapes reminiscent of Eisenhower's boyhood home in Kansas.
Justin Shubow, president of the National Civic Art Society, said the virtual memorial component was just another example of how the design's modernism takes away from honoring Eisenhower's achievements.
"This detracts from any [impact] the memorial might have," he said. "Visitors are encouraged to whip out their ... electronic devices as opposed to contemplating their surroundings."