Eisenhower Memorial to get modern look

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Local,Kaitlin Schluter

A new presidential memorial is headed to the Hill, featuring 13, eight-story tall, columns and three stainless steel mesh tapestries that depict images of 34th President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Between paths lined with trees, architect Frank Gehry has created what looks like a scene out of "The Lion King." One single large tree stands alone, surrounded by limestone walls that depict themes in Eisenhower's life.

Gehry and the Eisenhower Memorial Commission presented designs of the four-acre memorial Thursday at the Dirksen Senate Office Building. Gehry is known for designing the Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain.

"His understanding of my grandfather's accomplishments and legacy is remarkable, and he was able to translate the key theme of democracy into a compelling visual experience," said David Eisenhower, President Eisenhower's grandson.

The memorial will cost $100 million and so far, the federal government has spent $29 million. The rest will come from public and private resources. The design still needs approval from the National Capitol Planning Commission and the Commission of Fine Arts. The memorial will be the first presidential memorial since 1997.

"When people go to the memorial, they will get a better appreciation of the important legacy of this individual and his relevance to today's environment," said Karl Weissenbach, director of the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum, in Abilene, Kan., who will work closely with commissioners to provide historical background.

Construction begins in late summer and early fall 2012. The projected end date is May 25, 2015.

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