Friday, November 25, 2005

National Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial - A Physical And A Living Memorial

"Most of the presidential memorials we know best, such as the Washington, Lincoln, and Jefferson memorials, are physical monuments or statues within monuments. Their entire presence consists of a physical structure as a permanent remembrance of the president they represent.

There are also official presidential memorials that have no physical presence. An example of a presidential living memorial is the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Located in Washington, DC, the Wilson Center has no dominant physical public presence, but operates from leased space to unite the world of ideas to the world of policy by supporting pre-eminent scholarship linked to issues of contemporary importance. In this way the living memorial perpetuates President Wilson’s legacy of scholarship linked closely to international relations.

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is an example of an official presidential memorial that has both a physical element, a striking building in Washington, DC, and a living element, an ongoing series of live theatrical performances, presented in the name of a fallen president.

When the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission resolved that the memorial should combine physical and living elements, it did not specify how these elements should be combined. Perhaps a physical structure could house an organization or a monument could be erected with an active organization operating elsewhere. In either case, there will be a physical structure and an ongoing organization carrying out programs in furtherance of President Eisenhower’s lifetime legacy of public service. The actual design questions remain open to those who will offer concepts."

Source: Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission

FDR Memorial, Washington, D.C. Environmental Design by Lawrence Halprin and Sculpture of FDR and Fala by Neil Estern. Mr Estern also created a figurative sculpture depicting Eleanor Roosevelt standing in front of a seal of the United Nations in commemoration of her role as one of the first U.S. delegates to the U.N. This statue represents the first time a First Lady has been so honored in a presidential memorial.

"Lawrence Halprin was selected by the FDR Memorial Commission in 1974 to design the FDR Memorial. His design, encompassing 7.5 acres in a park-like setting, fits within the 1901 McMillan plan, identifying sites for Presidential Memorials and Monuments.

The work of Mr. Halprin is one of the most celebrated among environmental designers. His projects range from designs for rapid transit systems to university campuses, from new cities to civic redevelopment, from large-scale land developments and inner-city parks to small private gardens. Among them are Sea Ranch on California's central coast, representing the application of town planning principles to an exquisite rural landscape designed with extraordinary sensitivity to the natural environment; San Francisco's Ghirardelli Square, which involved restoring old buildings for new uses; Seattle's Freeway park, a sensitive re-making of a freeway into recreational space; and the Walter & Elise Haas Promenade in Israel, a 1-1/2 mile stone walkway overlooking the Old City of Jerusalem.

Mr. Halprin has moved outside and beyond the confines traditionally imposed by the field of landscape architects, working on a variety of scale. He creates urban renaissance where open spaces are designed to perform ecologically for the good of the community."

Text and Photo credit: National Park Service


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