Building Stone Magazine Fall 2022 | Page 50

The memorial is in the heart of a working district in Washington , D . C ., so the design had to accommodate the general public while maintaining an uninterrupted sightline to the United States Capitol .


isitors to Washington , DC , have a new presidential memorial to visit . One of only eight presidential memorials in DC , the Dwight D . Eisenhower Memorial is also part of a four-acre urban park .
Located at the base of Capitol Hill at 540 Independence Avenue SW , across from the National Air and Space Museum and surrounded by the U . S . Department of Education and the U . S . Department of Health and Human Services , the memorial honors the life and service of the 34th President of the United States .
The design is the brainchild of Frank Gehry , CC , FAIA , architect and founder of Gehry Partners , who is known for his postmodern designs . His impressive body of work includes the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles , the Dancing House in Prague , and the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao , Spain .
Like other memorials and monuments throughout DC , natural stone plays a starring role in the overall design . When it came to designing the Eisenhower Memorial , Gehry wanted to use a limestone from Spain . He had used the same limestone on the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao , according to Kristin Ragins , senior associate with Gehry Partners .
The Royal Ambar limestone used throughout the memorial is very hard and Ragins compares it to a stone like granite . But , still , it ’ s not granite and that issue would come up later for the team .
The Spanish limestone comes from a quarry in a small area between Alicante and Murcia , according to Enzo Giambattista , a natural stone consultant with Enmar Consulting in Ontario , Canada , who was commissioned to assist with sourcing the stone for the memorial . Giambattista would prove to be an important partner throughout the project , advising and educating everyone involved from the design to build phase .
“ One of the things that [ Gehry ] liked about this stone is it ' s very warm ,” Ragins says . “ It has this warm yellow and golden tone to it . It can be kind of pink .”
When Gehry Partners began working with the National Capital Planning Commission to finalize the design , there were certain parameters that needed to be met including respecting the view of the Capitol and its nearby buildings , making sure it fit into the surrounding urban environments , and creating a green space . One of the buildings it needed to consider was the Department of Education since it ’ s a large building and the memorial ’ s site was practically at its front door .
The memorial is in the heart of a working district in DC . “ People work there and they go to lunch there ,” Ragins says . “ It has a different feel from other memorials .” They wanted to design a memorial that both
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