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There are now even stronger reasons for worry. Through a FOIA investigation, our organization discovered that the National Park Service estimates that six tapestry panels will need to be replaced every five years. In addition, about 750 support cables will need to be replaced every 25 years, and a third of those cables are 444 feet long each. The artwork and very structural armature will crumble if not periodically replaced — and at extraordinary expense.
Topping it all off, President Barack Obama recently weighed in by appointing Bruce Cole, a scathing opponent of the design, to the Eisenhower Commission.
Critics and pundits have been nearly unanimous in their opposition to the design. And virtually none of Gehry’s friends have come to his defense. They have left him flapping in the breeze.
The Eisenhower Commission’s response? Its executive director is pretending that everything is on track. And in any event, he reminds us that it took 44 years to build the FDR Memorial. That is not a comforting thought. Consider also that Gehry turns 85 this month, whereas the commission’s chairman, Rocco Siciliano, is nearly 92 years old.
Gehry has been more realistic. The “weary” architect told the Financial Times, “I don’t know whether it’s going to get built.”
It is unconscionable for commissioners to keep pushing for a design that will never be constructed — while wasting millions of taxpayer dollars.
The good news is that they still have tens of millions of dollars in the bank. We are confident that a new, streamlined competition can be held and a modest — and worthy — memorial be completed without the need to appropriate a single dollar more. And all of this can be accomplished in a lot less than 44 years.
Justin Shubow is president of the National Civic Art Society.