Washington Architecture: Where Whimsy Goes To Die

Others Have Greatness Thrust Upon Them eisenhower-car-capitol.jpg

The Washington Post looks eagerly ahead to the  Frank Gehry’s one hundred million dollar Eisenhower memorial plaza, although somewhat concerned the task is not monumental enough for Frank:

the new structure “will be a ‘plaza-type’ memorial,” with a canopy and a 2,500-square-foot support building. So it seems they’re hiring Gehry to design a bathroom, bookstore, small office and glorified sunshade.

But the Post is fully with the program, swallowing the plaza’s rationale whole.

the Eisenhower Memorial Commission wants to do more to honor the man who not only defeated Hitler, but who also built the Interstate Highway System, created the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, and helped pass and enforce critical civil-rights legislation.

Where to start?

I believe the Soviets played a role in Hitler’s demise.

The Interstates devastated cities and fueled generations of white flight.

Health, Education & Welfare:  what exactly did Ike do for any of the three?

All we got out of the ’57 Civil Rights Act was a commission, a job at the DOJ, and voting rights language so inadequate the real heavy lifting came with Lyndon Johnson’s Voting Rights Act.

Ike’s views are best summed up in his desegregation complaint to Earl Warren:

“All they are concerned about is to see that their sweet little girls are not required to sit in school alongside some big overgrown Negroes.”

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