WASHINGTON, DC – The Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial, designed by Gehry Partners/AECOM and built by Clark Construction Group, has officially opened to the public following a formal dedication ceremony on September 17. Located in a four-acre public park adjacent to the National Mall and across the street from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, the memorial combines grand architectural elements, sculpture, and green space to highlight Eisenhower from his humble childhood to his role as Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in World War II and his two terms as President.
“Being in this industry, there is something particularly special about building a project that people from around the world will come to see,” reflects Jared Oldroyd, vice president at Clark Construction. “Clark is proud of the small role that we have played in shining a light on Eisenhower’s contributions to democracy and public service.”
The first presidential monument of the 21st century, the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial features three bronze sculptures of Eisenhower by sculptor Sergey Eylanbekov, stone bas relief images, and inscription panels with words from notable Eisenhower addresses.
Framing the entire park and memorial is a 450-foot-long stainless steel woven tapestry by artist Tomas Osinski, which depicts the cliffs at Pointe du Hoc on the Normandy coastline in peacetime. The 80-foot-high, three-dimensional, transparent tapestry shimmers during the day and is backlit at night, without obstructing views of the surrounding capital buildings. This architectural landmark was among the project’s most complex elements.
At Osinski’s studio in Los Angeles, a custom-programmed CNC (computer numerical control) machine that was modified to work with spools of stainless steel thread of different thicknesses to produce the tapestry in 604 3-foot-by-15-foot panels. Once complete, the prefabricated steel panels were shipped to a warehouse in Maryland, delivered to the project, and then affixed to a 125-ton box beam and tensioned cable net support systems affixed to six 80-foot-tall limestone columns.
In order to properly support the artwork, the columns needed to be equipped with precisely-placed embed plates (within ¼ inch). Bi-weekly coordination meetings focused solely on finalizing the tapestry connection details were held between the structural engineer (Magnusson Klemencic Associates), architect (Gehry Partners/AECOM), client (Eisenhower Memorial Commission), tapestry installer (Crystal Metalworks, Inc/Pfeifer FabriTech), and tapestry designer (Tomas Osinski). During construction, Clark utilized virtual design and construction and laser scanning technology to coordinate the placement and confirm bracket installation within the tolerance.
In addition to the memorial, the project includes a bookstore, a National Park Service Ranger contact station, public restrooms, and support facilities for the memorial’s operation and maintenance.
The Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial continues Clark’s reputation of delivering world-class cultural projects in the region. Clark’s local resume includes the International Spy Museum, National Museum of the U.S. Army, Museum of the Bible, and more than a dozen Smithsonian projects including the National Museum of African American History & Culture and the renovation of the National Air & Space Museum, which is slated to be delivered in 2024.