Eisenhower Memorial to be presented to the National Capital Planning Commission

Dear Coalition Friends:

The Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial and Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial are the latest memorial projects in the news.  Both projects  provide a window into the memorial planning process in the nation’s capital.   This Thursday, November 6, the Eisenhower Memorial will be presented to the National Capital Planning Commission (see below).


Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne said yesterday that he has extended for three years the authority of the foundation that is planning the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the Tidal Basin.   See the brief note in The Washington Post.

Our Coalition supports extension of the MLK Memorial authorization.  We raised questions, though, about the visitor facility added to the Memorial by the National Park Service and that structure’s conformance to the Commemorative Works Act and the Congressional moratorium.  Our October 15th UPDATE  announcing the October 20th public hearing by the National Capital Memorial Advisory Commission (NCMAC) observed that “One question the NCMAC will have to examine, however, is whether the proposed Visitor Facility/Restrooms/Bookstore structure added to the Memorial project by the National Park Service in 2005 conforms to the Commemorative Works Act and the 2003 moratorium.   Is the location, proximity, and function of the structure in keeping with the Act’s protections of the Mall’s historic plans and open space—and  the integrity of the MLK Jr. Memorial itself?” 

We provided testimony on this question at the October 20th hearing.  Our concerns were ignored.  Instead the federal agencies represented on the NCMAC–chaired by the National Park Service, with representatives from the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) and Commission of Fine Arts (CFA)–affirmed their final approvals for the Memorial including the Visitor Facility/Restrooms/Bookstore structure.

In public meetings earlier this year, representatives of NCPC, CFA, and DC government stated it was not their role to question the NPS’s decision regarding the Bookstore.  So who’s role is it?  We have asked staff on Congressional oversight committees to review this matter.


The National Park Service (NPS) will introduce the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission (Commission) to the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) and the Commission on Fine Arts (CFA) at their respective meetings on Thursday, November 6, 2008 and Thursday, November 20, 2008.  See the NCPC agenda here.

The approved location for the Memorial is Independence Avenue between 4th and 6th Streets, SW, across from the Smithsonian’s Air & Space Museum.  While that site has not been described as part of the National Mall, it could be interpreted that way: the location is partially within the kite-shaped McMillan Commission plan for the Mall–the area outlined in yellow in the Mall Definitions diagram.

The last public consultation meeting for this project occurred in August 2006.  So we will be most interested in hearing what developments have occurred and how the preliminary design program for the Memorial has been defined.  We will inform our readers in an upcoming UPDATE.