Eisenhower Memorial plans panned by family

This artist rendering provided by the Eisenhower Commission shows a model for the national memorial in Washington for President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The proposal by renowned architect Frank Gehry features a series of 80-foot-tall columns and metal "tapestries." The $100 million memorial would be on four acres behind the U.S. Air and Space Museum and in sight of the Capitol. The commission is aiming to finish it by 2015.
AP Photo/Eisenhower Commission

(CBS News) A memorial to President Dwight D. Eisenhower, first commissioned by Congress 14 years ago, is yet to move much beyond the planning stages. The project has stalled in the face of stiff opposition -- which is coming from the Eisenhower family.

The memorial is to be built at a prime location:  just down the hill from the U.S. Capitol and across the street from the museums on the National Mall. But a shovel hasn't touched the ground for the project, despite years of talking about it. Now, some in Congress and the Eisenhower family want the designers to go back to the drawing board.

The memorial's most prominent features are giant transparent metal screens, a kind of iron curtain rising 80 feet into the air and sprawling across about four acres. In the middle of the memorial are three statues: one of Eisenhower as president, another as war general, and finally, as a boy growing up in Kansas.

Ret. Brig. Gen. Carl Reddel, of the Eisenhower Memorial Foundation, said, "I think it is a very creative, positive approach to realizing the surprising, extraordinary, wide range of contributions this soldier and American citizen made to this country."

The design, first unveiled in 2010, is by architect Frank Gehry, the genius behind iconic buildings like the Guggenheim Museum in Spain, and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.

But this is the first memorial Gehry has attempted, and his plans were panned by Eisenhower's family. Susan Eisenhower, the former president's granddaughter said, "He came up with a design that does not feel like it's going to survive for the ages. ... The man I know well was very warm. And the Gehry design is a very, very interesting design, but it's cold. And we worry that it's going to leave people feeling cold."

The family wants the memorial to pay less attention to Eisenhower's boyhood in Kansas and more attention to his leadership during World War II and his two terms in the White House.

On Tuesday, Susan Eisenhower asked Congress to pass a law to scrap the current design and start over. Asked what image she has in her mind of what it would look like, Susan Eisenhower said, "The Lincoln Memorial is a wonderful example of strength and theme. And this is what I want this memorial to be -- an inspiration for who we are as a people, and what we accomplished during those years."

The Eisenhower family worries the giant screens could be damaged by the wind. They want something permanent and indestructible. The project has already allocated about $62 million for this project -- nearly half of the entire budget.

This is not the first time there's been controversy over memorials, but the monument will not likely be erected without the family's approval, CBS News chief Washington correspondent and host of "Face the Nation" Bob Schieffer said on "CBS This Morning."

For more on Washington, D.C., memorial controversies with Schieffer, watch the video below.

Schieffer said, "As far as I know, I don't think a memorial has been built over the objections of a family, and Susan Eisenhower and David Eisenhower, these are very responsible, good citizens. This is not some -- people out to try to get their name in the paper or something like that. So I think that they -- how they feel about it is going to have a great deal to do with that."

From a memorial to George Washington to the soldiers of the Vietnam War and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Schieffer said controversy "always seems to happen." He said, "I think there's a lot of artistic license. ... Sometimes, it seems to me, that maybe the art, the vision of the artist sometimes may, the families feel, get in the way of the legacy and I think that's basically what you have here, but I can't imagine that the Congress is going to go forward with this with the Eisenhowers...They don't like the idea. They want him pictured as a hero, not this barefoot boy in Kansas and that apparently, was kind of the look of this."

Watch Chip Reid's full report in the video above.