WASHINGTON (AP) — The long-delayed effort to build a memorial honoring President Dwight D. Eisenhower near the National Mall has won a key approval, despite ongoing objections to architect Frank Gehry’s design.

The federal agency that oversees planning for the nation’s capital approved the preliminary building plans for the memorial project Thursday. The National Capital Planning Commission debated the design and voted 9-1, with one abstention, to approve the concept.

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Gehry revised his design for a memorial park in September. He removed two large, steel tapestries on the sides of the park and left one as a backdrop depicting the Kansas landscape of Eisenhower’s Midwestern roots. Sculptures in the park would depict Eisenhower as president and general.

Critics, including Eisenhower’s family, have objected to the use of metal tapestries and large 80-foot-tall columns to hold them.

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In April, the planning commission rejected the previous design, citing the size and placement of columns holding the tapestries. Gehry’s more recent changes were welcomed with a focus on preserving views of the Capitol through the memorial park.

Winning approval is a significant step for the $142 million memorial project, though it’s far from starting construction. Further design approvals will be required. Officials with the group building the memorial also must still win support in Congress to fund the project or raise private funds for construction.
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