Mockup Of Holocaust Memorial Raises Questions

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UPDATED: Wednesday July 17, 2013 6:39 PM

At the statehouse, a mockup of a planned memorial to honor victims of the Holocaust is in full view and causing controversy.

"I did not receive any layout of what was assembled on the site nor did I approve anything before the installation," said architect Daniel Libeskind.  "I have had nothing to do with what was assembled. It is a clear misrepresentation of my design, which was presented on May 6 and approved by the artist selection committee."

Libeskind is an international architect whose design for the Ohio memorial was chosen from more than 80 entrees.

The chairman of the Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board, former state Senate president Richard Finan, had state workers construct the mockup made of plastic pipes, barrels, rope and tarp.

It had also included a spray-painted Star of David, which has since been removed.

"It was removed because the star wasn't part of the space that's it's going to occupy," said William Carleton, the executive director of the Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board.

Carleton says the mockup was put up this week to help board members envision the size of the planned memorial.

It will stand 18 feet tall with a star carved out between two bronze panels.  A 40-foot walkway will lead up to the memorial.

"We ought to show the people before a final decision is made the actual space the memorial will take," said Carleton.

Eric Brown from the Jewish Federation of Columbus sided with Libeskind.

“The mockup erected today is representative of none of the essential concepts or ideas, but rather mocks Mr. Libeskind’s vision,” said Brown.  “The plastic and tarp misrepresentation should be removed promptly.”

Carleton says he understands why some could get the wrong impression about the mockup.

"If you don't know the history, you could get a wrong idea," said Carleton.

But he defends the mockup saying Libeskind knew it was being erected.

In a letter sent to the advisory board last month, Libeskind, through an associate, stated, "...it is our preference and recommendation to stake out the area … using pipe, scaffolding, stakes and even string..."

Two years ago, Gov. John Kasich told lawmakers, "We need to have remembrance in this statehouse."

Finan has said that he believed Kasich went around the rules that were created by the Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board when groups want new monuments to be built.

"All one has to do now is go to the Governor, and say 'I want a statue of Donald Duck on the statehouse grounds,' and if he gets convinced of it, boom, it goes," said Finan last year.

Finan has announced his resignation from the board effective this October.

He complains the Holocaust memorial does not match the Greek architecture of the statehouse.

At 18 feet high, it also competes with the McKinley statue on High Street and the Union generals and Columbus statues near the front entrance.

The memorial will cost $2 million, which will be raised privately.

Carleton says taxpayers will pay approximately $300,000 to fortify the underground parking garage due to the weight of the memorial.

The board will meet Thursday morning, when it's expected to get final approval.

Construction would begin this fall with a planned dedication next spring.

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