The planned memorial to President Dwight Eisenhower in Washington, D.C., is the subject of controversy before construction has even started.The design submitted by architect Frank Gehry three years ago has always divided public opinion. It will cost more than twice his original budget of around $65 million.A selection process that was closed to the public, very unusual for a national memorial, has also drawn criticism. In March, Congress suspended construction funding for the memorial, and one lawmaker introduced a bill for a more-modest design chosen through a standard public process. Only this will give us the broadly acceptable outcome that reflects President Eisenhower’s consensus-building legacy.That legacy follows from a style of leadership that largely transcended partisan conflict. Born in Texas, along the Red River in Denison, raised in Kansas, Ike rose to supreme military command in World War II, where he molded a fractional international alliance into the Allied Expeditionary Force that carried out the Invasion of Normandy. He forged unity of another kind as president, by creating the Interstate Highway System and presiding over postwar peace and prosperity.Division has marked the effort to memorialize Eisenhower, however.A design that depicts him as a child surrounded by eight-story metal screens showing the Kansas landscape has drawn both praise and criticism, from the Eisenhower family among others. The president’s son John has called the scope and scale of Gehry’s design too extravagant, and called on behalf of his family for it to be redesigned. The fiscal prudence that is also central to Ike’s legacy is another casualty of the current design process. The Eisenhower Memorial authorized by Congress in 1999 was supposed to cost between $55 and $75 million, or about as much as the other presidential memorials would cost if built today. The current design will cost around $142 million. Even this figure is only a guess, however, because it relies on experimental materials and techniques that have never been tried before. Eighty percent of this cost will be borne by American taxpayers, amidst pervasive anxiety about a record national debt and runaway public spending. This is not the careful accounting that allowed President Eisenhower to balance the federal budget three times.But we have no alternatives to an expensive and difficult design because his memorial commission ignored the standard practice for designing national memorials. For the last 30 years we have been using public competitions that are open to everyone, consider anonymous submissions based on merit, and provide alternatives through second- and third-place winners. In this case, however, the Eisenhower Memorial Commission used a bureaucratic procedure that seeks qualified designers rather than compelling designs, so it considers only registered architects and favors those with long resumes.Selected for his reputation before he submitted a final design, Gehry was free to work without constraint or fear the commission could go to someone else.The boldly experimental (and expensive) design he produced naturally recalls the work that earned him the commission. It has also led to charges that Gehry rather than President Eisenhower is the real subject of this memorial.This unusual, backward selection process led to the current controversy. A redesign must include a public process.Only a public design competition can provide the viable alternatives, cost controls, and path to consensus through inclusion whose absence has made the current design too contentious to build. It is exactly these practical advantages that make public competitions standard practice for designing national memorials. Only a return to standard practice will give us an Eisenhower Memorial that celebrates rather than undermines the president’s unifying legacy. Sam Roche is a writer and a lecturer at the University of Miami School of Architecture. He is the spokesman for Right by Ike: Project for a New Eisenhower Memorial.