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World Trade Center Memorial Proposals

8 Finalists Selected

No Façade Shards

By Carter B. Horsley

The most logical and obvious choice for a memorial to the World Trade Center is the façade shard that stood on the site for a long time after the center's twin towers were demolished in a terrorist attack September 11, 2001. The multi-story shard itself was eventually taken down but its bent grid was a highly visible and sculpturally significant remnant of the tragedy that could rather easily be incorporated into any memorial plan for the site.

It has not been included or suggested in the eight "finalist" plans selected by the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation ( for the proposal memorial out of 5201 submitted from 63 countries and 49 states.

The second most obvious choice for a memorial would be the inclusion of the twin towers of light that were installed briefly. One of the proposals, "Inversion of Light" by Toshio Sasaki, see below, does include one "tower" of light.

The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation created guidelines that included that the proposals should clearly show the "footprints" of the fallen towers, designate a resting place for unidentified victims and acknowledge everyone who was killed at the site as well as those killed in an earlier terrorist attack on the towers February 26, 1993.

The selected finalists are not well-known architects and designers and their proposals are on view in the Wintergarden at the World Financial Center in Lower Manhattan across West Street from the site of the World Trade Center. They are also on line at

The finalists were chosen by a 13-person jury. Members of the jury are Paula Grant Berry, whose husband, David Berry, was killed in the south tower; Susan Freedman, president of the Public Art Fund; Vartan Gregorian, president of the Carnegie Foundation of New York; Patricia Harris, deputy mayor for administration for New York City; Maya Lin, the designer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.; Michael McKeon, manager director of Mercury Public Affairs and former director of communications for Gov. George E. Pataki; Julie Menin, president and founder of Wall Street Rising, a non-profit organization, and owner of the Vine Restaurant in Lower Manhattan; Enrique Norten, a member of TEN Arquitectos and holder of the Miller Chair of Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania; Martin Puryear, an artist; Nancy Rosen, a member of the city's Art Commission; Lowery Stokes Sims, executive director of the Studio Museum in Harlem; Michael Van Valkenburgh, the Charles Elliot professor in practice of landscape architecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and founder of Michael Van Valkenburgh Architects in Manhattan and Cambridge, Mass.; and James E. Young, professor and chair of the Department of Judaic and Near Eastern Studies at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

The jury viewed all submissions anonymously and then gave the finalists stipends to further develop their proposals. The jury is expected to announce a winner by the end of 2003.

The selection of a memorial design is being made while the design of a new World Trade Center remains extremely controversial. Although Daniel Libeskind won the design competition for the huge project, Larry Silverstein, the developer who controls the lease for the project, hired David Smith of Skidmore Owings & Merrill, to design the tallest tower and his plan was in conflict with Libeskind. Libeskind called for an office building of about 70 stories with a 1,776-foot-high spire attached to its side. Mr. Smith's plan put the spire above the office building rather than at its side. Furthermore, Mr. Silverstein, one of the city's most respected commercial real estate entrepreneurs, hired Sir Norman Foster, Jean Nouvel and xxxx to design some of the other, shorter towers in the project. Gov. Pataki has sided with Mr. Libeskind, but it remains to be seen how much of his vision will ultimately be incorporated into the design and that uncertainty is sure to cloud the very emotional memorial selection.

What follows is a brief description with two illustrations of each of the finalists' schemes along with bios and an analysis of the proposals. There are presented in the order that is found at

Votives in Suspension

Norman Lee and Michael Lewis of Houston, Texas

"Votives in Suspension"

Rendering of surface area of "Votives in Suspension"

Excerpt from statement:

"Our proposal for the WTC memorial aims to transform the towers' footprints into dual sanctuary spaces that resonate profoundly with a sense of both individual and collective loss. The memorial sanctuaries will be set into the earth and semi-enclosed from the outside. Only narrow gaps that outline each footprint will allow sunlight to penetrate into these sacred areas. Austere and minimal, the exteriors will give no indication of their interior space. From street level, the sanctuaries' monolithic expanses will invite contemplation and suggest absence. Once on the memorial grounds, the sanctuaries will only be made visible to visitors by long parapet walls that surround the footprints of the original towers. Most of this area will be kept as green park space providing a versatile venue for memorial ceremonies. Visitors will also be visually drawn to the exposed slurry walls on the western edge of the site as well as the Liberty Wall located on the southern side. The Liberty Wall will be engraved with monumental text that provides a didactic historial timelines of the World Trade Center site. A large part of this story will focus on the heroic efforts of brave rescue workers who worked tirelessly, many of whom made the ultimate sacrifice, to save lives on September 11th. Visitors will descend down a stairway or lift system into each sanctuary, emerging into a darkened, serene environment. Here they will witness an expansive field of votive lights suspended in mid-air creating a sublimely beautiful downpour of loss. The votives, each representing a victim of the terrorist attacks, hand down on cables from the sanctuary ceiling just above a reflecting pool. The cables will function as capillaries that channel liquid fuel into the votives to sustain the symbolic flames. The age of each victim is used to determine the height of the suspended votives creating an irregular field of light that both breaks apart into fragments and coalesces as an entirety. This reinforces the memorial mission to convey both the overall magnitude of loss and pay tribute to individual lives.The name of each victim will be listed horizontally in alphabetical order on the parapet walls that define and encompass each sanctuary space. The procession of names will begin in the sanctuary devoted to the North Tower, where the first plane hit, and conclude in the sanctuary devoted to the South Tower. A somber underground passageway will connect these two sanctuaries as well as provide access to burial space located at bedrock for the unidentified remains of victims."


Mr. Lee is a senior concept developer of museum exhibits in Houston, where he was born and raised. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a BA in psychology and received a BA in art history from the University of Houston. He interned at Walt Disney Imagineering and received a master's degree in museum education in 2000 from the University of Texas.

Mr. Lewis is a museum exhibit designer and project management on large-scale museum installations. Born in Memphis, Tennessee, he lives in Houston. He graduated from Presbyterian College in Clinton, S.C., and study photography at Oxford as well as film directing.


A very large cluster of suspended votives hanging at levels determined by the age of each victim could be quite attractive, depending on the quality of the design of the votive, the cables, and the backgrounds. From the submitted illustrations, it would appear that the votives would be white and identical and that some would hang higher than visitors and some lower, a range that might dissolve the "starry night" effect. Should the votives be of different colors to reflect sex, or race, or religion? Probably night. Votives, of course, are often associated with Catholic traditions, and are not universally used. Candle votives, of course, were widely seen throughout the city in the immediate aftermath of the attacks but they were not uniform in size, color and shape, which added to their allure.
As proposed, this is essentially a large and static, but graceful memorial of small lights. One suspects that there would not be enough lights in each sanctuary to be dazzling, given the sanctuaries' sizes. It is a question of scale and one wonders upon the horizontal placement of each light. Would that be arbitrary? It seems so. Clearly one would like to think the placement is not random.

Lower Waters

Bradley Campbell and Matthias Neumann of Brooklyn, New York

Lower Waters site plan

Memorial detail
Model, view from the west, left, and view of slurry wall at bedrock, right

Excerpt from statement:

"Water and light symbolize life, rejuvenation and rebirth....Our physical movement throughout the site, the inclined park and the various levels of memorial and museum, represents our emotional movement through the experiences of memory, grief, discovery, hope, and rebirth. We descend to the memorial spaces, the literal and figurative centers, and to the Museum of September 11. Our contact with the names of the victims, their final resting place, the original slurry wall, and bedrock level of the World Trade Center causes us to contemplate the profound loss suffered on September 11 and to be grateful for the many that were saved. As we ascend, we come back to the city and ourselves transformed by the emotional and historic magnitude of that day....The memorial space of the North Tower is clad in black granite - solemn, strong, stable - a reference to living memory and to the foundation of the towers. The private area for families of the victims and the intimate area for the public are made of thick walls of earth, to suggest comfort and stability at the depths. The façade of the Museum of September 11 in the South Tower Footprint is stacked grass with sanded edges referring to both the construction and collapse of the towers.


Bradley Campbell was born on September 10, 1969 in St. Paul, Minnesota. In 1988 he moved to Columbus, Ohio to attend the Columbus College of Art and Design. In 1990 he left pursue a career as an artist....He now lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. Matthias Newmann joined the office of Alfredo Di Vido Associates in 2002. Two years ago he became co-founder of normaldesign, a multi-disciplined design group loosely based in New York City. Most recently normaldesign was a finalist in the "Marking Places That Matter" competition organized by Place Matters, a joint project of the Municipal Art Society and City Lore....Mr. Neumann, a resident of Brooklyn, New York, was born in Germany and completed his architectural training in Germany, Canada and Italy.


The above-ground treatment of this proposal is uninspired. The black granite, north "footprint" is bulky and has little to do with the stylistic history of the site. The left-over park spaces are little more than a lawn with none of the sophistication that the world's great landscape architects are capable of. The interior of the Museum of September 11, however, is quite imposing with a grand staircase and slender pillars supporting a high ceiling, resulting in a possibly impressive space. The treatment of the slurry wall is not without some interest but is too narrowly confined and probably not at all what Daniel Libeskind had in mind when he called for the retaining of the very large and long wall that needs much more space to have an impact.

Passages of Light: Memorial Cloud

bbc art + architecture

Gisela Baumann, Sawad Brooks, Jonas Coersmeier

Passage of Light memorial

Larger view of Passage of Light

Excerpt from statement:

"...we wish to create upon a site scarred by a terrifying loss, sorrow, and grief, a work of shared and individual mourning, as well as a gesture affirming our hopes, common dreams, and ability to rebuild. Our intention is first to recognize and honor the victims of September 11, 2001 and February 26, 1993 within a special, shrouded, spiritual space, protected from the noise and pace of the city by a crystalline 'cloud.' The cloud's top surface is a translucent bandage healing a wound. Level with 'Ground Zero' (special level) and permitting transversal, it reconnects the urban fabric of downtown. On the ground beneath the cloud eachof the 2,982 victims is represented by a radiating circle of light embedded into the floor, which illuminates the engraved name of the individual victim but also projects a subtle ray of light upward into the cloud. During the day, the cloud, like an undulating veil, a sinuous surface forming cathedral-like vaults, channels daylight downward onto the field of names. Together, the names form a design that we term the 'Pompeii Scheme,' because it represents individuals equally in the course of their lives, cut short by the attacks....Our design is guided by our respect for the sacred ground. Accordingly, we limit the cloud to touching the ground for support on only five points; we judiciously open the earth beneath the World Trade Center Tower footprints only to provide visitors access to the symbolic 'bedrock' level, creating thereby a processional passage of light and subterranean darkness. The procession that carries visitors beside the repository for the 'unidentified remains' connects both footprints with the channel along the exposed slurry wall. Through the Memorial Cloud we hope to elicit two more responses, one highly physical, the other imaginative, both of awe. One recovers a sensation associated with the World Trade Center Towers when we recall standing in their presence: the urge to look skywards, a vertical gesture associated with hope. With the second gesture we seek to give expression to a relation between those we mourn and those who live on affected by the tragedy and repercussions of the attacks. This is a relation between the finite and the sublime. The cloud's design as a bundle of 10,000 vertical conduits for light which support each other structurally, distributing the forces of tension and compression, figuratively represents our shared responsiveness to crisis and our cumulative strength."


Gisela Baurmann is the principal of amoebe architecture, a New York-based design firm. Ms. Baurmann received her Masters in Architecture Degree from Columbia University as a Fulbright Scholar, and also studied at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London and the Technical University Berlin....In 2001, teaming up with Jonas Coersmeier and Birgit Schoenbrodt in her firm..., she won second prize in the International Design Ideas Competition "Redesigning Queens Plaza," organized by the Van Alen Institute. Sawad Brooks is a critic, artist and award winning designer working with public and information spaces. Sawad's work has been exhibited internationally, including shows at the Whitney Museum of American Art..., the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, the Johannesburg Biennale and the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam. Sawad, who was born in Bogotá, Colombia, currently lives and works in New York City. Jonas Coersmeier is an award-winning architectural designer and the Principal of Probehead Architecture, New York. Born in Cologne, Germany, he received his architectural education at Columbia University, M.I.T., and Technical University Darmstadt. He holds a Masters in Advanced Architectural Design and a Diplom Ingenieur degree in Architecture.


This is the showiest and most interesting of the 8 finalists' proposals. The notion of an abstract, "crystalline" cloud on which one can walk and under which one can wander in a man-made cave is intriguing and the submission's graphics are impressive. This is one of the few submissions with grandeur. What is critical, however, is how finely the design can be implemented. While it is very artistic, the dramatic design is essentially curvilinear and horizontal as opposed to the rectinilinearity and verticality of the fallen Twin Towers. The low-rise buildings of the World Trade Center, of course, did have curvilinear elements, but they were dwarfed by the towers and generally overlooked.

Suspending Memory

Joseph Karadin with Hsin-Yi Wu

Suspending Memory site plan

Memorial wall

Excerpt from statement:

"...Each victim is manifested as a symbol of strength, a single column helping support one of two island gardens. As the columns extend through the garden surface at varied heights they transform from concrete into glass. Each unique glass column is a timeline of a victim's defining moments beginning with a birth date and culminating at September 11, 2001 and February 26, 1993. It is an object biography that gives visitors a glimpse of the persons who perished on both days. By sharing the victim's birth date and life story, it enables visitors to relate and form a personal bond which otherwise would not have existed. The memorial column becomes a glowing beacon of each victim; tehir defining moments shing brightest at night. In passing between the ever-changing gardens, the visitor is made aware of two other tragic events bridged in time: Somerset County, Pennsylvania and Arlington, Virginia. The memorial bridge is composed of alternating bands of stone and glass, epitomizing the past and the present, the enduring and the ever changing. The name of each victim from Pennsylvania and Virginia is etched into a glass plaque suspended over a pool of reflected azure. Upon entering the North garden, visitors are greeted with a natural stone wall inlaid with 2982 randomly protruding polished squares. This wall spans the length of the island, shielding it from its frenetic surroundings. Water trickles from an opening at the base of each square into a pristine reflecting pool. The Pool of Tears enfolds the entire memorial site forever preserving Ground Zero as hallowed ground..."


Originally from Ohio, Joseph Karadin moved to New York City in 1997 after graduating from Cornell University with a Bachelor of Architecture. Currently, Mr. Karadin is working as a designer in Manhattan and lives in New York. Hsin-Yi Wu was born in Taipei, Taiwan, and grew up in Jakarta, Indonesia; she arrived in the United States in 1992. In 1997, she graduated from Cornell University with a Bachelor of Architecture. She currently works in Manhattan and lives in New York.


This is one of two proposals that give substantial recognition not only to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in 1993 and 2001 but also to the two other terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 elsewhere in the United States. This makes it more of a national memorial, which is appropriate. Its large pool with the two "footprint" memorial islands is also well thought out with a graceful but grand treatment. The Pool of Tears and its fountain wall of 2982 polished protruding squares is also handsome. All of these elements are nicely and well conceived, and make considerable sense, enough to make it one of the best proposals. The glass columns interspersed with the islands' trees is a little busy and it is not clear whether each victim's "defining moments" would be equitable. Would some victims have more than others? Otherwise, if the large pool were to incorporate a sculptural element based on the last standing shards of the collapsed towers and also twin beacons of vertical light beams it would be a winner.

Garden of Lights

Pierre David with Sean Corriel, Jessica Kmetovic

Garden of Lights vista

Underground levels

Excerpt from statement:

"There was a last hour, a last minute, a last second that 2,982 stars went dark. The instant there was this last light there was a first light, 2982 stars were born. A new constellation expands across the entire site; a new garden expands across the entire site....Above there is the garden, below there is a new sky and 2,982 stars. The garden of lights links the sky above to the new sky below. A glass wall surrounds this garden of lights. When it opens everyday from 8:46AM to 10:29AM it is a breath, a new rhythm for the city. The seed of the garden is the courage of the past. A gardener is invited from a different part of the world each year to nurture this seed. The footprints teem with life, a prairie. Between the footprints the gardener raises an orchard....Between the garden above and the new sky below are two rooms the expanse of the footprints. The south room of light is pure light filled with all of the sky above and below. The family moves with their tears in between the lights, memory, and life. Leading to the north room of light is an offering path, a stream lined with roses. They give a rose, and the floating petals being them into the north room of light. A steel wall faorged from the salvaged metal of the tower occupies the length of this room. The family passes along its tehickness. On the other side of this wall glow 1,275 lights. This is the resting place of the unidentified remains. Beneath the garden, beneath the rooms of light, we are under the constellation of 2,982 stars tht shine down on 2,982 altars. The eight-year-old daughter has hand-written the name of her father. Her handwriting is engraved in the alabaster of her father's altar forever. Light shines on each engraved name for eternity....In the distance, the slurry wall accompanies the light down to reveal bedrock."


Pierre David resides in Paris. After receiving his degree in Architecture from the Ecole d'Architecture Paris Belleville in 1991, Pierre David taught landscape architecture until 1998 at the Ecole Nationale Superieure du Paysage in Versailles. Since that time, he has taught architecture and landscape design at various institutions in France, through Europe, and in the United States including Harvard University and Columbia University....He currently teaches at the Ecole d'Architecture de Clermont-Ferrand and for the New York/Paris Program, administered by Columbia University. Sean Corriel grew up in Huntington, New York. He is a fifth-year landscape architecture student at Cornell University. Jessica Kmetovic resides in Oakland, California, where she is currently a fifth-year student in the bachelor architecture program at the California College of Arts and Crafts.


This proposal may appeal to environmentalists who love orchards and certainly a large patch of green is always welcome and in the harsher seasons when the trees are leafless the orchard would be a reminder of loss. This part of the proposal, however, is sweet and simple, but not grand. This is the main plaza area, after all, for what is planned as a gigantic mixed-use complex. While criticisms of the original plaza at the World Trade Center as barren and windswept were not off target, this proposal goes too far the other way with little sense of grandeur, or formality, nor uniqueness. What kind of trees? How many? The underground part of this proposal - the alabaster altars topped with "handwritten" names of the victims - as a certain appeal, but the focus of this and many of the other proposals on the individual victims can begin to miss the bigger picture. There is no question that memorializing the victims individually has strong emotional appeal and impact. Specificity makes it real. Names on park benches are touching but also a bit proprietary and a bit elitist - only the rich can afford them. One wouldn't want to pave over Central Park with plaques and who is to guarantee that commercial advertisements - sponsorships - would not be far behind.

Reflecting Absence

This design was chosen the winner of the competition January 6, 2004

Michael Arad

Reflecting Absence site plan

Context of Reflecting Absence

Excerpt from statement:

"...A pair of reflective pools marks the location of the towers' footprints. The surface of these pools is broken by large voids. These voids can be read as containers of loss, being close-by yet inaccessible. The pools are submerged thirty feet below street level in the middle of a large open plaza. They too are large voids, open and visible remainders of the absence. The pools are fed by a constant stream of water, cascading down the walls which enclose them. Bordering each pool is a pair of shaped buildings. These buildings create a sense of enclosure, capturing the exposed outer corners of the memorial site and defining a path of circulation around each pool. They also guide visitors to the site into the memorial itself. Visitors begin their descent into the memorial by entering one of these buildings. This descent removes them from the sights and sounds of the city and immerses them in a cool darkness. As they gradually proceed, step by step, the sound of water falling grows louder, andmore daylight filters in from below. At the bottom of their descent, they find themselves behind a thin curtain of water, staring out at an enormous pool that flows endlessly towards a central void that remains empty. A ribbon of names surrounds this pool and the enormity of this space and the multitude of names lining it underscore the vast scope of the tragedy that took place at this site....The western edge of the plaza is bounded by a cultural building that shelters the site from the highway."


Michael Arad grew up in Israel, the United States and Mexico. He has been living in the U.S. since finishing his military service in the Israeli Defense Force in 1991. He received a BA from Dartmouth College, and a MA from Georgia Tech's College of Architecture. He moved to New York City in 1999 and worked as an architect at Kohn Pedersen Fox for three years. He recently joined the Design Department of the New York City Housing Authority....He lives in the East Village in New York City.


This is a strong design except for the proposed "cultural" building on its western edge that would block views of much of the memorial site from the World Financial Center across West Street. The proposed building is thin and while the notion of shielding the memorial site from traffic noise is laudable it really points to a critical problem with all of the designs, namely, is West Street to be tunneled and turned into a park that unites the World Financial Center with the rest of Lower Manhattan. It must be and the proposed "cultural" building is the wrong idea at this part of the site. Apart from that, there is a good sense of monumentality and serenity here.
In a surprise decision, the design competition jury selected this design as the winner after two major changes were made: the abandonment of the proposed building along West Street and the selection of landscape architect Peter Walker (see The City Review of his book, "Minimalist Gardens") as a partner.

Dual Memory

Brian Strawn and Karla Sierralta

Dual Memory site plan

One of memorial areas

Excerpt from statement:

"Elements of water reflect light and memory. 2,982 light portals shine over the 'Individual Memory Footprint," where the North Tower of the WTC once stood. Each light glows with individual intensity, honoring all of the victims who died. Elements of water embrace and reflect memories related to those we lost, those who survived and the selfless actions of those who aided in rescue, recovery and healing. The journey to the emotional center of the footprint is a personal experience. Evolving images are reflected as water flows down the walls that support the plane of water above. On glass and stone, the names are revealed. Here, as stories are shared, they become part of our collective. A final resting place for the unidentified remains embraces a private area for family members and loved ones. This space, at bedrock, becomes the most sacred. Elements of earth create spaces that frame the sky. 92 Sugar Maples trees stand on the 'Shared Memory Footprint.' The space, where the South Tower of the WTC once stood, is devoted to the shared loss of a community, a city, a country, and the world. These native trees of New York grow as a symbol of new life in the soil of each of the 92 nations brought together by the great tragedies. A shared path guides visitors through bands of nature that form around the emotional center of the footprint. Stone walls that carry messages of hope from each of the countries and a bed of wild roses surround this quiet space for meditation and contemplation."


Brian Strawn was born and raised on a small farm in Alexander, Illinois....After completion of his undergraduate degree [in zoology] in 1997 at Southern Illinois University, he worked for a year at the Hensen Robinson Zoo, and participated in a work abroad program in London....He received a Master of Arts in Architecture from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2003....He now works for an architecture firm in Chicago. Karla Sierralta was born and raised in Maracaibo, Venezuela. She received her bachelor of architecture from the University of Zulia (LUZ) in 1999....Ms. Sierralta was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to purse her Masters in ARchitecture at the University of Illinois in Chicago; she was awarded her degree this year.


This plan is perhaps the most sculptural surface treatment of all the finalists' designs. Its stepped open spaces, partially landscaped, conceiveably afford the opportunity for use as a amphitheater, something downtown could use. Furthermore, the south "footprint" appears to be raised at an upwards angle toward the east and a grand staircase aparts part of a building adjoining the north "footprint" at its southeastern corner. These elements add a sense of complexity that is not inappropriate for all the varied private and public interests in the site. Nonetheless, the design does not come together cohesively and the interior spaces lack "umph" and are somewhat akin to convention center displays.

Inversion of Light

Toshio Sasaki

Inversion of Light night scene

Inversion of Light site plan

Excerpt from statement:

"The work I envision for the site will consist of the universal elements of light, water, air, and earth. Light, which is eternal and which emanates from the beginning of the universe; water, from which life came; and earth and air, which nourish life and the living. I propose to create a street-level park that will preserve the twin towers' footprints and the slurry wall. The park will signify the renewal of life and offer a place for public ceremonies and days of remembrance. The below-grade level beneath the park where the unidentified remains area is situated, gives both the victims and their families a serene place for visitation, contemplation, and rest. To enter the underground area of the memorial, one descends a ramp leading to where the victims are represented as light, water, and air. Within the north tower's footprint, a representative floor plan, based on those of the ninety-fourth and ninety-fifth floors, is illuminated from below; the light is blocked in the central area of the plan. On the north wall of the memorial, where the first plane hit, an extended curtain of clear glass will be etched with the names of the lost individuals. The victim's names will be sorted in two categories, designated by 2001 and 1993. The 2001 category will be organized by locations: World Trade Center site, Somerset County, Pennsylvania and Arlington, Virginia. The victim names within these locaitons will be organized by civilians and non-civilians (military personel, NYPD, NYFD and other groups). Behind the glass and along its length and height, water will trickle continuously, representing the eternal movement of life through time.The black-granite east and west walls will be etched with the memorial mission statement and the heroes' insignias; the east wall with the history of events. In footprint of the south tower, a reflection pond will serve as a tribute to the spirits of the victims; at night, it will be illuminated from beneath by a circle of lights projecting into the sky. In winter, the heat of the lights will vaporize the water and create the image of names on its surface. The centrally located unidentified remains area is enclosed in two semicircular glass walls, unified above by a circular skylight that emerges in the curvilinear park. From this central column ripples out a horizontal configuration that incorporates all elements of the memorial and its surroundings - all columns, the main ramp, all lighting, the museums, the footprints and elements within, and the geography of the surrounding urban grid, extending to the Statue of Liberty and, perhaps, beyond. From this column a blue laster light shines into the universe, connecting the geometry and geography of the earth with the geometry and eternity of the universe...."


Artist Toshio Sasaki was born in Kyoto, Japan. After receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the Aiichi University of Fine Arts he came to New York to attend the Brooklyn Museum Art School. He is the recipient of a NYSCA CAPS Fellowship and a NEA Visual Artists Fellowship, and has been recognized by the City of New York for his wall relief The First Symphony of the Sea at the Aquarium for Wildlife Conversation in Brooklyn.....Mr. Sasaki currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.


This proposal is notable for its inclusion of a blue laser light projecting into the sky, a variation on the twin beacons of light that were briefly installed at the site and which were very, very popular. Why only one? Logic suggests two. Mr. Sasaki's south "footprint" lights and vapor are nice touches and the sinking of the footprints is good but the ramp seems a bit too narrow and might be better if widened to provide amble seating.


None of the eight finalist designs are compelling. In part, this can be explained by the insistence on the memorial clearly defining the "footprints" of the twin towers. Overhanging the competition is the messy and still unresolved design for the rebuilding of the World Trade Center. What has been particularly disturbing is the public announcement of a selection and then its subsequent redesign to something substantially different. Such a process is a charade and smacks of poor planning and, worse, influence peddling.

Both competitions are not for some suburban mall, but for one of the world's most famous sites. In their zeal to involve the public, the sponsors of the competition have emphasized the need to honor those lost in the terrorist attacks and not surprisingly the families of the victims have become very, very vocal. Their concerns are important, but the project is more important than the individual victims. It needs to be a community-wide, city-wide and national response and monument. Indeed, it needs to be an internationally meaningful design. Such a solution, of course, would be difficult to achieve on a barren battlefield, let alone at the center of a very, very large mixed-use development that is integral to the future of Lower Manhattan, which for several decades in the early 20th Century was the world's most glorious, important and influential skyline.

Two critics for The New York Times, Herbert Muschamp and Michael Kimmelman, have written severely critical columns expressing their disappointment with the memorial site jury's selection of finalist designs.

In a November 20, 2003 article, architecture critic Muschamp maintained that "none of them deserve to be built in their present form." He noted that Michael Arad's design, "Reflecting Absence," had the "signal virtue of focusing the viewer's attention where we want it to be focused: on the symbolic pair of shapes that have come to represent the simultaneity of public and private loss. The design has problems, too. There's a surfeit of hard paving in the plaza surrounding the pools. The pools are flanked by low buildings that appear visually irrelevant to the memorial task. They enlose steps that lead downinto subterranean galleries for viewing cascades of water that flow from voids in the pools above. It will not be possible to judge how these underground spaces would work until more is known about plans to install a shopping mall at ground zero." Mr. Muschamps also noted that "Suspending Memory," by Joseph Karadin and Hsin-Yi Wu, "reverses the concept of the Arad scheme" and "envisions a garden within each of the footprints, surrounding by an immense pool of water." "But," Mr. Muschamps continued, "this plan, too, is overburdened with features: columns of concrete and glass; capsule biographies of the victims; a memorial bridge....As these features pile up, the project comes to seem more and more like an artifact of the memorial industry, less like a heartfelt response....As for the other designs, they all offer an excess of spectacle."

In his off-lead article of the Arts & Leisure December 7, 2003 edition in The New York Times, Mr. Kimmelman offers an even harsher criticism, stating that "now that everyone agrees that the ground zero memorial finalists are a disappointment, there's only one thing to do. Throw them all out." "We should insist on salvaging this most important of public projects, as well as our city and the nation, from a legacy of compromise that leads to banality....Forget vapid populism. Limit the competition to participants of the jury's expert choosing...The cost of building an unmemorable memorial would be far more than shabby aesthetics. It would be a moral failure. A distracted and impatient culture gets the memorial it deserves....In building this crucial monument to democracy and to our great culture, let's give the populist experiment a rest. Let's champion another American ideal: excellence."

aftermath of attack

The World Trade Center, after, photo Coast Guard video broadcast on Channel 4, New York Sunday, September 15, 2001, circa 1:30PM

The above photograph taken of a television screen shows the still-standing base of one of the twin towers with its bent and broken façade grid that eventually was torn down. The image of that tall part of that broken base appeared regularly in coverage of the terrorist attacks and their aftermath and as such became an indelible symbol, one that could be recreated and one which aesthetically is very, very strong.

Mr. Mushamps disenchantment with clutter and spectacle and yearning for a minimalist solution is not without merit but he does not articulate a solution. Mr. Kimmelman's "elitist" comments are valid but are not a guarantee of excellence as the jury members are not all artists, sculptors, designers and architects.

To start this process over again would be agonizing and further discombobulate what remaining well-intentioned integrity the project has. Mr. Kimmelman has it right when he prioritizes the memorial's need to uphold and uplift democracy, the city and the nation.

Michael Arad's proposal, "Reflecting Absence," perhaps would be the easiest to modify. By including a "shard" sculpture and incorporating twin vertical beacons of light and by not building his "cultural" building on the western side, it would go a long way to solving the problem.

Ted Heys has proposed an interesting memorial that does away with the pit and slurry wall and creates an interesting and lovely memorial centered around a lattice-like low-rise structure that recalls the "shards." The proposal can be viewed at



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