Category:world trade center memorial

On the last day of the year, the Times' reporter on the World Trade Center beat, David Dunlap, shared a byline with Herbert Muschamp to report that the Jury has narrowed their choices to two or three final designs for the Memorial.

The reported choices:
"Passages of Light," by Gisela Baurmann, Sawad Brooks and Jonas Coersmeier, aka the "Memorial Cloud," and
"Garden of Lights," by Pierre David, Sean Corriel and Jessica Kmetovic, aka the apple orchard/prairie.

Michael Arad's barren "Remembering Absence" is also favored by some jurors, it seems. If Muschamp's suddenly getting involved in what has been essentially Dunlap's story, it must be because he's been talking to one or more of the jurors. For the first time, we hear about "politicking and debates among jurors, who are conscious that prominent figures like former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani have called for a timeout but are also resolved not to be influenced by political pressures."

While they're right on principle--technically, what everyone is doing is second-guessing the jury--they shouldn't feel obliged to stand on principle when they've so obviously made a weak decision.

one memorial with a name wall, image:lmdc

While I've been contemplating what to write about the WTC Memorial, most of the ideas I've wanted to write about have been put out there.

At least they have now that Clay Risen's article in the Observer lays into the stifling influence of Maya Lin's minimalist memorialism. It's a topic near to my heart (I complained last year that the Pentagon Memorial competition had "far too many Lins").

another memorial with a name wall, image:lmdc
yet another memorial with a name wall, image:lmdc

Even so, Risen pulls his punches, and I underestimated the spread of Linphoma the competition finalists reflect. I only estimated 40-50% of the finalists would be Maya Lin mimics, but it's more like 75-88%, depending on how you count. Six of the designs list"The Names" on a wall somewhere in their design. The three designs with alternate schemes (some have multiple elements; 6+3=8 here) go the OK City/Pentagon route, with individual "memorial units." Out of the minimalist frying pan, into the fetishy individualist fire.

a memorial with a wall AND memorial units, image:lmdc

What's most frustrating is the tremendous inspiration Lin has been to me and so many others; she was instrumental to the idea for my first film, after all. Still, whether its her juror's eye or her daunting memorial legacy, we all just need to move on. I'm just about ready to call for the LMDC to scrap the eight designs, plus at least one juror, and go back to the hopper for some more appropriate ideas.

The piece I wish I'd written in immediate response to the eight WTC Memorial Finalists: Christopher Hawthorne's article on Slate.

What I'm on the record saying in the mean time: from my debut appearance in USA Today. [FWIW, I actually said, "30, 50, or 100 years from now." I'm more tweaked they didn't give the URL. Damned editors...] [Elizabeth, is that what you mean by "kicker"?]

REUTERS photo by Mike Segar of Greg Allen taking photos of the WTC Memorial designs for his weblog, image:

A man in need of a haircut--or at least baseball cap with his URL on it--taking photos of the WTC Memorial finalists for his weblog. Styling credits: neoprene sweater (Samsonite by Neil Barrett), Tyvek jacket (Mandarina Duck), insane amount of sweat that generated (model's own). Photo: Reuters/Mike Segar, [update: my sister "congratulated" me with, "I saw the picture of you--on your website."]

Here are some pictures I'm not in.

Paths of people at the WTC, Plaza Level, concept drawing. image:

Tens of thousands of people pursuing lives, professions, dreams, duties, of their own choosing--following their own paths. Ordinary people in the course of a typical morning, going about their daily lives. Individual paths running parallel, for a time--familiar strangers with the same commute, travelers on an airplane, a close-knit rescue company. Paths converging on a common destination. 3,016 individuals whose paths were senselessly cut short by terrorist attacks. The space made sacred through tragic loss, space where they passed their last ordinary moments.

We who are left can retrace their paths--walk where they walked, go where they went, be where they were--and remember them.

Where did they come from? Where were they going? How did they get there? What was their purpose for coming? The paths people took reveal something of who they are.

They tell of exceptional circumstances, emergency response, unintended detours and daily routines. They point to lives and jobs and homes and families and friends.

Following these paths turns us all into pilgrims. The paths of those who died run right alongside the paths of those who survived; people who were there that morning will recognize their own experience in the paths of others. And people from everywhere will discover common bonds along these paths and come to recognize the ones who made them, keeping their memories alive.

Where paths intersect, intermingle, and converge, they reveal affiliations, associations, communities, commonalities. Where paths accumulate, they reveal the activity and flow of the city and the country. They reflect the experience of individuals in a city, in architecture, in places that no longer exist.

As the city regenerates, new places and new destinations will be created, new pathways will emerge. But the paths of those who died--the space made sacred--will continue forever.

Continue to: Memorial Elements--Paths, Portraits, Destinations

Knowing what's going to happen to these peoples' Google search results tomorrow, I thought I'd take a little search engine snapshot, from before they were Finalists.

Plaza Paths, image:

Plaza Paths, image:

The Memorial will reconstitute the space made sacred, the actual and accurate paths taken by the 3,016 individuals killed on September 11, 2001 and February 26,1993. In Concept, it comprises three major elements: Paths, Portraits, and Destinations.

The Memorial's Form will be determined by mapping each individual's information--compiled from authoritative data sources, gleaned from family and survivor recollection--onto the plan and elevation schema of the original World Trade Center site. This Form will be transposed and integrated into all current and future uses of the site.

Portraits of the individuals killed at the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania will be integrated into the Memorial.

I posted about this on my WTC Discussion sublog. An NYT article mentions the daunting challenge of exhibiting 5,201 poster-sized entries in one place. It's not about space constraints, it's about information architecture and the user experience. [Thanks, Gothamist!]

Fred Bernstein's Twin Piers Memorial, Feb 2002, image:

[via Archinect] Fred Bernstein's proposal for a World Trade Center Memorial has been online for a while. (I first saw--and posted about-- it when Timothy Noah featured it on Slate way back in Feb. 2002.) . Back then, it was an unexpectedly restrained, welcome alternative to the maudlin or ludicrous ideas that were being floated at the time. (Remember that Max Protetch show in January? I'm sure most of the participants now hope you don't.)

Now it turns out Bernstein's Twin Piers was the ninth finalist in the official WTC memorial competition. It was disqualified because, although it was submitted under a friend's name, it was readily identified as his idea, and he'd already submitted another entry. Interestingly, according to the NYPost, it was the "no two entries" rule, not the "publicly identified" rule that led to its exclusion.

For a poignant flashback and a realization of all the possibilities that have since been foreclosed for the WTC site, the city, the country and the world, read Bernstein's November 2001 NY Newsday article, "United Nations should move to World Trade Center Site." Those were the days.

Friday, I met an architecture professional who was on the LMDC jury last summer to select the architects for the World Trade Center site design study. We spoke about the Memorial Competition, details of which were familiar to this person.

The juror was deliberately cagey, but said the Memorial jury was down to ten proposals: "And when it gets down to ten, the lines start to sharpen." Asked about the timeline, this person said, "very soon," but when I bounced the rumored names of finalists, the response I got was, "you know more than I do, then." (Which is so clearly not the case, it's almost embarassing.)

October 10, 2003

Discussing the WTC Memorial

The first rule of the World Trade Center Memorial Competition is don't discuss the World Trade Center Memorial Competition. OK, technically, it's the second rule, and it actually applies to publicly identifying your own design proposal, but whatever.

Many entrants and many more followers of the Competition are discussing it, though, on multiple venues online. Most voices are earnest; some are a bit weary or cynical. Some are pained, or painfully critical; some are self-aggrandizing to a disturbing degree. For my part, I try to stay engaged but circumspect (except for an occasional lash out at the hearts-and-minds-numbing involvement of a shill like Peter Max).

Here are some sources for unfiltered WTC Site Memorial Competition reading:

  • Wired New York has very serious forums, including "Memorial Guidelines," but most WTC-related posting happens in "Ground Zero Developments."
  •'s "How did your WTC Memorial Turn Out?" is less intimidating to post in, which is both good and bad.
  • Posts on The NYTimes Forum, "Redeveloping the World Trade Center Site," may hint at what the paper's Letters editors have to deal with on a regular basis.

    A recurring theme across all the boards: exuberant comments by one William Stratas, a web developer/Competition entrant from Toronto. For undiluted, effusive Stratas, check out his site, Planetcast.

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    Since 2001 here at, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

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