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Officials Unveil Revisions to NY City's Memorial to 9/11 Victims - 2004-01-14


The planned memorial for victims of the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York has been revised to include a park, an underground museum, and a chamber for unidentified remains.

Last week, officials announced that they had chosen a final proposal for the World Trade Center memorial, designed by Michael Arad, a young architect who works for New York City.

The design, called "Reflecting Absence," features the square outlines of the Twin Towers and includes pools and cascading water.

Now, Mr. Arad has collaborated with California-based landscape architect Peter Walker to add an uneven orchard of trees, creating a lush, contemplative place to remember the victims of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, as well as victims of an attack on the World Trade Center in 1993.

Mr. Arad said the sense of unity and grief that he experienced in New York in the aftermath of the disaster influenced his vision. "I understand just how important this memorial is to so many people. What happened on September 11 influenced me greatly and my personal sense of grief and loss led me to submit this memorial design," he said. "But my own sense of loss is insignificant compared to what family members feel. I have met these family members in the last few days and these meetings have been very emotional. I know their hopes for this design are very high and I will do my very best not to disappoint them.

Relatives of victims had called for the preservation of the underground structure, the so-called "slurry wall" and "bedrock," where the World Trade Center once stood.

Visitors are expected to pass that exposed wall while descending a ramp leading to an underground center for artifacts from September 11, such as twisted steel beams. A chamber to place flowers and light candles, a museum, and a stone container for unidentified remains will also be built at the bottom of the buildings' foundations, more than nine meters deep.

A building intended to separate the memorial from a nearby highway has been removed from the original design.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg praised the decision to list the names of the victims in no particular order, while adding a shield next to the names of rescue workers to recognize their heroism on September 11. He said the list underscores the American value of equality and the brutality of the attacks. "This memorial is not for us, although we have been trusted with its creation. It is for our children and grandchildren. People generations from now will come and know what happened on September 11," he said.

More work lies ahead to combine several selected designs, but the memorial is expected to be the center of the rebuilt World Trade Center site. The "Reflecting Absence" plan was chosen from 5,000 designs submitted by people in more than 60 countries.

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