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The World Trade Center Memorial Competition

New York City

5201 Entrants

with Linda Lindroth

Cynthia Beth Rubin, Imaging Consultant

Visitors Capture projected images of Victims
"Her mother watched her twirl and skip her white card, catching faces like butterflies in a garden. She was alone in this space today and while it was still a source of sadness, their child found her way through the beams of light, catching souls. Standing, she held out her card. It didn't matter whose face appeared. The apparition was familiar, a member of an extended family. Some were in motion, others frozen in smiles- ageless-lost, but found again and again by strangers and friends. "A big box of smiles," her fatherless daughter called to her. "It's just like a big box of smiles."


Two bridges cross the garden site like shafts laid horizontally across the excavation. One is the Memorial Pavilion; the other, the contemplative space with the Remembrance Wall. The two originate at September 11th Place and stretch across the void left by the destruction of the WTC towers. At their intersection, a third vertical shaft extends from the bottom of the excavation through the roof and terminates in a private space for families.

The Memorial Pavilion
Embedded in the thick walls of the Memorial Pavilion are hundreds of projectors which emit the images of 3016 persons who perished on September 11, 2001 and February 23, 1993. Looking into the space from the ends, a cloud-like light of fog is evident. The light is activated on the hands and clothing of visitors as projected images come into focus. The faces (obtained from the families) might be generated from video clips or still photos or, if their loved ones do not want an image projected, a favorite color might represent them. The focus of the light, that is the image of the person who has died, can only be seen if something passes in front of it. Picking up a 3x5 white Capture Card at the entry to the memorial, the visitor receives the images by stopping the beams of light, focusing the face in one's hand. Images fall on clothing as well. As visitors enter the space wearing light-colored garments, the faces of those who died will be projected on a sleeve or the back of shirt. A diagram will describe where to find a loved one or friend.

Our memorial design takes its inspiration from one of the earliest responses to the tragedy of 9/11. An outpouring of images on street corners, train stations, post offices and storefronts held meaning for everybody, not just the families who searched for lost loved ones. Everyone was affected by the posted photographic images and their collective power manifested our communal loss.

The Remembrance Wall
The Remembrance Wall is located in the shaft that runs North-South and faces east towards September 11th Place. The names of the 3016 men, women and children who perished on that day, are inscribed. The names are arranged by groups-each group has a title and a list of affiliated victims. When you visit the memorial-you may see six people gather around a particular part of the wall. We see the victims as a part of a group-a collective-not anonymous individuals This recalls the communities within the original office buildings, where individual floors became neighborhoods of colleagues and friends. Here at the Remembrance Wall we also can pay our respects to those unidentified victims of the tragedy. The wall, which is 500 feet long, also contains four long horizontal panels arrayed along its length. Our memorial divides the site into four quadrants. One quadrant, if extended far enough, would include the Pentagon and another would include the Pennsylvania site. The horizontal panels-approximately 18 inches by ten feet long- and made of contrasting color marble, mark an embedded tomb of dirt and debris from each area of the site. One section of each tomb is reserved for the remains of the unidentified victims. At the joint between the marble panels, a glass spacer reveals the debris held within. Viewing these sections of the Remembrance Wall reminds us what the site that we knew as the World Trade Center was reduced to in the period before this renewal.

The 3x5 Capture Card may be taken home or the visitor may write a prayer or message on it and place it in a slot in the wall volume. Inserted into the Remembrance Wall, engraved with the names of the dead, each prayer, each message is for all who died. Similar to making tracings at the Vietnam Memorial, the card serves as temporary visit with loved ones; remembering them in the space they last inhabited.

How many times have we stopped to watch a speck of dust dance in a sunbeam? Light is the key element in this memorial. The attack took place in broad daylight in the crystalline early morning light of a beautiful late summer day in the city. The sky was clear blue. Imagine 3016 beams of light each projecting the face of someone lost to us. The dense light of these projected beams simulate that cloud photographed atop the World Trade Center Towers as well as the swirl of dust that the wind carried across the razed surface as each name was read in 2002. A space filled with a fog-like shimmering light. The projected light fills the space and daylight leaks into the space though gaps in the pavilion's skin.

Private Space for Families

The private space for families is a parallelogram shaped room open to the sky. It has translucent glass walls and at one end is an inverted cube of glass providing cover. The room occupies the top of the shaft that projects from the intersection of the memorial below. A marble bench runs along one side. The walls of the room are sloped in such a way that people in the room can only see the walls and the sky above. No other buildings are visible.

Structure and Egress
The floor surface of the two bridges drapes slightly from street level to accentuate the feeling that the memorial occupies its own space. It is lower than the street, but suspended taut above the level of the excavation. One leaves the city to enter the memorial.
Ramps and elevators descend from the walls to reach the bottom of the excavations. In this way the circulation of the site is intertwined in the geometry of the memorial-there is no redundancy; everything is integrated.

At the level of the bottom of the excavation, a long, semi-continuous two-foot wide marble bench marks the perimeters of the two destroyed buildings. People will sit along the edge and gaze across the 212-foot lawn inscribed by the bench. The bench is lit fiber-optically, so it glows at night.

At 1060 feet in length, the two shafts together -two tubes of light coursing through the city's heart-approximate the height of each tower.


From the Southwest  
The Capture Cards