By Zac Collins
This past Sunday, September 11th, 2011 marked the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, The Pentagon, and hijacked plane that crashed in Pennsylvania. In honor and remembrance of such a tragic event, the 9/11 Memorial had a private opening to the victim’s families. On Monday, it was then opened for the public.
Starting in 2003, an international design competition was opened up for the selection of the new memorial design. There was a total of 5,201 design entries coming from 63 nations. There was an impressive amount of “want & care” to be a part of this historical monument by designers. In the end though, partner Michael Arad of Handel Architects won the competition, and Peter Walker and Partners was the landscape architect. Arad’s concept for the memorial is “Reflecting Absence.” The following is Arad’s explanation of his concept.
“This memorial proposes a space that resonates with the feelings of loss and absence...It is located in a field of trees that is interrupted by two large voids containing recessed pools. Standing there at the water’s edge, looking at a pool of water that is flowing away into an abyss, a visitor to the site can sense that what is beyond this parapet edge is inaccessible. They are large voids, open and visible reminders of the absence. The surface of the memorial plaza is punctuated by...rows of deciduous trees, forming clusters, clearings and groves. Through its annual cycle of rebirth, the living park extends and deepens the experience of the memorial. The memorial grounds will not be isolated from the rest of the city; they will be a living part of it.”
The Memorial site is located on the 16 acre site of the World Trade Center Complex occupying only half of it. When entering the site, visitors pass through a grove of swamp white oak trees with a clearing in the middle for congregating and ceremonial spaces. Moving on, visitors finally reach the vast void of the two footprints of the twin towers. The footprints of the towers are 30 feet deep that is a part of the beautiful fountains that feed into it. Along the perimeters, the names of the 2,977 victims of the attacks and the six who died in the bombing of the trade center in 1993 are stamped on bronze plates. On the site, there are six electronic directories showing visitors where to find the locations of the names they are looking for. Interestingly, the names are not in alphabetical order, but grouped by the connections and relationships between co-workers, firefighters, other victims, flight crews, etc. It is truly an emotional stimulating place.
Also on site is the Memorial Museum that is still under construction and scheduled for opening in 2012. The memorial and museum has been estimated at a cost of $700 million.
I believe personally, that this memorial is somewhat a “pilgrimage” if I may use that word loosely. I think that it is a journey that should be taken by everyone to see this “sacred” place, this place of significance. I hope one day I will be able to visit New York City, and go to this site, this memorial. It is a major piece of American history, tragic history, but nonetheless. history that I witnessed in my generation. I cannot even imagine how I will feel once I am there experiencing this extraordinary place.