September 11th Memorials - The Construction Continues

World Trade Center Memorials

Tribute in Light

The Tribute in Light was a temporary art installation of 88 searchlights placed next to the site of the World Trade Center from March 11 to April 14, 2002 to create two vertical columns of light in remembrance of the September 11, 2001 attacks. The installation was launched again in 2003 to mark the second anniversary of the attack, and as of 2007 has been done every year since on September 11. The tribute will run again in 2008, but has not been funded for future years.

Those working on the project came up with the concept in the week following the attack.  Architects John Bennett and Gustavo Bonevardi of PROUN Space Studio distributed their "Project for the Immediate Reconstruction of Manhattan's Skyline."

Artists Julian LaVerdiere and Paul Myoda, who before September 11 were working on the 91st floor of the World Trade Center north tower on a proposed light sculpture on the giant radio antenna with Creative Time, conceived of the project "Phantom Towers," and were commissioned by <i>The New York Times Magazine</i> to create an image of the project for its September 23 cover.

Richard Nash Gould, a New York architect, went to the Municipal Art Society with the concept. Gould was part of a firm whose SoHo office looked on the World Trade Center. Other projects by Gould include Howard, Darby & Levin in New York City and Polo Sport, Ralph Lauren in New York City.

On September 19, chairman Philip K. Howard wrote to Mayor Rudy Giuliani, asking him "to consider placing two large searchlights near the disaster site, projecting their light straight up into the sky."  After some consideration it was decided to contact lighting experts in the field of high intensity light displays. A Las Vegas company was chosen to help design the installation and to supply the 88 fixtures that would be needed.

On clear nights, the lights could be seen from over 60 miles away, clearly visible in all of New York City and most of suburban Northern New Jersey and Long Island, Fairfield, Connecticut, Westchester County and Rockland County, New York. The beams were clearly visible from the terrace at Century Country Club in Purchase, New York, from at least as far west as western Morris County, in Flanders, New Jersey, and as far south near Trenton, New Jersey in nearby Hamilton.

The project was originally going to be named "Towers of Light," but the victims' families complained that the name emphasized the buildings destroyed instead of the people killed.

National September 11th Memorial

In August 2006, the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey began heavy construction on the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. The Memorial will be located at the World Trade Center site, on the former location of the two destroyed towers. The World Trade Center Memorial Foundation was renamed the National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center in 2007. The winner of the World Trade Center Site Memorial Competition was Israeli architect Michael Arad of Handel Architects, a New York and San Francisco-based firm. Arad worked with landscape architecture firm Peter Walker and Partners on the design which calls for a forest of trees with two square pools in the center, where the Twin Towers stood.

The design is consistent with the original Daniel Libeskind master plan that called for the memorial to be 30 feet below street level (originally 70 feet) in a piazza. The design was the only finalist to throw out Libeskind's requirement that buildings overhang the footprints.

A memorial was planned in the immediate aftermath of the attacks and destruction of the World Trade Center to remember both the victims and those involved in rescue. The National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center is a non-profit corporation with the mission to raise funds for, program, own and operate the Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center site.

The memorial consists of a park at street level with two recessed square pools located 30 feet (9m) below street level, fed by waterfalls along the walls. At the center of the pools are recessed squares into which the water flows. The waterfalls will be the largest manmade waterfalls in the country.  The names of the victims will be inscribed on parapets surrounding the pools at street level. The design will place the names of the victims who were in Tower 1 and the victims on Flight 11, which hit Tower 1 around the North Pool. The names surrounding the South Pool will include: those killed in Tower 2, the victims who were in the immediate vicinity of the Towers, the victims on Flight 175, which hit Tower 2, the first responders, the passengers on Flight 93, which crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, the passengers on Flight 77, which hit the Pentagon; those killed at Pentagon, and the victims of the February 26, 1993 WTC bombing. Company employees and their visitors will be listed together, but without the names of their companies. Passengers of the four flights will be listed together under their flight numbers. First responders will be listed together with their units.

The National September 11 Memorial Museum will be located 70 feet below ground. An admission fee is under consideration.  The museum will feature interactive exhibits that are designed to teach visitors about the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and February 26, 1993 through firsthand accounts and artifacts. The largest asset of the museum will be the exposed slurry wall, which held back the Hudson River and remained standing after the attacks.

On March 13, 2006, construction workers arrived at the WTC site to commence work on the Reflecting Absence design. On that same day, relatives of the victims and other concerned citizens gathered to protest the new memorial, stating that the memorial should be built above ground. The president of the memorial foundation, however, has stated that family members were consulted and formed a consensus in favor of the current design, and that work will continue as planned.  

In May 2006, it was disclosed that the estimated construction costs for the Memorial had risen to over $1 billion.  At $1 billion, it would approach the cost of the World Trade Center for which construction was completed in 1970 in nominal dollar terms. In 2006, at the request of Governor George Pataki and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, builder Frank Sciame performed a month-long analysis, which considered input from victims' families, the Lower Manhattan business and residential communities, members of the memorial jury, architects and others. The analysis recommended design changes that kept the memorial and museum within the $500 million budget.

On September 2, 2008, construction workers erected the 7,700 pound first column for the memorial, near the footprint of the north tower.

America's Heroes Memorial

Opened in September 2002 after Pentagon repairs were completed, the America's Heroes Memorial and chapel are housed where American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the building.  The memorial includes a book of photographs and biographies of the victims. It also includes five large black acrylic panels: one displays the Purple Heart medal awarded to military members killed in the attacks, another shows the medal given to civilians, two back wall panels are etched with the victims' names, and a center panel shows tribute statements. The small chapel, located in an adjacent room, has stained glass windows with patriotic-themed designs.

The Pentagon Memorial

The Pentagon Memorial is an outdoor memorial; it is scheduled to be dedicated in September 2008, and will be open to the public. Another memorial to victims of the Pentagon attack is located in Arlington National Cemetery. The site of the memorial will be the first actual 9/11 Memorial; law enforcement function for the memorial falls under the jurisdiction of the United States Pentagon Police.

The Pentagon Memorial is being constructed from a design by Julie Beckman and Keith Kaseman of New York City (with design support from Buro Happold) that was chosen following a design competition. The memorial will honor the 184 victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks at The Pentagon. At the heart of the memorial will be 184 illuminated benches, arranged according to the victim's ages, from 3 to 71, in a landscaped 1.93-acre plot. The benches representing the victims on the plane will face skyward, and the benches representing the victims that were inside the building will face the Pentagon (in both cases, the line of sight follows the flight's path). As part of the landscaping, there will be approximately 80 Paperbark Maple trees planted.

The Pentagon Memorial Fund, Inc. has a goal of raising $32 million. The construction of the memorial is estimated to cost $22 million, with another $10 million set aside in an endowment to provide maintenance of the memorial. As of May 2007, $13.8 million had been raised for construction of the memorial. Donations include $250,000 from American Forests towards planting trees at the memorial, and $1 million from the government of Taiwan.

Construction began on June 15, 2006, and will be dedicated and opened to the public on September 11, 2008.  By November 2006, site excavation, re-routing of existing utility lines had been completed, and water lines laid for the fountain pools.  By May 2007, the foundation of the perimeter wall was built and concrete pilings poured for each bench.

Flight 93 Memorial

Flight 93 National Memorial protects the site of the crash of United Airlines Flight 93, which was hijacked in the September 11, 2001 attacks, in Stonycreek Township, Pennsylvania, about 2 miles north of Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and 60 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. A temporary memorial to the 40 victims was established soon after the crash, with a permanent memorial slated to be constructed and completed by 2011. The current design for the memorial is a modified version of the entry Crescent of Embrace by Paul and Milena Murdoch.

Temporary Memorial

The site of the crash is enclosed by a fence and is closed to the public except for victims' family members. The temporary memorial is located on a hillside 500 yards from the crash site. The memorial includes a 40-foot (to commemorate the 40 passengers) chain-link fence on which visitors can leave flags, hats, rosaries, and other items. The items are collected by the Somerset Historical Center and stored until a permanent memorial is built.

Next to the fence are several memorials such as a bronze plaque of names, flags, and a large cross. The temporary memorial also includes a row of small wooden angels, one for each passenger or crew member. There are also handwritten messages on the guardrails at the memorial.  At the memorial site, there is also a small building where visitors can sign a guestbook. The building is staffed by National Park Service volunteers, called ambassadors, who answer questions. In the years following the attacks, approximately 150,000 visitors each year have come to the memorial site.

Permanent Memorial

On March 7, 2002, Congressman John Murtha (PA-12) introduced a bill in the United States House of Representatives to establish a National Memorial to be developed by a commission, and ultimately administered by the National Park Service. On April 16, 2002, Senator Arlen Specter (PA) introduced a version of the "Flight 93 National Memorial Act" in the Senate. On September 10, 2002 the bill passed both houses of Congress. The final bill specifically excluded the four hijackers from the passengers to be memorialized. When signed by President George W. Bush on September 24, 2002, it became Public Law No. 107-226, and the site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. By September 2005, the commission was required to send to the Secretary of the Interior and Congress recommendations for the planning, design, construction, and long-term management of a permanent memorial.

The proposed boundaries of the National Memorial extend from Lambertsville Road to U.S. Highway 30. It will be about 2,200 acres, of which about 1,000 will be privately held, but protected through partnership agreements. The memorial itself would be a 400-acre "bowl" shaped area, with 1,800 surrounding acres as a buffer.  In December 2002, landowner Tim Lambert donated six acres at the crash site, and entered discussions with the Conservation Fund regarding 160 additional acres.  Using some funds donated from receipts for the film United 93, the Families of Flight 93 organization purchased three acres in the summer of 2006. The organization is also seeking $10 million in federal funding to use for acquiring land.  In November 2006, the Conservation Fund acquired 100 acres as buffer land which are to be managed by the Pennsylvania Game Commission. PBS Coals Inc. sold 900 acres to the the families organization in March 2008.

The commission decided to select the final design for the memorial through a multi-stage design competition funded by grants from the Heinz Foundations and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The competition began on September 11, 2004. More than 1,000 entries were submitted. In February 2005, five finalists were selected for further development and consideration. The 15-member final jury included family members, design and art professionals, and community and national leaders. After three days of review and debate, they announced the winner on September 7, 2005: Crescent of Embrace by a design team led by Paul and Milena Murdoch of Los Angeles.

The design featured a "Tower of Voices," containing 40 wind chimes — one for each passenger and crew member who died. A crescent is formed by a circular pathway lined with red maple trees that follows the natural bowl shape of the land. Forty groves of red and sugar maples and eastern white oak trees were to be planted behind the crescent. A black slate wall would mark the edge of the crash site, where the victims are buried.

This design drew criticism because it was entitled "Crescent of Embrace". The crescent is a symbol of Islam, and the terrorists who hijacked the aircraft were Muslim and conducted the attacks in the name of Islam.

Jury member Tom Burnett Sr., whose son was killed in the crash, said he made an impassioned speech to his fellow jurors about what he felt the crescent represented, "I explained this goes back centuries as an old-time Islamic symbol," Burnett said. "I told them we'd be a laughing stock if we did this."  Representative Tom Tancredo of Colorado has opposed the design's shape "because of the crescent's prominent use as a symbol in Islam." Mike Rosen of the Rocky Mountain News wrote: "On the anniversaries of 9/11, it's not hard to visualize al-Qaeda celebrating the crescent of maple trees, turning red in the fall, "embracing" the Flight 93 crash site. To them, it would be a memorial to their fallen martyrs. Why invite that? Just come up with a different design that eliminates the double meaning and the dispute."  It has also been pointed out that the design's crescent is oriented toward Mecca.

The architect asserts that this is coincidental and that there was no intent to refer to Muslim symbols. Several victims' families agreed, including the family of Edward P. Felt.  The Council on American-Islamic Relations has denounced criticism as Islamophobic.

Others criticized the design as too non-representational. "We don't need giant statues of the guys ramming the drink cart into the door. But pedantic though such a monument might be, future generations would infer the plot. All you get from a Crescent of Embrace is a sorrowful sigh of all-encompassing grief and absolution, as if the lives of all who died on that spot were equal in tragedy. They were not," wrote James Lileks, a journalist and architectural commentator.

In response to criticism, the designer has agreed to modify the plan. The architect believes that the central elements can be maintained to satisfy criticism. "It's a disappointment there is a misinterpretation and a simplistic distortion of this, but if that is a public concern, then that is something we will look to resolve in a way that keeps the essential qualities," Murdoch, 48, said in a telephone interview to the Associated Press.

The redesigned memorial has the plain shape of a circle (as opposed to a crescent) bisected by the flight's trajectory. "The circle enhances the earlier design by putting more emphasis on the crash site, officials said in the newsletter. A break in the trees will symbolize the path the plane took as it crashed."  There is criticism that the redesign does not address any of the issues with the original design.

The cost of the permanent memorial is estimated at $57 million, and will be covered by $30 million in private donations, plus federal and state funds.  The permanent memorial is planned to be dedicated on September 11, 2011.  As of April 2007, only $11 million had been raised, falling short of the fundraising goal.

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