World Trade Center Memorial competition


Field of Lights: Illuminated Memory


Unlike most other memorials, the WTC memorial site is the hallowed ground in which the victims died. Thus it is appropriate and respectful that the “bathtub” be commemorated as a cemetery and a resting place.


The text from the competition submission panels is below.





By placing a light in the ground for each victim or hero – and identifying each one – this design creates a memorial at once contemplative and celebrating those
lives. The lights are placed, when possible, according to the GPS plotted
locations of remains; the heavier concentration of lights forms the footprints
of the towers.


Each “eternal” light is a solar powered LED with the name (and rank/affiliation if appropriate) of a victim etched into the lens. Both the solar power and the extreme
long life of LED bulbs contribute to the eternal character of the lights. Civilians are commemorated with white lights, firefighters and EMT’s with red lights and police with blue lights. This differentiation (red, white and blue) allows recognition of those who gave their lives, while not creating a hierarchy diminishing those who lost their lives. 


(Lights for the Pentagon and Pennsylvania victims are placed in the south bathtub wall. Lights for the 1993 WTC bombing victims are placed at the location of the original 

memorial, which was also the blast site and is incorporated into the public      contemplation space.)




The other basis of this proposal – the rolling terrain with semi-underground spaces – arose from the desire to create a simple, bucolic park without additional structures to complicate it or compete with the surrounding structures, which are complex and monumental in their own right. The footprints of the towers are kept at the ground plane while the terrain is allowed to rise in the center of the site in order to create contemplative spaces below. (The memorial lights above those spaces are duplicated in the roofs of those spaces so they appear to shine through from above.) The rolling topography of the park is meant to also resemble the topography of the Fresh Kills landfill, where much of the WTC ended up.




The public contemplation room (2) is the central space and is the connector to the space for families and loved ones (3), the unidentified remains (4), the 1993 Memorial (5) and the north tower footprint. On the floor throughout, there are lit benches within a pebbled outline marking the location of the destroyed Marriott World Trade Center Hotel footprint.


The ceilings of the rooms are dotted with memorial lights in the same positions as the lights in the ground above. While the space itself is underground, daylight filters in from the lobby, the north tower footprint and the opening at the 1991 Memorial. The curved translucent wall separating the public contemplation room from the wall of unidentified remains is lit from within, creating a glow in both spaces.


The families’ spaces entered through a “permeable” separation from the public space. At the narrow, end of the space is a private area to view the slurry wall. Much of the south side is formed and illuminated by the solar wall of tears. The north wall is open to the north tower footprint.


The structure supporting the raised areas at the edges of the tower footprints is made of columns derived from the shape of those that formed the ground level of the towers. 




Adjacent to the south tower is a gallery space (6) for surviving original elements    (e.g. facade fragments, fire equipment and vehicles, papers, etc.)

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