« life on mars, part 2 | Main | the hazards of lockerroom reporting »

this is not a memorial

This is not a memorial. It is an artist's rendering of some space-age fantasy land of the future. It's cold, it's sterile, it's empty. A pile of ashen rubble would evoke more emotion than this design.

What is this? It looks like a bathroom sink. Is this bleak hallway supposed to be somehow comforting?

Memorial: 1. Anything intended to preserve the memory of a person or event; something which serves to keep something else in remembrance; a monument

This is not a memorial. It is a wet dream for people who read Architectural Digest as if it were a fashion magazine.

Only this afternoon did I rant and rave about these designs. I said I would probably change my mind by tonight. I haven't. Of the three choices, this was the one I liked the least. This is the one that made me cringe from the beginning. This is not what I want to see when I go to the place where people I know died.

This is not a memorial. It's a design-by-committee, a piece of art that may be worthy of a museum or office building, but not for this. Not for remembering the pain and horror and anguish and sadness that came out of that day.

This is not a memorial. It's a travesty is what it is. A travesty that looks like a bathroom in some rich person's house.

Update: Faith likes it. Jeff hates it.

I am really, really angry and upset right now. Please tread lightly in the comments. Perhaps I shouldn't have written this when I am so upset, but I did. It may be changed, edited or all together deleted later.

And yes, it has occurred to me that I just might still be too emotional about that day to be objective about this.


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference this is not a memorial:

» Prophetic from Citizen Smash - The Indepundit
ON NEW YEAR'S EVE, I posted a list of predictions for 2004. Granted, most of them weren't long-shots, but I'm... [Read More]

» Where's the Beef? from VodkaPundit
Here you go -- the finalist for the 9/11 memorial on the site of the former Twin Towers: Created by... [Read More]

» http://www.allahpundit.com/archives/000190.html from Allah Is In The House
The creator of worlds is spent after yesterday's climactic Dean-o Photoshop and shall require a little "recovery time" before he feels in the mood again. Allah's male readers know where he is coming from. In the meantime, go forth, Satans,... [Read More]

» http://www.allahpundit.com/archives/000190.html from Allah Is In The House
The creator of worlds is spent after yesterday's climactic Dean-o Photoshop and shall require a little "recovery time" before he feels in the mood again. Allah's male readers know where he is coming from. In the meantime, go forth, Satans,... [Read More]


I think it is one of those things that may prove to be better in real life. Trees, twin pools of water reflecting sky and skyline... it may, once you are standing there in the middle of real water, real trees, real space, be right.

I agree, it should evoke some sort of emotion that provides a memory of the event or person. This doesn't remind me of the event, positively or negatively.

I understand your angst inasmuch as your frustation to see some sort of artwork or some sculpture effective represent those who are lost, but I really can't think of many monuments that do this. I do think of the Vietnam Memorial, for example, that is essentially a long block with names on it. I imagine when the design for it came out, it was thought to be cold and austere, but I honestly can't help but weep when I see it and to know those guys were some of my dad's buddies.

I guess what I am saying is the model is cold, bleak and lacking feeling. As Bill said, the real life version may not be as cold. I hope that's the case.

It's horrendous. I read the text that accompanied all of the presentations and by far, this was the worst written: The footprints are to represent the void of loss and blah blah blah.

There is plenty of void of loss to go around with this event. That bleak hallway looks like the old parking lot for Macy's on Queens Blvd.

Horrible. I hope the families riot (well, not really riot, but something close). They deserve something so much better than this.

If you ever have the chance, come to Oklahoma City to the Memorial here. It evokes emotion. I think the garden of light would bring similar feelings. Just my opinion.

It is kind of like looking at the Korean War Memorial in Washington DC. See it at night and preferably on a rainy, snowy or misty day. If you are not moved, you have no soul.

I'd hope you actually read the story, where they saide it will be groves of trees, not just a couple.

Oh, and your comments are pretty much the same as Maya Ying Lin received about the Vietnam Memorial - that it was cold and and didn't reflect the pain of the war. As if an open scar always remains an open scar.

Just to make my opinion clear, I like it because it preserves the footprints. Because people can't walk all over the footprints in a disrespectful manner (the point of my post that you linked to). None of the other finalists preserved the footprints. So it's kind of a default position.

I can't say what's an appropriate memorial, other than my firm belief in the above.

Those fins at the back must be meant to invoke the venetian blinds in the WTC.

I look at that and imagine that I'm in an office, I lift the blinds and see a plane coming at me...

It's almost a cool theatrical touch. I guess I should be glad that they didn't build a gray metal filing cabinet in the same scale, or a cheap desk with coffee rings that can only be seen from above.

I agree that it sucks. Minimalism worked for the Vietnam Memorial because the war was controversial; any attempt to "make a statement" with the design would have ended up pissing off people on one side or another. But unless you're an Indymedia reader, there's nothing controversial about 9/11. Grieve. It's okay.

The City has preserved a large, four-story piece of one of the Towers. (I believe it's the piece pictured here.) I think that should be the memorial.

As for the new tower with the pretty windmills on top that they're going to build there--ah, never mind.

To follow-up on my previous comment, I found the Pearl Harbor memorial enormously affecting even though I wasn't born until more than 30 years after the attack happened. Why? Because the Arizona is right there. It's not a reconstruction; it's not a piece of art; it's not a little waterfall park or whatever where office workers are going to end up eating their lunch. The actual ship that took the brunt of Japanese bombs is right there just below the water line, resting on the bottom of the harbor. There's no distance from the event at all. I think using the piece of facade at Ground Zero would accomplish something similar. To stand under it and imagine how much further upward it extended, and what it took to tear something that big from its foundation, and what it must have been like to be in that space you're standing in as it happened--I don't know. Works for me.

It really looks like they just plan on filling the holes with concrete and some water and calling it good, to me. Maybe it will be better once it's really there, but it doesn't look like much on paper.

I like the names in the reflecting pool bit, though.

I think that it is TOO peaceful,but is there a way to evoke the emotion that we are right to go after the people who are responsible for this atrocity and that we must not stop until all peace wishing peoples are safe from their blood-thirsty madness?That is the feeling that I want to maintain,and this doesn't do it.

All of these designs are postmodern masturbation. Why not really subvert the paradigm and build, say, 2 110-story square towers, maybe with an antenna on top of one. I'll be first in line to give Allah both middle fingers from the observation deck.

I think I differ from Faith in that I want to walk in the footprints.

Linden, not only do I not understand the desire to walk upon the final resting place of so many people, but I know you read my post on this subject as you commented on my blog, and I can't possibly understand how you expect that, while you might be respectful, all visitors would be respectful of the ground upon which they were walking.

And has anyone noticed that it's designed by an Israeli? That ought help with the Mulims blaming Jews for 9/11. lol

I think Josh is right.

The flat panels in the back are the venetian blinds in the offices, and that "bleak hallway" is obviously the exit stairwell, which was the last thing a lot of people saw. I actually shuddered when I saw the picture.

I'd bet there are other notes of (appropriate) morbidity in there that the pictures don't show.

Although I certainly understand and respect the strong negative reactions of some of the survivors, I have to say I think the design is great. I saw it on TV and in the newspaper and think it will lead to quite an emotional experience when visitors walk around the entire site and see all the names, and see how large an area of destruction was created by the terrorists.
I had reservations about the Viet Nam Memorial until I visited it, and was nearly overwhelmed by the experience. No memorial will do justice to the lives of all who were lost on 9-11. The best it can do is to create an atmosphere where visitors are removed from the normal everyday world, and the memorial presents symbols which provoke thoughts of the lives lost. The Viet Nam Memorial does this, and in my opinion the WTC memorial will do the same.
Whatever the memorial, I will make a point of visiting it (I live 1,000 miles away), pay my respects to all who lost their lives, think of the brave soldiers we have lost in our war on terror, and count my blessings.

I agree with Michele, it just does not impress. Its an excuse for modern art not a memorial. This sort of memorial has to be easy "to get" by even the greatest philistine.

Look down.
Look down...and in.
Take your eyes from the sky and aspire to its heights nevermore.

Weep for the fallen, cry for their loss as this wound is held open, a scar that forever bleeds the spirit of freedom to perpetually wet the altars of the gods that terrorism holds dear.

Better that it be forgotten than remembered like this.

Buildings do not have 'footprints', they have foundations. Foundations that are built upon, foundations that allow them to soar, tall and majestic, into the sky.

Why are we making ourselves forget that?

I think Jack is on to something. The sterile postmodern tone of all of the finalist designs seems to lack anything that would foster or encourage a sense of hope. Blank walls, straight lines, square pools of water, lists of names...my God, don't we already have enough of these architectural atrocities scattered around our cities? To me, the designs say, "This tragedy has left a big blank space in the life of our nation, and there's nothing to fill it but despair. Weep and do not be comforted."

Maybe I'm wrong. I certainly hope I'm wrong. I guess we'll find out when they finally build the thing.

I actually somewhat like the design. I like the simplicity, the simple lines. It doesn't try and go over the top...I don't WANT to have it thrown in my face time and time again as to what happened. I don't need a thousand lights, I don't need rays reaching into the stars. Give me a tree, and it would symoblize everything of that day.

This is a memorial of a dreadful event, it shows that throw simplicity. Through starkness, through the cold. I want to look at the design be like, yes, I remember...and be left with MY memories. Not with the memories that some architect tried to design, some special "message." Its why the Vietnam War Memorial is so successful...it leaves us to look into ourselves, not at the beauty and grandour around us.

I have this problem of being able to see clearly in advance what others can't. I wrote a long time ago when this started that it was going to be design-by-committee and that lots of people, myself included would not like it. Guess what, we are going to be stuck with it.

As to the footprints of the buildings, I think the whole thing is nonsense. That pit is no ones final resting place. The dead or what is left of them has all been carried away, there are no remains on the site. I don't think the spot where the towers stood is sacred and would much rather we built some meaningful there but that isn't going to happen.

I think it's a good design and a good compromise on all the conflicting needs. As someone who has lived within a block of the WTC for 9 years, I am anxious to see reconstruction begin. The WTC is the place my children went to daycare and the shopping area where our bank, drugstore, pizza shop, etc. were all located. We are eager to get our neighborhood back.

This is a place where many people died (but not a final resting place of anyone). It is also the center of one of America’s most densely populated residential and business neighborhoods. Within a few years this plaza will be filled with hundreds business people eating lunch, screaming children (mine included), and people looking for a place of clear sky in the city. This plan allows the city to return, but still gives a private and reflective spot to remember what happened.

What do you think of the winning design for the memorial at the World Trade Center?

It's wonderful. (559 responses)

It's Ok, but they could have done better. (508 responses)

I don't like it at all. (687 responses)

1754 total responses

If anything, it will be controversial. That's a good thing. Maybe the best point is that it will get people talking.

It would have been better. If they had just left the rubble of the twin towers instate. There is no hint of memory, emotion or history in the design that has been chosen. It is as dead as a long administration building hallway. It does not evoke any emotion.
I agree, it stinks.

This is rediculous. How hard is it to design a memorial for 9/11? The thing designs itself. A statue of a pile of rubble (an actual pile of rubble would be too unstable and short-lived), some bits of the WTC still poking up, maybe a jet engine or a notable piece of an aircraft in the mix, a statue of the guys raising the american flag from the ruins with an actual american flag on a cleverly designed real flag pole. Done. Was that so freaking hard? And it's already about a gazillion times better than the pap the pros have "designed" (to use the word generously).

Allah, you're very right about the Arizona Memorial. Even more sobering, it is hallowed ground - the remains of over 1,000 of the crewmen of the USS Arizona are entombed within the sunken ship.

As with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, when you see the names of those who were lost, you begin to appreciate what was lost. It's like being at Arlington National Cemetery, seeing those beautiful rolling hills covered with markers. It is a hard thing to see. It is beautiful, and it is awful.

That's what a memorial should be... it should make us think, make us reflect, feel the pain again and understand what happened to us, and how it changed us. It should make us resolved to be better than we are. It should make us remember, and promise not to forget. It should put a lump in our throats and help us help our children appreciate and understand.

Damn, I have gotten sappy. Sorry folks.

Excellent comments, one and all. A memorial will never fill the void left by that which is memorialized. Jefferson Memorial, OKC, Pearl Harbor, Washington, The Alamo, Holocaust.

They are not supposed to fill a void. They are supposed to make you think, and remember and honor the valiant and noble, and grieve the loss.

No memorial is without controversy. Several comments here mention Arlington. One has to remember that Arlington was built to bury Union war dead, on land once owned by (and confiscated from) a confederate General.

A memorial is supposed to make you think, and feel and cry and rejoice. There is no "right" and no "wrong". If the memorial evokes strong emotions, then it is.

You're right Greg...and the graves go right up to Lee's house...which is preserved there. The Union Quartermaster General who selected and prepared the site had lost his son in the war. I do believe the man was grieving.

I want to see the WTC built right back. The proposed new building in simulated NY pictures looks completely out of place with the rest of the buildings. Stark contrasting buildings that reflect more the ego of the designer(s) Ugh.

I'm afraid it will become more of a memorial for the terrorists and pictures of it will hang with pride in many terror supporting homes around the world.

I never was in the WTC but always wanted to. I would follow Ian up to the observation deck and reflect on what I can do for my country in memory of those who died, lives cut short.