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Thread: WTC Memorial - by Michael Arad (Architect) and Peter Walker (Landscape)

  1. #16
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    “We thought we needed something quiet, hence the reflecting pools,” said Shun Yu, 16, at a small gathering on Wednesday to unveil the design, complete with sparkling cider served in Champagne glasses.
    Good Grief! Students from Stuyvesant High School celebrate the "unveiling" of their submission for the Memorial competition and the only comment is regarding the use of wine glasses? -- correction: champagne flutes. Students and faculty take their "loss" with humor and grace and look beyond the event itself. We could do worse.

    BTW these are the kind of memorial submissions I would be interested in seeing: thoughtful, uncluttered, and free from sentimental excess.

  2. #17
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
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    Fioco, coming from an Architecture minor in college, that "excess" takes a lot of time and/or money to produce. That is why you don't see too much of it...

    I think the design is one of the better ones I have seen. I still think it is excessive, but it is not circus-like as was shown by some of the other submissions.

    A memorial is to allow you to remember, not to force you to. That is a stigma. Hopefully this will work.

    I still see problems with actually getting it to work though. The anti-jump deterrants and the winter treatment are two things to seriously take into account...

    Maybe the pool needs to be emptied in winter. But if they do that, how can they make it still look good, and not like a closed summer fountain?

  3. #18


    February 12, 2004


    At 9/11 Memorial, Actual Sizes May Vary

    By David W. Dunlap

    OF all the symbolic designs at the World Trade Center site - the Wedge of Light, the 1,776-foot skyscraper, the birdlike PATH terminal - the most straightforward seemed to be the idea of pool-filled voids that would demarcate the outlines of the twin towers.

    But at ground zero, nothing is ever quite what it seems to be. And it appears that the voids will be smaller than the tower footprints they are supposed to represent.

    It turns out that the ganglia of underground infrastructure may make it impossible to construct voids whose boundaries correspond exactly to the tower perimeters. Getting in the way are visitors' ramps, underground circulation spaces, service roads, the PATH electrical substation and the platform of the No. 1 and 9 subway lines.

    The architects and planners of the World Trade Center memorial are now trying to figure out how closely they can align concept with reality.

    "That's an issue I've been struggling with," said Michael Arad, who is designing the memorial with the landscape architect Peter Walker, working with officials of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation. "I really think the footprints are the significant artifact of the site. To find a way of honoring it is my intention.

    "I don't know that a literal tracing of the footprint is necessarily the only way to do it," Mr. Arad said in an interview yesterday. "What looks like a single square at the plaza level has many different layers of uses and programs."

    Kevin M. Rampe, the president of the development corporation, said that when the design was finished, "the structures will be aligned with the footprints." By structure, however, he meant not just the voids, but the L-shaped ramps that frame them. Visitors would descend within the towers' outlines to the space below ground where victims' names would be inscribed and unidentified remains interred.

    Depending on the width of the ramps and underground circulation areas, the openings at plaza level might be reduced from 210-foot squares (the dimension of the original towers) to 200-foot squares or even 190-foot squares. This area would be 9 percent to 18 percent less than the towers occupied. That might not be exactly what the public, or the relatives of those who died, had in mind when they first saw the winning design, "Reflecting Absence."

    And the possibility that the voids would differ from the tower outlines did not seem to have been raised among or with the jurors before they selected the plan last month.

    "It was implicit that they would have matched the footprints," said one juror, who agreed to be interviewed yesterday on the condition of anonymity. "We actually didn't know nor, quite honestly, did we ever discuss it, at least in full jury meetings."

    The juror said: "This is a very, very sensitive issue for family members and I don't want them to walk away thinking that jury members knew about this. The jury was notified of this by the L.M.D.C. well after the fact and well after we selected Arad."

    A spokeswoman for the development corporation, Joanna Rose, said: "Immediately on learning that this was an issue we were going to be grappling with, we informed the jury. We believe it's critical to delineate the original footprints.''

    Jack Lynch, whose son Michael, a firefighter, perished in the south tower, said the outlines at plaza level ought to replicate the structural outlines 70 feet below.

    "It's very important to me that the dimensions of the towers be properly delineated," he said. "To do any less, I think, would not be telling the story. People who come years from now will have no idea what the original dimensions were."

    "They say they can't do it because of the infrastructure," Mr. Lynch said. "With the engineering capabilities in today's sophisticated world, that's not a plausible reason."

    Tom Rogèr, whose daughter Jean was a flight attendant aboard the jetliner that crashed into the north tower, said he was not surprised to hear that there might be a discrepancy between the voids and the footprints. As an executive with the Gilbane Building Company, he is familiar with structural complexity.

    "Knowing how these things work, I would more likely expect they could be off 10 feet either way and no one would be the wiser," Mr. Rogèr said.

    But even if their locations did not exactly correspond to the originals, he said, "The size of the voids, symbolically, should represent the size of the footprints."

    Anthony Gardner, whose brother Harvey Joseph Gardner III worked in the north tower, said any representation of the footprints at plaza level ought to recreate the 45-degree angles, known as chamfered corners, that distinguished the towers.

    The key logistical obstacles to matching the sizes were identified by Andrew Winters, the director of planning, design and development for a the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation.

    Immediately south of the south tower footprint is the electric substation serving the PATH terminal. A ramp constructed outside this footprint might interfere.

    THE northeast corner of the south tower footprint is only about 25 feet from the downtown platform of the Cortlandt Street station on the 1 and 9 subway lines. That creates a choke point of two lanes in the network of underground roadways.

    "It's as narrow as it can be and still function properly," Mr. Winters said.

    The deeper of the two pools within the south void might come too close to an area set aside at one end of the PATH mezzanine for safe refuge in case of emergency.

    Immediately north of the north tower footprint would run the concourse linking the PATH terminal and Battery Park City. If a ramp were constructed outside the footprint, it might interfere with this concourse, depending on the elevation.

    "This is real and difficult and contentious," Mr. Arad said. "I would hope to be able to maintain a meaningful relationship between the footprints and the voids. That's part of what's been keeping me busy in the past month."

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

  4. #19

    Default Re:Great minds think alike? Memorial design and Stuy teens

    Is it Michael Arad’s Reflecting Absence design that was selected for the World Trade Center memorial? Maya Lin’s W.T.C. idea before she was named to the memorial jury?
    Does anyone actully think Arad copied those Asian people's designs. I sure don't. Arad was more brilliant than a copier. Instead of making the water stagnant like the students chose to, Arad chose to make the water flowing: the 1 major difference in the disign and a move that I ultimately think led him to the winner's circle.

  5. #20
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
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    I don't think he copied anything really. I think a reflecting pool is a fairly common design idea.

    As for some of the specifics, the anality of the people demanding the original footprints is already well documented. This is to be a memorial, not an exact representation of what happened.

    As to the individual that seems to think that engineering can do anything, he may be right, but "anything" costs a lot of money. Money that is not just sprouting from the ground around the footprints.

    I think the simpler we keep it the better. No chamfered corners reflecting a detail that noone was really even aware of until it was pointed out to them, and the outlines themselves should be as close as possible, without interfering with areas such as a SAFETY REFUGE for the path platform.

    A memorial should not impact on a design intended to make sure certain elements are not repeated in the future.

    I do, however, believe that there should be some sort of tile outline built into the floors of ever level on the site regardless of how the space is broken up and used. If that means having a single line of white tile going across the PATH or 1and 9 platform, so be it.

    Commemorating the shadow of what once was is something that people will appreciate more as they look down and realize that they are walking through what once was, rather than having that area as a cordioned off area of "rememberance".

    But that is just my opinion, which doesn't matter a rats arse in this competition. I am just one that was there to view it in person, wait in lines for 4 hours to get home, watch it the next day from Hoboken, and come back to work to spend a few 12 hour shifts at ground zero doing strutural inspections at 3 AM.

    I know nothing.

  6. #21


    NY Daily News

    City muscles way into WTC plans


    Friday, February 13th, 2004

    The Bloomberg administration is reasserting itself into the rebuilding at Ground Zero, setting a special city planning session next month.

    The hearing is significant because it's one of the city's only chances to play a formal planning role in the World Trade Center site - which is owned by the Port Authority and under the sway of Gov. Pataki.

    City Planning Commission chairwoman Amanda Burden notified lower Manhattan rebuilding officials about the March 1 session in a letter last week.

    If the commission finds problems with the logistics at the Trade Center site and the memorial design, it could complicate matters.

    The Lower Manhattan Development Corp., which is overseeing the rebuilding, would need two-thirds of its board to approve the plans - and Bloomberg appointed half the board members.

    One source described the city's move as an administration attempt to "flex its muscle."

    The commission is set to examine the Trade Center memorial, designed by Housing Authority architect Michael Arad, and a draft environmental impact study on the Ground Zero site plan.

    After that, the commission will "formulate recommendations ... to the Lower Manhattan Development Corp.," Burden wrote to LMDC President Kevin Rampe in a letter obtained by the Daily News.

    Asked for comment, Rampe said only, "We look forward to continuing to work in partnership with the city to realize the site plan."

    City officials declined to comment.

    But one city official, who asked not to be identified, said, "We feel that we really have to take a look at this, and the city has a lot of expertise to bring to bear on this issue."

    Some state officials noted that Burden sent the letter Feb. 5, less than a week before the city unveiled financing details on another major project - the proposed redevelopment of Manhattan's West Side, which requires major help from the state.

  7. #22


    NOTICE: Commission to Hold Special Review Session:

    On March 1, 2004, the City Planning Commission will hold a special Review Session to review the Amended General Project Plan for the proposed World Trade Center Memorial and Cultural Program, together with the associated Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the project. This special Review Session is being held for the purpose of formulating recommendations by the Commission to the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation in accordance with subdivision 3 of Section 16 of the New York State Urban Development Corporation Act.

    The special Review Session will be held in Spector Hall, 22 Reade Street, Manhattan, beginning at 10 am. It will consist of a presentation of the project to the Commission by Department of City Planning staff and a discussion of issues and formulation of recommendations by the Commission.

  8. #23



    Reflecting Absence … of Silence?

    By Brian Braiker and Kathy Jones

    February 13, 2004

    The illustrations make it look so peaceful, so serene. Almost as if in a temple, visitors are depicted as reverent—one looks heavenward, her gaze met by a shimmering wall of water. It’s called “Reflecting Absence.” And the models suggest that Michael Arad and Peter Walker designed their World Trade Center memorial with an awareness of the scale and sanctity of the losses of 9/11. But pictures tell only part of the story. What will it feel like to actually stand behind a 30-foot sheet of water, tumbling through the footprint of each lost tower? What will the site—a memorial and mass grave in the middle of a dense neighborhood—sound like? It’s a question some locals are asking.

    “You must consider the soundscape in which this memorial will be witnessed,” implores Arline Bronzaft, a consultant and professor at City University of New York who has written extensively on the psychological impact of noise. “That’s a very noisy place. It’s one thing to have a visual memorial. Architects focus on visual. But to use the word ‘reflection’ means there should be some quiet in the surrounding so you could properly reflect.” Cemeteries and shrines, she points out, are sacred places, associated with solitude and silence. But Lower Manhattan, thrumming constantly with congestion and construction, is anathema to both. “Quiet is what we want for this experience—unless they want people to remember the thundering outbursts of that day. I don’t think so.”

    Bronzaft’s concerns are actually twofold: one is that the surrounding environment may intrude upon visitors paying quiet homage. The other is that the waterfall itself—which may turn out to be the largest built by human hands—will generate an obnoxious crashing cacophony. Her anxiety is also shared by others. Lower Manhattan, especially with all its construction since 2001, is “too loud,” says City Councilman Alan Gerson. “Noise remains one of the major complaints that governmental offices receive about conditions downtown, and it comes from a variety of sources ranging from noisy party boats that operate out of some of our marinas, to construction going on at hours when it should not, to traffic in parts of the area where we have noisy clubs. And we know that the site has the potential to make the situation much worse, whether it’s from excessive traffic or noise from the site itself.”

    How loud is too loud? It’s a question that divides experts, but many agree exposure to noises louder than 85 decibels over time will lead to a loss in hearing, according to the League for the Hard of Hearing. Steady, heavy traffic produces 85 decibels of sound. So does a handsaw, a loud vacuum cleaner or a trendy restaurant. (Rainfall registers about 50 decibels, normal conversation around 60.) New Yorkers are a rowdy lot; Lower Manhattan, in its natural state, probably is, to borrow the councilman’s words, “too loud.” But Peter Walker, the landscaper who codesigned “Reflecting Absence,” says street-level sound does not keep him up at night. “If you think about it, the fact that there are so many people, they’re all in those buildings. It’s the people on the street, and the street’s of a certain size. That doesn’t worry me.”

    The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation’s Web site describes a memorial consisting of two chasms where the Twin Towers once stood. Water falls 30 feet from ground level into a pool where it then drains off another 15-foot ledge. “Descending into the memorial, visitors are removed from the sights and sounds of the city and immersed in a cool darkness,” the description reads. “As they proceed, the sound of water falling grows louder, and more daylight filters in from below.” One goal, then, is to drown out the honking urban din with a gentle roar of water.

    The engineering challenges presented by the design itself have been well documented: Walker and Arad have to figure out how to keep water from splashing visitors and freezing in winter, for example, and the size of the waterfalls may have to be scaled smaller than the tower footprints to accommodate the jangle of subways and service roads and other underground infrastructure. And just how loud will the 45-foot waterfalls have to be to drown out Lower Manhattan’s clamor? Will the bedrock level itself become just one massive echo chamber? Even Walker concedes he doesn’t know. “I think we both are now looking at trying to get the amount of water down as low as we can. The sound isn’t really coming from the amount of water, it’s coming from when it hits. I’ve done a number of things where you have a long line of water falling. And I’ve also done some waterfalls where you get behind them. The sound generally is like a white sound, it’s enough to cover the normal roar of the street, except sirens. Then the question is: how much more sound will there be? There’s at least 800 feet of this stuff and that’s one hell of a lot of water.”

    No doubt, the sound of falling water is a different type of noise than traffic or overhead aircraft, even at the same decibel level. It even has a positive connotation for most people. William J. Cavanaugh, coeditor of the 1998 book “Architectural Acoustics: Principles and Practice,” points out that “people say they go to the quiet solitude of the forest. But you get to most forests, especially if they have any waterfalls, you find it gets pretty damn noisy. Yet people still would stay.” To extend that point to “Reflecting Absence,” Cavanaugh remembers his first visit to the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial on the National Mall in Washington: the fountains at the site masked the sounds of passing airplanes that had bothered him so much at the Vietnam Memorial just a few hundred yards away. The planes were still overhead—as loud and irritating as ever—but the fountains were even louder, yet they imbued the scene with serenity. Cavanaugh calls it “'acoustical perfume,' where you use one sound to mask or cover up another kind of annoying sound.” But, he warns, at a certain point even acoustical perfume can get too loud. “It’s like all good things. Even with perfume, you’ve got to take a bath once in a while.”

    Copyright 2004 Newsweek, Inc.

  9. #24
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    The Catskills


    The headline editor choked. Any New York tabloid would have done better. How about: Acoustical Perfume or Auditory Stink? Submit your entries here.
    Is the winning design a pipe dream? Will chronic plumbing problems sink the ship? Calling all Niagara Falls consultants. :cry:

    At this stage of the game, do these truly remain unresolved design dilemmas? Let's guess: Glass partitions with cascading sheets of water along the perimeter of names. Reflecting pools (no motion) with algae, leaves, and an international coin collection (of the lowest denomination). Are the fears raised by this article heedless and unnecessary? Please, engineers, comfort me with a soothing balm of wisdom and ingenuity.

  10. #25


    I'm sure many visitors would make a game out of it; who can throw a coin in the central void?

  11. #26


    February 19, 2004

    Random List of Names at Ground Zero Memorial Angers Families


    IT matters how large the voids will be that mark the twin towers. And it matters how the grounds will be landscaped and how the horror will be evoked by crushed fire trucks and twisted steel columns. But no issue at the World Trade Center memorial will be so vexing - perhaps even irreconcilable - as the smallest and most personal.

    The names.

    Is there any way to express the loss of nearly 3,000 people while simultaneously distinguishing those who were trapped from those who rushed in to save them? Should lines be drawn between the north and south towers, between those who perished among colleagues and those who perished among strangers? Will such distinctions matter in 50 years or will the power of the names lie in their inchoate whole?

    "There is a real tension between the national need to collectivize meaning around the names and the community's need to remember the lost ones as individuals," said Prof. James E. Young of the University of Massachusetts, who served on the 13-member jury that chose the design for the memorial at ground zero.

    Gov. George E. Pataki and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg may have thought last month that they were settling the matter by announcing that the enumeration would be random, with insignia next to the names of firefighters, police officers, emergency service workers and court officers.

    "It will be a powerful, powerful story," Governor Pataki said, "as these heroes are identified with shields or other markers of their profession and woven among those whose lives they sought to save on that fateful day."

    But that approach disturbs many surviving relatives, who object - almost paradoxically - both to the randomness of the arrangement and to its imposition of a hierarchy among the dead.

    "Everyone who was killed that day was attacked equally," said Kai Thompson, whose husband, Glenn, was a municipal bond trader and partner at Cantor Fitzgerald, which lost 658 employees in the Sept. 11 attack. "He himself was overcome by smoke and fumes in the process of helping his friends and fellow workers, and he realized that he would not be able to make it out. Then, and only then, did Glenn call me to say goodbye. Was Glenn Thompson not, in his own selfless way, as heroic as any of the brave firefighters and police offices who attempted similar rescues?"

    Donald W. Goodrich can ask the same question about his son Peter, a passenger on United Airlines Flight 175, whom he described as physically imposing and a stout defender of others, easier to imagine fighting hijackers than herded to the back of a plane.

    "If the naked name lies next to one with an insignia, what is signified?" Mr. Goodrich said. "Now, I am smart enough to know that in logic, no negative inference arises from the absence, but the world runs on a different engine than Socrates' logic, and some, many, will take offense. The memorial wall is no place for offense. It is a solemn reflective monument of what is common to all, not what makes them different."

    In a recent poll by the Families of Sept. 11 group, only 26 percent of the 2,225 responses favored the display of shields for uniformed rescue workers only. Only 5 percent favored a random arrangement of names.

    "We're still looking for our loved ones," said Edie Lutnick, the executive director of the Cantor Fitzgerald Relief Fund, who lost her brother Gary. "Now, you're forcing us to look again."

    Ms. Lutnick and others are struggling to propose an alternative, which has exposed painful divisions among the survivors' groups, since each tentative solution has its own drawbacks. About 20 family members met Tuesday night at Cantor Fitzgerald's new headquarters at 135 East 57th Street.

    "There was little support for random listing, while everyone supported being able to choose which building you wanted to be listed on," said Thomas Rogèr of Families of Sept. 11. "Where we differed was on how names would be listed or grouped."

    By way of example, Mr. Rogèr mentioned his daughter, Jean, a crew member aboard one of the hijacked airplanes that struck the twin towers. "Does my daughter get listed with American Airlines or with Flight 11?" he asked. "Flight 11 is not an affiliation."

    Michael Arad, who is designing the memorial with Peter Walker, said last month, "Any arrangement that tries to impose meaning through physical adjacency will cause grief and anguish to people who might be excluded from that process."

    His plan calls for dark bronze plates mounted atop low walls that would ring the pools within the voids. Names would be etched randomly in ribbonlike rows, three to four deep. Visitors would find specific names with the help of guides or printed directories.

    Having shepherded the design through six months of deliberations, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation has no interest now in substantive revisions.

    "We are standing behind the process and the outcome of that process," the corporation president, Kevin M. Rampe, said yesterday. "One of my greatest fears is that if we start making changes, the design will never become a reality."

    Moreover, he said: "Sept. 11 was not orderly or neat. It was not alphabetical. It did not go floor by floor. It was a random event. And that is the power of the event."

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

  12. #27
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    Perhaps the names should just be omitted. "Who" the people were doesn't enhance or diminish what happened. The total number of people killed provides the impact. The actions of rescue workers can be communicated by the museum. Once again, the families are trying to foist themselves front and center. It is always about THEM.

    Mourning can be a long and difficult process, but it gives no excuse for obnoxious behavior.

  13. #28


    February 20, 2004

    Discontent Spills Into Open Over Way of Listing Names


    Simmering dissatisfaction among relatives over the way victims' names will be listed at the World Trade Center memorial spilled into the open yesterday in an unusual forum: at the board of directors' table of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation.

    "I would like something that does not establish a hierarchy of those who were killed on that awful day," said Thomas S. Johnson, a board member and the chairman and chief executive of the GreenPoint Financial Corporation. One of his sons, Scott, worked for Keefe, Bruyette & Woods in the south tower of the trade center and died in the attack.

    In the design by Michael Arad, supported by Gov. George E. Pataki and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, victims would be listed randomly, with shields or other service insignia next to the names of uniformed rescue workers.

    In April, as it considered the mission and program for the competition that was about to get under way, the board resolved that the memorial "will honor the loss of life equally and the contributions of all without establishing any hierarchies."

    Asked yesterday about the current plan, Mr. Johnson said, "My personal opinion is that it does not square with the resolution, and I'm working hard in conversations with a lot of people to resolve that."

    "It was an attack on America, not an attack on any particular group," he said. "In the opinion of many, many families - I would say a great majority of the families - it's not appropriate to express any differences in the way the names are displayed."

    Kevin M. Rampe, the corporation president, said later that the inclusion of insignia merely "tells part of the story of that day" and "is certainly not intended to impose a hierarchy." He said the corporation would stand by the selection process.

    And Mr. Bloomberg repeated his support.

    "We'll never know what happened in some of those buildings," he said, "but also putting the shields next to the police officers and firefighters and Port Authority police officers - and I think there are court officers who rushed into those buildings and paid the ultimate price - it is exactly the right thing to do."

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

  14. #29


    I think it would be scandalous not to recognize the servicemen and women whose deaths weren't random. Unlike the others, they went to work that day knowing they could die.

  15. #30


    Design at Ground Zero

    Peter Walker snagged the biggest fish his profession could float: the World Trade Center memorial. Now he has to reel it in.

    By Cathy Cockrell, Public Affairs | 25 February 2004

    Coming out on top of 5,200 other design ideas for the World Trade Center memorial was the easy part for landscape architect Peter Walker. A cakewalk, really. A world-renowned landscape artist and the former chair of Berkeley’s Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning, Walker entered the fray only at the 11th hour, when the design-competition jury selected “Reflecting Absence” as one of its finalists —but told its 34-year-old designer, Michael Arad, that he needed to collaborate with a landscape artist of high caliber to modify his design.

    Arad contacted Walker at his West Berkeley design firm, Peter Walker and Partners (PWP), whose modest street frontage in a light-industrial area belies its stature as a collaborator in such public and private projects as Sydney’s Millennium Park (site of the 2000 Olympics), Sony Center in Berlin, Dallas’ Nasher Sculpture Center, Novartis headquarters in Switzerland, and (closer to home) the Chiron Corp. and the campuses of UC Merced and UCSF Mission Bay.

    The two designers, who share a minimalist sensibility, had never met in person when they collaborated, long distance, on a final presentation to the jury. A few days later, on Jan. 6, Walker learned that he and Arad had been selected to create the most important memorial in decades — the “commission of my lifetime,” as he calls it.

    Treacherous waters

    Thus began a whirlwind — a “white-hot heat,” as Walker puts it — unique in his 40-plus years in the field. “It’s not the largest commission I’ve ever had, and in physical terms not the most difficult,” says Walker, 71. But it is, clearly, the highest-profile project of his career — and the most politically contentious.

    Since winning the competition, Walker and Arad have met with dozens of stakeholders, each with strong opinions about how to appropriately honor those who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks of 2001 and 1993. The grieving families are hardest to deal with, says Walker. They think of the memorial “in very personal terms.” And they have fiercely held but widely divergent ideas about what the memorial should feature — everything from a contemplative flower garden to the 80-foot-tall structural-steel armature that remained standing after the Twin Towers collapsed.

    Add to these the array of neighborhood groups, politicians, developers, landowners – not to mention design professionals — with vested interests in the memorial, the Ground Zero master plan, the surrounding buildings, and the neighborhood. Below ground, competing for space with elements of “Reflecting Absence,” are a transportation hub, an electrical substation, communications infrastructure, and parking. Somehow, Arad and Walker must navigate these physical challenges and treacherous political waters, yet bring their vision to life.

    “It’s like The Old Man and the Sea,” Walker says. “You’ve caught this big fish. The problem is how to get it home with any meat left on it.”

    One thing he’s sure of: Design by committee is unlikely to produce any work — and especially a memorial — of significance. Walker has designed memorials, judged memorial-design competitions, and thought about memorials with his students. (He chaired landscape architecture departments at both Harvard and Berkeley, the latter for two years in the late ’90s.) “Memorials have to have singularity to work,” he says — a central, easily graspable image: the “melancholy president” brooding in his chair atop the grand white steps of the Lincoln Memorial, or Thomas Jefferson’s Renaissance dome.

    Continuity and change

    Walker brings to the endeavor a design aesthetic rooted in geometry. “Every single one of his designs starts with geometric shapes,” notes Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture Jennifer Brooke, who has worked at PWP. A typical Walker landscape eschews “a riot of plants” she says, in favor of broad plantings of a single, or at most a few, species. Journalist Carter Horsley has called Walker’s projects “brilliant integrations of the natural and man-made environments that are distinctly modern and abstract, at times mysterious and sometimes awesome.”

    For “Reflecting Absence,” Walker has softened Arad’s plaza with a lush grove of deciduous trees spaced to produce varied effects depending on one’s direction of entry. “That’s the sort of thing I do,” Walker explains. “I try to make one move produce two or three different effects.”

    His collaborator, as the project’s architect, “is dealing with the part of this problem that is about death,” he says. “I’m dealing with the part of the problem, symbolically, that is about continuation of life.” Walker wants natural changes in the vegetation — through the day, the year, the lifespan of an individual sycamore, for instance — to convey that sense of change and continuity.

    He hopes to create, at Ground Zero, a mood of calm strong enough to affect even those who relate to the site as a neighborhood open space, rather than primarily a memorial. As with a church, he says, “You can keep the door open, but you don’t want people skateboarding inside. So there is a certain amount of restraint put on people by the nature of the design.”

    Walker has faced, and met, such aesthetic challenges before; the political pressures, though, are without precedent in his long career. “I can’t imagine how difficult it’s going to be,” Jennifer Brooke says of the high-profile design assignment. But, she adds, Peter Walker has “been around the block many times before. If anyone can pull if off, he can. They got the right guy.”

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