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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 January, 2004, 16:44 GMT
Pools design chosen to mark 9/11
Arad's design is centred around two shallow pools

Architect Michael Arad has won an international competition to design the main memorial for the victims of the attacks of 11 September 2001.

Reflecting Absence has two sunken shallow pools at its centre and will occupy the site of the World Trade Center's twin towers in New York.

The names of the victims of the attacks on New York and Washington will be carved on a low wall around the pools. Victims' families have reacted coolly to the winning design.

Many people perceived the [design] as sterile and uninspiring and unauthentic
Anthony Gardner
spokesman for families

The design was chosen from among more than 5,000 entries in a competition run by the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation.

Construction is expected to start in 2006.

Architects from more than 60 countries took part in the competition.

New York's void

Arad's design was chosen from among eight finalists by a 13-member jury which held a marathon meeting on Monday in New York.

MICHAEL ARAD
Michael Arad
Grew up in Israel, US and Mexico
Has lived in US since finishing Israeli military service in 1991
Has BA from Dartmouth College and MA from Georgia Tech College of Architecture
Moved to New York in 1999
Currently works for New York City Housing Authority's design department
Has been working on design of two police stations for city's Police Department
The names of the victims will be carved in random order, echoing the randomness of the collection of people at the site on 11 September 2001.

In the middle of the pools will be a void into which water falls and symbolising absence.

"In its powerful, yet simple articulation of the footprints of the Twin Towers, Reflecting Absence has made the gaping voids left by the towers' destruction the primary symbol of loss," said competition jury chairman Vartan Gregorian.

It would be, he said, a "memorial that expresses both the incalculable loss of life and its regeneration".

'Missing element'

Arad said in a statement that he was "honoured and overwhelmed" by his win.

Arad's design (architectural illustration)
The victims' names will be carved on a wall around the pools
"I hope that I will be able to honour the memory of all those who perished, and create a place where we may all grieve and find meaning," he said.

Anthony Gardner, who lost his brother in the attacks, told the BBC that Arad's minimalist design did not reflect the enormity of the event.

"Many people perceived the [design] as sterile and uninspiring and unauthentic," he said.

Mr Gardner said the design did not incorporate the authentic historic remains - the "true footprints" - which are located 70 feet below street level.

"Many, many people have been questioning where is the tower facades, the skeletal tower facades," he added.

"Many people always think of that image - it's a very powerful way of really evoking the horror of what 9/11 meant to our generation."

Land of memorials

The BBC's Stephen Evans reports that it is impossible to know whether the design will get the right mood.

A nuance can be the difference between tasteful remembrance and tasteless sentimentality.

However, our correspondent notes that Americans have some of the most moving memorials like the Vietnam Wall, with its awesome list of names and the Oklahoma City bombing monument, with a large pool reflecting the sky.

The Trade Center design combines elements of simplicity from each.

What is your reaction to the winning design? Please send us your views using the form below.


Your comments:

This memorial doesn't do any justice to the fallen heroes
Naz, Chicago, IL
This memorial doesn't do any justice to the fallen heroes. These two bathtubs don't have anything to do with the horrific terrorist act of 9/11. We need a memorial that will never let us forget about 9/11. I think it would be best if the NYC bureaucrats kept the 4-storey high spine of one of the towers that is so simple yet tragic.
Naz, Chicago, IL

It is impossible to satisfy everyone's thought and memories with any memorial, but hopefully this one will to some degree.
Erika, Miami Beach, Florida

It's a shame that the best we can come up with for this memorial is a rehash of existing designs. I feel the primary lesson of architecture is being ignored here - the site dictates the structure. This site's uniqueness springs from its foundation and it appears that's to be covered over and made into a shopping mall. I pity the city for they have been wronged again it seems.
Mike Stevens, San Diego, CA

I think it is interesting and evocative. I would not have thought of it. Getting a design all agree upon is not a possibility. Getting one that evokes reaction is paramount. I think this design does that.
Jeff Sherwin, Oregon, United States

I think that the design is too simple. There is no heart in the design. It is cold and surely there were better designs than this. I think that the victims' families should have some say in what the memorial should look like. There are many parks with pools and walls that people can sit and remember the lives lost. The memorial should be a reminder of the disaster so it never happens again.
Victor Cataldo, Warren, New Jersey

I think that it is a wonderful idea and respectful design
Jeanette, Cambridge, Massachussetts, USA
I think that it is a wonderful idea and respectful design. It's simple and it lets each viewer bring their own experience these pools and reflect on it, rather than being about the design. I think it will be a place where visitors can be still and silent, and sit and think about what once stood in that place, and who are being remembered and honoured. I am glad that the skeletal tower facades were buried beneath the city, and were not used in the final memorial.
Jeanette, Cambridge, Massachussetts, USA

This design although not horrible, it is derivative. The reflecting pool idea is a tired symbol. This seems like the safe choice. The Garden of Light idea was one of the more innovative designs. This was a very unique event in US history, and it needs to be memorialized in a similar fashion.
Sarah, Toronto, Canada

The sunken walls with the victims' names carved in is similar to that of the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington DC and anyone who has been there will tell you that it is a very emotional place. When people say the pools aren't enough, what exactly do they need to remember the people lost there? Do we start to grade memorials in size depending how many people died there or do we remember the reason of a memorial is to remember?
Alex Nagler, Barcelona, Spain

Having thought about it the water falling away does somehow seem appropriate
Andrew Cunningham, London

My brother Michael died in the south tower. Getting a design that everyone agrees on is always going to be difficult and my first reaction to this was also cool but having thought about it the water falling away does somehow seem appropriate. No memorial could ever portray the huge loss that was felt on that awful day and since but a place of peace for both families of victims and the public to go to reflect will help in the healing process regardless of the design.
Andrew Cunningham, London

In the centre of each pool I would have included an eternal flame rather than a void which could be contaminated with rubbish.
Beverley Colton-Geggie, Verwood, Dorset, England

Let us remember what it is there for and come together for that reason alone
Prof Jay Schafer, Summit

This is a great memorial, a place to sit and remember. Some say we should have the original skeletal tower facades but I disagree. We must move forward. Michael Arads' great design will give us a place to go and remember those who we have lost. This design will not please everyone's taste, but let us remember what it is there for and come together for that reason alone.
Prof Jay Schafer, Summit, New Jersey, USA

I think the memorial is perfect. The horror of that day was seen on our TV screens and on the front cover of newspapers around the world, and those terrible images will remain in our minds forever. The memorial is a quiet, peaceful, simple place where people can pay their respects and remember loved ones. We don't need to be reminded of the horror that happened, that will stay with humankind forever.
Lisa, Manchester, UK

I thought Passages of Light would win and the only challengers might be Garden of Lights or Lower Waters. I would call the winning memorial tasteless. Surely the city's other beautiful architecture warrants a better memorial than this?
Chris, Teesside, UK

These pools seem far too little to remember what happened, however they will meet the test of time. In 50 or 100 years, they will be an appropriate, gentle, reminder for those that come across the site.
Timothy Godfrey, Croydon, UK

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SEE ALSO:
In pictures: 9/11 memorial finalists
19 Nov 03  |  Photo Gallery
Freedom Tower plan for WTC site
19 Dec 03  |  Americas


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