- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 6, 2004

NEW YORK — A design of flowing water, pools, pine trees and emptiness was selected yesterday to memorialize the World Trade Center and almost 3,000 people who died there on September 11, 2001.

“Reflecting Absence” was picked by the 13-member jury from more than 5,000 entries involving 63 countries. The design was one of eight semifinalists announced in November.

Matthew Higgins of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC), the company overhauling the site, said a full description of how the final design will fit into the overall plan and any adjustments will be made public next week.

The memorial will be placed in the “footprints” of the fallen twin towers and bear the names of the victims who died in the September 11 attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania, as well as those killed in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

Last April the LMDC began the international competition to select a memorial for the site. The selection panel included artists, architects, and civic and cultural leaders. Among the panelists were Maya Lin, who designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, and a widow whose husband perished in the attack on the twin towers.

Feelings of emptiness and loss dominate the impressions called for in the original design by architect Michael Arad and landscape architect Peter Walker. Water flows from a plaza surrounded by pine trees down the walls of each footprint into two reflecting pools and then into a void at the center 30 feet underground.

Glass walls allow visitors to view the names of the victims inscribed in random order as water cascades down the glass. Pathways connect the pools to an underground room where visitors can light a candle. There is also a chamber, available only to victims’ family members, in which unidentified remains would be buried.

“This design proposes a space that resonates with the feelings of loss and absence that were generated by the death and destruction at the World Trade Center,” said the architect’s description. Mr. Arad, who grew up in Israel, Mexico and the United States, and then moved to New York in 1999. He works for the design department of the New York City Housing Authority.

The LMDC has been under pressure to come up with a memorial that would satisfy many competing interests, especially those of victims’ families who have often been at odds with those championing commercial use of the site.

A 1,700-foot glass skyscraper and four other office buildings are also slated for the property.

There is certain to be criticism of the design chosen, especially as many New Yorkers have already gone on record with their disapproval of the eight finalists.

“It’s like a bad Las Vegas hotel,” said Maude Davis, a retired private school teacher who would have preferred to see a memorial resembling the “Emperor’s Army,” a famous archeological find of 8,000 terra-cotta warriors built in ancient China.

Jack Lynch of the Coalition of 9/11 Families said yesterday, “They really don’t capture the spirit of the event at all.”

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