“The values of liberty and democracy transcend geography and nationality, and they must be given physical expression as we reimagine Lower Manhattan. By taking part in this competition, you have already helped to heal our City and demonstrate once again, New York does not stand alone.”
Following the tragic events of 9/11, the studio submitted a design entry for the World Trade Center Site Memorial Competition, the goal of which was to identify a design for a memorial to be erected in honor of all those lost on that fateful day and in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. 5,201 submissions were received from around the world, making it the largest design competition in history.
The studio’s decision to approach the site with an understanding of the limits of a built memory resulted in two goals: one of respect for a sacred space of mourning and one as an offering to help the world continue to heal.
The decision not to soften the staggering tragedy below is reflected in the minimal, meaningful articulation of the rough hard surfaces. The experience below street level is protected by the generous encompassing canopies of the floating meadow, providing a degree of privacy for a realm devoted to the memory of an inconceivable tragedy.
The footprints of the towers were transformed into pools of blackness: perfect squares brimming with water, standing in contrast to the light materials and the curving shapes. These constantly overflowing pools appear endlessly deep, and are flush with the walking surface, separated only by a thin trench. The void represented by the timeless blackness is contemplated by the visitor in a viewing area for each pool beneath the sheltering wing supporting the floating meadow.
Each concrete wall facing the pool would display the names of those who perished in each tower, thereby heightening the immediacy of their location. This wall would flow up into the cantilevered canopy, which would have small lights in abstract relationship to the names, one for each life lost.