I remember an 9/11 interview with a woman holding her child in a park. The reporter asked what she thought of turning the footprints into some sort of memorial park. She coldly
said that her husband’s body was never found and that she could never bring her child to play in a park with such tragedy buried underneath.
This was the trigger of an idea. What I will attempt to show you is
an architectural idea of continuing on while remembering the impossible past. The heart of this idea starts with the tragedy of the attack on the WTC site itself. Two inhuman strikes. These rocks filled with hatred
were thrown from an evil arm and they broke the calm surface of what has always been the safe and still pool of what we stand for: freedom from tyranny and oppression. Then there was only absence.
empty absence proudly filled with a powerful presence. We all saw it. We all felt it. This presence of absence showed itself in so many beautiful ways. Unity. Heroism. Love. Pride.
If a rock was to hit a pond
there would be a void in the center at first, then the ripples of its wake would echo outward into the distance. Isn’t this what has happened since those towers fell? The wake of fierce American pride and national
unity rippled through each and every one of us. And still does. And will forever. What we build on Ground Zero should mirror the actions we all have been a part of.
The empty footprints of where the twin
towers once stood hold the emotional answer: Echoes of our Past
The original architectural dimensions of the footprints measure 208 x 208 for
both towers. What if we create a 208ft square perimeter wall around each footprint enclosing them so that
two deep hollow cubic voids are created to emphasize the absence of the two giant monoliths in our memory with emptiness itself? I believe these two voids should be experiential to feel the presence of such a massive void. So, nested within each void are several semitransparent floors which allow visitors the space and time one may need in order to grasp the magnitude of their surroundings. One of these voids can house the Last Column removed from the Ground Zero on its lower floors so that one may descend into the void with the reminder of its history. The floors are semitransparent to emphasize the volume of the space rather than the levels that rest within. The floors are meant to float within the void, separated from the permanence of the void.
These voids may serve as a Memorial of Presence, to respect the eternal presence to all the deceased that were never found and still exist within these voids.
Echoing from the voids are the walls of
their wake, rippling outward, growing into the city, gaining stature and purpose. The first set of walls closest to the Voids are what I think of as the Great Walls of Remembrance. Similar to the visionary
architecture of the Washington D.C. Vietnam Memorial, these walls will also inscribe every name of every person lost in 911. However, these walls will stand 40 to 50 feet tall and the names will be inscribed in the
mirror polished black granite such that a 911 survivor standing on the top platform within the Void can read the name of their lost one with pride among the countless others reading the walls. At random, digitally
projected photos of faces and will subtlety glide along the smooth polished walls.
The echoing walls past the Great Walls of Remembrance grow in size and height to shelter and enclose new spaces and places
that new memories can be built, be they commercial or business use.
The people of New York have called out for something to fill their skyline.
Something as powerful as what once stood. My friend Josh Nadelman from New York though that they should just rebuild the towers. I believe that we have this golden opportunity to show the Face of Terrorism how America survives with surprising pride. We must show that we do not forget what was done to us and that we use our collective past as a nation to inform the actions of our future.
I remember the planes. They used OUR planes against us. I believe that this should never be forgotten and that the American born idea of these commercial flights should echo into the future of what will
stand proud on the sacred site.
I wish to reference the ingenuity of America’s past to brazenly inform the future. In 1902, the Wright brothers pioneered American flight with their ‘Wing Flyer’. Their
invention eventually led to commercial flight across our nation.
The schematic drawing of the wing assembly of the “Wing Flyer” gives us a symbolic profile from our past to draw upon and extrude a grand tower
into the skyline of New York once again and grant the city its necessary symbolic justice.
The two “shells” of this united Wing Tower stand at different heights in honor of their predecessors, the Twin
Towers, yet each will be a few feet shorter than the previous heights. It seems respectful to me to do this. The Wing Tower can serve as a trade center once again, while still open to the public for a bird’s eye
view of the city.
The drama of this event and the massive amount of personal art and expression born from the past year is an essential part of why the citizens had the courage to stand up for somewhere to
believe in once again. At the base of the Wing Tower are two pentagon shaped plazas. One steps up from the ground to raise a substantial sculpture of heroism above the ground level while the other plaza steps down
into a grassy field with a open air ‘Theater for Everyone’ at its center. In addition to scheduled performances and events I hope there will be plenty of spontaneous self-expression on this public stage.
These ideas I have put before you is merely something that came from everything I have heard, seen and felt from friends, stories, news, reactions and emotions since September 11th.
I have never been so driven as an American to speak out loud and to others using every tool and means my country has taught me. Thank you to every single voice of New York for inspiring this proud American for sharing his hope for what can be a moving kind of architecture.
December 5, 2002