Gallery: The Seven National 9/11 Memorial Designs That Will Never Be

"Gardens of Light" creates multiple spaces for visitors to remember and honor the victims who died on September 11. A garden with 2,982 lights spreads across the space, which will be tended to by a different gardener from around the world each year.

Each of the memorial designs pays tribute to the lives lost on September 11. In Norman Lee and Michael Lewis’ design, “Votives in Suspension,” that tribute is paid through glowing votive lights, one for each person who died that day. The lanterns hang above reflecting pools in two sanctuaries located in the footprints of the Twin Towers. The lights are suspended at different heights, which vary by each victim’s age. The cables are actually capillaries that would channel liquid fuel into the votives to keep the lights permanently aglow. The ground on top of the sanctuaries would be devoted to a public green space, with the only indication of the sanctuaries being long, parapet walls. Inside, “the sanctuaries’ monolithic expanses will invite contemplation and suggest absence.”

A symbol of our cumulative strength, “Passages of Light: Memorial Cloud” consists of 10,000 vertical conduits that use each other to support the structure. The translucent parts create the “cloud” of the memorial, designed by bbc art + architecture. The top of the cloud is street level, which reconnects the fabric of downtown and allows visitors to traverse the sight. Beneath the cloud is a shrouded space for reflection where 2,982 circles of light are embedded into the floor. Each circle illuminates the engraved name of a victim and projects light upward toward the cloud. BBC’s goal for the design was to “elicit two more responses, one highly physical, the other imaginative, both of awe. One recovers a sensation associated with the World Trade Center Towers when we recall standing in their presence: the urge to look skywards, a vertical gesture associated with hope. With the second gesture we seek to give expression to a relation between those we mourn and those who live on affected by the tragedy and repercussions of the attacks.”

For his proposal “Inversion of Light,” Toshio Sasaki created a place not only to remember September 11, but to inspire us, reaffirm our respect for human life, and bring about an end to ignorance and hatred. The ground level park incorporates the universal elements of light, water, air, and earth. The park itself represents renewal, while an underground memorial space houses the unidentified remains and pays tribute to each victim. The victims’ names are etched on a glass wall, behind which a gentle waterfall constantly flows. Sasaki calls the design “a living memorial.” “Dedicated to world peace, it will ensure that future generations never forget this great tragedy.”

While the winning design has two sunken reflecting pools, “Suspending Memory” creates almost this exact opposite, with two floating memorial gardens rising from where the Twin Towers stood. Designed by Joseph Karadin with Hsin-Yi Wu, “Suspending Memory” gives each victim’s family the chance to tell their loved one’s story. “Each victim is manifested as a symbol of strength, a single column helping support one of two island gardens,” write the designers. “As the columns extend through the garden surface at varied heights they transform from concrete into glass. Each unique glass column is a timeline of a victim’s defining moments.” The whole of Ground Zero is covered by a “Pool of Tears,” forever memorializing the site’s hallowed ground.


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1 Comment

  1. Zeppflyer September 9, 2011 at 11:14 am

    Blame Giuliani for this one. Nothing would have been a better tribute than a small memorial overshadowed by the grand, new buildings rising from the sites, full of life and commerce and everything that was evil to the monsters who knocked down the towers. Instead, we have two black pits left in the ground, carrying water down into nothingness.