Memorial designs are worth a good look

Eight possible ways to remember the 3,000 people killed on 9/11 and in the Twin Towers in 1993 were released to the public last week by the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. and the 13 jurors charged with making the final decision. Although the selection is in the hands of the jury, clearly they are interested in hearing the public’s views. If they were not, they could have released fewer choices — perhaps one creative design and several mediocre ones so that the public would have no real choice.

Instead the jury picked eight with several powerful ideas. Each will need adjustments, but they are a step in the right direction. Although we can’t say we like all, it is clear that they all show a creative sensitivity to the magnitude of what we lost on that terrible September day over two years ago.

All the designs are now on display at the Winter Garden and we encourage all of our readers to take the time to examine the models, imagine what it would feel like if it were built and still harder, imagine what it will feel like 10, 20, 50, and 100 years from now.

Let your voice on the memorial plans be heard – at public forums and on our letters page. E-mail us your thoughts at news@DowntownExpress.com or write us at 487 Greenwich St., Suite 6A, New York, N.Y. 10013.

We may comment more specifically on the designs in the coming weeks, but for now we express our appreciation for the work of the designers and the jury.

The designs have been derided by some as being too similar or not inspirational. To us, it is clear that there are enormous differences between the plans. Most great artistic ideas are not apparent to the public immediately. That does not necessarily mean that there are great artistic plans here, but we will not get on the dump-on-the-memorial bandwagon.

Far from it. We have reason to be hopeful after looking at the designs. We look forward to the next few weeks when we can consider them more.

Some of the plans have taken the challenges of the Daniel Libeskind site plan and have turned them into advantages. Libeskind’s sunken memorial posed potential problems, but some of the designers have used it to create dramatic areas under ground with useful public spaces at or close to street level.

We would have liked to have seen the jury put forward at least one design that made creative use of some of the memorable remains of the World Trade Center, but that omission can be rectified. There will be a 9/11 museum at the site which could house some of the remnants and there will also be other plazas on the site in addition to the memorial. These designs have not been cast in stone yet, and there perhaps might be room for authentic elements of the W.T.C. to be added.

But for now, eight exciting ideas are waiting at the Winter Garden. Tell us what you think. You never know what a juror might read.

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