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9 11 Memorial

Competition 2003   New York City  New York      Competition Team   Thomas Cheney - Eric Weber 

The site is bound by a white marble ribbon that wraps and folds around the south and west edges of the site, striking a strong horizontal datum. The wall registers the subtle topography of the island, starting at a height of 5’-0” at the intersection of Fulton and West streets, extending to a height of 10’-0” at the corner of West and Liberty streets. This enables the wall to maintain a monochromatic silence scaled appropriately to man. The wall folds back on itself on Liberty revealing the southern entrance to the site. The enclosure will act as an acoustic and visual barrier differentiating the sanctity of the site from its immediate context. Only at the apex of September 11 Place will the memorial reveal itself as a contemporary interpretation of a kare sansui. From this vantage point the landscape appears as an undulating fabric veil between two monolithic steel vessels. Descending into the site, visitors emerge beneath the veil, becoming aware for the first time of the play of light and the imprinting of shadows dancing across the serene surface. The transference of light will cause the visitor to redirect their view upward revealing the names of those lost embroidered into the fabric. Visitors will trace the trajectory of the names from the sky, down the surfaces, where the shadows settle along the memorial’s floor. Artifacts left across the white marble plane will create a field of memoranda, that is emphasized against the neutral backdrop. A singular line is drawn across the vast surface of the court, lending onlookers a place of rest and reflection.


Passing between the names, the traveler approaches the periphery of tower 1, and is confronted by a polished colonnade organized on the original structural grid. Transcending this perimeter, the visitor enters a comparatively dark space, with an aperture in the southeast quadrant. Reflecting the void in the ceiling, benches define positions for viewing. The scale of the benches corresponds to the victims on each plane that collided with the towers, while the benches in the court reflect the victims of the crashes in Pennsylvania and Virginia. The aperture is sized and detailed to eliminate all views of the immediate context, as well as consciously suppressing any sense of mass or thickness. As one passes below the void, the visitor sees the silvery outline above for the first time. The opening becomes a frame, revealing the scale of the lost tower. The observer perceives the presence of the tremendous loss caused by the trade center’s destruction.


As tower one masks, tower two reveals with full exposure to the sky. The south tower walls exceed the height of the first vessel, editing out much of the context while maintaining a strong connection to the sky. The waterfall along the east edge of this volume will have a soothing effect, as well as mitigating noise from the surrounding city. Upon further investigation of the space, the visitor becomes aware of a single vertical slot in the steel. The gap, a perforated steel plate of 70% open area, retains the same dimensions as a vertical band of windows from the trade towers, revealing debris collected from the site. The mourner is connected to the events through a collapse of time, as they are confronted with materials still frozen within the moment.

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