Getting ready to begin building the W.T.C. memorial
Officials expect to begin constructing the Reflecting Absence World Trade Center memorial design by Michael Arad and Peter Walker this spring and finish by the eighth anniversary of the 9/11 attack in 2009.
The design includes groves of oak trees on a memorial plaza surrounding two sunken reflecting pools at the footprints of where the Twin Towers once stood. As visitors descend to the bottom of the pools, they will see a wall of water near the names of the 2,797 people known to have been killed on Sept. 11, 2001 or in the first terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on Feb. 26, 1993.
Early in the planning process, officials thought the memorial could cost about $350 million to build, but the current price has now ballooned to at least $800 million, according to John Whitehead, chairperson of both the WTC Memorial Foundation and the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation. Whitehead said at the November L.M.D.C. meeting that he was hopeful they would be able to bring the costs down, but he did expect to have to find additional funding sources beyond the $800 million he expects to raise. The L.M.D.C., a federally-financed authority jointly run by the state and city, has committed $300 million to the memorial and the foundation has already raised over $100 million in private donations toward its $500 million goal.
Once the financing for the memorial is secured, the foundation plans to begin raising money for a performing arts center across the street from the memorial. Renowned architect Frank Gehry has been selected to design the performance space for the Joyce and Signature Theatres.
A second cultural building that would have been adjacent to the memorial has been taken out of the plans because of objections raised by some family members, Gov. George Pataki and others who thought the area next to the memorial should not have exhibits unrelated to 9/11. That former cultural site will house a building to support the memorial. There will also be a 9/11 museum under the memorial plaza.