Volume 18 • Issue 44 | March 17 - 23, 2006

Downtown Express photo by Ramin Talaie

Anthony Gardner, a leader of the Coalition of 9/11 Families, points to picture of a box-beam column at one of the footprints to the Twin Towers at a demonstration against the beginning of memorial construction.

Despite protests, W.T.C. memorial construction work begins

Work to begin building the World Trade Center memorial to honor the people killed on 9/11 and in the 1993 W.T.C. bombing began Monday despite protests from some family members, who have also filed a lawsuit to stop construction.

“I’m not going down with the towers,” one 9/11 widow said on Monday, her voice sounding like she was about to cry. “Let the memory be up and don’t bury the memorial.”

She and other protestors said the memorial should not be built underground, although that was a demand expressed repeatedly by many leaders of family groups in 2003 and 2004.

The lawsuit seeks to preserve more of the bedrock area of the Twin Towers’ footprints. The memorial design by Michael Arad and Peter Walker includes two sunken reflecting pools at the footprints with the names of the victims below street level near the flowing water around the sides. There will be a memorial museum at bedrock, and the site’s slurry wall and the remnants of many of the box-beam columns of the towers will be visible. There will be a memorial plaza above street level with groves of oak trees and is likely to include some large artifacts from the attack such as the damaged “Sphere” sculpture that was in the old W.T.C. plaza.

The memorial, it’s museum and visitor’s center may cost as much as $1 billion by some estimates and is expected to open by Sept. 11, 2009. It will be owned and operated by the WTC Memorial Foundation, which is raising the money to finish construction.

The Coalition of 9/11 Families issued a statement in Jan. 2004 to say they were “encouraged” by changes made to the Reflecting Absence memorial design. The statement did call for more preservation of the bedrock area but it did not oppose the concept of an underground memorial or the construction of the memorial museum below street level.

Anthony Gardner, a coalition leader then and now, led the protest Monday and said the museum should be brought up to street level. “We were trying to work within the confines of the process,” he said by way of explanation as to why he did not say he opposed the underground museum two years ago. Nevertheless, he said his position on the memorial had been consistent through the years.

“Don’t rush to build a memorial that doesn’t work and destroys history,” said Gardner, whose brother was killed in the towers.

The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, which set up the jury process to select the design, says that 68 of the 84 box-beam columns at the North Tower footprint will be visible and that 35 of the remaining 73 columns at the South Tower will be seen. The tracks to the commuter PATH train used to run over much of the South Tower footprints and will continue to be over the footprint in the new train station. The other columns won’t be visible, either because they will be needed for memorial-related equipment or they are needed by the Port Authority, which is building the train station, said John Gallagher, a L.M.D.C. spokesperson.

Gardner said other parts of the bedrock area that show remnants of the towers should also be preserved.

—Josh Rogers


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