Volume 16 • Issue 29 | December 16 - 22, 2003

C.B. 1, newspapers endorse memorial plans

By Josh Rogers

Reflecting Absence, above, is one of four plans being considered by Community Board 1.

Community Board 1’s executive committee last week recommended that the World Trade Center memorial jury consider four of the eight possible plans to honor the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks and the 1993 W.T.C. bombing.

The board’s committee expressed disappointment in all of the plans but decided that four of them — Passages of Light: The Memorial Cloud, Reflecting Absence, Inversion of Light and Votives in Suspension – belonged on the jury’s “short list” because they required the fewest adjustments.

The 13-member jury has been consulting with the eight design teams about changes and is expected to pick a plan before Jan. 1.

The committee’s seven-page resolution said among the most important elements the jury should consider are whether the memorial provided room to grow and change in the future, included authentic elements from the W.T.C. (particularly the damaged Sphere sculpture), allowed for suitable access through the site and had outdoor space for public ceremonies.

Memorial Cloud

Memorial Cloud includes a grassy area leading to a sculpture reminiscent of a cloud above. Each victim would have a circle of light under the cloud and above it, there would be a translucent surface at the street level. It was the only plan that wasn’t specifically criticized in the board’s resolution. The plan has “superior access to and through the site” the resolution said.

Memorial Cloud and Garden of Lights were endorsed by The New York Times in a Saturday editorial. The Times said both plans made good use of plant life as a fitting tribute to the victims An editorial in last week’s Downtown Express did not recommend any of the plans but said if certain problems could be overcome, Garden of Lights had the most promise because it included two prairies over the Twin Towers’ footprints that would be cultivated differently every year, and an apple orchard which would produce fruit every September.

Jeff Galloway wrote most of the resolution after two committee meetings and many phone calls and e-mails between members of the board’s W.T.C. and executive committees. He said Memorial Cloud and Reflecting Absence were the two he thought were the best.

The Garden of Lights plan has a “look but don’t touch” feel to it, said Galloway. He also did not like the altar lights under the orchard where each victim would be individually honored. Similarly, last week’s Express editorial said the area underneath the prairies and orchards needed to be changed.

Above and below, Votives in Suspension

Galloway said in general, most of the designs were too complicated and that Reflecting was much more understated. The plan includes a narrow cultural building along West. St. blocking access to Battery Park City. Galloway likened the building to the Berlin Wall, but said if you take that building out, it became a good plan because of its relative simplicity. The board’s resolution called for moving the building and like the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., pointed out that the building’s proposed width was impractical because it could not accommodate normally sized theaters.

Reflecting includes a plaza near street level with two sunken reflecting pools at the Twin Tower’s footprints. The names of the victims would be written randomly around the reflecting pool.

The board’s committee liked the green open space through the site of Inversion of Light. The North Tower’s footprint would be connected to a plaza near the street and the South Tower would have a sunken reflecting pond. Water would flow behind the names of the victims, who would be grouped by their place of employment including firehouses and police precincts. The resolution objected to closing off most of the plaza area to those who are not family members or loved ones of the victims.

The board’s resolution also objected to the private areas set aside for family members and loved ones in all of the plans. Members said the idea of having quiet reflective space was appropriate, but any restricted area would inevitably lead to disputes over whether someone was a close enough “loved one” to be permitted to enter. The resolution also said it was not essential to provide access down to bedrock in the memorial area. Many relatives have said it is important to be able to visit the bedrock since they never recovered their relatives’ remains and they want to be able to go back to the place where their loved ones fell.

Votives includes a field of lights representing each victim hanging over reflecting pools and was conditionally endorsed by C.B. 1’s committee. The board liked the setting for reflection and the plaza space over the votives, but felt that using fuel to remember victims killed in a gas fire was inappropriate and may have practical difficulties as well.

The resolution explicitly ruled out only one design – Suspending Memory which includes two gardens at the footprints surrounded by water. Each garden would be connected by a pedestrian bridge and have information about each W.T.C. victim on columns reminiscent of tombstones. The committee felt the plan was too funereal, too impractical and too difficult to navigate.

The full board is expected to vote on the resolution Dec. 16.



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