Volume 16 • Issue 33 | January 16 - 22, 2004

One juror gave birth while nurturing a design

By Josh Rogers

She was pregnant in the spring when she and her fellow jurors attended combative public meetings about the World Trade Center memorial. She gave birth in June, and then worked with her colleagues considering 5,201 ideas before selecting the revised plan by Michael Arad and Peter Walker that was unveiled to the public on Wednesday.

“It was a very hectic time but I had my family, I had my husband and I wouldn’t have had it any other way,” Julie Menin said during an interview in her office the day after the announcement. “It was such an important thing to do.”

Menin, an attorney who founded Wall Street Rising to help businesses recover from 9/11, said she tried to imagine how Max, born June 26, 2003, would react to seeing Arad’s Reflecting Absence design.

“I envisioned walking with my son there,” she said. “Years from now, he will be there looking at these voids and he’ll understand the towers were there and there was a terrible loss of life and there were tremendous acts of heroism on that day.”

Menin was the only juror who lives and works in Lower Manhattan and said she focused on making sure the selected memorial connected well with the neighborhoods surrounding the site. Of the three final designs, she said she liked both Reflecting Absence and Memorial Cloud because they both provided good access. She felt the designers for the third plan, Garden of Lights, never could overcome the problem of being able to accommodate 10 million tourists, workers and residents who would have to traverse the proposed apple orchards.

Before they got to three, she said the jurors looked at each submission and voted out the ones that did not have images or were too far outside of the guidelines. “From there we narrowed it down to several hundred, then to 50,” she said.

The jury named nine finalists, but the ninth, two piers the size of the Twin Towers, was ruled ineligible by the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. because the designer, Fred Bernstein, submitted a different plan and gave his friend permission to submit Twin Piers. Menin said personally, she had concerns about the impacts the pier plan would have had on Battery Park City residents, but the point became moot after the L.M.D.C. decision.

Menin said the public’s negative reaction to the eight plans was difficult to deal with because the jury had a confidentiality agreement and could not explain that they were asking for the same sort of changes many people were requesting. For instance, she thought Arad’s original plaza was too stark, but after teaming with Walker, a landscape architect, the additional trees turned it into a winning design, Menin said.

“From the get-go the jury said there had to be a landscaped treatment to this plaza,” said Menin. The sunken reflecting pools at the Twin Tower footprints in the middle of the trees will be an effective memorial, she said. “The towers cascaded into these voids. That is a stark and powerful image.”

The jury also wanted to see remnants of the W.T.C. in the memorial and Menin said she is happy Arad adjusted the design to allow an underground area for artifacts. She is eager to see precisely how Arad incorporates this part of the plan. “This is a new element that is evolving over time.”



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