The Impossible Burden of the WTC Memorial

In April, when the LMDC issued its call for entries to the WTC Memorial Competition, the agency included very few concrete design directives. Aside from outlining the geographic boundaries of the memorial site—which the organization later described as flexible, as long as another proposed space was “feasible and consistent with site plan objectives”—the brief specified just five physical program elements. These guidelines were: 1) to recognize each individual who was a victim of the attack; 2) to provide areas for quiet contemplation, as well as 3) areas for families and loved ones; 4) to allow separate, accessible facilities that could serve as a final resting place for the unidentified remains of the WTC victims, and 5) to make visible the footprints of the original WTC towers.

From these five principles came 5,201 memorial submissions from 63 nations. Glimpses of the eight memorial finalists, as selected by a 13-person jury that included architect Maya Lin, philanthropist/Museum of Modern Art Chairman Emeritus David Rockefeller, and Public Art Fund president Susan Freedman, are featured below.