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Trade Center Memorial Designs Express Values, Hopes

The designers responding to CNN’s request don’t have the authority to decide what should be rebuilt on the World Trade Center site. But they’ve responded anyway with proposals simple and complex, scribbled and computer-generated.

That question, posed by CNN, has elicited hundreds of architectural drawings expressing various values and hopes. People across the globe have sent over 1,000 proposals to the news agency, which is featuring the submissions online and on air.
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The proposals making their way to CNN are not part of any official plan. That job falls to architectural and urban planning firm Beyer Blinder Belle. It submitted six preliminary proposals in July to the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., the commissioning agency for the memorial.
 
“CNN has no affiliation with the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., the Port Authority or any other association involved with the official design selection process,” reads CNN’s disclaimer, “which includes various design specifications and requirements, none of which are applicable here.”
 
So the designers responding to CNN’s request don’t have the authority to decide what should be rebuilt on the <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />WorldTradeCenter site. But they’ve responded anyway with proposals simple and complex, scribbled and computer-generated.
 
“Regardless of your age, profession or design experience, you are invited to submit your illustration,” CNN.com reads. And people are.
 
The imagination and work behind these proposals stagger the mind, remind the soul of that terrible day, and make a forceful case for the fact that people express themselves in myriad ways.
 
Some designs employ an elaborate math. For example, more than one designer disbursed the total number of floors of the two original towers—220—across several new memorial towers.
 
Many proposals feature statues of firefighters, police officers and other rescuers. Many use water and reflecting pools.
 
One design looks like the yin-yang symbol when viewed from above. Another calls for a building shaped and colored like a waving American flag.
 
One submission features a building shaped like a cross. Another calls for a “memorial cross” to hover over two 60-story “memorial towers.”
 
Another designer suggests putting a giant Buddha on the site. Yet another wants only one building whose “top 20 floors would feature a continuous band decorated with symbols of the world’s great religions, to show unity and defiance to those who would try humanity.”
 
The designs have come from everywhere: the United States, Canada, Israel, Denmark, Lebanon and Australia. Some express uniquely American or Christian themes, while others exhibit more cosmopolitan ideas.
 
Some people have already expressed dissatisfaction with the six preliminary proposals given the LMDC. As the saying goes, “You can’t please all of the people all of the time.”
 
But as CNN’s invitation demonstrates, you can ask them to create, and they will.
 
In an odd way, that’s a sign of hope for a post-Sept.11 world.
 
Cliff Vaughn is BCE’s associate director.
 
See the proposals at CCN.com.