World Trade Center
“ETERNAL BEACONS” OF LIGHT AND MEMORY
A memorial should be more than a static concept that stands only for a moment in time. In addition to memorializing those who lost their lives, it should welcome empathy, and celebrate life. A memorial should provide an outlet for those who seek to grieve and remember, as well as a source of inspiration for those who come to learn from it.
It is the interplay between these concepts of catharsis and learning that gives life to the Beacons of Light and Memory. The terrorist acts of murder on February 26, 1993 and September 11, 2003 were random and indiscriminate. The Beacons on the World Trade Center site have been similarly scattered via an algorithmic formula with a random seed of 911. Each Beacon leans and spirals upwards at an angle of ascension. This random placement creates an indeterminate field, which envelopes visitors to the site while creating a visual representation of the magnitude of the tragedy. The complex, meandering movement throughout the site evokes the shock of immediate loss. The constellation Beacons, which stand ninety inches high, each represent one of the 3,022 lives lost on February 26, 1993 and September 11, 2001. Crafted from cast borosilicate glass, which is frosted on the inside of the beacon and fades to clear glass at the shattered top, are set into separate, stainless steel recesses.
The memories of those whose lives were stolen must never be forgotten. Each beacon serves as a repository for the memories of the loved ones of the individual for whom it represents. Family members and friends will digitally record their memories or thoughts about their loved one. They may wish to talk about the way in which the individual touched their lives, or what their loss means to them. Each beacon will broadcast these voices via a digital frequency. Visitors will follow these sounds in the air permitting them to learn about the victims and simultaneously celebrate the life of that individual. Each visitor receives a simple earphone and can access the digital recordings by touching one of the stainless steel nameplates wrapped around each Beacon. When touched, each beacon will glow for twenty-four hours and then fade unless touched again. This interaction through light and memory brings the visitor closer to the individual whom the Beacon represents, offering an evolving system, which inspires an understanding of that individual and reaffirms the respect for life.
In addition to the random, flowing spaces created by the interactions of the tilted Beacons themselves, there are spaces for contemplation throughout the site. In the sheltered footprint of the North Tower, a mausoleum rises out of the field of Beacons and serves as the final resting place for the unidentified remains from the World Trade Center site. Family members and other loved ones of the victims have their own semi-private space in the footprint of the South Tower, where they can reflect, but also gather to discuss and remember. The space is open to the sky, one with a central long table for families and a smaller space for individual reflection divided by a sculptural screen. The latter space contains a central strip of Silver Birch trees in a row of clipped Lonicera nitida. A strip of water mirrors each side. The birch trees are some of the 92 trees slicing through the site. These trees are planted for each of the 92 countries of origin of the victims.
The footprints of the World Trade Center Towers are made visible through a separation by a short ramp interrupted by lit pools of water located at the World Trade Center’s original ground level column spacing. While the Beacons are randomly placed and reflect no hierarchy, there are areas where the arrangement is less dense, and public ceremonies and celebrations can be held. The 7500sf area located at the southern end will host Remembrance Day. The Liberty wall at this end will have a dark, honed, stone facing with a polished skyline of the past. At 8:46 am on September 11th, all of the Beacons will extinguish. They will come to life at 10:30 am signaling the end of the ceremony and the beginning of the healing.
All of those who gave time to assist with the World Trade Center rescue and clean up will be honored on the glass Wall of Heroes at the north side of the site. All the names will be sandblasted to read on the train station side. This will endeavor to create a positive link with the public while offering a big NYC thank you.