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Journeys of the Questress - WTC
What Will Fill the Void?
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The Way it Was - 1
The Way it Was - 2
Sept 19 - When Tomorrow Never Comes
Sept 27 - Oral Interpretation
Oct 5 - A Mile of Tears - Part 1
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Oct 5 - A Mile of Tears - Part 3
Oct 11 - Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow
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April 1 - Towers of Light
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Sept 12 - September Holds Great Promise
Literary Reflections
Rebirth and Resurrection
The Winter Garden Springs To Life
The Winter Garden Springs To Life - con't
Underpass to the Past
Rebuilding Ground Zero
Under Hallowed Ground
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Yahrzeit
What Will Fill the Void?
I Submit a Design
Footprints in the Dust
My Memorial Design Submission
My Memorial Design - Drawings
New Path Train Station
Path Station Tour
May We Never Forget
That Which Surives
War Without End
4th Anniversary
Footprints in the Dust
Void
I Miss 9/11
Time Comes Between Us
A Thousand Cranes
Fear Factor
Love Letters On The Wall
Empty Chairs
Sitting on the Edge of Forever
Walking the Perimeter of Emptiness
A Counting of Days
For Friends Absent But Not Forgotten
Stigmata
The Memory Keeper's Promise
Unbreak My Heart
Standing On The Edge Of Forever
Both Sides Now
A Memory In Time
The Gravity of Loss
The Survivors Rise Up
Flowers Will Bloom
The Fire Within Us
The Sentinel
Stronger Than The Storm
Between the Candle and the Stars
Ghosts
A Journey Through Remembrance
Canticle of Remembrance
Beyond the Crucible of Chaos
Journey Through Remembrance project
What See We Now
Forever In Our Hearts
Keeping the Flame Alive
The Rebuilding of Ground Zero continues
Does Anyone Care Anymore?
Where Is Our Story Teller of Pain
At Memory's Edge
Dust Thou Art and to Dust Thou Shalt Return
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What Will Fill the Void?
Reflections on the WTC Memorial Competition
How are we to honor the memory of those who died on that tragic day in September? That question has been on the minds of almost every citizen and close to the heart of those who lost loved ones. Over the last 2 years, many ideas have been tossed about, many spontaneous memorials have sprung up around Ground Zero, many controversies have arisen.
 
The competition starts
 
In April of 2003 the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC ) formally inaugurated a competition for a memorial to be placed at Ground Zero. This memorial would be built upon the 4.5 acre part of Ground Zero that held the footprints of the north and south towers. There were 4 parts to the competition: Registration of entrants, submission of designs, selection of finalists, selection of the winning design.
 
By the end of the May 9 registration deadline, 13,683 participants from 94 nations and all fifty states had registered. The press release quoting LMDC Chairman, John C. Whitehead stated "We had expected significant interest in the memorial competition, but this response has been extraordinary.  It underscores the strong feelings of not only artists, designers and architects, but, more importantly, men and women of all ages around the globe who may not be professionals yet wish to participate in this most important undertaking."
 
All of the participants did not finally submit a design. Yet the number that did was overwhelming. By the June 30 deadline 5,200 submissions were received from 62 nations and 49 states making it the largest design competition in history. It exceeds the 1421 designs submitted for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
 
Requirements, limitations, controversies
 
If the number of entrants was unique in the history of memorial contests, so were the requirements and limitations that had to be worked with, along with the controversies surrounding it. This was a competition not only fraught with opinions and emotions but it also had very strict regulations.
The LMDC's web site www.wtcsitememorial.org spelled out the requirements in extensive detail. There was a mission statement, extensive "guiding principles", 5 required design elements, and the submission format was standardized to a single 30" x 40" foam core board divided into 5 sections (no other media or 3 dimensional constructs allowed). In order to maintain anonymity in judging, entrants had to make sure their names were nowhere on the design and were forbidden to reveal their designs to anyone outside of their fellow team members.
 
The major limitation came from the configuration of the site itself. Wedged 30 feet below ground, the 4.5 acres was overshadowed by a number of Libeskind's designed structures. There was also one very large/long ramp that penetrated the site from Liberty St., a waterfall that bounded the northern section of the South Tower's footprint, and the exposed Slurry Wall comprised the western boundary. A lively discussion on many web sites ensued as individuals who were working on designs posted their complaints about these elements and the creative work around needed to cope with them. Another problem, one that I as an entrant hated to have to deal with, was the inaccuracies of the drawings LMDC supplied (they were from Libeskind's firm). Upon checking measurements of the ground plan, elements listed as certain dimensions, did not match up with the scale presented. Also, the sketches of the area within Libeskind's other structures, were too "conceptual" and not realistic enough to be able to be sure of any accuracy.
 
Three major controversies surfaced. One grew out of the LMDC's requirement that "Should honor the loss of life equally and the contributions of all without establishing any hierarchies." This was vehemently attacked by relatives and friends of victims during a public hearing held during May. They felt that firefighters and rescue workers should get separate recognition along with a listing of their affiliations.
 
The second controversy developed from a group of family members of the victims who have campaigned to preserve the site "from bedrock to infinity," of all the area within the Trade Center's walls. That, in effect, negated the whole competition's space since it was only a part of the larger site and did not include airspace and underground areas. A faction of these individuals wanted NOTHING built on the site, considering it a burial site, the only one they had for their loved ones who had not been found.
 
Downtown residents and businessmen had their own agenda. The wanted to move the memorial from 30 feet below ground, to ground level. They felt that this would allow residents and downtown workers to cross the site easily to reach the planned transportation hub, retail stores and office buildings. You can imagine how this inflamed the sensibilities of the previous two groups!
 
Update
 
So where are we now? There has been very little revealed by the LMDC as to the status of the competition. The originally targeted September date for the announcement of the 5 finalists has come and gone. LMDC officials recently revealed that due to the volume of submissions they have to go through, the deadline is now open ended.
 
Some interesting insights into the judging process, however, was revealed in a special TV program "The Rebuilding of Ground Zero" presented by the Discovery channel on Sunday September 7. Here are some of the revelations:
  • All entries were screened for anthrax, bombs and chemical agents. They were then shipped to an undisclosed location where they could be catalogued and then viewed by the jurors.
  • Each entry was photographed for the record and scrutinized to make sure it met the basic requirements.
Then a number of the jurors made comments (these are not direct quotes, but only paraphrases):
  •  It is now the largest ever memorial competition in the WORLD.
  •  The scope of this response shows us the worldwide impact of 9/11.
  •  This competition is a vital part of coming to grips with the tragedy of 9/11.
  •  All of these submissions are a way of thanking us for an opportunity to  remember.
  • Juror Maya Lin urged that a public display be held of ALL the 5200 submissions in order for the public to be able to see this emotional outpouring of responses. She said that some of the submissions had been made solely for the purpose of  making an emotional statement and as a way to remember the tragic day.
On August 19, Newsday reported that the memorial judges will now chose 8 finalists. Each team (entries could be submitted by a team of individuals or by a single individual) would receive $100,000 to further develop the designs into models and three-dimensional computerized designs. These finalists will be chosen some time this Fall.
 
Sometime in this third year, we will have a memorial design. But will it become THE final design, the one that will actually be built on that hallowed ground? Stay tuned.
                                             c2003 Leona M Seufert