World Trade Center Memorial Design Competition

New York, NY

Client: Lower Manhattan Development Corporation
Entered: 2003
Project Team:
David S. Tobin, AIA, Principal-in-Charge, Lead Designer
Jay Patrick, Intern Architect, Designer
Joe Humphrey – Intern Architect, Designer


Proposal Text:

This memorial proposal is an attempt to speak to the visitor of the present and future through many facets of personal interpretation and meaning. An enduring memorial must remain relevant beyond this exceedingly difficult and confusing recent period of rage, mourning and confusion. The memorial must touch not only us now, but future generations just as powerfully.

The central structure of the memorial setting is an object, literally and figuratively. It represents our primal fears and horrors. It is a physical abstraction of Evil, imposing and irrational chaos modeled from the vague, elusive imagery and emotion of a child’s Night Terror. Its dynamics, materials and scale are meant to literally recall the violence of September 11, 2001. Pieces of the former towers may be incorporated within it. The object is our fear and personal terror. Around the edge of the reflecting pool, our object always looms high and in front of us, appearing different to each viewer, depending on one’s perspective, daylight, darkness and season of the year. Here, the terrible object is safely contained out in the water while remaining prominent in our presence. Joining us along the low circular stone wall edge are the engraved names of the 3022 people who lost their lives here, at the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania countryside. One might admit that the object tempts our curiosity, draws and keeps our attention. Even beyond the memorial site itself, the object is a prominent urban landmark, a full member of the city’s context. One may see a certain horrible beauty in it, like the awful images of the infamous September day. This is not meant to be a place of solace, but a place to remember the destruction and to recognize, confront and master our fears.

Visitors may enter through the four corners of the city block. If one enters at the memorial plaza, they will descent to the memorial level, and arrive at the stone tomb containing the remains of unknown victims. The tomb occupies a small plaza defining the starting and ending point along the circular stone wall surrounding the pool. The names of those who died are engraved along the circumference of the wall in alphabetical order. The pool is flanked on the right and left by the “footprints” of World Trade Center Tower 1 and Tower 2. These areas are lifted at a gentle incline, sloping toward the memorial, and paved in stone. The open space they afford can serve many purposes and especially as places for seating of groups for special large gatherings.