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PEP Feb 2004
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Public Employee Press

Memorial winner, city worker
Architect provides a bold, clear and simple design for World Trade Center site.

   
 

Michael Arad presents his design on Jan. 14 for the World Trade Center Memorial, with “two voids where the towers once stood.”

 

The announcement that a New York City Housing Authority architect had won the design competition for the World Trade Center Memorial stunned political leaders and design professionals, including Michael Arad, 34, the winner.

The memorial was officially unveiled Jan. 14 in a packed room at Federal Hall in downtown Manhattan. Seated on the podium with Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Gov. George E. Pataki, Mr. Arad wore a blue shirt, a black suit, and a slightly shell-shocked smile.

“Wake up Michael! It’s real,” said Vartan Gregorian, president of the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the chair of the 13-person memorial jury that selected the winning design. Mr. Arad’s inspirational “Reflecting Absence” was one of 5,201 submissions from 63 countries.

“Many people responded to 9/11 with a pencil and a sketchbook,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “I’m certainly proud of having Michael Arad as a New York City employee. The memorial will be the focal point of downtown Manhattan.”


“The room for unidentified remains is at bedrock. The sound of the water shelters the space from the city,” said Michael Arad.

Other accolades celebrated Mr. Arad’s civil service status. HA Chair Tino Hernández portrayed Mr. Arad as “an outstanding example of our typical employee: smart, enthusiastic, hard-working, dedicated, talented and committed to providing the best for our residents.”

Civil Service Technical Guild Local 375 President Claude Fort said he was delighted at the news. “Mr. Arad is a great example of the quality of the civil service workers in our local.

We have always known that our members do a great job and that the city can rely on them for creative and even inspired work.”


Aerial view of the memorial design, “Reflecting Absence.”

“Most powerful”
The young architect received a master’s degree from Georgia Tech College of Architecture and then worked at Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates for three years. He joined the HA’s design team last April and has worked on two projects for the city: the headquarters of Police Service Area 8 in Throgs Neck, Bronx and PSA 2 in Brooklyn.

At the ceremony, Mr. Arad spoke softly and emotionally as he explained the concept of his design. “It is a very difficult task I’ve been entrusted with. I understand just how important this is. I will do my very best not to disappoint the families of the victims.” He spoke of the “enormous ribbon of names” that will be part of the memorial, which has been described as, “the simplest and for that very reason, the most powerful” of all the proposals.

All relevant information about the design competition can be viewed at: www.WTCSiteMemorial.org.

— Jane LaTour

 

 
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