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Whose Memorial Is It?

On November 19th, 2003, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation unveiled the eight final designs in the World Trade Center Site Memorial Competition, bringing the largest memorial design competition in history to its final stage.

A month later, the eight designs have failed to gather public support and have been roundly criticized in the press. On December 17th, it was announced that the decision process would be delayed another month. NEW YORK VOICES looks at the competing pressures and constituencies vying to create a lasting legacy for future generations.

Photo of Marian Fontana
Marian Fontana
We met Marian Fontana at the Winter Garden at the World Financial Center, where the memorial designs are currently on display. Fontana, whose husband, a firefighter, died on September 11, speaks about the designs as both "a New Yorker, but also as someone who lost." She traces the drawbacks of the eight designs back to "political and economic forces...behind closed doors."

"Where I think they fail, is really not in the fault of the architects but in the process itself. There isn't a unified feeling between the original design of [Daniel] Libeskind, which is business and offices around the site, and the memorial itself," Fontana said. "So there is a feeling of sterility...that as a family member, I feel a little disappointed with."

Photo of inscription
Lower Manhattan Development Corporation President Kevin Rampe acknowledges that with so many "agendas pulling at it" the need to strike a balance in the designs has caused difficulty. Nevertheless, "in order for the memorial to last, it has to touch each of those constituencies moving forward."

For a closer look at the eight final designs, visit the website of the World Trade Center Memorial Design Competition.

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