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Passages of Light: Memorial Cloud

by Gotham Gazette Staff, Jan 06, 2004
 
 


A street-level view of Passages of Light: Memorial Cloud.


A view from beneath the translucent canopy.

In this design, a translucent canopy at street level covers a below-ground memorial. Under the "cloud," an individual circle of light extending upwards encircles the name of each victim.

During the day, sunlight also enters from above. The names are grouped according to whom they were closest to at the time of their deaths. A line of the names of rescue workers extends through the two distinct groups, one for each tower.

Gisela Baurmann, Sawad Brooks, and Jonas Coersmeier are all designers and teachers living in the New York area.

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Finalist Statement

"Through "Passages of Light : The Memorial Cloud," we wish to create upon a site scarred by a terrifying loss, sorrow, and grief, a work of shared and individual mourning, as well as a gesture affirming our hopes, common dreams, and ability to rebuild.

Our intention is first to recognize and honor the victims of September 11, 2001 and February 26, 1993 within a special, shrouded, spiritual space, protected from the noise and pace of the city by a crystalline "cloud." The cloud's top surface is a translucent bandage healing a wound. Level with "Ground Zero" (street level) and permitting traversal, it reconnects the urban fabric of downtown. On the ground beneath the cloud each of the 2,982 victims is represented by a radiating circle of light embedded into the floor, which illuminates the engraved name of the individual victim but also projects a subtle ray of light upward into the cloud. During the day, the cloud, like an undulating veil, a sinuous surface forming cathedral-like vaults, channels daylight downward onto the field of names.

Together, the names form a design that we term the "Pompeii Scheme," because it represents individuals equally in the course of their lives, cut short by the attacks. A name appears near those of the people with whom he or she died. For example, the approximately 1400 individuals who perished in Tower One define the largest field of lights. This field is continuous with the group of approximately 600 who died in the second tower. The design's appearance reflects the cloud's topology of cupolas. A "Line of Rescuers" runs through both groups, where Firefighters, Police, and ordained and medical people can be represented.

Our design is guided by our respect for the sacred ground. Accordingly, we limit the cloud to touching the ground for support on only five points; we judiciously open the earth beneath the World Trade Center Tower footprints only to provide visitors access to the symbolic "bedrock" level, creating thereby a processional passage of light and subterranean darkness. The procession that carries visitors beside the repository for the "unidentified remains" connects both footprints with the channel along the exposed slurry wall.

Through the Memorial Cloud we hope to elicit two more responses, one highly physical, the other imaginative, both of awe. One recovers a sensation associated with the World Trade Center Towers when we recall standing in their presence: the urge to look skywards, a vertical gesture associated with hope. With the second gesture we seek to give expression to a relation between those we mourn and those who live on affected by the tragedy and repercussions of the attacks. This is a relation between the finite and the sublime. The cloud's design as a bundle of 10,000 vertical conduits for light which support each other structurally, distributing forces of tension and compression, figuratively represents our shared responsiveness to crisis and our cumulative strength."


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