March 27, 2006

Idea: Design for a WTC Monument

I know, designing your own WTC memorial is so 2002. But it’s been years since the World Trade Center Site Memorial Competition, and there’s been next to no progress on actually building anything. Last week, some dirt was moved around and people got angry about it. So I’ve been thinking again about my own monument design that I came up with a few years back, but never actually rendered. It’s nice to finally get it out of my head and on paper. Er, pixel.

WTCWhen viewed from one direction, my memorial resembles the original towers. It stands tall and proud. It’s big and bold. Its height depends aesthetically on where it will be placed — in a memorial park, I assume — but I imagine it being really tall, the tallest thing in the park, peaking out above the tallest trees, or (since the tallest trees will eventually grow) in the middle of a clearing. The names of the September 11 victims who lost their lives are engraved in lines on the faces of the towers, like the lines of windows on the buildings.

WTCSo viewed from one direction, it looks like the towers themselves. But when viewed from another direction, the monument becomes an empty shell. It’s a reminder of how fragile the towers were, and of the empty space they used to occupy. It’s very, very simple. Hopefully it’s also poignant.

In my original vision, these were as big as the original towers, becoming part of the city’s skyline in the same way the original towers were. Viewing Manhattan from one side, you’d see the towers’ silhouette and the skyline looks just like it used to. Viewing from another direction you’d just see the outline of where they were. It’s a grandiose vision. But probably not realistic, so I shrunk it down to a size suitable for placement in a park.

To get the best view of the monument, and really convey how it looks, I’ve put together an animated fly-around that shows it from all sides.

And for those who might be interested, a note about how I created these images and the animation is after the jump.

A note about how I created these images.

I used a program called SketchUp. I loved it enough to heap the following unsolicited praise.

I’d never heard of SketchUp before I read last week that Google acquired them. And neither, apparently, had the Google Toolbar spellchecker, which thinks I’m writing about ketchup.

Anyway, when I came up with this monument idea several years ago, I drew sketches of it, but none of them really did the idea justice the way a 3D rendering could. But I knew nothing about CAD and the learning curve seemed steep. I considered building an actual 3D model, but what would I do with it once I’d made it? I have no room for such a thing in my apartment. But after viewing SketchUp’s demo on their website, I realized I’d found a tool even I could use. SketchUp makes 3D rendering easier than sketching. Seriously. I downloaded the free trial version (fully functional for 8 hours), watched the tutorials for about 15 minutes, and put all this together in about an hour. None of my sketches of this concept ever looked this good. It’s a cool product. I congratulate them on their recent successes.


hey much more clever and cheaper than freedom tower! The trompe l’oeil-viewpoint aspect reminds me of the work of New Zealand sculptor Neil Dawson.

this is absolutely perfect. far better than anything else ever conceived for the site

This is by far the most meaningful tribute concept I’ve seen. Thank you for sharing it!

Thats neat. neo classic design. design flaw is everything. the only flaw in this one is that as oceans rise, real estate prices soar irony is the estate real becomes less each day as population and waters rise exponentially.


I LOVE this idea. I really think it is better than anything else I’ve seen. Your concept is amazing - the illusion of the buildings, then the empty shells.

This is fantastic! Did you send this to the mayor’s office? Maybe another memorial could be erected in one of the city parks.

I like the names written, and I like the tallness and boldness. I don’t like the emptiness. I know the reason for it (symbol for loss), I just don’t like it. It would seem to be too much reward for the terrorists.

Nice blog, by the way. I really dig it.

This is amazing. Really, truly amazing.

(And by the way, your blog has been keeping me awake for the past 3 hours - I love it!)

Hm… Looking at this I can’t help but think “if only they’d flown through the holes in the sides”