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An Empty Space

The families counter that although their loved ones may have died in the sky, their remains -- if found at all -- were found in the tons and tons of debris that sat as deep as the bedrock.

Daniel Libeskind, the master planner of the entire 16-acre trade center site, included bedrock in his original design, which was later modified for engineering reasons. Still, he said Wednesday that bedrock "absolutely" has to be considered.

"Inversion of Light" by Toshio Sasaki, one of the eight finalists for the World Trade Center memorial, illuminates the tower footprints. (Lower Manhattan Development Corp. - Reuters)

_____Photo Gallery_____
WTC Memorial Designs Unveiled

"There is ample room for bedrock at the footprints," he said after the presentation.

The designs were crafted within very specific and concrete elements of the LMDC's guidelines. They had to somehow recognize each person who was a victim of the 2001 attacks in New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia, as well as the 1993 attack on the trade center. The guidelines also required historic authenticity and a space for contemplation. Most challenging of all -- and now the most contentious -- was the mandate to "make visible the footprints of the original World Trade Center towers." How that is achieved will be decided in the final phase of the competition.

The designs shown Wednesday render those footprints in different guises, and with very limited access to the bedrock level as envisioned by the families. One design, titled "Suspending Memory," suspends two islands of memorial gardens in the places where the the towers stood and connects those islands by an illuminated bridge over a pool of water two feet deep. All of it runs no deeper than 20 feet below street level, and visitors are supposed to access the "original" elements of the bathtub through adjoining structures, such as a memorial museum. "Suspending Memory" was designed by Joseph Karadin and Hsin-Yi Wu.

More than two years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, eight designs for a memorial at the World Trade Center site have emerged as finalists in a worldwide competion, including "Garden of Lights." (Lower Manhattan Development Corp. Photos via AP)
Another design, titled "Passages of Light: The Memorial Cloud," envisions stairway access down to bedrock, to a "processional passage" along the footprints. This is the design that includes a cloudlike translucent structure below ground, which can be seen from street level as a great field of lights. It also includes the engraved names of the 9/11 victims. Its designers are Gisela Baurmann, Jonas Coersmeier and Sawad Brooks.

The six other finalists are: "Votives in Suspension," by Norman Lee and Michael Lewis; "Lower Waters," by Bradley Campbell and Matthias Neumann; "Garden of Lights," by Pierre David, Sean Corriel and Jessica Kmetovic; "Reflecting Absence," by Michael Arad; "Dual Memory," by Brian Strawn and Karla Sierralta; and "Inversion of Light," by Toshio Sasaki.

The designs will be on public display until the winner is announced. Wednesday, firefighter Dan Cintron stared pensively at the designs, recalling, he said, the grandeur of the towers lost. He had a hard time imagining a memorial on the site. And a hard time imagining how the dead can be personified at the site down through the ages.

"I wonder what people will see a hundred years, two hundred years from now," he said sadly, thinking of his many fallen comrades. "When they come here, what will they see? What will they think?"

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