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Bring the Memorial Up to Street Level

Carl Weisbrod, Alliance for Downtown New York

After those who lost loved ones, including family and friends, as many of us did, our neighborhood as a whole has been the most directly affected by the devastating attacks of September 11. First, I want to commend the memorial jury for your dedication and commitment to the memorial selection process. I have no doubt that this will be when you are finished, one of the defining and grandest spaces of the 21st century, a place where the nation and the world will reflect and remember for generations to come.

But as you go about your task, I hope you will consider the more than 300,000 workers coming downtown daily and the 35,000 residents living in the vicinity of the World Trade Center site. And this memorial will not be a separate space apart from peoplešs daily lives. It must be integrated into the fabric of the community as a whole. So as you go about your complex task of selecting the perfect memorial from the thousands of submissions you receive, I encourage you to consider not only the profound statement that the memorial must make and the opportunity for all of the victims and their families and their loved ones to be able to come here, but also: provide the infrastructure requirements necessary to accommodate the millions of visitors who will come here as well as those who pass through the site. As is provided in the brilliantly conceived Libeskind design, a full six acres is reserved for the memorial site.

Four and a half acres could be as much as 30 feet below grade, but we hope that whatever design you choose will address our communityšs concerns about access through and within the site and among the designated memorial spaces. In this regard we urge you to give weight to submissions that bring the open area closer to grade, at grade ideally, as well as to provide other means of access through the site. And we hope you will keep in mind the importance of this area and its multifaceted role in the surrounding community as you fulfill your responsibilities to select the most profound and spectacular memorial in history.

The memorial site will be a destination for millions of people, as well as an area traversed daily by tens of thousands. Underneath the site there must be room for the infrastructure necessary to accommodate these millions of visitors and to support the lower Manhattan community. We hope that this will also be reason for you to give serious consideration to designs that elevate the grade and accommodate appropriate infrastructure.

So I urge you to select the design that provides a spectacular artistic vision, a profound statement, and yet is mindful of the areašs infrastructure needs. I urge you to select the design that will make the memorial space unique, profound and meaningful but also inviting, accessible, and integrated into our community.

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