Gotham Gazette

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Garden of Lights

Looking down upon Garden of Lights.

A view from a passage between the two towers' footprints.

In this design, a garden covers the entire memorial site, with 2,982 spaces allowing light into underground rooms below, one for each victim of the 1993 and 2001 attacks. The rooms are located where the towers stood, and contain altars to each one of the victims. The gardens, which are surrounded by glass walls, are open from 8:46am to 10:29am daily. A different gardener is chosen to tend to the gardens each year.

The gardener also tends an orchard between the footprints, which contains trees that give fruit each fall.

Pierre David lives in France and teaches architecture. Sean Corriel is a fifth-year landscape architecture student at Cornell University, and Jessica Kmetovic is a fifth-year architecture student at the California College of Arts and Crafts.

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Finalist Statement

"There was a last hour, a last minute, a last second that 2,982 stars went dark. The instant there was this last light there was a first light, 2,982 stars were born. A new constellation expands across the entire site; a new garden expands across the entire site. Time and space slow as the lights from the constellation pass through the garden, through the earth, and create the new constellation below. Above there is the garden, below there is a new sky and 2,982 stars.

The garden of lights links the sky above to the new sky below.

A glass wall surrounds this garden of lights. When it opens everyday from 8:46am to 10:29am it is a breath, a new rhythm for the city. The seed of the garden is the courage of the past. A gardener is invited from a different part of the world each year to nurture this seed. The footprints teem with life, a prairie. Between the footprints the gardener raises an orchard. Each season we walk a new path through the prairie and new seeds grow on the old path. In September the orchard gives fruit, the gift of life nourished by light.

Between the garden above and the new sky below are two rooms the expanse of the footprints. The south room of light is pure light filled with all of the sky above and below. The family moves with their tears in between lights, memory, and life. Leading to the north room of light is an offering path, a stream lined with roses. They give a rose, and the floating petals bring them into the north room of light. A steel wall forged from the salvaged metal of the towers occupies the length of this room. The family passes along its thickness. On the other side of this wall glow 1,275 lights. This is the resting place of the unidentified remains.

Beneath the garden, beneath the rooms of light, we are under the constellation of 2,982 stars that shine down on 2,982 altars. The eight year-old daughter has hand-written the name of her father. Her handwriting is engraved in the alabaster of her father's altar forever. Light shines on each engraved name for eternity. Each visitor has a map of the new constellation and they navigate their path through the stars. The light for those we have lost is with us, at our hands, on our faces. In the distance, the slurry wall accompanies the light down to reveal bedrock. The slurry wall holds the garden, the new sky, and the bedrock below.

In the garden of lights we can look down the path of each light. We see the name inscribed in stone and the light from the shining star. A cloud passes over the city; it is a shadow on the garden, a sparkle in the stars below, a glimmer on the altar, a flicker in the soul."


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