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Pentagon Memorial Design Competition Draws Global Interest

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 25, 2002 – Artists, architects, sculptors and students from 43 states, a dozen prestigious academic institutions and two dozen countries are interested in designing the Pentagon Memorial.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
The green shaded area in this aerial photo marks the proposed site of the Pentagon Memorial. It abuts the section destroyed Sept. 11, 2001, when terrorists slammed a hijacked airliner into the building and killed 184 persons. (DoD photo)

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Students at Columbia, Harvard, Princeton and Yale Universities, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of California want to create a lasting, physical tribute to those who died in the Sept. 11 terrorist attack. International inquiries so far have come from Canada, China, Germany, Hong Kong, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Panama and the West Indies.

"We've received more than 550 inquiries about the design competition," said Pentagon Memorial Project Manager Carol Anderson-Austra.

The Army Corps of Engineers in Baltimore released requirements and procedures recently for the first stage of the competition to select an artistic concept for the memorial to be built near the impact site on the Pentagon grounds. The deadline for submissions is Sept. 11, the first anniversary of the attack.

The competition is open to all, and to individuals and teams, according to Anderson-Austra. "They don't have to be professional designers or in related fields," she said. "We're getting the word out as much as we can. We're putting out the word to a number of artists.

"I just spoke with a sculptor in New York City who's going to come on a Pentagon site tour that we're offering to the contestants," she noted. "He said, 'It's such an honor to just be involved.' I told him, 'Everyone feels that way -- all of us at the Corps and at the Pentagon."

About 100 people have signed up for site tours July 26, Aug. 2 and 9. "You just can't beat seeing the site,' Anderson-Austra said. "If there's a lot of demand, we could probably put another day in there, too. People will want to see the site early on so they can go back home and design."

Entry packets, including a registration form, requirements, site plans, elevations and other background and other guidance are online at memorialcompetition.pentagon.mil. An online registration form will be added soon. Packets also may be obtained by mail by calling 1-866-782- 4383, which is toll-free in the United States.

A number of competitors have already registered, but no designs have yet been submitted, Anderson-Austra said. Registering lets Corps officials know if the contestant is an individual or a team of architects or students. "It helps us prepare for the jurying, which we think will be quite an undertaking," she said.

The jury will consist of professional architects, artists, academics, Pentagon officials and at least one representative from among the victims' families, she said. Five semifinalists will be chosen who will then be asked to further develop their concepts and create models before a final selection is made.

Anderson-Austra said the vision is the completed memorial should be a place of solace to families whose loved ones died in the Sept. 11 attack. "This needs to represent democracy, the strength of the Pentagon and the country, and many of the positive things that the terrorists wanted to attack and did attack," she added.

While no one has said the memorial has to be huge, she noted, the families have said they want it to be somehow meaningful -- "something that brings something beautiful and strong and positive from such a terrible tragedy."

A statement by the Pentagon Memorial Family Steering Committee included in the competition package expresses those feelings:

"We ask that you search your souls and envision a memorial that inspires visitors to contemplate what the attack means to them personally, to us as family members, to the community, to the country, and to the world. Visitors should comprehend that our loved ones were murdered simply because they were living and working in, and enjoying the benefits of, a free society.

"The memorial should instill the ideas that patriotism is a moral duty, that freedom comes at a price, and that the victims of this attack have paid the ultimate price. We challenge you to create a memorial that translates this terrible tragedy into a place of solace, peace, and healing."

Anderson-Austra said Congress has allocated $2 million for the memorial. That isn't a limit, she pointed out, because there is also a provision for accepting donations.

"We've had monetary donations and we expect considerably more," she said. "People send me messages and say, 'I have a marble quarry. I'll donate stone.' Or 'I do metal work. I'll donate fences.'" Another group wants to donate trees, she said.

"Whatever we need, we'll get," she said. "Some of the families are very adamant and strong and supportive about this. Some have said, 'We'll quit our jobs and we'll just go out and drum up donations.' The families are firm. They want this to be the highest quality it can be."

"Everyone's heart is in this," Anderson-Audra said, speaking of the Army Corps of Engineers, Pentagon officials, victims' family members and the design contestants. "What we're aiming for," she concluded, "is something that's very high quality and that is recognized and embraced by the public as a great design."

An alternate Pentagon Memorial project information site is at pentagonmemorial.nab.usace.army.mil.

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