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Briefing Announcing the Winning Design in the Pentagon Memorial Competition

Presenters: Design Jury Chairman, Chief Curator, New York Museum of Modern Art Terry Riley
March 03, 2003 1:00 PM EDT

(Briefing Announcing the Winning Design in the Pentagon Memorial Competition. Also participating: Wendy Chamberlain, Pentagon Victims Family Steering Committee; Jim Laychak, Pentagon Victims Family Steering Committee; Mike Sullivan, program manager, Pentagon Renovation Program; and Carol Anderson-Austra, Corps of Engineers. Winners: Julie Beckman and Keith Kaseman.)

Staff: Good afternoon, everybody. We're here to announce the winning design for the Pentagon Memorial competition. There are several people that I need to introduce to you.

The first person to take the podium up here will be Mr. Terry Riley. Terry is the chairman of the jury that made the selection, and Terry is also chief curator, design and architecture, at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Terry will announce the winning design.

The designers of the winning entry are Ms. Julie Beckman and Keith Kaseman of KBAS Studios in New York. And they will be here to explain their concept and how they arrived at it.

Also here -- and what I'll do is introduce Terry; he will make the announcement. Terry will invite the two winners up to discuss their concept. There are other people here that I won't introduce to you now by name, but then as you ask -- when the designers are finished, I'll come back up to the podium and invite your questions and direct your questions to them. But let me tell you who they are.

Carol Anderson-Austra of the Baltimore District, the Army Corps of Engineers, who conducted the competition to select this; Miss Wendy Chamberlain and Jim Laychak, two members of the Pentagon Families Steering Committee that were on the jury selecting the design; Mike Sullivan, program manager for the Pentagon renovation that you know about, Ralph Newton of the Washington Headquarters Service; they will be responsible for overseeing the bids and selecting the contractor for the construction of the memorial.

So, Mr. Riley, the podium is yours, sir.

Riley: Thank you. I'm very pleased to announce that after long and thoughtful deliberations, the jury selected the design submitted by Julie Beckman and Keith Kaseman of Kaseman Beckman, Amsterdam Studio in New York City. Our deliberations, as I said, were long and thoughtful and quite spirited. But by the end of the day, which was this month, it was a unanimous vote, following a very long process that began in September.

The jury was most convinced by the solemnity of the design, which, like Arlington National Cemetery across the highway, is comprised of a field of markers that represent each of the 184 lives lost. The jury was also impressed with the way the memorial not only stands as a place of common memory, but also makes an effort to note the individual circumstances of the victims' lives, whether they were uniformed and civilian personnel at the Pentagon or passengers on American Flight 77.

Finally, we were very impressed with the way in which the field of markers will have a presence from the Pentagon itself, from the highway and from the air, in daylight and at night, in addition to being a beautiful and solemn place for the visitor.

On behalf of the jury, which included design and arts professionals, families of the victims, military family members and two former secretaries of Defense, I would now like to introduce and congratulate Julie Beckman and Keith Kaseman. (Applause.)

Staff: Before you all begin, let me just remind -- just tell the cameras, at some point during their discussion, we're going to lower the lights because their model is lighted from underneath. The lights are going to be down for a few seconds, but just so you know that the lights will go down.

Kaseman: Then they'll come back up.

First, we'd like to say we are immensely honored and overwhelmingly touched to be here today. When we first entered this competition, we really wished to simply contribute to the conversation, even if only at a minimal level. It truly is an honor to be given the opportunity to develop an idea that we had and that the distinguished jury saw in it a way for the family members, the colleagues and friends of all those whose lives were lost and our nation to deal with the tragedy that unfolded on September 11th here at the Pentagon.

Beckman: When we first sat down to develop our idea, there were a few key issues that were very clear to us. First, this place had to be like no other place. The memorial had to be unlike any other memorial. And that is simply because September 11th was like no other day, and the memorial had to convey that idea.

Second, we felt it was crucial to permanently record the sheer magnitude of the event that occurred and the lives that were lost. We wanted to provide 184 special, unique places, each dedicated to an individual who had lost their life.

This is a solemn place, but it is an inviting place, not only to the visitor, but it invites personal interpretation. Through interwoven layers of specificity and information, this place will provoke personal interpretation on a meaningful level and not prescribe how to feel or what to think.

Kaseman: And lastly, of course, this place -- we knew this place had to be beautiful and have a tactile feel and a sensory-driven environment with an emphasis on life. And the materials that we've chosen, their interaction with each other, and all of the design elements, to the 184 individual memorial units and the accumulation of it all, allows for a park-like setting within which all of our initial parameters are satisfied. So --

Beckman: With that, we'll walk quickly through the design.

(Aside.) I guess we can put the lights down a bit here.

Kaseman: Do you want to start?

Beckman: Sure.

The site is organized across the entire field, which is approximately two acres, and the site is organized based on a timeline of the victims' ages, starting with the youngest victim, Dana Falkenberg, who was 3 years old, and ending at the eldest victim, who was Mr. Yamnicky, who was 71. Each age line, as we're calling them, will have -- all the victims who were that particular age are located along each age line. Along the age line itself, the victims would be oriented based on their birth date. So this is our first chance of layering in some information about who these people were and the methods of -- (off mike). Surrounding the entire perimeter is a continuous perimeter bench that is -- behind which is a planter of tall ornamental grasses.

Kaseman: The actual memorial unit itself you can see in this model here and in these drawings. I'll point to it for you. In this section right here, basically, the memorial unit itself is a cast aluminum sculptural element that does several things -- or it is several things at one time. It's a reflecting pool that glows at night with light. It's a slender cantilevered bench surface that grows out of the ground and hovers over the reflecting pool -- or the glowing light pool. And at the end of the cantilevered, right here, would be the place where each individual's name is engraved. So the name is engraved and it's floating above this glowing light pool.

Now, the integrity of the unit is found in its form. The structural shape that's required to allow for such a slender, yet rigid, cantilever allows for a structural cross-section that acts as a light reflector so the light will be shining through this reflecting pool and bouncing around to the ground surface around it, as you can see in this image right here.

In the orientation, another way we layered in this information, or to tell the story of what happened and who these people were, we distinguished the victims who were on Flight 77 from those who were in the Pentagon simply by orienting the benches one way or the other. This is only to add another layer. And, you know, when this technique is deployed across the whole site, it becomes a seemingly random mix, but actually, the layers of specificity are embedded within it. So in other words, this is another step towards personal interpretation by any visitor. To know that this 24-year-old woman was in the plane or that a 40-year-old man was in the Pentagon would spark some type of interpretation but not say what to think about it.

Beckman: Some of the materials that we've chosen. The ground surface -- let me back up a bit. We wanted to fill this space with as much evidence of life, and so we focused on a tactile, sensuous environment. The groundcover is stabilized gravel, which is ADA-compliant; it is hard enough to roll a wheelchair or a stroller over, but it is soft and crunchy enough to hear your own footsteps. The water element is one that reacts with the light. The ripples bounce off of the aluminum surface of the bench and create soft ripples on the ground surface adjacent.

Kaseman: The other element that we can see are this canopy of trees, this canopy of light and shade and shadow. These trees will provide shade for all of the memorial units throughout the site, and so as such, they are organized around where these units will locate themselves on the age lines.

Beckman: I think, in conclusion, we wanted to create a place that, you know, is welcoming to especially the family members, friends and colleagues of those who lost their lives, a quiet place for them to think and contemplate. We also wanted it to be a place where the nation could come. It is a place where two people can be or thousands of people can be. And it engages passers-by along the highways, people walking by, as well as from above.

Kaseman: That's basically it.

Beckman: Thank you.

Q: In terms of access to the site for the public, obviously you've got a busy highway running along the perimeter of the site. The parking nearby is right now for Pentagon employees. Is there going to be public access, other than through the Metro?

Staff: (Off mike) -- folks who know something about that to respond to that question. They just designed the winning memorial. Stay up there.

Sullivan: You know, where the site -- where the memorial is going to be located, there is commercial parking at the Pentagon City mall, and then there's actually a breezeway that cuts under 395, straight across the parking lot. Also, depending on the level of security -- and I would default to Pentagon Force Protection Agency -- at times South Parking is open to general parking on the weekends. So it would be available that way. There will be access to the memorial site simply by walking up to it. It will be within the protective area of Pentagon Force Protection Agency, as it should be.

Q: Would you identify yourself, please, Mike?

Sullivan: I'm sorry. Mike Sullivan, program manager, Pentagon Renovation Program.

Q: How did you come up with this idea? Did it just spring forth kind of whole, or is it a process? How did it come into your mind?

Kaseman: No, it was a process, definitely. When we sat down to start thinking about this, I mean, the parameters that we had established up-front were just really general and they were more or less seeds for hours of conversation that we had with each other. You know, we just tried to establish what we thought this place should be, and work towards coming up with a scheme that allowed that to happen.

Q: At what point did you realize that you wanted to enter this competition? Did you wake up the day after September 11th and say, "I can do something to memorialize these people"? Or was it after you -- you know, what was your thought process in trying to design a memorial?

Beckman: We learned of the memorial through a website that lists current architectural competitions that are going on at the time. After reading it and reading the family statement, mission statement, and reading the protocol under which it was being run -- it was completely anonymous, it was open to everybody and anybody in the world -- it was very comfortable for us to feel that we could contribute something; this was the forum into which we can contribute.

Kaseman: And living in New York, we were -- you know, you were in Manhattan on September 11th. And the -- when -- so several months later, once this competition came to light, we just felt almost a natural obligation to just contribute to some conversation that will take place about it. And that's what drove us. That's what drove us here.

Q: Did you draw any influences from any other public memorials, just any other memorials, especially ones sort of -- (off mike) -- interactive sense, to try to get a sense of what you might be able to incorporate in this particular design?

Kaseman: Yeah. Yeah, definitely, I mean, but it wasn't that we specifically set out to visit memorials once we sat down to do this. You know, we just drew upon our past experiences with visiting places. And you know, one of the biggest challenges was to -- how do you come up with a place that hasn't been seen before? And so, you know, we learned from a lot of things that we have seen. It's specifically towards that -- what haven't we seen, or how can some place be beautiful in this way?

Q: A follow-up to that, and probably at the risk of having to repeat something you've already said before, but what sort of things, just from your personal experiences at memorials, did you want to bring to this particular design? What did you want to see as a -- you know, as a designer, as a person, in this particular design?

Kaseman: We wanted a high level of specificity and articulation and -- but not anything that would prescribe what you should feel or how -- how you should feel or what to think.

Q: Can I ask you to sort of interpret that for a lay audience?

Kaseman: Of course. Just that it's -- there's some information that comes from a clear layout, a really simple layout, that you know something -- that this -- there's a story that's being told, but you're not exactly sure -- you might not be exactly sure what that story is if you're just a visitor with no personal relations to any of the victims who are -- whose lives were lost. And you know, that is -- that allows for or that fosters just personal interpretation, or you can project your own ideas into it or pull your own ideas from that. And you know, by doing that, that leaves it open to anybody, and it invites anybody to interact with this place.

Q: What kind of tree -- did you specify what type of trees you wanted? And is there any special reason that you selected them if you did?

Kaseman: We narrowed it down to several trees, and it's still up for discussion, of course. But we chose -- for this scheme, we represented it through Paperbark maples, a Trident maple or a Field maple. And basically, you know, the fundamental goal of the trees was just to have a really elegant tree with a lot of color and a lacy kind of shade that's consistent throughout. And, you know, that still is to be fully specified.

Q: Could you tell us a little bit about your meeting with the families and what you may have gotten from them on developing your ideas for the design?

Beckman: Yes. We came down in October to present our ideas to the families. And it was a -- that was quite an incredible day with them. Their feedback was constructive and incredibly bright and brought up things that even we hadn't thought of. What we realized was there were a few issues that were very important to them, and beyond that, they simply wanted a place that the nation could be proud of.

Q: I wonder if you could elaborate on what issues were important to them.

And I also wondered is there a chance that any of the family members might be able to come to the podium to give their reaction?

Staff: Yes. When you answer the first part of the question, there are -- two members of the Family Steering Committee were on the jury, and they are over here to answer questions.

Q: Great.

Staff: But also, some other members of the Family Steering Committee who are here who were not on the jury. If you want to talk to them, they're available, as well.

I'll let them answer the first part of your question first.

Kaseman: What we gathered, and it was in the family statement that was in the competition brief, was that this place -- we were just speaking about this -- but they really outlined the idea that this place should be a place that allows for interpretation; it lets you think, it asks you to think, but doesn't tell you what to think. And, you know, that, among other things, was really the foundation that we stood on for the first few steps.

Q: Just to follow up on that a little bit, could you give us an example of an idea that you had that you changed and how you changed it as a result of the input?

Kaseman: We initially started by organizing a site here that started in this scheme: The youngest victim is on this side and the oldest victim on that side. It was completely opposite before. And we weren't exactly sure which way -- what would be the primary entrance. But more importantly, you know, to tell the full story, it was suggested at the family meeting that this would be flipped around so we can make sure that you walk through and get this sense that there are five children, you know, five children lost their lives that day, and that that will probably draw people all the way through the whole park.

Staff: Let me ask Jim Laychak and Wendy Chamberlain to come up. And are there other members of the Family Steering Committee who would like to come up and respond to questions as well? Please do.

Q: Could we get your initial reaction to this particular design and what it does for you?

Q: And give us your names and spell it for us.

Staff: Do you want to restate your question?

Q: Yes. We'd love to hear the families' reaction from each of you, and if you could just come up and give us your name and spell it for us and give us your reaction to this particular memorial, and why is this significant for you.

Laychak: Jim Laychak, L-a-y-c-h-a-k. I've been part of the jury and also the Family Steering Committee for about a year now, jury only a couple months. But the thing that I liked about it, and Terry mentioned it, is that it was a collective memorial, it was an individual memorial, yet it told the story of what happened on that day. And that's something that I really connected with.

Chamberlain: Wendy Chamberlain, C-h-a-m-b-e-r-l-a-i-n. And my thoughts on it, it really satisfied the needs of the families for a place of comfort and beauty, yet it also satisfies the needs of those around the world and our nation by explaining what occurred there.

Dunn: Stephanie Dunn. And it's S-t-e-p-h-a-n-i-e D- u-n-n. One thing that was really important to me is the future; not 10 years from now, but a hundred years from now. And I think a lot of the family members looked at that; when we're long gone and we can't describe who our loved ones were, we want people to be able to go to the place and feel their presence and feel what we lost that day. And that's what this project does. It is a beautiful resemblance of what those people that died represent.

Q: May I just ask a follow-up question, just out of curiosity? I'm wondering how significant you think this memorial is, and if you could sort of put it in terms of -- they've now caught this latest, you know, al Qaeda figure. I wonder how do you relate how significant is this memorial and how significant the capture is, just out of curiosity.

Laychak: Go ahead, Wendy. I don't know if I want to -- (laughter).

I haven't really related the two. I've been about trying to preserve something for my family, for the other families, for the nation. I mean, I look at this as a gift to the people that are left behind. And so I don't really relate the two -- to me, they're separate, and I focus more on what we're trying to do for the people that are left behind, and to honor my brother, all the people that died here, and have something for, you know, the people that come after.

Q: You can sit on each one of these benches. Is that important to you all? I mean, that's not something that you usually do in a cemetery, sit on a bench right there.

Dunn: Well, some cemeteries do have benches. But I think this isn't meant to be a cemetery, Bruce -- right? --

Q: Yeah.

Dunn: -- see, I knew your name!

Q: Thanks.

Dunn: Anyway, it's really important that not just family members, but also people who don't know the people just have a place to reflect on their lives, and to be able to sit down and to have my daughter, who will be turning one soon -- I was pregnant when my husband was killed -- I want her to be able to go someplace, and to take her children someplace and be able to sit down. I don't want someone to sit down and, you know, hang out and not be there for something that's not important. But it's very important to us that they have a place where there's a moment to pause. One of things that was really important to the family members is that this memorial be classy and sacred, and that's what this is.

Kaseman: If I could say something about that as well. You know, the idea was not to have some kind of abstract cemetery, but more of a park-like setting that really allows -- really is an inviting place on many levels, and that just adds to it.

Q: Can you tell us about the construction timeline? And also, Julie, can you tells us about your day job, because I know you did this after hours.

Sullivan: Because the -- from the transition from the competition to the execution of the design was provided, WHS, two organizations, Real Estate Facilities, Ralph Newton, and Pentagon Renovation Program was honored with being able to execute this project. We've already started the competition to select successful offers.

We used a two-phased approach. Phase I is not design-dependent; it's focused primarily on past performance of the firms that are going to compete to build this, also their organizational structure. And one of the key areas we'll look at is how is that firm going to integrate the successful concept design firm into their own design build firm.

So the request for qualifications, phase I, was released 25 February, and phase I responses are due 11 March. We have an industry day this Wednesday. It's posted on the websites, the standard websites; it's also on the renovation website, which is renovation.pentagon.mil. And the industry day is simply to answer questions specific about the memorial and the source-selection process.

We've also gone another step that if there's concerns or anything that a firm or an interested party feels is not appropriate during the source-selection, we've established a very high-level ombudsman. That is with Mr. Ralph Newton. He is the deputy director of real estate and facilities. He will somewhat be external to the source-selection process, and that's to allow him to take concerns and bring them to the source-selection team independent of whoever submits them.

So we -- both our organizations put a very high-level of honor in being able to do this, and we plan to execute it befitting to the memorial.

Q: Do you have a target date for dedication?

Sullivan: I'm sorry?

Q: Do you have a target date for dedication?

Sullivan: The goal is September 11th, 2004.

Q: I just had a quick follow-up for Mrs. Dunn. Could you tell us your daughter's name and how far along you were in your pregnancy when your husband was killed?

Dunn: Okay. It's not really about her, but I'll tell you. She is -- her full name is Alexandria Patricia Dunn -- Alexandria, like the city; Patricia, after her father; and Dunn's the last name. She's -- I was three months pregnant. I was four days shy of ending my first trimester. And the night before my husband -- was the first night I stayed up past 7:30 in that first trimester. (Laughs.) So -- but that's -- this isn't really about my daughter and me; it's about all the families, and it's about all of us.

Q: I'm just wondering, how challenging of a task was it for the family members to choose between all of the designs? Did this one just really emerge as the one, or were there a lot of them that you really had to kind of agonize through what you liked?

Chamberlain: They were all -- especially the six finalists -- were all -- each had their own individual uniqueness about it. And -- but it did seem to naturally occur that this design satisfied the most questions and needs.

Staff: Any other questions?

Q: To the designers, what role will you have in the development of this memorial -- (inaudible.)

Kaseman: I think all of the specifics have to be worked out in the next few weeks. We are really looking forward to just working as hard as we ever have to, you know -- making sure that we're doing whatever we can to make something that everybody can be proud of and --

Staff: They'll be part of the team. They proved that they're part of the team to build.

Do you have a question?

Sullivan: I'm sorry. To follow on to that, the goal in the execution and the construction is the memorial represents what the intent was. They will be an integral part of that team. In phase one, we will evaluate the contractors who want to build this -- as part of their evaluation will be how do they plan to integrate these folks onto their team? That will be part of the criteria for them being selected to go to phase two, which we would select any number of contractors that want to compete down to three. So, they will be an integral part of this process.

Q: Mike, can you tell us any cost estimates? And also, an update on the Pentagon restoration process?

Sullivan: The cost estimates for the memorial -- I had our cost estimating team do a rough estimate just from the models. From this one, it will range somewhere between $5 and $7.5 million. And I would be glad to take questions after this session on the restoration project offline.

Q: What will the role of the families be in the rest of the process? Or are they done?

Sullivan: In a source selection process, you have a core team. Any of the family members are targeted to be part of that team as observers. We will keep them posted through the family policy group as far as the progress and where we're going. During the recovery process, either myself or my chief of public affairs escorted 25 different families around the site to help them realize and come to closure. So, we're very sensitive to them being involved in this process. And they will know anything they want to know. If they're not involved as much as they should, they can feel free to call me, and I will make sure they are. But we look to them to be advisors in the entire process. And then as we construct it, there will be periodic visits to the sites so they can see the progress.

Q: Via background of the designers, I'd like to hear who they are.

Beckman: I am from New Jersey and I attended undergraduate college at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, and after which, got my master's of architecture from Columbia University, and before, during and since have been working in and around New York City.

Q: Do you work for a large firm or --

Beckman: I do not. I work for a small firm in Westchester County right now.

Q: An architectural --

Beckman: An architectural firm.

Q: Could you spell Julie and Beckman?

Beckman: Sure. Julie, J-U-L-I-E. Beckman is B-E-C-K-M-A-N.

Q: How old are you, Julie?

Beckman: I am 30.

Kaseman: And I'm 31. I went to school --

Q: Senior member of the pair. (Laughter.)

Q: Spell your name -- (off mike).

Kaseman: Yeah. K-A-S-E-M-A-N.

Q: K- --

Kaseman: Yeah.

Sullivan: Their names are in the press release as well.

Kaseman: I went to Arizona State for my bachelor of science in architecture and worked in architectural offices in Phoenix and Los Angeles and in Prague and New York. I got my master's in architecture from Columbia and -- yeah.

Q: Did you two meet at Columbia?

Beckman: We did.

Kaseman: The first day.

Beckman: The first day.

Q: The first day.

Sullivan: Anything else? If not -- yes?

Q: Do you have a target date for completion of the memorial?

Sullivan: I'm sorry?

Q: A target date for completing the memorial?

Sullivan: Nine-11, '04.

Q: How about for groundbreaking?

Q: Yes, that -- (off mike).

Staff: Groundbreaking? We're looking to award the contract itself May 16th. We anticipate the groundbreaking probably to be 30 days after that, give the firm a chance to mobilize and get on site.

Q: This year?

Q: This year.

Staff: Yes. Yes.

Q: The size of the site? How large is the site?

Staff: One-point-nine-three acres.

Q: And how much will it cost, and where will the money come from?

Staff: The cost estimate will be between $5 (million) and $7.5 million. We're looking at -- that was our rough estimate. The final cost we will know once we get the proposals in phase two, when the offerers will submit their competitive pricing to build it. Is -- where is this coming from?

Sullivan: The funds will come from contributed funds and nonappropriated funds. They will not be used -- taxpayers funds will not be used.

Q: Do the designers get an award of any kind of a -- other than building this and being known to have been the builders, do you get any kind of financial reward?

Sullivan: No, other than the $20,000 to build the model.

Q: I'm sorry if somebody already talked about this, but can you talk about the significance of the site where the memorial will actually be located?

Sullivan: Carol, are you best to do that? Carol Anderson- Austra is with the Corps of Engineers and oversaw the site selection and the competition for the memorial. Go ahead, Carol.

Q: Can you spell your name?

Anderson-Austra: Yes. It's Carol -- C-A-R-O-L -- Anderson -- like Anderson with S-O-N, hypen-Austra -- A- U-S-T-R-A.

And one of the things I just want to bring up -- Terry reminded me -- this is the site that is where the Flight 77 passed over, and very near the site where the impact occurred. Right in here is where the impact occurred. And the design that Julie and Keith did responds very directly to that. The rows of the benches are oriented parallel to that flight path. And so really, that's almost the place where these people had their last moments.

Q: How far from the side of the building is this?

Anderson-Austra: One hundred and sixty-five feet.

Q: Is that significant in any way?

Anderson-Austra: Just for security.

Staff: Anything else? Thank you all very much.

And thank you all very much.

Q: Can we get a picture of the designers with the model, please?

Staff: Sure.

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