Pentagon 9-11 Memorial to Feature Lighted Benches
By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 3, 2003 The memorial to the victims of the terrorist attack on the Pentagon Sept. 11, 2001, will feature lighted benches, reflecting pools and lots of trees.
Officials announced the design in a Pentagon press conference today after a worldwide competition that narrowed more than 1,100 entries to six finalists before a jury of art and architectural experts, former public officials and family members of those killed in the attack chose the winning entry.
Architects Julie Beckman, 30, and Keith Kaseman, 31, of New York, designed the winning entry.
"This place had to be like no other place. The memorial had to be unlike any other memorial," Beckman said. "And that was simply because Sept. 11 was like no other day."
Kaseman said the pair is "overwhelmingly touched" and only wanted to be "part of the conversation" to design a memorial to the Pentagon victims.
The two, who say they met their first day at Columbia University, both earned master's degrees in architecture from that institution.
The memorial will feature 184 benches, one dedicated to each victim. They'll be made of "cast, clear anodized aluminum polyester," according to a Defense Department news release, and will be arranged according to the victims' ages, from 3 to 71.
Each bench will appear to hover over a lighted, rectangular reflecting pool. As the light from the pool reflects off the bottom of each bench, the end result will appear as a circle of light representing each victim. The designers said the site will feature many trees to provide shade and a more intimate atmosphere.
"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," Beckman said. "This place will provoke personal interpretation on a meaningful level and not prescribe how to feel or what to think."
Design jury chairman Terry Riley, who is the chief curator for design and modern art at the New York Museum of Modern Art, said the jury was struck by the "solemnity of the design," which he likened to nearby Arlington National Cemetery.
Officials said the memorial would be built on nearly two acres of land that are along the path American Airlines Flight 77 took just before it hit the building. It will begin 165 feet from the point of impact.
Victims' families were involved in the design selection from the beginning, and two family members were jurors. Several family members were at the Pentagon today to share their thoughts on the winning design.
"It really satisfies 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," said Wendy Chamberlain, a family member of one Sept. 11 Pentagon victim.
Another family member, Stephanie Dunn, said the future is most important to her. "When we're long gone and we can't describe who our loved ones were," she said, "we want people to be able to go to someplace and feel their presence and feel what we lost that day."
Dunn was barely three months' pregnant with daughter Alexandria when her husband, Navy Cmdr. Patrick Dunn, was killed in the Pentagon. She said it was important to her to have a place where her daughter and others could go someday to have "a moment to pause."
Pentagon officials estimated the cost of the project at between $4.9 million and $7.4 million. The project will use donations and nonappropriated funds; none of the cost will be taxpayer-funded. A construction contract will be awarded in May, with groundbreaking projected for mid-June. Officials hope to dedicate the memorial Sept. 11, 2004.