NEW YORK – A design consisting of two reflecting pools and a large grove of trees was chosen for the World Trade Center (search) memorial after an eight-month competition that drew more than 5,000 entries from around the world, officials announced Tuesday.
The "Reflecting Absence" memorial, created by designers Michael Arad (search) and Peter Walker (search), was chosen by a 13-member jury of artists, architects and civic and cultural leaders. The winning memorial was announced by the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. (search), the agency overseeing the rebuilding of the site.
The reflecting pools will mark the footprints of the World Trade Center towers. The development group said a revised version of the memorial will be unveiled next week, with significant changes that add trees and greenery around the footprints and expose the slurry wall, the last surviving piece of the trade center.
The design previously had a vast open plaza marked by just a few trees, but will now include "teeming groves of trees, traditional affirmations of life and rebirth," said jury chairman Vartan Gregorian, of the Carnegie Corporation of New York.
"The result is a memorial that expresses the incalculable loss of life and its regeneration," Gregorian said.
The development agency also said it is flexible about the grouping of victims' names at the memorial, a point bitterly fought by rescue workers who want separate recognition for their colleagues.
Still, the memorial drew an icy reception from some victims' families, who accused the jury of ignoring their input during a hasty deliberation and said the design failed to convey the horror of the attack.
Anthony Gardner, who lost his brother in the Sept. 11 attack and is a member of a coalition for family groups, said the design is "unacceptable."
"This is minimalism, and you can't minimalize the impact and the enormity of Sept. 11," Gardner said. "You can't minimalize the deaths. You can't minimalize the response of New Yorkers."
The memorial, considered the long shot of three finalists chosen by the jury in November, will remember all of the victims of the Sept. 11 attack, including those killed at the Pentagon, in Pennsylvania and aboard the hijacked airliners. It also will honor the six people killed in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
The memorial will be one of two focal points at the trade center site, along with the 1,776-foot glass skyscraper known as the Freedom Tower. Four other buildings are planned where the trade center once stood.
The two pools in the design would sit 30 feet below street level, connected by an underground passageway and a small alcove where visitors can light candles.
"I think it's an idea that is simple, that is bold, that clearly refers to the footprints of the building," said Daniel Libeskind, the architect who designed the master plan for the 16-acre site.
A jubilant Arad, a 31-year-old Israeli native who has designed two police stations in his job at the city housing authority, said he was surrounded by well-wishers after learning his plan was chosen.
"I hope that I will be able to honor the memory of all those who perished and create a place where we may all grieve and find meaning," he said.
Walker, a San Francisco-based landscape designer whose major projects include the redevelopment of the site of the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, was added to the memorial project after Arad submitted his design.
Not all family members objected to the memorial.
Monica Iken, who heads another family group, said jurors "got the message that this is going to be the most visited memorial in the world."
"I think they took their time and thought about the things that families needed in this memorial," she said.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg noted that the number of submissions was unprecedented for such a contest.
"The most important thing is we come up with the right memorial and this process had thousands of people who had suggestions," Bloomberg said. "They whittled it down from thousands to one. You're not going to please everybody."
The jury reviewed 5,201 submissions beginning last summer, narrowing the field to eight in November. By the time the jury convened on Monday, it had chosen three finalists: "Garden of Lights," "Passages of Light: the Memorial Cloud" and "Reflecting Absence."
"Garden of Lights" featured a public area filled with lights, one for each victim. The three-level memorial had a garden on the top and a private area for families of the victims at the twin towers' footprints, connected by a path and a stream of water.
"Passages of Light," by three New York designers, included an open-air structure with cathedral-like vaults and a glass walkway and would have an altar for each victim.