Building a Fitting Monument to the Dead and the Living
September 13, 2001 6:48 PM   Subscribe

Building a Fitting Monument to the Dead and the Living Anyone who has visited the Vietnam Memorial in Washington knows that the most powerful way to celebrate those who died for their country is a simple list of names inscribed in everlasting marble. So how do we go about remembering the many who were killed - and are still dying - by the enemies of freedom? I suggest rebuilding the twin towers as a monument - same height, same dimensions - thereby restoring the Manhattan skyline and defying those who think they destroyed it. It could be a holograph or actually built in stone or bronze. The names of those who died there, in Washington and Pennsylvania, would forever be engraved there. I hate to think of the site being rebuilt as something else and profits being made. What happened should be forever remembered and regretted. The cost would probably not be more than $20 per citizen. What are your ideas about a fitting monument to the fallen?
posted by MiguelCardoso (56 comments total)
A simple park, with green and living things. A simple monument to those who died that day--something on the order of the Wall.
Unfortunately we're probably going to end up with a technicolor maudlin memorial with a visitor's center and photographs of the fireballs and wreckage.
posted by darukaru at 6:53 PM on September 13, 2001

one would think that one of the reasons the WTC were attacked was exactly because they made money and were a statement of our financial power. i'm all about rebuilding the WTC, but if we do, then it should be the actualt tower, and not a monument. Yes, a monument should be made, no doubt, but not in the form of the two towers with the same dimensions and all
posted by jmd82 at 6:55 PM on September 13, 2001

It will surely turn into the media spectacle we Americans all know and love. Another "mall" experience. Keep it simple like OK City.
posted by {savg*pncl} at 6:55 PM on September 13, 2001

What had crossed my mind is that instead of simply burying the rubble in a land fill they should use it to make an artificial island off of Manhattan. It could be a little park with a memorial.
posted by Animus at 6:56 PM on September 13, 2001

No, it could not be a holograph. And stone and bronze would be pretty sketchy, too. I'm pretty sure they're not so good for buildings that large.

But really, we're going to end up with another massive building. Do you really think they would waste property that valuable on a memorial? Sure, there will be a memorial in or around the building, but there's going to be another commercial building there, I'm pretty sure.
posted by whatnotever at 6:58 PM on September 13, 2001

The value of the real estate involved will almost guarantee that a new building will rise on this spot again. Probably not as large or grand, but I would guess something will be built there. There will be some sort of memorial, but I seriously doubt the entire area will be left to a park. Oklahoma City was basically one, average-sized building. This involved a huge amount of land, especially in a place as crowded as Manhattan.
posted by dewelch at 6:58 PM on September 13, 2001

yeah. i'd say a park.

something that reminds us of our loss, but also reminds us of our hope.
posted by jcterminal at 6:58 PM on September 13, 2001

A park would die in central manhatten - animus's idea is better, once the FBI are done with the rubble.. $20 is a lot of money to some people..
posted by Mossy at 7:00 PM on September 13, 2001

I live about two miles from where the towers were. More and more I'm feeling that the only appropriate monument to this tragedy would have to be two new buildings. They must be the tallest in the world. They should gleam like a permanent sunbeam. They should be indestructible. Bigger, better, stronger.

Kurt Vonnegut once called Manhattan "Skyscraper National Park".

We've already got trees.
posted by joemaller at 7:02 PM on September 13, 2001

I say - Rebuild it as a living monument. Let's get back to business as usual, (grieve of course and strengthen ourselves) and rebuild two of the greatest monuments to the testament of humankind's greatest achievments. If that's the worst they can do, let's show them our best. Again. I stood at the top of those buildings as a boy in highschool and remember the awe of contemplating the engineering that went into creating these pinnacles of creation. We can make them even more glorious with modern equipment and technological advancements that have occured in the last 30 years.

There are already several sites sprouting up to raise funds to rebuild it. for instance. (very early to be sure).

The best memorial will be to rebuild it to full funtionality, with appropriate names inscribed honoring the many who have perished at the hands of these cowards.

posted by hypnorich at 7:03 PM on September 13, 2001

so what happens when two solid bronze skyscrapers tumble?
posted by kevspace at 7:05 PM on September 13, 2001

Nobody is going to build a 110-story tall empty monument. It would be one of the most horrendous wastes of money in history, to say nothing of the inherent tackiness.

The WTC will be rebuilt in some fashion. The real estate is far too valuable, and desperately needed in such a crowded part of down, to be given over to a park or cheesy memorial. I don't know if it will be reconstructed as two more 100-story-plus towers, though, mainly because I'm not sure anyone in New York would ever be willing to work in them again. (I wish it would, though. I'm definitely of the opinion that the best "fuck you" to the terrorists would be to rebuild it exactly as it was. Well, maybe not exactly; iy was a damn ugly piece of architecture, especially at ground level.)

What had crossed my mind is that instead of simply burying the rubble in a land fill they should use it to make an artificial island off of Manhattan.

Most of the southern tip of Manhattan (Battery Park City) is already built on top of a landfill. Given that a couple of rather major fault lines run under Manhattan (seriously), it's an extremely dangerous way to add building space. If and when a big quake ever hits NYC - "big" being defined as anything over 5.0 or so, a number LA and SF could largely shrug off - the land underneath Battery Park City will completely liquefy, causing every building there to collapse just like the WTC did. And then immediately sink into the ocean. I really don't think adding any more landfill around that area is a good idea at all.
posted by aaron at 7:06 PM on September 13, 2001

I agree with jmd82 and joemaller. Build the two highest, biggest, fucking greatest towers in the world and, in the spirit of capitalism, make it a working building. As alive as before.
Symbolically the rubble could be used in the foundations and the names of the victims could be inscribed under each window.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 7:08 PM on September 13, 2001

Replace them with huge, hollow metal frame structures in the same size and location, with the names of the dead engraved on plaques at the base. That would be fitting and beautiful, and weatherproof.

Good for you, Miguel. {salute}

posted by aeschenkarnos at 7:09 PM on September 13, 2001

Donald Trump was on tv today advocating rebuilding the towers, "as good, if not better."

Just last Monday I heard a report on how Congress was considering legislation prohibiting any new memorials on the D.C. mall--there are like 150 of them or something now. Any bets that there will be at least one more grandfathered in now?
posted by rushmc at 7:13 PM on September 13, 2001

Keep it simple like OK City.

I'd hardly call that simple. I have nothing against the victims of OK city, but the monument is huge. Looking at the concepts portion of the OK City Memorial website , there's are a number of components: The Gates of Time, The Field of Empty Chairs, The Survivor Tree, The Reflecting Pool, The Rescuer's Orchard, The Children's Area

It seems like a lot. It seems like it was designed by committee, with a little something for everyone. Especially compared against the Vietnam Memorial, a simple black wall embedded with thousands of names as a scar across the ground. OK city was for 168 people, Vietnam for more than 68,000.

For me, the simplicity of the Vietnam Memorial is much more powerful and striking. I'd hope for the same for the WTC.
posted by warhol at 7:18 PM on September 13, 2001

I am hoping they will build bigger, better, stronger, sturdier, and sleaker twin towers. Taller than the twin Petronas.
posted by riffola at 7:25 PM on September 13, 2001

I was looking for some kind of grandiose monument for them to use. All I could find was the art deco Liberty Memorial. I'm sure they can incorporate a monument into the actual building. I was never a big fan of the WTC style (I'm a sucker for ones with gargoyles and such). Whatever they do it better be the biggest damn thing on the island.
posted by geoff. at 7:27 PM on September 13, 2001

"bigger, better, stronger, sturdier, and sleaker"... and with laser-guns and deflector shields!!! Cool!!
posted by whatnotever at 7:38 PM on September 13, 2001

New York City has never been preoccupied with its past. The very spirit of the place is to bulldoze the old and raise the new in the name of capitalism. To fit with the character of the city, any replacement for the WTC must be a functioning commercial space.
Since big, tall office towers are largely impractical now, perhaps a future complex might consist of a commercial office complex of modest height with a combined communications tower, observation space, and memorial on top that echoes the vertical profile of the original buildings (similar in function -but not appearance- to Toronto's CN tower). This would restore the drama of the NYC skyline without many of the liabilities associated with a super-tall office tower.
posted by dal211 at 7:43 PM on September 13, 2001

I detect an understandable caution about building another super-tall tower. But wouldn't any timorousness on our part gladden those terrorist bastards' hearts? Our enemies would always be able to say that we learnt some kind of morbid lesson about humility.
New Yorkers have an enviable spirit of invulnerability and there is no way they are going to accept sizing-down whatever replaces the WTC.
Any monument must be awe-inspiring and as "in your face" as is technologically and architecturally possible.
So the dead can stand tall and our enemies can feel small. And our children look up.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 8:05 PM on September 13, 2001

I hate the idea of turning the WTC site into a giant tombstone. I would much rather see it rebuilt as something that's useful, rather than something funereal.
posted by rcade at 8:07 PM on September 13, 2001

Build it bigger, make them into the two tallest buildings in the world. Show them they haven't won.
posted by owillis at 8:13 PM on September 13, 2001

Two volunteers in NYC just made an impassioned appeal on MSNBC directly to George W. Bush to rebuild the towers, and to build them bigger. I sense that this is going to be a popular opinion.
posted by rushmc at 8:18 PM on September 13, 2001

What about an elegant, figure 8-shaped building (talking cross-section here) whereby the square "holes" in the 8 are the missing WTC towers? Or even an "E", where the cut-outs are the same proportion as the old towers. Something substantial but which still echoes the loss. More real estate, sure, but a worthy monument/useful stucture.
posted by jacobris at 8:21 PM on September 13, 2001

i don't think i necessarily agree, but someone IMed me this suggestion, asking me to forward it to others:
In its place we should build 3 buildings, with the middle one much taller than the other two, so it would look like a giant middle finger pointed directly at the fuckers who did this. Pass this on to others.
Side Note: This event marks the first time i've gotten IM forwards. As a college student with a constant T1 connection, I am literally on AIM 24 hours a day, and have been for most of the past couple years, but I have never been subjected to IM forwards before, but tuesday this was one of three different IM forwards I got ( the other two being a prayer message and that Nostradamus quotation)... I hope this isn't a new trend. Any body else been getting these?
posted by rorycberger at 8:24 PM on September 13, 2001

I say rebuild it as tall or taller. The danger isn't in having buildings that tall; the danger is in having raving lunatics running around ramming airplanes into things. Build it up, and at the top, put a radar and let it be used as a command center to protect all of NYC's airspace.
posted by MonkeyMeat at 8:25 PM on September 13, 2001

I would vote for rebuilding both towers exactly as they were before. But this time, with patriot missiles on the roof !

I'd even have that french wire walker come back and walk on a rope between them again like he did in the mid seventies (just for good luck).
posted by Greggbert at 8:26 PM on September 13, 2001

Exactly, Oliver! And show us that we have won; have always won; will keep on winning and that all the world's murderous and rancorous losers can never build anything. Only destroy. Well, anyone can destroy, right? But say you were a vengeful sort of guy and wanted to nuke some fabulous world-famous Iraqi skyscraper...
Exactly, owillis! All your posts are downright inspiring, by the way.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 8:26 PM on September 13, 2001

oh, and personally, I like whatnotever's idea, especailly the deflector shields.
posted by rorycberger at 8:27 PM on September 13, 2001

posted by quonsar at 8:28 PM on September 13, 2001

nice pic, i think i've been converted
posted by rorycberger at 8:29 PM on September 13, 2001

Miguel, I've been reading you, and you're beautiful. That's all I needed to say. Not as freakish as it probably sounds. *smiles* Sometimes you just like somebody, you know.
posted by Goethe at 8:49 PM on September 13, 2001

You're braver than I am. I think exactly the same about a lot of MeFi members I have been reading but have never had the guts to tell them how much I like and enjoy them. Isn't this almost like friendship? Here we all are, in different places and timezones, each one quirky and opinionated to otherwise intolerable degrees. And yet all of us can't get over the devastating massacre in the U.S. and fiercely need eachother to be able to cope with it. Agreeing and disagreeing - so long as we're writing and reading - has nothing to do with it.
I wish I was courageous enough to open myself to ridicule, by praising contributions which have actually unburdened and enlightened me. But there is a point to the tough, MeFi ethos - however strange to us Latins(you are Latin or Jewish, right?) - which keeps it from becoming soft and sentimental, by promoting absolute honesty and freedom.
And so I too thank you and refuse to pretend I wasn't delighted to read your post, even though the blessed MeFi legal and regal eagles will soon be descending upon us with their irony-laden beaks.
The thing is, I am sure, what we talk about, more than what we say or how we go about it.
Bless you, too!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 9:29 PM on September 13, 2001

well, if there's a taller one in the middle, would that make it the Third World Trade Center?

(yes, joke ripped off from the cheezy humor book "The '80s: A Look Back.)
posted by Vidiot at 10:19 PM on September 13, 2001

Part of me wants to say that the most effective monument is to leave it empty, though I know that will never happen. One of the most effective monuments I have seen is the one in Berlin where the Book Burning was staged. They have only a small window to an underground room filled with empty bookshelves. It is powerful beyond words. Many people walk by it without knowing it is there. Maybe brick it over and add an eternal flame.
posted by Kafkaesque at 10:25 PM on September 13, 2001

Thanks Miguel.
posted by owillis at 10:30 PM on September 13, 2001

If $20 is too much for some people, others among us can pay $40.
posted by mrbula at 7:09 AM on September 14, 2001

Rebuild. Such structures, with their fusion of thousands of hands, eyes and minds, the closest we have to the gothic cathedrals of the Middle Ages. And because to create in unison is what sets us apart from those who destroy in isolation. Dear God, he may have been a fucking Fascist, but Pound was right at the end of his life when he said, "To be men, not destroyers."
posted by holgate at 7:27 AM on September 14, 2001

As long as my $20 is not in play, build all the monuments you want.

I think using public funds to rebuild the towers stands in contrast to what the WTC always stood for: capitalism and free enterprise. It was not the govt that built it the first time around, and it shouldn't be the govt that builds it the second time around.
posted by Witold at 8:25 AM on September 14, 2001

Rebuild It, Bigger! America will find an appropriate way to mourn. But if we must have a shrine or monument for our remorse, let's put it on the 200th floor, right next to the antiaircraft guns.
posted by dagny at 8:26 AM on September 14, 2001

The government did build the WTC the first time around, in the form of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and the government will certainly be involved in any new construction.
posted by MattD at 9:14 AM on September 14, 2001

What hasn't been said throughout this whole ordeal is that the World Trade Center buildings were perhaps the ugliest structures ever built by man. When they were first unveiled most New Yorkers were repulsed and embarassed. NY is the originial home of the skyscraper and still has the best examples of the type: the Chrysler and Empire State buildings. If any good comes from this nightmare the twin abominations that were the World Trade Center will be replaced by something more fitting for the world's greatest city.
posted by TimeFactor at 9:20 AM on September 14, 2001

Who among you would work in these new monuments to capitalism? I wouldn't. Not now that bullseyes have been painted on them twice. It's scary enough being here now, in nondescript buildings. You'd have to be crazy to live in the first one to be targeted. And to Goldberg's point, you could very well have had flak guns on those towers. The hijackers weren't looking to avoid death; mementum alone would likely have made it slam into the building regardless.
posted by Sinner at 10:00 AM on September 14, 2001

So the next logical step would be to demolish the Empire State Building and Chrysler Building as a precautionary measure and move everyone into concrete bunkers to minimize the risk to personal safety.
One does not hide from terrorism in hopes of defeating it. In the same way that people still walk the streets and will still take to the air in passenger planes, the solution is not to avoid the threat but to try and overcome it. We have no choice but to rebuild it.
posted by cardboard at 10:41 AM on September 14, 2001

Sinner: I just graduated from college and was interviewing with two investment banks located in the WTC. Let me tell you, I am soooo glad they didn't hire me.

Unfortunately, they probably hired some of my classmates, and I am bound to know some of them. As of yet though, I don't know who they are and if they're OK.
posted by Witold at 10:49 AM on September 14, 2001

cardboard: that's not the next logical step, it's a ridiculous straw-man argument. the buildings are gone. rebuilding them provides another target. i never said give up and go home.

i could just as easily offer something like "your next logical step should be that they paint "fuck you, terrorists" on each building, to further their defiance.
posted by Sinner at 11:46 AM on September 14, 2001

Forgive me for double-posting if that is what this is, but the guy who designed them just promised to rebuild, but maybe not as high since people may be skittish about working in a high building like that again.

He said a memorial for the victims also should be on the site.

It will be hard to convince many people otherwise.
posted by adampsyche at 12:02 PM on September 14, 2001

What you call a ridiculous straw-man argument, I call a rhetorical flourish in the vein of reductio ad absurdum. No, you didn't say to fall back and stick your head in the sand, but I say that not to rebuild would be the first step down that road. If the threat of terrorism is not dealt with, nothing will be safe, and some other building will become the next target. The fact that a large building is a target should be taken into account during its design, but it should not stop it from being designed and built.

Notwithstanding what are probably questionable economics to building a superscraper, an internationally-recognized building would itself be a monument to the event and Western resolve.
posted by cardboard at 12:34 PM on September 14, 2001


I know what reductio ad absurdum means.

Do you honestly think that "the threat of terrorism [will be] dealt with?" This is not a problem which will go away, no matter what hawks seem to think.

Do you think you can build an impregnable fortress invulnerable to terrorism?

If you build that tower as an act of defiance, someone will try and defy you right back.

After being attacked once, wouldn't the WTC have been the most likely candidate for being it?

I ask again, if such a building were built, would you work there? I know that I would not.
posted by Sinner at 12:42 PM on September 14, 2001

Try not to take everything so personally; not everyone knows what it means, and that is whom the link is for.

"[D]ealt with" was not intended as a euphemism for military action, but was chosen deliberately for its ambiguity. No one seems to know how to do that at this point. I have every confidence that a solution will be found to minimize the effectiveness of terrorism, however.

A building cannot be built to be impervious to terrorism, just as a car cannot be built to be indestructible in a crash. We still build cars, but with a design that is intended to minimize the loss of life when something goes wrong. The same principles can be applied to a building.

If I said "Yes, I would work there," would you believe me?
posted by cardboard at 2:10 PM on September 14, 2001

When they were first unveiled...

Damn, that must have been one big sheet!
posted by rushmc at 5:25 PM on September 14, 2001

Getting back to the subject at hand. Should the WTC towers be rebuilt? Or should they build a memorial?

An empty space, while striking, is just that: and empty space. It already is one now and that's what bothers me and so many others. As a New Yorker (ok, I live 5000 miles away now but I'm still one at heart), to see them gone, is like losing a limb. To keep them gone is to choose a stump rather than a prosthesis (though some do).

Aaron suggested making an artificial island out of the rubble. Many islands are made from land-fill (Treasure island was made in part from the rubble of the 1911 San Francisco Earthquake). This island would be a very fitting 'memorial' to those lost and the events of 9.11.01

But I strongly agree with joemaller. A new, living, working, building should be built to replace the Twin Towers. Work is the spirit of New York. The spirit of the Towers and those who died in them.

Build buildings or one building, whichever is most feasable. But it should be the tallest in the world. What better tribute to those that lost their lives than to MOVE FORWARD and onto bigger and greater things, rather than fear another attack and build smaller...meeker.

But PLEASE don't rebuild them AS THEY WERE. That would be a giant step backward as well. They were unfortunately, fine examples of the least creative period in American archetecture, the 70's. They were boring boxes. Let's be progressive and build with tomorrow in mind, not yesterday..and please not the 70's.

In the America that I believe in, rebuilding is possible and desirable (heck, wouldn't it be great if the city choose a Muslim/American archetect to build such a building). The Pentagon will be rebuilt. And into a pentagon. The World Trade Center should be rebuilt into a World Trade Center.
posted by DelMundo at 9:26 PM on September 14, 2001

cardboard - it's likely you've abandoned this thread, since I nearly had. That said,

You said:

Try not to take everything so personally;

I've just returned (yesterday) to my parents' rural home in New England from my own home in New York City, and I've found it enormously, jarringly different. I don't know if you work in New York, but I'm guessing from your posts that you don't - apologies if I'm wrong. People here are NOT taking things personally, but those of us who saw it with our own two eyes can not help but do so.

I say this as someone who watched from the other side when the Oklahoma City bombing occurred. I watched from far away, mourned briefly and got on with my day. For those of us in NYC - many at least - that is not an option.

I don't mean to downplay the rest of the country's reaction - certainly people far outside of New York had much more direct losses, which hurt much more. But the effects this has had on New Yorkers not directly impacted are vastly, vastly different than those visited on people elsewhere who were not directly impacted.

Also, if you said you'd work there, yes, I'd believe you, although I'd be interested in seeing you show up on your first day. I certainly won't call you a liar. But your office might not be heavily populated.
posted by Sinner at 6:37 AM on September 15, 2001

No rebuilding. No monument. Not even neat lawns. Let the place grow wild. There's too much city in the city.
posted by pracowity at 7:19 AM on September 15, 2001

Rebuilding the towers would show our resilience. That would be great. I can't think of an appropriate memorial, but I know Americans usually do a great some on such matters, as I've seen from the Oklahoma tragedy.

I found an interesting verse you all might enjoy:

Romans 12:18-19
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord.
posted by aaronshaf at 10:14 AM on September 15, 2001

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