The Pentagon Memorial to 09/11 Unveiled Today
March 4, 2003 6:09 AM   Subscribe

184 Cantilevered Aluminum Benches and 70 Maple Trees make up the memorial at the Pentagon for September 11. I like its solitude, its stillness. What do you think?
posted by tommyspoon (23 comments total)
I can dig it.
posted by Witty at 6:16 AM on March 4, 2003

It sounds wonderfully serene and meditative. I like it.
posted by mosch at 6:30 AM on March 4, 2003

pictures / proposal drawings?
posted by twine42 at 6:30 AM on March 4, 2003

For someone who says her design had to be no like other place, she sure borrowed heavily from the oklahoma city national memorial. Good thing to copy from as it is beautiful.
posted by domino at 6:41 AM on March 4, 2003

I just hope that the directional pattern of the benches doesn't look like the directional pattern formed by a sea of parked cars nearby.
posted by machaus at 6:45 AM on March 4, 2003

Image link

(Note: it's a JPG image without the extension, so you might have to save it and rename it with a .JPG extension if you're using Windows.)
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:49 AM on March 4, 2003

Maybe I'm cynical about this stuff, but I admit I get kind of turned off by the memorials that dedicate one bench or chair or whatever per victim. I understand the point of the exercise, but the whole thing just kind of conflicts with the quotes in the article about how it's "not a graveyard" and needs to be "unlike any other place". Not to mention that the Pentagon is surrounded by parking lots and highways. How much solitude is there really going to be?

I apologize for being so cold.

(upon preview I have said nothing new, but I will post anyway)
posted by daveadams at 6:58 AM on March 4, 2003

Wow... that looks incredibly shite.

It's nearly as bad as the crap that they've suggested for Princess Diana (cos that's arrived while it's still topical).

dave: I agree... in the UK there seems to be a really random habit of buying park benches and engraving them with the name of someone who's just died. Why? Let's go sit on Edna's bench and look at the dog shit covered playfield. Oh no, someone's smashed all the slats. Well that was worthwhile...

posted by twine42 at 7:17 AM on March 4, 2003

I was actually going to make a similar comment, daveadams. I don't like that kind of memorial either -- and I think one way that the Pentagon one is even worse than the Oklahoma City one is that each of these benches will be engraved with a name of a victim. I didn't know anyone who died in this tragedy, but I consider it a national (international) tragedy nonetheless. I may want to visit this memorial...which bench do I pick?

I think that this sort of approach fragments peoples' grief unnecessarily. I can agree with the approach of "show all the names." Have a tablet nearby with everyones' name engraved on it -- but 186 whatevers just doesn't do anything for me, especially compared with a single, moving statement.
posted by Vidiot at 7:29 AM on March 4, 2003

I don't really like this memorial.

The two most beautiful memorials I have ever seen are the 3LHD Rijeka bridge in Croatia and the Mamaev Kurgan complex in Volgograd, particularly the statue. They should build something like the former - something that's actually going to be used by people, while having a quiet secluded part.
posted by azazello at 7:31 AM on March 4, 2003

The benches are weird, but at least it has lots of trees.
posted by Foosnark at 7:38 AM on March 4, 2003

Out of interest, does everyone agree that they should have rebuilt the pentagon?

My personal opinion is that they should have removed the section entirely and used it to open up the inside of the shape.

Maybe fill that area with trees to form a nice garden area.

posted by twine42 at 7:54 AM on March 4, 2003

That would be 1/5 (quick math) of the building... which would displace over 5,000 workers. I don't think it would have been that easy. But yes, I DO think they should have, and glad that they did indeed repair or rebuild the Pentagon. I drive by it every day and I like it just the way it is/was.
posted by Witty at 8:14 AM on March 4, 2003

I've no idea of the size of the place, although I believed that a lot of it was underground.

If 5000 people would be displaced, how come only 184 people died?

Yes, I should probably know the answer, but I don't...
posted by twine42 at 8:18 AM on March 4, 2003

If 5000 people would be displaced, how come only 184 people died?

A large portion of the sector that got hit on 9/11 was under renovation at the time. People were stationed temporarily in other wings.
posted by machaus at 8:24 AM on March 4, 2003

bad choice of words, but thanks machaus. ;)
posted by twine42 at 9:12 AM on March 4, 2003

Not to get too far off topic here, but nowhere near 1/5 of the building collapsed and was in need of rebuilding. Only a portion of ring E, the outermost ring of the 5 rings that make up the Pentagon, collapsed. Damage extended into rings D and C.

Now, if twine42 was talking about taking out one entire facet of the pentagon shape, then yes that would be roughly 1/5 the area, but that would also involve demolishing a lot of building that was not damaged (or not seriously structurally damaged.)

Read this article for more information on the structural damage and collapse. It gets fairly technical near the end, but the first part gives a good explanation of what the airplane did to the building.
posted by pitchblende at 9:39 AM on March 4, 2003

Not to mention that the Pentagon is surrounded by parking lots and highways. How much solitude is there really going to be?

And it's not as if the public can get anywhere near the Pentagon to enjoy the solitude, either.
posted by crunchland at 9:52 AM on March 4, 2003

If they opened up one side of the Pentagon, wouldn't that let the black magic out?
posted by five fresh fish at 10:21 AM on March 4, 2003

Slightly off-topic, but I wonder if the US is going to keep making memorials to terrorist actions? Hopefully there won't be a need to, but I'm a cynic. I wonder if we can afford to keep spend millions of dollars to commemorate those lost if the number of attacks keeps increasing. I mean, think of how bankrupt Israel would be if they created a memorial for every attack they've had. Just a random thought.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:38 AM on March 4, 2003

domino: agreed, when I saw benches I thought of the OK City chairs.

Dave Adams: even the new WTC is going to have stone pavers with people's names in them. Obviously, memorials with people's names in them are nothing new, but they are usually incorporated into the structure instead of being separate structures for each victim that comprise a whole. Maybe it's something about seeing 184 benches that has more impact than seeing a wall with thousands of names (Vietnam memorial).

It seems that most of the Civil War memorials in my town represent a battle or a division of the military rather than individuals. Small towns always seem to have war memorials near the courthouse or other government buildings that list the names of townsfolk who died in each war.

The article said the youngest Pentagon victim was 3 years old, and many of the OK City victims were children. Do all government office buildings have child care centers?

posted by Frank Grimes at 12:07 PM on March 4, 2003

Frank: No, but the Pentagon has tours... of hundreds of people a day. No idea if that's what happened with the 3 year old. The Pentagon has roughly 26,000 employees in it at any one time (well certainly during "business hours"). I'm sure the Pentagon has day care. The Concourse has banks, a barbor shop, a CVS, restaurants, shoe store, a Hallmark, etc.

pitchblende said it. One of the most amazing things to me, when I saw the damage first hand, was, "Wow, that plane barely made a dent in the place.

And it's not as if the public can get anywhere near the Pentagon to enjoy the solitude, either.

Not true. If you really wanted to go check it out, you could. You're not going to be able to pop over to the memorial from the Smithsonian on foot or something. But if you were visiting the Pentagon (which you would need to drive directly to anyway), you could certainly see it. Plus, like I said, a "small city" of people work in the place everyday.
posted by Witty at 1:42 PM on March 4, 2003

The 3-year-old, Christine Hanson, was aboard Flight 11. How soon we forget....

Also, the deaths at the scene were proportional (over 80% were victims on the ground, i.e. in the building). Many other potential victims were able to escape the structure by moving laterally; unlike the WTC it was not a place where a large number of victims not involved in the impact would be trapped. Military training certainly enhanced the response capability, and rescue units were present within minutes.

The key thing to note about this memorial is the completeness of the evolution toward conceptual memorial design; it's never been more true to say that Maya Lin changed memorial design forever. People realized that the memorial itself could provide an emotional release, encouraging personal connections and expressions, as well as accomodating more traditional rituals such as the laying of wreaths. This probably ties back in with the growing cultural tendency toward shrines, and commemoration of a life where it was lost rather than via the funeral and burial. I find this slightly new-agey, but then, I value rituals and much of their power has been lost in dispersed modern communities.

What concerns me, somewhat, with both memorial designs like this and reuse of sites like the WTC is the impossible desire to satisfy all. I'm not sure that it's so necessary to shape a memorial just so in order to evoke the precise right range of reactions among all visitors, surviving family members, fellow sufferers, heartfelt Americans, and gee-whiz touristy types alike. This type of exercise I find futile, even self-defeating. I find that any of the proposed memorials would be acceptable, any of the proposed WTC redesigns. It's important that there be something, not that the something erected be precisely evocative. This is, of course, contrasted with increased grandiosity of traditional memorials, such as the ones for FDR and WWII planned for the capital.

Personally, I find the scale and execution of the Normandy American Cemetery to be perfectly acceptable.
posted by dhartung at 3:56 PM on March 4, 2003

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