Memory Foundations, 2002
A year after 9/11, an international design competition— the likes of which the world had never seen—was held to seek out “visionaries” to present “bold new concepts” for what could be done with the World Trade Center site. The guidelines were straightforward: include a “tall symbol or structure” visible in the skyline and “crucial to restoring the spirit of the city,” preserve the footprints of the Twin Towers for a memorial, and create a transit hub with a “grand and visible station.”
Six months and 406 submissions later, a 56-year-old Polish immigrant named Daniel Libeskind—a classically trained musician who had once accompanied Itzhak Perlman on the accordion—suddenly found himself in the international spotlight as the world’s most famous architect. His plan, called “Memory Foundations,” envisioned a moving tribute to those who lost their lives, a bustling street-level experience with grand open spaces, a cultural center, and new office buildings and retail.
“THAT WAS NOT JUST AN ARCHITECTURAL ISSUE; IT WAS AN ISSUE OF THE SOUL OF PEOPLE.”