COMPLETE VIDEO: 173rd CityLaw Breakfast with Michael Arad, Lead Designer of the 9/11 Memorial

Michael Arad speaking at the 173rd CityLaw Breakfast. Image Credit: CityLand.

Today, September 10, 2021, Michael Arad, the Lead Designer of the 9/11 Memorial, spoke at the 173rd CityLaw Breakfast. Mr. Arad spoke on “the Design and Construction of the National 9/11 Memorial: Absence and Loss in the Life of New York City.” Professor Ross Sandler, Director of the Center for New York City Law, provided opening remarks, and Dean Anthony W. Crowell participated in a discussion with Mr. Arad after his talk. This Breakfast was sponsored by ConEdison, Greenberg Traurig, and Verizon. This was the seventh virtual CityLaw Breakfast as in-person events are not feasible at this time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr. Arad began his talk with a discussion about the design of the memorial and the various changes the design went through as it grew from a personal design to an official proposal. He showed initial drawings of the design. Mr. Arad discussed the importance of civic public spaces in who we are and how we handle tragedies, and how that influenced the design of the memorial. The memorial design needed to accommodate both one-time visitors as well as people who could encounter the space on a daily basis.

The full-size model used to test the water flow and spacing. Image Credit: Michael Arad.

Mr. Arad discussed the use of water in the design, and how his team built full-size models to test how the water would flow and appear. He also discussed the design of the name plates, and how safety and accessibility concerns influenced the design. It was important to Mr. Arad not to break up names of people who meant a lot to each other in consideration of victims’ loved ones who would be visiting the memorial. The team reached out to families, asked how names should be displayed and took requests about adjacency with other names. They were able to accommodate all of the over 1,200 requests. 

Mr. Arad closed his talk by showing images from the dedication of the 9/11 Memorial and discussed the Memorial’s unintended oversight of a space dedicated to those who had succumbed to 9/11-related illnesses in the years since the tragedy. As a result, a memorial glade was designed with input from first responders and dedicated as part of the memorial. 

Mr. Arad took questions from the audience, including a question about how the Vietnam War Memorial influenced the design. He said the Vietnam Memorial’s design “engages people physically and emotionally” and that that influenced the design. In response to a question about accommodating everyone’s grief in the design, Mr. Arad said that it was impossible to do that.

The breakfast closed with a discussion between Dean Crowell and Mr. Arad about the public process of the design.

Rendering of the Memorial Grove. Image Credit;: Michael Arad.

To watch the event, click here or watch below:
















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