frederic schwartz architects
Project Credits B.K. Lighting
DB: Please tell us why “Empty Sky” was ultimately selected as the design for the New Jersey 9/11 Memorial. Frederic Schwartz: Liberty State Park was already very emotionally charged and powerful, given its proximity and stunning views of the towers and lower Manhattan. We sought to respect and capture that. Our most important goal was to create a meaningful place for the family members and community to honor and remember each of the 746 loved ones who were murdered on September 11, 2001. Another important goal was to complete and dedicate the memorial by the 10th anniversary of the attacks. The [memorial’s] twin walls run the length of a side of the World Trade Center (208 feet and 10 inches). The stainless steel reflects the changing light of day just as the towers did, and the names of the loved ones who perished are the largest on any [9/11] memorial. Those connections resonated with the jury, especially the family members who had the final vote. DB: What did you find most challenging when designing this memorial?
FS: The biggest challenge was getting the project funded and built. Stainless steel prices skyrocketed worldwide during the post-9/11 building boom. When the project went out to bid, stainless steel was at a record high and China was using half of the world’s supply for its new skyscrapers. Like a commodities broker, I watched the daily prices of stainless fall until I knew it was the right moment to re-bid the project. At the moment we sent it out for re-bid, it was under budget instead of being ten million dollars over budget. Timing is everything. DB: How has the completed memorial affected its users? Do they use the space in the way that you intended? FS: As intended, the memorial is frequented by family members, visitors to Liberty State Park, and those who take the ferries to Ellis and Liberty Islands, which often include school groups. We have had the emotional experience of meeting visitors. They share their stories and memories of how they used to visit this spot and where they were on 9/11. Sometimes they share a story of a loved one they lost. The scale of the memorial has an effect on visitors, as does its directional, visual, and emoPUBLIC PLACES