Reflecting pool design chosen for WTC memorial

NEW YORK -- A design consisting of two reflecting pools and a paved stone field has been chosen for the World Trade Center memorial after an eight-month international competition that drew more than 5,000 entries, The Associated Press has learned.

The "Reflecting Absence" memorial, created by city designer Michael Arad, was chosen by a 13-member jury of artists, architects and civic and cultural leaders after months of intense deliberation.

The decision was to be announced by the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., the agency overseeing the rebuilding of the site, a source familiar with the process told the AP.

The final plan, which has undergone significant revision since first submitted, will be unveiled next week.

The memorial will remember all of the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, including those killed at the Pentagon, in Pennsylvania and aboard the hijacked airliners.It also will honor the six people killed in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

The memorial will be one of two focal points at the trade center site, along with the 1,776-foot glass skyscraper known as the Freedom Tower. Four other buildings are planned where the trade center once stood.

The jury reviewed 5,201 submissions from around the world beginning last summer, narrowing the field to eight in November. By the time the jury convened on Monday, it had narrowed its choices to three: "Garden of Lights," "Passages of Light: the Memorial Cloud" and "Reflecting Absence."

"Garden of Lights" featured a public area filled with lights, one for each victim. The three-level memorial had a garden on the top and a private area for families of the victims at the twin towers' footprints, connected by a path and a stream of water.

"Passages of Light," by three New York designers, included an open-air structure with cathedral-like vaults and a glass walkway and would have an altar for each victim.

The jury's decision came after a lengthy meeting Monday at Gracie Mansion, the official mayoral residence. The jury toasted its decision with champagne, but would not identify the winner until Tuesday.

Public response to the designs has been lukewarm at best. A recent survey of more than 15,000 people by the Municipal Art Society found that none of the final designs got more positive than negative responses. Critics said the proposals were generic and failed to convey the horror of the 2001 attack.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg noted the scope of the project; the number of submissions was considered unprecedented for a contest of this kind.

"The most important thing is we come up with the right memorial and this process had thousands of people who had suggestions," Bloomberg said. "They whittled it down from thousands to one. You're not going to please everybody."