Thursday, July 28, 2011

Baltimore 9/11 Memorial - I think we can do better

Rendering of the new Baltimore 9/11 Memorial
Under construction right now at the foot of the Baltimore World Trade Center is the spot where Baltimore's memorial to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks will stand. As can be veiwed above it will consist of mangled steel from the Twin Towers atop marble blocks on which will be inscribed the 63 names of the Marylanders who died that die. Designed by Zigler/Snead it will be unveiled on the 10th anniversary this September.

As much as it will be a powerful reminder, I cannot help but think that the contemporary designs for memorials and landmarks have strayed too far to the abstract and honestly, the bland. I think our memoral could look much better than what will be built.

We used to make and dedicate great memorials in this country to epic events in our history. Take a look at the Battle Monument which was built between 1815 and 1829, and dedicated to the defenders of Baltimore during the War of 1812. Or the Liberty Memorial in Kansas City, The International Peace Memorial, or any of the monuments dedicated to our presidents. These are grand structures

Battle Monument

However, one of my favorite, isn't a massive memorial, but rather it's small, but powerful and meaningful nonetheless. It sits in Philadelphia's 30th Street Station and itd dedicated to the 1,300 plus employees of the Pennsylvania Railroad who died in the Second World War. It depicts an archangel pulling the body of a soldier out of the flames of war. It is powerful in its simplicity, but the symbolic representation is easily understood. Moreover it is strinking to look at. This is one aspect of conteporary memorials that is lost, and it's the same drab abstraction that the new 9/11 Memorial will have. Those 63 Marylanders deserve so much more. Memorials like the new Baltimore 9/11 Memorial show broken and twisted metal, remnants of what happened. These are powerful reminders, but great memorials show us not the broken remains of something that used to be there, but stand as a new reminder of how we have grown.
Pennsylvania Railroad World War II Memorial, Philadelphia

1 comment:

  1. I think it is interesting how memorials have changed culturally as well as aesthetically. While I agree the Baltimore 9/11 memorial looks a bit bland, I think it would look out of place to create the grand ornate columns and monuments that were built 100 years ago.

    There are memorials that are more traditionally designed - like this one -
    They have been very successful at raising money for the memorial and park upkeep. They have a 5K run going on in a few weeks. At present they are running a contest to design the t-shirts for the race, so if you are looking to design something regal and grand to commemorate and honor the lives lost in 9/11, you can enter the contest today.