What should inspire

What should inspire
: The New York Times adds to the collective shrug that has met the World Trade Center memorial designs.

The eight memorial designs being considered for the World Trade Center site seem to have done almost everything they were supposed to do. Except resonate in the public imagination.

They may not have been greeted with the impassioned hostility from some quarters that first met Maya Lin’s design for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. But neither have they been fervently embraced….

Yet the plans seem to have left people hungering for something else.

“There is a remarkable sameness to these designs,” said the New York metropolitan chapter of the American Planning Association.

“None provide a well-designed urban public gathering space, none make use of the artifacts from the World Trade Center buildings and none convey the urban and international texture of the place that made it a target for attack… Most glaring, the designs as they stand do little to recall the actual horror of the destruction of the towers or the void left at ground zero.”

In general, said Michael Kuo of the Municipal Art Society, the public feels the designs “did not communicate really what happened here, at this place” and “did not go beyond the victims to reflect the sense of community that held us together after our city and our lives were torn apart.”

The Times questions whether one memorial can do everything it should. It goes on to argue that the memorial is already being built:

…start thinking of the memorial collectively – the sphere, the pit, the chapel, the wall, the cross, each and every firehouse and all the other unplanned shrines where 9/11 has already been marked. Because in some respects, while the city has been planning a memorial, the memorial has already been built.

I don’t agree that the memorial already exists. But I do fervently agree that the elements listed there in New York’s ad hoc memorial are exactly what are missing from the proposals: Contributions from us.

I don’t mean to keep coming back to my proposal, as if plugging it, but this is why I included a place where people could leave their memories and this is why I devised a video memorial that could be updated with new views and new perspectives over time, because we must help build this memorial.

We are all mourners. We are, together, the memory of that event.

: MommaBear also comes out against the proposals, saying that the World Trade Center site is a battleground and should have a battleground memorial.

: In some ways, it would have been better if the proposals had evoked the strong emotions of Maya Lin’s Vietnam memorial.

Evoking a shrug is the last thing this memorial should do.