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Ken Lum with DESIGN TEAM Dennis Fanti, Yvonne Lam, Ivan Ilic

This memorial recounts the experience of 40 people who uncovered the designs of a doomed voyage and acted to re-chart its course. On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, the passengers and crew of Flight 93 gave up their own lives to save countless others. Their gesture and loss remain forever etched in the memories of their loved ones, a great nation and the world.

A violent scar on a Pennsylvanian meadow marked their journey’s end. This scar traces the horrific, yet inspirational narrative that is the legacy of the passengers and crew of Flight 93. It transformed what was a common field one day into a field of honor forever.

The memorial proposes a place that resonates not only with tragedy and absence, but also of inspiration and hope, through the inscription of a luminous scar in a landscape previously defiled by mining. The memorial’s roofscape trajectory retraces the final journey of Flight 93: its departure from Newark, New Jersey at 8:42 a.m.; its hijacking and turning point above Cleveland, Ohio between 9:35 a.m.; and 9:39 a.m., its descent and final resting place in the open fields of Somerset, Pennsylvania at 10:03 a.m.

Ethereal and dynamic in composition, the roofscape comprises an outer textured cast glass shell and an inner laminated glass on quartzite skin, fastened to a structural steel space frame. It gives form to the collective acts of courage and sacrifice of the passengers and crew of Flight 93 and acts as a guide throughout the entire memorial experience. While traversing through its luminous form, visitors are immersed in spaces of light and darkness, and exposed to dramatic views of the landscape. A narrative and timeline of the tragedy is etched into its under-skin.

The memorial is unadorned with specific personal accounts of the events. Rather, it proposes an ever-changing narrative formed by visitors and their interaction with the roofscape, timeline, light, and landscape. Its composition is majestic, eternal and reconciliatory.

The memorial is situated on a vast meadow scarred by drainage swales and mining pools. An extensive concrete wall sections a small fragment of that meadow. “A common field one day, a field of honor forever” is engraved at its northern end in polished quartzite. Descending into the entrance courtyard, visitors experience the collapsing of scales from vast landscape to sheltered memorial entrance. The wall and change in elevation effectively sever views of the meadow while preserving a view of the ridge over which Flight 93 emerged.

The plane’s flight path is inscribed in the floor of the Entrance Courtyard. Beginning as a horizontally ascending wall at the southern portion of the memorial’s Entrance Courtyard, the roofscape folds and becomes a roof over the Passage of Collective Memory, rearticulates itself and becomes a wall at the Turning Point, and returns to a descending floor at the journey’s end in the Memorial Courtyard.

At the Entrance Courtyard, the roofscape forms an enclosed, terraced overlook that orients and frames the Sacred Ground. Engraved on the quartzite wall is “0842: Departure from Newark, New Jersey”, recalling the beginnings of the doomed voyage. As two separate elements, the roofscape’s upper cast glass assembly begins its journey towards Sacred Ground while its quartzite counterpart rises horizontally. The materials unite at the entrance to the Passage of Collective Memory.

The Passage of Collective Memory evokes the ordinary, individual memories of passengers and crew going about their everyday lives – a typical day of everyday concerns, wonderings and worries. Dim and enclosed, the passage descends into the earth. Above, the roofscape radiates with warm light accentuated with slivers of shimmering light refracted off the textured quartzite skin. Inscribed midway through the passage is 0928: Takeover.

At the 0939: Turning Point, the roofscape reverses its course and unfolds into a semi-enclosed space. This space recalls the moment when the passengers and crew of Flight 93 became aware of their grave situation. The gradual unfolding of the roofscape exposes earth and sky; its white crushed stone courtyard amalgamates with a strip of onsite quarried stone that lines the underside of the Passage of Collective Memory. This space allows for pause and reflection.

The roofscape’s composition ends at the open, paved Memorial Courtyard. It gradually descends into a horizontal position, revealing the Sacred Ground. Forming an inaccessible threshold, the roofscape creates a slight incision in the earth, situating visitors below the surface of the Sacred Ground. The descending trajectory of the quartzite shell folds and flattens to become a raised slab hovering above the dark concrete courtyard. The roofscape’s form and the surrounding tree line embrace and protect the memorial courtyard from the site’s prevailing winds.
The roofscape violently punctures the threshold of the Sacred Ground, its tip rupturing the earth’s delicate fabric. The words “1003:11 Sacred Ground” and the empowering mission statement mark the roofscape’s end. The 40 names of the deceased are inscribed on its monolithic form, creating contrasting scales between the individual and the enormity of their sacrifice. Its form separates and preserves the poignant absence of the Sacred Ground from the recovered landscape of the blooming white meadow. It is a place for remembrance and quiet reverence – a place for healing a scarred memory.

Disturbed Harmony (F)Light Crescent of Embrace Fields, Forests, and Fences Memory Trail
© Copyright 2006. Flight 93 Memorial Project. All Rights Reserved. A solution by Neighborhood America.