The 9/11 Memorial, Designed By Michael Arad ’91, Opens

The architect asserted that his experiences at Dartmouth helped prepare him for the eight-year-long process of building the memorial.


Arad '91
Most architects work well into their twilight years before landing a career-altering, rock-star-level commission. Arad pulled off the unlikely move before he was 40, beating out 5,200 other designers in 2004 to win the plum World Trade Center memorial competition, which asked entrants to come up with a way to honor the victims of the 9/11 attacks in New York.

“People who are not established in their field,” he says, “do not usually have the opportunity to share their ideas like this.”

Titled “Reflecting Absence,” Arad’s design resembles a fountain in reverse, with water tumbling into two square pools that are outlines of the footprints of the former Twin Towers. “The idea was to tear open the fabric of real material, to present an inexplicable puncture,” he says.

The memorial retains these highly symbolic elements even after competing interests surrounding the project forced design revisions and delays.

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