Updated: 01-07-2004 10:20:01 AM

WTC Memorial Winner a Surprise

Courtesy of ABC
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An unexpected design has been chosen as the winner of the WTC memorial competition. It is "Reflecting Absence," which features two large reflecting pools reminiscent of the twin towers, and has been one of the more sharply criticized designs.

This might come as a surprise to a lot of people. Before last night, the leading candidate seemed to be the one entitled "Passages of Light: Memorial Cloud." But it did not win, even though firefighters seemed to favor it.

The winning design, consisting of the two reflecting pools, waterfalls, and a paved stone field, was chosen after an eight-month international competition that drew more than 5,000 entries. Created by city designer Michael Arad, the design was chosen by a 13-member jury of artists, architects, civic and cultural leaders after months of intense deliberation.

"Reflecting Absence" had been called the dark horse candidate, and was backed by jury member Maya Lin who designed the Vietnam War Memorial. But the jury also has decided to make major alterations in the design, and now they must hurry to unveil a new model before the public next week.

All of the final designs were met with substantial criticism. They were called "too bland," or "boring." Anthony Gardner lost his brother on the 83rd floor of Tower One. He said the memorial jury moved way too fast.

Anthony Gardner, Victim's Brother: "I think it's a great disservice to the American public, because they ... clearly haven't taken the time. These designs initially met with so much criticism, public criticism, how is one extra week in the deliberation enough time to factor in all of our concerns? Not just family members, but the community at large."

The memorial will take several years to complete, just as the Freedom Tower is also under construction.

John Finucane, Advocates For 9/11 Memorial: "We are not satisfied with the, what we saw, because it does not bring out the horror and the tragedy of that day."

Several sources tell Eyewitness News that some of the major changes that will be made to "Reflecting Absence" before it is built include; removing a museum next to the pools, adding considerably more landscaping and trees.

The final model should be unveiled some time next week.