National September 11 Memorial
New York City
Photo © Caridad Sola
For several years on the anniversary of 9/11, a pair of temporary light beams were projected heavenward as luminous reminders of the attacks on the Twin Towers. In contrast, Michael Arad’s permanent memorial, completed for the tragedy’s 10th observation, looks inward.
Speaking to loss and the healing process, the architect created a serene parklike plaza and carved a void into the hollow of each tower’s footprint, surrounding the black holes with gently illuminated pools of cascading water. To achieve the introspective effect Arad desired, lighting designer Paul Marantz and his team tucked light columns, rigged with T8 lamps behind prismatic reflectors, under a canopy of trees in the plaza, and persuaded city officials to lower light levels there from the mandated 5 to .5 footcandles. Then they lined the base of the pools’ 30-foot-high waterfalls with over 1,500 feet of submersible, 3,500-Kelvin (K) LED luminaires, driven at 24 volts. Framed by a bronze parapet containing the stencil-cut names of the victims—lit indirectly from below by 3,000K linear LED fixtures and custom reflectors for a warm, even glow—the monuments are so discreet within the peaceful setting that they are barely visible from adjacent walkways and streets.