On Saturday afternoon, hundreds attended the AIA 2012 convention closing ceremony -- a particularly poignant event. Titled "Architects of Healing," the session focused on post-9/11 rebuilding efforts. Medals were presented to dozens of designers who have worked on the World Trade Center site in NYC, the Pentagon reconstruction and memorial in D.C., and the memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Speakers included Daniel Libeskind, David Childs, Michael Arad, Craig Dykers, Steven Davis, and Santiago Calatrava -- all of whom are involved in the WTC rebuilding.
Each architect gave a short presentation; some recounted their personal experience on the morning of September 11, 2001. "I first knew something was wrong when I saw scraps of paper falling outside our office," said Childs, whose SOM office is three blocks from the WTC site. Libeskind was in Berlin on that day for the grand opening of the Jewish Museum, prompting him to contemplate the connection between the "darkness of European history" and the terrorist attacks in the United States.
The architects described the rationale behind their designs for the WTC site. Libeskind felt the "site should become a site of memory." Childs said 1 WTC should represent the "steadfastness and endurance of our great nation." Davis said the museum is, above all, "about the people and lives that were lost." Calatrava said the tragedy will eventually "be overcome and transcended by the sacrifice, perseverance, and work of many."
Many highlighted the difficulties involved in creating architecture for such an important site. Dykers noted that Snohetta's scheme underwent "five major conceptual shifts and 30 redesigns." Regardless of the challenges, the architects said working on the site has been a tremendous honor. "It's been a remarkable privilege and responsibility to be part of this effort," said Arad.
Following the speeches, all architects involved in post-9/11 rebuilding efforts were asked to gather on stage. The Cathedral Choral Society sang while AIA CEO Robert Ivy presented medals. AIA President Jeffrey Potter concluded the ceremony by commending all architects around the world for their contributions to society. "You make the divine human," he said, "and the human divine."
Post-ceremony reception: Cristobal Canas, Handel Architects in NYC; Michael Arad; Etaim Fitzpatrick, president of AIA UK
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