One of my Peace projects was a design for the Memorial to be built at Ground Zero in New York City, site of the September 11 tragedy. This design was submitted through a competition with very specific guidelines. There were 5,500 submissions worldwide. My submission to the Ground Zero Memorial represented the third time that I have proposed an architectural structure in response to conflict and tragedy.
The original proposed structure was conceived for a site on Mount Sinai in Egypt. The Sinai concept was in response to a plan President Anwar Sadat had envisioned for this specific site. His vision was of a center for learning and worship with separate spaces for these purposes. My concept expanded upon that idea with the introduction of a central unifying space that led to the three separate places of worship that he had envisioned. I called the design ‘Point of Peace’.
After President Sadat was assassinated, the architectural design for Point of Peace was presented to the cabinet of the new President, Hosni Mubarak. Mubarak’s cabinet was unable to pursue the project at that time, and it’s potential to become a reality in Egypt went dormant.
Later, I presented the concept to H.M. King Hussein of Jordan for a site within Jordan. The site was chosen to be a center point for those factions in conflict in the area and was on the border between Israel and Jordan. His Majesty realized the concept for a peace center was in itself valuable as something that existed in a state of positive potential. The ‘Point of Peace’ concept and drawings were held by him in the spirit and hope that one day it might become reality.
The design that was presented to the jury in New York for the Ground Zero Memorial embodied many of the goals of the Point of Peace project originally proposed for Sinai and then Jordan. Architecturally, however, it was a completely new concept.
The new design utilized remnants of metal from the World Trade Center that were to be melted and reformed into an architectural sculpture that towered above and around a dome-like building. This building represented a symbolic shelter and point of peace for all people regardless of cultural or religious background. It featured a disc of water surrounded by multiple levels of circular seating areas. An eternal flame was centered within the disc of water. At night, a laser projected from the eternal flame through the center of the structure’s oculus and into the sky.
Even though the design was not selected, I am thankful many people saw the presentation.
What I am most interested in, above and beyond any concept, is the possibility that there might be a movement in the minds and attitudes of people which could lead to higher and broader perspectives for the good of us all. The actual projects are secondary to such possible shifts. This is why the projects are often designed to be in places of conflict.