Visitors will come face to face with artifacts salvaged from three terrorist attack sites at the 9/11 Memorial of Maryland, which is scheduled for completion at Baltimore's Inner Harbor shoreline in September.
Mangled columns from the north tower of New York's World Trade Center, damaged limestone from the Pentagon and an as-yet undetermined remembrance from a field in Shanksville, Pa., will be incorporated in the memorial to those who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001.
The $2 million memorial, whose design was unveiled Wednesday during a meeting of the Baltimore Public Art Commission, will pay tribute to the 63 Marylanders killed in the attacks. Marylanders died at all three locations — 50 at the Pentagon, 12 in New York, and one when United Airlines Flight 93 crashed in Shanksville.
Construction on the privately funded memorial, designed by Ziger/Snead Architects of Baltimore, is scheduled to start by early summer and a dedication ceremony is scheduled on the 10th anniversary of the attacks.
Ziger/Snead architects said they wanted visitors to see and touch fragments of the buildings and landscape that were hit when airplanes crashed into them, as a way of bringing home the events of 9/11 and the damage the attacks caused.
"We wanted to make it clear that this is not a work of art, a sculpture created by an artist," said architect Steve Ziger. Unlike a work of art that refers to an event, "these are actual artifacts that survived from 10 years ago."
Just as the steel columns of New York's Twin Towers were transformed in the attacks, "we were all transformed that day — our physical world and our souls," said project architect Douglas Bothner.
The memorial is being built by the state of Maryland, with a group called the Maryland 9/11 Memorial Committee taking the lead on planning and fundraising. It will be located on a state-owned plaza at the base of Baltimore's World Trade Center, with a companion exhibit at the Top of the World observation deck on the building's 27th floor.
The memorial's centerpiece and focal point will be a 22-foot-long section of steel salvaged from the north tower of New York's World Trade Center. The artifact is a rust-colored section of columns that were tangled and fused when the north tower was struck. Weighing more than two tons, they came from the building's 94th to 96th floors.
The columns will be positioned horizontally on a 17-foot-by-35-foot bed of white marble. Inscribed on one side of the marble base will be the names and birthdates of the 63 victims who considered Maryland home. The youngest victim was 3, the oldest 71.
The columns' jagged edges were sheared off by the force of the plane crashing into the building.
"It's a really powerful piece," Ziger said of the salvaged steel. "You can see the force that transformed them from vertical columns to the horizontal piece we have, and it's that transformation that gives them meaning."
According to Bothner, the composition will function as a sundial, with the World Trade Center casting shadows that mark the passage of time.
As the morning sun crosses the sky, he said, the building's shadows will cover the marble and the steel artifact to coincide with the time when planes crashed into the Twin Towers, the Pentagon and the field in Pennsylvania, and when the skyscrapers fell. By 10:50 a.m., when the Pentagon's west wall fell, all but the east side of the marble base will be in shadow, and that side is where the Marylanders' names will be.
"Importantly, there is a piece of the memorial that is kept in the light," Bothner said. "That sliver of light left is to show that even in such terrible times, there is a glimmer of hope."
Nearby, a second marble base will bear blocks of limestone salvaged from the Pentagon after it was hit. The designers are also seeking objects from Shanksville to display, most likely rocks. Alongside those artifacts will be a "narrative panel" containing information about the memorial.
Members of the Public Art Commission said they were impressed by the design.
"I think this is very dignified, and I applaud you for it," said panel member Ken Royster. "I am very intrigued by the sundial."