(9.12.2011) –– Much has been said of the gushing inverted fountains on the exact footprints of the World Trade Center towers in lower Manhattan. Meanwhile, across the Hudson River, the twin stainless steel walls of the New Jersey 9/11 Memorial quietly honor the 744 New Jersey victims who lost their lives.
Aligned 12 feet apart to create a dramatic sightline of the "Empty Sky" in the spot where the towers once stood, the 210-ft-long walls reflect the constantly changing light of day, and provide visitors tactile access to the victims' names.
The memorial was designed by Frederic Schwartz Architects, which won the commission in an international competition. SEGD member firm Alexander Isley Inc. worked with the Schwartz team to render the victims' names in a way that was respectful of their memory while reinforcing the power and simplicity of the structure.
Isley chose ITC Bodoni 12 for the inscriptions, which were placed at reachable height in 3.5-in.-tall characters engraved deep enough for hand rubbing.
"We wanted something that had a classic foundation," Isley notes of the font choice. "I admire the details of this particular version, which is based on a great deal of historical scholarship, and how the letterforms respond nicely to the rigidity of the stainless steel panels."
"This inscription style and the weights of the letters are not what one would typically consider for such an application, but through testing we found that the weight worked well in providing the sufficient contrast required for legibility," he adds. "We wanted the names to fit in a series of long, continuous lines, spaced equally and avoiding splitting names within the areas where the panels met. This required a great deal of experimentation and revision. The names were in random order, which helped our cause, yet there was still the requirement that some names be clustered together."
The memorial opened September 10. Look for a full story on both memorials in the upcoming issue of segdDESIGN magazine.