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5 designs shine for Flight 93 memorial

Winnner will be chosen by panel in August

Saturday, February 05, 2005

By Paula Reed Ward, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

AP Photo/National Park Service
This artist rendering provided by the National Park Service yesterday, shows a detail from the proposal for "Disturbed Harmony" by Leor Lovinger and Gilat Lovinger of Berkley, Calif., one of five design finalists for the Flight 93 National memorial

Visit the Flight 93 National Memorial commission site for more information on the design project.

Ken Lum was in the middle of a thesis committee meeting as a graduate student in architecture when his cell phone rang.

He excused himself and said it was urgent. He had already missed Helene Fried's call once, and the 29-year-old Lum didn't want to miss it again.

Fried told him that his design, (F)Light, had been chosen as one of five finalists in the Flight 93 memorial design competition.

He was thrilled.

"To me, it was just another way of expressing my sense of loss," Lum said. "I really never expected much from that."

Lum, of Toronto, hopes his design conveys the sacrificial gesture made by the 40 passengers and crew members killed when United Airlines Flight 93 was hijacked by terrorists on Sept. 11, 2001, and crashed into a field near Shanksville in Somerset County. It's believed that the terrorists were headed toward Washington, D.C., and that the passengers and crew led an uprising against their abductors.

One of the defining aspects of Lum's design is the way visitors would be channeled through a defined path as they head to the sacred ground at the crash site, which contains the victims' remains.

"It expresses a sense of loss," he said. "Although they were individuals, they worked collectively to save lives." (More details on design)

Fried, one of the competition advisers, informed the finalists they had been selected.

Whether from the most seasoned professional or new, young artist, the responses, she said, didn't vary.

"The reaction is almost identical -- kind of quiet, and this gasp," she said. "It's so delicious."

Besides Lum, other finalists selected are:

Frederick "Fritz" Steiner, dean of the school of architecture at the University of Texas at Austin, submitted a design with E. Lynn Miller, professor emeritus at Penn State; Jason Kentner, a Penn State graduate and lecturer in Austin; and Karen Lewis, a professor at the University of Kentucky. (More details)

Architects Paul and Milena Murdoch, of Los Angeles. (More details)

Laurel McSherry and Terry Surjan, of Columbus, Ohio. (More details)

Landscape architects Leor and Gilat Lovinger, of Berkeley, Calif. (More details)

The finalists will each receive a $25,000 honorarium to fully develop their ideas. One of those finalists will be chosen in August as the winner of the competition.

Steiner said he was humbled that his team's design was chosen.

The competition jury said the team's "Memory Trail" design shows a "carefully delineated pattern of circulation, both vehicular and pedestrian, [that] gives this entry a strong sense of organized purpose." It features red maple trees, as well as a trail that crosses a lake, weaving around a bowl planted with 3,021 white oaks, initially marked in translucent planting tubes seen against a background of evergreens.

The trees represent all the victims of the four Sept. 11 attacks.

AP Photo/National Park Service
This artist rendering provided by the National Park Service yesterday shows a detail from the proposal for "The Crescent of Embrace" by Paul Murdoch Architects of Los Angeles, one of five design finalists for the Flight 93 National memorial.

Steiner hopes the design evokes the notion of healing, both for the landscape surrounding the crash site as well as for the nation.

The building in the entry is designed in such a way that one could look at the ground and up at the sky at the same time, Steiner said -- "in between the heavens and the Earth."

"I think there's a portion of all of us in it."

One of the reasons he wanted to participate in the competition was because his brother, an FBI agent, had to interview the families of the Flight 93 victims.

"I remember how he worked night and day and how he was affected by those events," Steiner said.

The Murdochs submitted their design, "The Crescent of Embrace," with an employee in Paul Murdoch's architecture firm, Aleksander Novak-Zemplinski.

"We want to honor the meaning of this event through an intensification of the landscape," Murdoch said.

The goal, he said, was to use the landscape, rather than overpower it. Their design is marked by a "Tower of Voices," at the beginning of the site. The tower, to be set on a raised platform of black stone, would be constructed of white glass mosaic tile outside and blue plaster inside. It would hold 40 silver metallic wind chimes.

Murdoch, 48, calls the wind chimes a "continuing, living memory of the victims through the sound."

AP Photo/National Park Service
This artist rendering provided by the National Park Service yesterday shows a detail of the visitor center for the proposal "Memory Trail" designed by Frederick Steiner, Karen Lewis, Jason Kentner, and E. Lynn Miller of Austin, Texas, one of five design finalists for the Flight 93 National memorial
"Fields, Forests, Fences," designed by McSherry, uses fences through the landscape to act as barriers, marker and memorial.

Fencing would be used to protect the sacred ground of the crash site, which would feature a birch grove, with 40 stone markers that include the names, hometowns, and birth dates of the passengers and crew of Flight 93.

Fencing would also be used as a place for the public to pay tribute to Flight 93's victims.

"Disturbed Harmony," designed by the Lovingers, features a 5-foot-wide, 21/2-mile-long Bravery Wall, whose height varies as it passes through the site.

"As the wall moves from north to south, it changes from a functional element to a powerful and meaningful living piece," they wrote in their entry.

The Lovingers wanted to protect the integrity of the site, including the land and the several buildings on it.

"We were hoping our memorial expression and this beautiful, powerful landscape would complement each other," Lovinger said.

Lovinger, 35, and his wife, Gilat, 29, are originally from Israel, and arrived here in July 2001.

"It doesn't matter what country you are from, or where you were during the Sept. 11 attacks, you were touched by them, and you were hurt," he said. "It's a great feeling that we can contribute and express our gratefulness to the society that embraced us ever since we arrived here."

The finalists' entries, along with the other 1,006 designs that were submitted, will be featured in an open house from 3 to 5 p.m. today at the Shops at Georgian Place in Somerset.

(Paula Reed Ward can be reached at or 412-263-1601.)

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