Last month on May 21st with the opening of the 911 Museum by firm Davis Brody Bond and the Memorial by Michael Arad and Peter Walker, we saw the opportunity to reflect on the events of September 11, 2001, and resurface for discussion a proposal developed at that time for the Ground Zero site.
I was assigned to lead a group designing the proposal during my time working under Michael Rotondi and Clark Stevens at RoTo Architects. We called our proposal The World Citizen Center.
We realized these places can be catalysts for social transformation, and can become a physical manifestation of our civility. Memorials synthesize our collective ability to reconstruct events of the past in the context of the present.
In this light, a great loss could transform into a greater gain. As a metaphor, memorials can be seen as a social compass which helps guide a society by maintaining past events under a current sense of importance.
The World Citizen Center Project was conceived as a space for dialogue and reflection for Humanity as a whole. It was a group response to the questions that arose after the events of that day.
We sat and mourned.
With wonder, we witnessed the outpouring of solidarity, companionship, and loyalty shown from all corners of the Earth towards the victims and those otherwise affected.
We also saw the retaliation and counter attack that these events entailed.
We spoke of how this and subsequent events made us feel.
We had questions that are equally relevant 13 years after the fact.
Have we increased our ability to come together as global citizens?
Have we developed a vested interest in learning to communicate and cooperate with one another effectively?
Current world conflicts, including but not limited to, the revolutions in the Middle East known collectively as the Arab Spring, Ukraine and Russia, and the recently reignited tensions in Iraq and Gaza, make evident the need for collective ways and global platforms to voice and resolve conflict through dialogue rather than violence.
With the World Citizen Center project, we envisioned a place of gathering and growth for a humanity focused on nonviolent conflict resolution. A place for remembrance and continuous dialogue that serves its role on the world stage.