Title: Monument to Memory and Light
Author: Daniel Libeskind
Location: Padova, Italy
Year Complete: 2005
Description: 2 freestanding steel and glass walls that come together at a corner-56 ft. tall-2500 sq. ft.
The attack on 9/11, while taking place in the United States, was felt globally. People from all around the world mourned with Americans, cried with the families who lost loved ones, and felt the pain and anger of senseless violence. A call to remember was heard from all corners of the globe, with monuments being erected in the United States, The U.K., China, Spain, ect.
Funded by Regione Veneto to promote tourism, one of these 9/11 memorials was commissioned in Padova, Italy. Daniel Libeskind, the Polish-American architect was chosen for the design. Libeskind had already received the commission for the master plan of the World Trade Center site and was also interested in memory, pursuing the notion of memory in architecture in his work. In 2005 the monument was finished, and Libeskind named it Memoria e Luce, or Memory and Light.
While memory and light evoke many different responses in architecture Libeskind looked to focus these ideas through the lens of the horrific events of 9/11. He used the symbolism of an open book for his design, and incorporated elements that would make one recall on these events. On one side of this book was a glass wall outlined in steel mulligans. this wall was designed to resemble the facade of the WTC, while also representing a clean slate of forgiveness.
The other side of this book, is opaque white with a mangled steel beam from the south tower nested in the center of it. This beam represents a moment in time never forgotten. both sides come together and open up towards New York City with an axis inscribed on the ground connects Padova to NYC.
At night all the glass elements are illuminated and glow bright and white, as to pronounce the monument to the world. The use of up-lighting adds to the grandiose and verticallity of the monument and give the design a sort of ego.
While this monument is quite beautiful, it also is quite shallow. One first must ask the question, “Why Here?” and quite honestly, there is no real answer. Those who funded this project did it in the name of tourism to this town, not in the name of remembrance, therefore its main purpose of drawing crowds, dilutes its agency in memory. Libeskind seems to be self-indulgent in his design, using bright white, loud lights, and a tall structure to scream to the world “HEY, LOOK AT ME!”
When a memorial leaves the realm of memory, it becomes a just a landmark, something that sticks out, but means nothing. That what this monument has become, a self-serving, gaudy landmark.