The moody designer of the World Trade Center Memorial came across as chastened and media-coached this morning at yet another Ground Zero ceremony (this one to mark “construction of the footings for the memorial,” although in reality only “excavation work to build the foundations” began).
“I’m very gratified to be here today,” he told a crowd of reporters. “Today we are starting construction. This is a process and I’m looking forward to the completion of this process but it’s an incredible moment to be here today and see it begin.”
A hint of his deeper feelings came through when Arad, known for his reluctance to compromise and scale down his design, was asked about the emotional process of designing the memorial.
“The process of designing the memorial was very difficult. It began as a very private process and now it involves so many people,” he said.
Staff from the WTC Memorial Foundation tried to cut off further questions, but reporters were not having it. Nor was Michael Arad.
“What I think is most important about this process is that it continues to move forward and we have to make some of these changes to address concerns, whether they are structural or financial,” he continued. “But the most important thing right now is to preserve the integrity of the memorial, to create a space where people will come together and find meaning and find other people who will be at this memorial with them and give them the emotional resonance….”
This coming from someone who once said of the memorial redesign process, “I have no choice but to fight them every step of the way.”