The Art Commission Wednesday awarded final approval to several more elements of the reworked Dilworth Plaza outside of City Hall, and gave an enthusiastic go-ahead to a fast track memorial dedicated to 9/11 and the three Philadelphians who lost their lives at the World Trade Center.
Concepts for the latter project received their first public viewing, since the Schuylkill River Development Corp. was only awarded the piece of structural steel from one of the twin towers two week ago. Stuart Appel of WellsAppel, the landscape architects selected to design the memorial, said that the hope is to unveil the work on the Chestnut Street bank of the Schuylkill River by the end of September.
The rusted steel is, of course, the central part of the memorial, which will be placed in a lawn setting. The beam will sit perched at an angle, pointing northward toward New York City, and will be embedded into a reflective slab of black granite.
The design intends to convey notions of imbalance and instability, Appel said, adding that his team was currently still considering several treatment alternatives for a textual message and the way in which visitors approached the site. After some discussion, Commissioners offered one suggestion: that the orientation of the steel be placed so that its tip, and not its side, be viewed as the "front" of the memorial. Wells agreed that that worked better.
Commissioner Jose Alminana raised the only serious concern, asking if the work might include pavers around it to protect grass from being trod upon. When Appel balked at interfering with the geometry of the design, Fairmount Park executive director Mark Focht offered to look into the possibility and to identify products but to for the time being go pavement-free.