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Three University of Texas at Austin faculty members named finalists in Flight 93 Memorial Design Competition

Three faculty members from The University of Texas at Austin are on one of the five teams selected as finalists in a national competition to design a memorial to the victims of United Flight 93, which went down in Western Pennsylvania during a terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001.

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AUSTIN, Texas—Three faculty members from The University of Texas at Austin are on one of the five teams selected as finalists in a national competition to design a memorial to the victims of United Flight 93, which went down in Western Pennsylvania during a terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001.

Detail from Memory Trail design, shows families walking down maple tree-lined path

Detail from Memory Trail design for Flight 93 National Memorial Design Competition.

The design team members from The University of Texas at Austin include Frederick Steiner, dean of the university’s School of Architecture, Lynn Miller, a visiting professor of landscape architecture, and Jason Kentner, a lecturer in the School of Architecture. Karen Lewis, a lecturer at the University of Kentucky, is the fourth member of the team.

Steiner said the team represents diverse backgrounds in education and age, and this has helped them to use the large site—about 2,000 acres—in a holistic manner. He said having been selected as finalists was humbling because there were so many entries, but also because family members of the passengers and crew of Flight 93 were involved in the selection.

“It was important that we were able to touch them in some way,” Steiner said. “We were trying to convey healing for the families and the nation as well as for the landscape, which is in an old strip mine area.”

Steiner said the team’s entry, called “Memory Trail,” uses a combination of elements including trees and buildings, as well as a road, to create the design for the memorial.

A Healing Landscape

On that fateful morning of diamond light, a day which binds us together as a people, could we have mustered the courage of the Flight 93 passengers and crew as they became our first line of defense?

Memory Trail honors their journey. The entry road, passing through a loose field of red maples, climbs smoothly to the horizon offering views to the sacred ground before turning abruptly. Below the parking area a unifying grove of maples surrounds a cluster of lakes. On foot, visitors access both the Information Center and Memorial Archives. The Center rises from the hillside, its interior corridor folds, shifting ones perception of the horizon and framing views of the crash site.

Memory Trail proceeds around the ridge to an overlook. The trail for visitors then circumvents Sacred Ground, leaving the family members a more intimate trail directly connected to the crash site.

Departing sacred ground, the family path proceeds through the maple allée to rejoin visitors. The trail crosses a lake, weaving around a bowl planted with 3,021 white oaks, initially marked in white planting tubes and backed with hemlocks. The trail returns to the visitor center.

Before exiting, visitors can stop at the archival center to view memorabilia left by others and contribute their own. The exit proceeds along Haul Road through a red maple forest back to US 30. Thus, Memory Trail, a healing landscape, a memorial to Flight 93 concludes.

More than 1,000 entries from throughout North America were submitted in the first stage of the Flight 93 National Memorial Design Competition, which is a partnership between the Families of Flight 93, the Flight 93 Advisory Commission, the Flight 93 Memorial Task Force, and the National Park Service. The contest was funded through grants of $500,000 each from the Heinz Endowments and the Knight Foundation. A jury of nine people including family members of the victims, partner representatives and design professionals selected the five finalists, which will each be awarded $25,000 to begin work on Stage II of the design competition.

Initially the five finalist teams will participate in an innovative master-planning workshop in Somerset, Pa., on Feb. 24-25. In conjunction with the Stage II briefing, they will participate in a facilitated workshop to create master plans for the memorial site. Following several months of further design work on their concepts, they will present a three dimensional model and other materials in June for consideration by the Stage II Jury. The author of the winning concept will be announced in September 2005 and be invited to negotiate a contract with the National Park Service for design of the new memorial.

The other finalist teams include: Leor Lovinger and Gilat Lovinger of Berkeley, Ca.; Ken Lum of Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Laurel McSherry and Terry Surjan of Columbus, Oh.; and Paul Murdoch of Los Angeles, Ca.

The Stage I Jury Report said, “the common thread among the five (finalists) is that each provides a ‘memorial expression’ while considering and respecting the land.”

The Flight 93 National Memorial Design Competition is funded in part by the Heinz Endowments and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

For more information and photographs of the finalists and all of the design submittals, visit the Flight 93 Memorial Project Web site.

For more information contact: Robert D. Meckel, Office of Public Affairs, 512-475-7847.