Reflecting Absence(s)

September 11, 2010

depiction of "Reflecting Absence" design... by Squared Design Lab

A calamity is more than just numbers.
But let me walk you to the place my mind went when I heard about the planned memorial at “ground zero”.

computer generated image of how names will be inscribed

The memorial will display the names of those who died 9.11.2001 (plus six who were killed in the 1993 bombing attempt). This is a total of 2979 names.
The names will be inscribed along enormous bronze plaques with run the outline of two pools. These pools —  roughly marking the footprints of the North and South Towers — will be 176′ x 176′.
As far as I can tell, the names will be arranged in five rows.

Now here comes some math.
(I will not admit just how long it took me to figure out the following numbers… I was not a stellar math student… in fact, my last math teacher wrote on my report card: “you are the only student who’s math skills have ever managed to detierate during the year”.   —But I do assure you that I am quite sure that my math is correct, if hardly elegant or efficient.)

Since there are 2979 names to be inscribed around two pools, it seems reasonable to estimate that each pool will display 1490 names.
IF the names are arranged in five rows, 298 names would wrap around each row.

The pool will be 176’ x 176’

The perimiter of each pool is 704’

704 feet, divided by 298 names… that’s an average of 2.36” (aprox 2’4”) per name.

Imagine building such a memorial to other calamities… even restricting ourselves to events properly understood as a single attack (such as 9.11.2001).

On the night of March 8/9th (1945), a single raid of US B-29s dropped 1700 tones of bombs on Tokyo. Somewhere between 88,000 to 100,000 people were killed.  We’ll use the more conservative number (proposed by the US Strategic Bombing Survey).

To accomodate the names of ½ of those killed in Tokyo that night (44,000), arranged in five rows (8,000 per row)… each of the two pools at a Tokyo-edition of “Reflecting Absence” would require 20,768 linear feet of bronze.
The dimensions of such a pool would need to be 5192’ x 5192’.

That is just a bit under one mile.

Just one of the pools at Tokyo-Reflecting-Absence would cover large portion of lower Manhattan.

one Tokyo memorial pool ... superimposed on Manhattan

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