The Beginning
In the early 1990’s, I worked across the street from the World Trade Center, coming through it daily from the subway.

In 2003, barely 18 months after 9/11, a competition was held to design a NYC memorial for the victims - open to anyone, anywhere. 5,201 entered from 60 countries and 49 states. Each entry was photographed and placed on the Web. They remain there today.

On 9/11, I was living in San Francisco and my former boss and wife's colleagues were killed. In 2003, my wife and I entered the Competition as a healing experience. Once it was over, I had pretty much forgotten about it ...until 2011.

Curiosity Becomes Passion

In 2011, I began exploring the photo archive and discovered a few very different, inspiring designs. This led to a extended journey reviewing all the entries for more of them. This journey changed my focus from the ideas to the creators. I wondered:

  • Who were they?
  • Why did they enter the competition?
  • What were they thinking? Feeling?
  • How did they develop the concept?
  • Why did they see memorials in this way?

To find out took years of Internet searching and conducting over 200 interviews and ultimately, this book.

I hope you are as astounded, inspired and touched as I have been.

Lester Levine

The Research Journey