'Contemplative' Memorial Is Chosen for the Pentagon

Times Staff Writer

The 184 people who died at the Pentagon in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks will be commemorated by individual benches and lighted reflecting pools, the Department of Defense said Monday.

An 11-member committee, selected by the Pentagon, chose "Light Benches," by New York architects Julie Beckman and Keith Kaseman, from 1,126 entries submitted by an international group of designers.

"It's a contemplative design in its conception, which I think means that it will put people in the appropriate state of mind," said Terence Riley, the committee chairman and chief curator of design and architecture at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

The memorial will be built by the Pentagon renovation team on a two-acre site near the spot where American Airlines Flight 77 plowed into the western face of the building. Its scheduled dedication is Sept. 11, 2004. Each of the 184 benches will be engraved with a victim's name and cantilevered over a small lighted reflecting pool. Trees will provide shade.

The benches will be arranged according to the victims' ages, which range from 3 to 71. The names of the 125 military and civilian workers who died will be inscribed on the benches so that the Pentagon is their backdrop. The names of the 59 passengers and crew members aboard the Boeing 757 will be placed with the sky as their background.

The names of the five Al Qaeda hijackers will not be part of the memorial.

The construction of the memorial, which is estimated to cost between $4.9 million and $7.4 million, will be funded by donations to the Department of Defense. No taxpayer money will be used for the project, which officials said will be open to the public barring unforeseen security concerns.

Harold Brown, a former secretary of Defense and a member of the selection committee, said that he wanted a design that would "memorialize the individuals who died in the attack and ... somehow represent the survival, the prevailing of the U.S.A."

Jim Laychak, who served on the committee as one of two family members of victims, said he wanted the design to honor the memory of his brother, David, an Army budget analyst, and all the other victims. "I like that it is a collective memorial, but still has an individual feel to it," Laychak said. "In an elegant way, the memorial tells the story of what happened at that place at that time."

The decision on the Pentagon memorial comes less than a week after officials in New York City chose a design for the World Trade Center site.

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