The current rethinking has been prompted by a report leaked May 5 estimating the project's cost at $1 billion. But criticism of the design had mounted on such grounds as safety, symbolism and the order in which victims' names would be listed in underground galleries. Last week, representatives of the city, state and private agencies in charge of rebuilding at ground zero returned to the drawing board, looking at alterations that would cut the memorial's estimated cost in half....Does it not seem wrong to spend so much money on a memorial? Isn't simplicity, not extravagance, what is called for? But the design is simple. Surely, it's not ornate. It's expensive because of the scheme of moving people underground:
Last year, [Michael] Arad's design underwent another change, reducing the number of ramps descending into each void from four to two — one entrance and one exit — after consultants said visitors would find his design too confusing. Arad, who is contractually prohibited from discussing the process, is said to have been unhappy with the decision.
What the present crisis over cost means for the design is "very unclear," said Frederic Bell, executive director of the New York chapter of the American Institute of Architects. But Bell said he has been troubled by suggestions that the underground portion of the memorial could be eliminated. That change, Bell said, would be "the last straw" for Arad's original design.
"That's what Michael's scheme is about. It is about going down and separating from the street life and hurly-burly," [Frederic Bell, executive director of the New York chapter of the American Institute of Architects] said. "The lack of descent would be the irreconcilable change that would finally cause the scheme to lose its meaning."Shouldn't they have thought this through long ago? Or would any design have embroiled us in boomeranging energy and karma like this?