The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

September 15, 2005

Flight 93 design provokes uproar

Designer says he's willing to change name

Somerset — The National Park Service's Flight 93 office is being inundated with thousands of e-mails and a stream of phone calls from across the country weighing in on the crescent shape of the memorial's design.

Opinions are divided on whether the shape ' which calls to mind Islamic symbolism ' should be scrapped or supported, park service officials said Wednesday.

'It's unfortunate,' said Joanne Hanley, the Flight 93 memorial's superintendent. 'There is misinformation in the blog-o-sphere, and things are out of hand. There was no intentional meaning of Islam in the design.'

Hanley said Los Angeles architect Paul Murdoch is changing the name of his design from 'Crescent of Embrace' to 'Arc of Embrace.'

Murdoch, meanwhile, went a step farther Wednesday.

He said he would work to satisfy critics who complained that it honors the terrorists. Its shape is a circle broken by the flight pattern of the plane, which supporters have said follows the topography of the area.

Murdoch said he is 'somewhat optimistic' the spirit of the design could be maintained.

'It's a disappointment there is a misinterpretation and a simplistic distortion of this. But if that is a public concern, then that is something we will look to resolve in a way that keeps the essential qualities,' Murdoch, 48, said.

Yet Murdoch said he's not sure exactly what changes he would make.

The recommendation of the 15-member jury consisting of design professionals and family and community members ' which picked Murdoch's idea ' still must be approved by the Interior Department.

The jury noted in its report that the design's name should be changed to avoid religious connotations.

The planned memorial includes a chapel with 40 metallic wind chimes ' one for each victim. It would include pedestrian trails, a road to a visitor center and the actual crash site. At the site would be a crescent-shaped cluster of maple trees and a white marble wall inscribed with the victims' names.

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