Joseph M. Arseneau

If ever there was a project that represented the singular power of illumination, Tribute in Light would be it. Conceived to commemorate the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, lighting designer Paul Marantz of Fisher Marantz Stone (FMS) was asked to realize the design of architects John Bennett and Gustavo Bonevardi, artists Paul Myoda and Julian Laverdiere, and architect Richard Nash Gould. Bold and dynamic, the symbolic “pillars of light” are meant to recall the silhouettes of the fallen Twin Towers. As the shafts of light disappear into the night sky, the clarity of the design becomes evident, and stands as a powerful reminder of what was lost. (FMS also designed the lighting for the National September 11 Memorial and Museum.)

First lit six months after the attacks on March 11, 2002, in a vacant lot in Battery Park City at West and Vesey Streets, the seemingly simple approach is anything but. Each pillar of light was created from 44 individual 5000K, 7,000W xenon spotlights set in a 50-foot square. The light shafts shine 4 miles up into the night sky and are visible from up to 20 miles away. Over the course of construction, the installation moved around the World Trade Center site. The Municipal Art Society, with funding from the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. oversaw the project through 2011. In 2012, the National September 11 Memorial and Museum assumed responsibility. Through this metaphorical use of illumination, light becomes the language of absence and presence, remembrance, and hope.

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