Art Commission ponders second 9/11 memorial in two years

The 9/11 memorial, titled Mending Liberty, is the brainchild of Steve Saymon, a local first responder to the disaster, and Jeffrey Little, a contractor and the designer of the work, which is planned to be near the main entrance of Franklin Square.

The Philadelphia Art Commission was not exactly bowled over by a second proposed 9/11 Memorial, as Plan Philly reports.

“I'm a little disappointed,” said chair and artist Moe Brooker, “that this seems rather small in comparison to the power of the day.”

The planned memorial for Franklin Square, first reported by The Inquirer’s Stephan Salisbury, is the project of first responder Steve Saymon and contractor Jeffrey Little. The proposed "Mending Liberty" memorial features a replica of the Liberty Bell suspended between a replica of the Twin Towers, with remnants from all three crash sites.

After I wrote this column about the memorial, which appeared to be fast tracked by the mayor’s office, one perceptive reader noted that the design suggests that "commerce is supporting liberty and freedom.”

The memorial presents a "series of symbols that have no relation to each other," noted Commissioner Robert Roesch at Thursday's meeting. "Our eyes are darting around looking for something to glom onto."

Philadelphia already has a 9/11 memorial, a graceful, understated design fashioned from a piece of steel from the World Trade Center on the banks of the Schuylkill. That memorial was dedicated September 2012. This one, its creators hope, would be dedicated this September.

There already is a memorial in crowded Franklin Square, one for fallen city police officers and firefighters.

If we have too many memorials, do they lose their significance?

The replica bell, which the memorial’s designers insist be included, was decried by two commissioners. As Plan Philly's Joann Greco noted, "The final motion for conceptual approval, then, included five suggestions, which the designers will address in future months. They were: put the focus on the artifacts, remove the towers, relocate the bell, rethink the use of red brick pavers, and look into crafting a berm so that the site allows the visitor to, in the words of Commissioner Jose Alminana, 'experience a more intimate relationship with the artifacts.' "


--Karen Heller