Please Build a Japanese Peace Garden as Memorial at WTC


I lived 26 years near Manhattan and went into that great city every chance I could. It is my favorite city in the world and I just returned from a weekend there where I "stayed at a hotel, saw a show, ate at restaurants" as the Mayor asked us to do to show our support for NYC. I saw an article about the rebuilding of the World Trade Center with a Memorial as part of the complex. We are all saddened and in need of solace in the aftermath of this great tragedy. I would like to urge David Childs of SOM and Alex Cooper of Cooper Robertson to discuss with the new managers of The World Trade Center, the creating of the memorial they are talking about, a Japanese garden like the one Minoru Yamasaki(architect of the Trade Center) designed for the Conservatory of Music at Oberlin College here in Oberlin, Ohio.

I have personally experienced the peace that comes, even in the most troubling times, when one sits by the pool in that garden. It would be such a moving memorial to the many souls and a fitting tribute to the wonderful buildings that were lost last week forever. I have photos of the garden and building here in Oberlin if you are interested in seeing the marvelous effect. Here is a letter I sent to my family and friends a few days after September 11, 2001, that day we will never forget. 


Penny Maroldo

48209 Route 511 West

Oberlin, Ohio 44074


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Japanese Peace Garden at the Oberlin Music Conservatory

"We went to a Japanese Peace Garden at the Oberlin Music Conservatory last Friday at 7 PM and lighted our candles and just sat for a while to reflect and pray. One lone college boy came and sat behind us quietly for a while. I looked up over the beautiful pond filled with gold fish and blooming water lilies and the bonsai shaped trees and shrubs at the music building beyond. It took my breath away to see that the building was built in the same style as the bottom floors of the Twin Towers....that part with odd shaped, long, thin windows with pointed peaks. It was really eerie that we had chosen a place to stop our car and light our candle that looked just like what we see on the news at the end of each day....that ghostly little bit of the broken windows that stands all alone in the rubble. We were really moved. 

The next day I went to the web and searched for World Trade Center. I found an architecture site and I found photos of the very Oberlin Music Buildingthat I mentioned above. It was designed in 1963 by Minoru Yamasaki, the architect of the Twin Towers. Is that unbelievable?! I said when we sat down by the pool.. "Fran, look at those windows. What does this look just like?" He answered, "My God, it is unreal". We did not know where we were going to light our candles. We just got in the car and drove to town and

decided to go to that lovely, peaceful garden. It was after we sat down that it hit me. We had just let the spirit lead us and we ended up lighting our remembrance candles in front of what could be a sister building. I think that Yamasaki may have actually used the design of the outside of the music building for the bottom of the Twin Towers. It is like we lit a candle for the Twin Towers that Yamasaki called his "living symbol of man's dedication to world peace" as well as for the lost souls that lay buried under their cement and steel. It is very awesome and life can be very strange.

The response that Penny Received from MINORU YAMASAKI ASSOCIATES, INC.

 Dear Penny,
 That is a wonderful story.  I know Yama would have  been pleased in your   appreciation of the gardens at  Oberlin and the  sense of serenity you   experienced.  That was his intent at Oberlin.  He  employed a  similar  concept   at the Trade Center as well.  The large plaza at  the base of the towers  was   intended to provide an opportunity for pause from  the frenetic lifestyle  in  Manhattan.  The plaza actually came first in Yama's mind before the  Towers.  The height of towers allowed the open space on the ground to happen.  At  Oberlin the gardens came first.
Thanks for your note.
Robert Szantner, AIA
[248] 650-1300 office