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Architect US

Tribute in Light

Every year at dusk on the anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks that took the buildings and the lives of many Americans, you can see the illumination in the sky of two towers of light.

Tribute in Light is a commemorative public art installation first presented six months after 9/11 and then every year thereafter, from dusk to dawn, on the night of September 11. It has become an iconic symbol that both honors those killed and celebrates the unbreakable spirit of New York.

Assembled on the roof of the Battery Parking Garage south of the 9/11 Memorial, the twin beams reach up to four miles into the sky and are comprised of 88 xenon light bulbs positioned into two 48-foot squares, echoing the shape and orientation of the Twin Towers.

On the anniversary of 9/11, the Memorial Plaza is open to the public from 3 p.m. to midnight for the viewing of Tribute in Light. On clear nights, the lights can be seen from over 60 miles away, visible in all of New York City and most of suburban Northern New Jersey and Long Island.

The Tribute in Light initially ran as a temporary installation from March 11 to April 14, 2002, and ran again on September 11, 2003 to mark the second anniversary of the attack. Since then, it has been repeated every year on September 11.

The project was originally going to be named Towers of Light, but the victims’ families felt that the name emphasized the buildings destroyed instead of the people killed.

Several different artists and designers independently came up with a similar idea and they were then brought together by the Municipal Art Society and Creative Time, a New York-based non-profit arts organization. The Tribute in Light was designed by John Bennett, Gustavo Bonevardi, Richard Nash Gould, Julian Laverdiere, Paul Myoda, and lighting designer Paul Marantz.

It’s breathtaking and absolutely emotional. It inspires a moment of reflection.

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