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9/11 Memorial Architect Discusses Vision For Landmark

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The National September 11 Memorial is just a few short steps from the frenzy of the streets of Lower Manhattan. It has two, one-acre reflecting pools in the exact footprints of the Twin Towers, where the water seemingly disappears into a void in the center.

On Friday, CBS 2's Maurice DuBois spoke with Michael Arad, the architect behind the Memorial, about his vision.

"Water, in so many ways, provides comfort here in this space. It doesn't drown out the sounds of the city, but it does mitigate them a little bit, and it gives you an acoustical envelope that allows you to stand here at the very edge and really sink into deep thought and reflection when you're at the edge here," Arad said.

MORE: Remembering 9/11/01: Ten Years Later

Names Inscribed On 9-11 Memorial Reflecting Pool
Names Inscribed On 9-11 Memorial Reflecting Pool (credit: CBS 2)

Arad's plan beat nearly 5,200 other proposals. After much debate over how to arrange the names, his idea prevailed: to group them by tower, business, friendship, or requests from the families.

You can look up the names online or in the kiosk and find them inscribed onto bronze panels that ring the pools.

"The people whose names are inscribed here are like us. They came to work that day. They went to the office buildings here in Lower Manhattan. They were on their way to take their kids to school. They were on flights across country with their families," Arad said.

Arad said he hopes each person who visits touches the water, touches the panels, and finds his or her own way to connect.

The Memorial takes up half the site's 16 acres, and with 200 of the planned 400 oak trees already planted, the site is one of the most eco-friendly plazas you'll ever visit.

Beneath all this simplicity, though, is an engineering marvel: 60 feet of space for PATH and subway trains, pumps for the fountains, and everything else that keeps a city running.

"I think this is going to be a place where people come to for generations to stand here and pay their respects and see the Memorial, but it's also going to be a place where people might come to, just by walking out the door of their office building ... and sit on a bench like that with a friend and talk for a few minutes," Arad told DuBois.

"And maybe behind them you'll see some kids that are growing up in the neighborhood sitting on the grass with their mother, with their caretaker. When you have all these activities going on side by side, I think it will incredibly enrich the experience of visitors of this Memorial," he added.

The Memorial officially opens to the public on Monday.

What do you think of Arad's vision? Sound off in our comments section below…

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