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Design chosen for Flight 93 memorial

| Thursday, Sept. 8, 2005

The two massive, rusting cranes that have stood as sentinels over the Flight 93 temporary memorial in Somerset County will be removed to make way for a permanent memorial.

The Flight 93 Advisory Commission announced Wednesday that the design titled "Crescent of Embrace" by Paul Murdoch Architects, of Los Angeles, has been selected from five finalists.

The design features a chapel with 40 aluminum wind chimes, one for each of the passengers and crew members who died on Flight 93. The National Park Service memorial will spread across 2,000 acres and include pedestrian trails, a visitor center and a cluster of trees at the crash site.

A white marble wall will be inscribed with the 40 names.

United Airlines Flight 93 was the fourth plane hijacked on Sept. 11, 2001. It was bound from Newark to San Francisco when it was hijacked and crashed in Somerset County. Authorities believe the hijackers planned to crash the plane into a target in Washington, D.C. Passengers overpowered them and the plane crashed into an idled strip mine near Shanksville, in Stonycreek Township.

"The selection of the final design moves us one step closer to memorializing this extraordinary group of heroes," said Hamilton Peterson, president of the Families of Flight 93. His father and stepmother were killed in the crash.

Murdoch's design was chosen from more than 1,000 entries in a two-stage design competition launched one year ago. The site offered designers a striking contrast, he said.

"It's serene and tranquil, but it has a raw, severe power," Murdoch said.

The memorial, to be built just outside Shanksville, will serve as a framework to tell the story of Flight 93, he said.

The cranes, which served as drag lines for a long-idled strip mining operation, are synonymous with the area, residents said.

"When I think of (Skyline Drive), I think of those drag lines," said Erica Zeigler, president of Shanksville Borough Council. "They're something everybody around here associated with that road."

The Flight 93 temporary memorial, the draglines and Skyline Drive will be removed to leave the landscape as natural as possible, Murdoch wrote in a narrative that accompanied the design.

Jeff Reinbold, planner and project manager of the Flight 93 National Memorial, said the day was bittersweet.

"You wish you didn't have to do it. But this was a celebration of the process," he said.

The mood after the announcement was positive and upbeat, Reinbold said.

"We're happy with the selection. The design fits very well with the landscape," he said. "One of the findings of the jury was that it 'respected the landscape.'"

Organizers hope to raise $30 million in private funds for the project. The fundraising campaign is being co-chaired by former Gov. Tom Ridge and retired Gen. Tommy Franks, who oversaw operations in Afghanistan and Iraq after the terrorist attacks.

Pennsylvania has donated $10 million for the memorial.

Joanne Hanley, Flight 93 National Memorial superintendent, said fundraising is crucial to the project.

"The memorial will be built with private donations," she said, adding that Ridge and Franks are well-suited for the challenge before them.

Construction of the permanent memorial is at least two years away. During that time, engineering and further design work will be completed and bids will be sought for the project.

Reinbold could not estimate how long the construction phase would take.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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