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Design for Pentagon memorial chosen

Rumsfeld expected to announce winner Monday

From Phil Hirschkorn

Stylized benches on the Pentagon grounds represent each of the 184 victims in this rendering of the winning memorial plan.
Stylized benches on the Pentagon grounds represent each of the 184 victims in this rendering of the winning memorial plan.

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NEW YORK (CNN) -- A pair of New York-based architects has been chosen to design the memorial for the 184 people killed when hijackers crashed a jet into the Pentagon during the attacks of September 11, 2001.

CNN has learned that a special competition jury unanimously endorsed the design from Julie Beckman and Keith Kaseman.

The winners will be officially presented by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld at a Pentagon news conference Monday.

"We can't say anything until Monday," Kaseman said.

The other five finalists confirmed that their designs were not chosen.

The Beckman-Kaseman design calls for filling the designated 2-acre field on the west side of the Pentagon with a grove of trees and memorial units -- a glowing light pool and bench-like marker inscribed with the victim's name -- for each victim, arranged in the order of their ages and along the flight path American Airlines Flight 77 took into the building.

The units for the 59 victims aboard the hijacked plane will face one way, and units for the 125 victims inside the Pentagon will face the opposite direction.

The memorial will be visible at night, from the road to the Pentagon, and from flights passing near it.

The Pentagon, which was rebuilt by September 11, 2002, had intended for the memorial to be built by the second anniversary of the attack, though it is unclear if it is still committed to that deadline.

Beckman and Kaseman beat out two other New York-based hopefuls among the six finalists.

"We're very disappointed," said Jean Koppel of Brooklyn, who entered with her partner, Tom Kowalski.

They proposed a monument with 184 glass panels inscribed with victims' names, standing on a granite island in a reflecting pool. Visitors would have been able to leave impressions on the condensation that would accumulate on the panels.

"We thought ours was the most innovative, and it would change the way people reflect on memorials," Koppel said.

Their plan placed first in an online poll of military personnel.

Brooklyn-based architects Mason Wickham and Edwin Zawadzki were also passed over.

"We would have preferred to win," Zawadzki said. He and Wickham proposed a communal table lined with 184 benches surrounded by a walled garden.

The finalists' designs were on display at a brief public exhibition at the National Building Museum in Washington last fall, and for a week last month at the Pentagon.

'It's been a gut-wrenching week'

Two finalists, Shane Williamson and Michael Meredith, are Americans who live in Canada and teach at the University of Toronto, the same school where the winner of the World Trade Center design competition, Daniel Libeskind, is a lecturer.

"All of the proposals reflect the need to represent the individual loss," Williamson said. "It's been a gut-wrenching week waiting to hear the results."

The one non-American finalist, a team from New Zealand, received notification via an advance copy of the news release that said, "The designer will be on hand to discuss the concept."

"It's not us," said team leader Jacky Bowing, reached by telephone in Canterbury, New Zealand.

Their nationality was not a handicap, those familiar with the decision said.

There were 1,126 memorial proposals submitted to the Army Corps of Engineers, which ran the contest and notified the finalists by Friday.

The 11-member jury included two victims' family members, two former defense secretaries, two artists, two architects, a dean of architecture, and the wife of a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Terry Riley, jury chairman and chief curator of architecture and design at New York's Museum of Modern Art, refused to comment on the selection.

Beckman and Kaseman studied architecture at Columbia University and founded their design studio in New York in 2001.

Their memorial will be built 165 feet from the Pentagon wall where the hijacked plane crashed. Human remains will not be incorporated.

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