Nelson Byrd Woltz Caught in Controversy

Charlottesville’s Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects has done work for Washington & Lee University, the North Carolina Arboretum, Nike’s European headquarters, and the city of Portland, but it’s their latest project that’s gaining them notoriety. They submitted a design for the Flight 93 National Memorial, the site that will honor those who died in that Pennsylvania field on September 11, 2001. Their entry, “Crescent of Embrace,” was selected from over 1,000 submissions by a panel including architects and families of the deceased. That design was announced last week. Rendering of crescentThe major feature of the memorial is a ginormous swath of red maple trees, describing an arc across the landscape, around the field in which the bulk of the debris was found.

Anti-Islamic bloggers have jumped all over the design. Blogs like Captain’s Quarters, Michelle Malkin, and Little Green Footballs write that they are “stunned, outraged, and sickened” by the design, which they argue honors terrorists by echoing the crescent moon that is some Muslims have adopted as a symbol of Islam. The blowback is spilling over to the media, and may well derail the proposal.

It’s presumably not the sort of exposure that Nelson Byrd Woltz was going for, but if their design gets built, it’ll be a real feather in their cap.

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