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Michael Arad, Reflecting Absence

b. 1969


Photo of Michael Arad speaking at the National AIA Convention in Washington, DC, 2012

Michael Arad, AIA Convention, 2012

Photo ©Jackie Craven.
Architect Michael Arad stands near his completed design of the 9/11 Memorial

Architect Michael Arad stands near his 9/11 design at the tenth anniversary ceremonies of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center site, September 11, 2011 in New York City.

Photo by Justin Lane-Pool/Getty Images News ©2011 Getty Images

Michael Sahar Arad was one of six recipients of the Young Architects Award given by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) in 2006. By 2012 Arad was one of fifteen "Architects of Healing" receiving a special AIA medal for his Reflecting Absence design of the National 9/11 Memorial in New York City.


1969 in Israel. Arrived in the U.S. in 1991.

Education and Public Service:

  • 1989 - 1991, Israeli Military service
  • 1994, Dartmouth, BA in Government
  • 1999, Georgia Institute of Technology, Masters in Archecture

Professional Experience:

Principal Works:

  • 2004, winning design for a memorial at the World Trade Center site, New York City, selected from more than 5,000 entrants from 63 nations.
  • 2004, Espirito Santo Plaza, Miami, Florida (KPF)
  • 2010, International Commerce Centre, Union Station Tower, Hong Kong (KPF)
  • 2011, Reflecting Absence, World Trade Center Site Memorial, with the office of Peter Walker and Partners, PWP Landscape Architecture
  • 2012, Fifth Street Farm Green Roof, New York City Earth School

In the Words of Michael Arad:

"I'm proud to be an American. I was not born in this country, nor was I born to American parents. Becoming an American was something I chose to do, and I'm so grateful for that privilege because I love the values of this country and I'm grateful for the opportunities this country has given me first as a student and then as an architect."

"America epitomizes for me liberty and equality, tolerance and a belief in shared sacrifices. It is a noble social experiment that depends on every generation's engagement and belief in it. The design of the Memorial of the World Trade Center is a physical manifestation of these values and beliefs. It is a design formed by my experiences in New York in the aftermath of the attacks, where I witnessed the remarkable response of the City as a community, united in its most trying hour; united in compassion and courage, determined and stoic."

"The public spaces of the City—places like Union Square and Washington Square—were the sites where this incredible civic response took shape, and, in fact, it could not have taken shape without them. These public spaces informed and gave shape to the response of its citizens and their design is open democratic forms reflect our shared values and beliefs in a civic and democratic society based on freedom, liberty, and yet even the individual pursuit of happiness what else is a pursuit of solace in the face of grief."

"Public spaces form our shared responses and our understanding of ourselves and our place within society, not as spectators, but as participants, as engaged citizens, as a community of people united by a shared destiny. What better way to respond to that attack and to honor the memory of those who perished than to construct another vessel for that community, another public space, a new forum, a place that affirms our values and imparts them to us and to future generations."

"It has been a remarkable privilege and responsibility to be part of this effort. I am humbled and honored to be part of it, and I am grateful for the recognition this award bestows on the efforts of my colleagues and myself. Thank you very much."

—Architects of Healing Ceremony, American Institute of Architects, May 19, 2012, Washington, D.C.

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