menu

The Meaningful Algorithmic Placement Of Names On The 9/11 Memorial

The Meaningful Algorithmic Placement Of Names On The 9/11 Memorial
culture

Data visualizer Jer Thorp created a program that would depict the relationships between the victims through the location of their name.

Dylan Schenker
  • 11 september 2011

Today, on the tenth anniversary of 9/11, a memorial to commemorate the lives that were lost will be dedicated to its planners. The names of the victims will adorn bronze etched panels surrounding the memorial pools that represent where the towers once stood. Although initially the names appear to be placed at random, their placement is in fact completely deliberate. Family and friends worked in the towers together and architect Michael Arad wanted to do justice to those relationships. The placement will commemorate both the 2,983 lives lost as well as the victim’s relationships to each other when the towers fell.

To make sure these relationships were properly remembered requests were made to living family members and friends to provide insight on how victims were connected. Using these ‘meaningful adjacencies’ they employed the help of design firm Local Projects and data visualizer Jer Thorp to develop a solution that would figure out the best way to place the names together.

With approximately 1,200 adjacency requests they had to figure out how to do the most justice to the requests within the alloted space of the memorial. Many names had complex relationships with each other that revealed themselves in large clusters. Using the programming language Processing, Thorp developed an algorithm to clearly layout the names with consideration to the adjacency requests. The layout was both intuitive and interactive so that human oriented problems such as aesthetic choices and design could be solved by the architects and designers.

As much as the more complex work was done by algorithms they merely provided a framework for humans to operate within. Once the program ordered the names, the designers and architects applied their own aesthetic choices to the layout.

WTC Names Arrangement Tool from blprnt on Vimeo.

Overall there were 18 panels per side plus one corner for a total of 76 panels. The placement of the names also reflects which tower the people were in. The names of those who’s lives were lost in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, as well as first responders and airplane passengers are present as well. in the end, 98% of the requests were able to be fulfilled. As Thorp stresses on the blog, the use of algorithms to design the layout is largely invisible from the final product. Instead the names of victims is foregrounded above all. Each of the names is given the same amount space and weight so that they are all perceived as being equal.

Photos and video courtesy of Jer Thorp

Blprnt

Trending

Bicycle Hotel In Norway Makes Commuting A Breeze

Design & Architecture
Technology Yesterday

Umbrella Tells You Whether It's Needed Before You Go Out

Opus One was designed by former Samsung engineers and offers a weather forecast via the flashing LED on top

Sustainability Yesterday

Biocomposite Skateboard Provides An Eco-Friendly Ride

The Uitto is an eco-friendly skate deck crafted from Norwegian wood fibers

Trending

Get PSFK's Related Report: Future of Automotive

See All
Work Yesterday

Hyatt Honors Travelers With A 3D-Printed Statue Contest

The hospitality wanted to celebrate the people who go everywhere for work and make sure their tasks were not forgotten

Syndicated Yesterday

High-Tech Replica Brings Prehistoric Art Within Reach

A £48m recreation of the Lascaux Caves in France will let visitors experience the unique place for the first time in decades

Entertainment Yesterday

Tripod Lets You Make Snapchat Videos Hands-Free

The Camkix kit lets you record wirelessly from any angle

IoT Yesterday

GE Develops An Alexa-Enabled Table Lamp

The first in a line of interconnected home products will integrate Amazon's voice-activated system for smarter home living

Advertising Yesterday

Spotify Mines User Data To Create A Global Ad Campaign

The series of billboards relays the feelings that people express through listening to music

PSFK LABS REPORT

Future Of Retail 2017
Transformation Strategies For Customer-First Business
NEW

PSFK Op-Ed Yesterday

Why Personalization Is The Key To Customer Satisfaction

Andrew Blackmon of The Black Tux shares how the company is using machine-learning models to streamline the fitting process

PSFK Labs december 1, 2016

Retail Spotlight: Home Depot Reimagines How Employees Conduct Tasks

The home improvement retailer puts the customer first by initiating local fulfillment centers and simplifying freight-to-shelf inventory management

Food Yesterday

What Material Research In Beirut Bodes For Our Waste Crisis

Might building furniture and lights out of rose petals and coffee grounds point to more sustainable modes of living, as seen in Beirut Design Week?

Social Media Yesterday

This Collar Wants To Be The Bridge Between Human-Dog Communication

Inupathy claims to be world's first dog emotion visualizer

Retail Yesterday

Commerce Expert: Why Brick-And-Mortar Shopping Can’t Be Replaced

Erin Armendinger, SVP of bio, explains the physical need of customers to experience certain products before buying

Fashion Yesterday

Basquiat-Inspired Fashion Line Supports Emerging Talent

The late artist's estate has collaborated with New York label alice+olivia on a new range of designs

Gaming & Play Yesterday

Fidgeting Tools Designed To Help Creative Minds Focus

The DIDGETS Collection helps those who have anxiety or are restlessly moving to focus while they are working

PSFK EVENT

FUTURE OF RETAIL 2017:
Conference Built Around Report Launch
BUY TICKETS

Children Yesterday

Helpful Robot Teaches People Of All Ages How To Code

The Root has coding expertise designed to benefit a wide range of people

Home Yesterday

Sharing Service Connects Directors With Film Locations

Finding affordable places to film can be difficult, so GETset was designed to help creators easily find good locations

Technology Yesterday

Adobe Is Teaching Machines To Copy Your Artistic Style

A new research project called Stylit uses a camera to mimic a drawing and reproduce the strokes digitally

No search results found.