Letters 05-23-2016

Examine The Priorities Are you disgusted about closing schools, crumbling roads and bridges, and cuts everywhere? Investigate funding priorities of legislators. In 1985 at the request of President Reagan, Grover Norquist founded Americans for Tax Reform (ATR). For 30 years Norquist asked every federal and state candidate and incumbent to sign the pledge to vote against any increase in taxes. The cost of living has risen significantly since 1985; think houses, cars, health care, college, etc...

Make TC A Community For Children Let’s be that town that invests in children actively getting themselves to school in all of our neighborhoods. Let’s be that town that supports active, healthy, ready-to-learn children in all of our neighborhoods...

Where Are Real Christian Politicians? As a practicing Christian, I was very disappointed with the Rev. Dr. William C. Myers statements concerning the current presidential primaries (May 8). Instead of using the opportunity to share the message of Christ, he focused on Old Testament prophecies. Christ gave us a new commandment: to love one another...

Not A Great Plant Pick As outreach specialist for the Northwest Michigan Invasive Species Network and a citizen concerned about the health of our region’s natural areas, I was disappointed by the recent “Listen to the Local Experts” feature. When asked for their “best native plant pick,” three of the four garden centers referenced non-native plants including myrtle, which is incredibly invasive...

Truth About Plants Your feature, “listen to the local experts” contains an error that is not helpful for the birds and butterflies that try to live in northwest Michigan. Myrtle is not a native plant. The plant is also known as vinca and periwinkle...

Ask the Real Plant Experts This letter is written to express my serious concern about a recent “Listen To Your Local Experts” article where local nurseries suggested their favorite native plant. Three of the four suggested non-native plants and one suggested is an invasive and cause of serious damage to Michigan native plants in the woods. The article is both sad and alarming...

My Plant Picks In last week’s featured article “Listen to the Local Experts,” I was shocked at the responses from the local “experts” to the question about best native plant pick. Of the four “experts” two were completely wrong and one acknowledged that their pick, gingko tree, was from East Asia, only one responded with an excellent native plant, the serviceberry tree...

NOTE: Thank you to TC-based Eagle Eye Drone Service for the cover photo, taken high over Sixth Street in Traverse City.

Home · Articles · News · Features · Reflecting Absence
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Reflecting Absence

Patrick Sullivan - September 5th, 2011
Reflecting Absence
By Patrick Sullivan
When the National September 11 Memorial is unveiled in New York City this
week, a Traverse City grad will get to show off his work.
Robert Jamieson grew up in TC and went to high school here. But he has
spent his professional life on the East Coast. Jamieson currently lives in
Philadelphia where he is head of store design for the upscale retailer
In 2001, Jamieson worked as an architect in New York City and out of the
Sept. 11 attacks an opportunity arose -- a colleague won the design
competition to create the memorial at the World Trade Center site. That
led to Jamieson working on the design of the Memorial from 2004 through

Northern Express: Tell us how you came to work on the 9-11 Memorial?
Robert Jamieson: I worked at an architecture firm in New York called Kohn
Pedersen Fox and one of my colleagues there, Michael Arad, had left the
firm a couple of years before and was working for the New York City
Housing Authority.
After 9-11 he entered the design competition for the World Trade Center
Memorial. It was an open competition and over 5,000 people from all over
the world entered. He surprisingly, kind of miraculously, won it.
He basically entered it as one guy out of his small New York apartment. So
the large firm I still worked with took him back under their wing to help
take his diagram, or competition entry, and try to work with the realities
of the site. I was available, and began working with him on that initial
realization of the project. Soon afterwards, he became a partner at
another New York City firm, Handel Architects, and at that point I left
the firm and went to work with him on the Memorial.

NE: What kind of work did you do on the Memorial?
Jamieson: It clearly was Michael’s vision and design, but I was, I guess
you would call it, project architect and I was in charge of managing the
design team and other project coordination duties. Basically developing
his vision -- coming up with designs of individual components of the
project and then helping to present that with him in design meetings with
the client.
We collaborated with the architect of record, Davis Brody Bond, also from
New York, who did the construction drawings on the project. We were also
partnering with Peter Walker Partners out of Berkley, California, the
landscape architects.
NE: How do you think the Memorial turned out?
Jamieson: I think it’s amazing. I think it does everything that Michael,
in his original vision, set out to do, which is, of course, to memorialize
the victims of the disaster.
I also think it makes everyone that goes to that site understand the
enormity of what was lost, not only in lives, but in buildings. It’s sort
of a place in our city that now is a void which once was this huge, built
up area in lower Manhattan. The Memorial design creates a real experience
for visitors that transcends anything a typical building would do.

NE: Where were you and what was your experience on 9/11?
Jamieson: I was actually outside of the city. I was vacationing in
Portland at the time and I was supposed to fly back that morning. I was
getting ready at the hotel, packing my bags, and I had the TV on in the
background and then, of course, the rest is history. I saw it as everyone
else did. So I was kind of marooned in Portland.
I think it was for about an extra week before they were allowing flights
to go back in. Or it seemed like a week -- maybe it was about five days or
something. We flew in and it was nighttime and I remember, the flight was
actually very sparsely populated, which seemed odd considering that nobody
had been able to travel and people were all trying to get back.
The pilot announced that we were flying over Manhattan and he told us to
get over to the right side of the plane. So the first time that I saw it
was from the air. It was just really amazing and everyone had a solemn
moment on the flight, as we flew over this still-smoking ruin below. Soon
after I was back, I went down there and it was raining but I felt like I
had to get down there and see it for myself. I got as close as I could and
at that time they hadn’t really removed any of the structure or anything,
so you could still see everything.

NE: When you see a photo of the site, the pools don’t look so large, but
I imagine they are huge in real life.
Jamieson: They are. Each side is about 186 feet long, which is almost one
city block. So when you’re standing there, seeing this void that’s
essentially one city block square and there’s two of them sort of
side-by-side where the original towers were, and then each of those pools
is literally ringed by five rows deep of names, around the whole thing,
that are only about an inch high, you really understand the enormity of
both the lives lost and what was physically lost.
NE: Around the time you worked on the Memorial you designed a home on
Lake Michigan in Northern Michigan. How did you enjoy that and have you
done others?
Jamieson: That’s the only project I’ve done in Northern Michigan. I’ve
kind of worked at all scales throughout my career and residential design
and architecture is really one of my favorite things to do because you are
working with an individual client, trying to shape something in the way
that they want to live. It’s a very personal experience as opposed to
working on large-scale projects with a corporate client.

NE: Tell me about your background and growing up in Northern Michigan?
Jamieson: I grew up in Traverse City. I lived there all my life until
college. I went to Central High School -- I graduated before they split
it up. I really loved growing up in the area and definitely took
advantage of the beautiful surroundings.
I always tell people it’s so great to grow up in a place where you can go
to the beach everyday in the summer and go skiing everyday in the winter.
To live in a house where, well, it’s probably changed now, but we never
locked the door or anything. Much different than New York.

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