Design Destiny: A Diary of the World Trade Center Site

Few sites in the world have as dramatic cultural, psychological and historical impact as the World Trade Center in New York. The nexus of the U.S. financial market and the symbolic beating heart of the U.S. economy was also the site of a 1993 bombing and the attacks that claimed the lives of 2,977 innocent people on September 11, 2001, leaving an indelible mark on the nation’s history and zeitgeist.

Literally hundreds of designers have been involved in the development and redevelopment of the World Trade Center since it opened in 1973. But two environmental graphic designers from the SEGD community have a unique and longstanding association with the site, both before and after the attacks of 9/11. Keith Helmetag and later Amy Siegel of C&G Partners first worked at the World Trade Center almost 30 years ago as part of an interpretive sign program they created for walking trails in Lower Manhattan. After 9/11, they participated in the development of the site as a memorial, and they also developed wayfinding signage and environmental graphics for the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.

In an ironic twist of fate, one of the walking trail signs across the street from the WTC site survived the destruction that occurred on 9/11, and is now a centerpiece artifact on display in the National September 11 Museum.

Helmetag and Siegel chronicled their history with the site in a designer’s diary, which we’re sharing with you now.

Images: Courtesy C&G Partners (except as noted)

Note: C&G Partners' work was completed in collaboration with many design firms and public entities, including the National September 11 Memorial Foundation, Davis Brody Bond, Michael Arad and Handel Architects, Snohetta, Peter Walker Landscape Architects and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. When Helmetag and Siegel first worked on the projects noted here, they were with Chermayeff & Geismar.

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