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In his blog post titled "All The Names: Algorithmic Design and the 9/11 Memorial", Jer Thorpe meticulously describes his design process to arrange the 2,982 names on the 9/11 memorial to be built in Manhattan. According to Michael Arad's vision for the memorial, the layout of the names should be designed according to where people were, and who they were with, when they died.

Therefore, about 1,200 adjacency requests were collected by the staff of the 9/11 Memorial Foundation through the input of the next of kin of the victims, hereby creating a massive database of names and their respective linkages.

To solve the complex mathematical adjacency problem, and to produce a layout that would give the Memorial Designers a structure to base their final arrangement of the names upon, Jer Thorpe and Jake Barton, founder of Local Projects, had to build two software tools. One that tackled the arrangement problem in order to present a variety of suitable adjacency solutions. And another that allowed the architects to meticulously adjust the spacing and placement so that the final layout could be completely customized and perfected.

Many more subtile issues had to be tackled in the development process (e.g. the length of the names), so that this blog post is a highly recommended read for anyone interested in computationally-driven but considerate visual design.

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