National September 11 Memorial

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National September 11 Memorial | Notes of Interest

The National September 11 Memorial is an eight-acre plaza set within the dense urban fabric of Lower Manhattan, where the former towers of the World Trade Center once stood. The memorial plaza is an integral part of the 16-acre redeveloped World Trade Center complex, and it reaches and connects the site to the city beyond.

A permeable canopy of nearly 400 swamp white oak trees reinforces the geometry of the site. As visitors to the memorial make their way to the center of the space, they encounter the two reflecting pools that deeply puncture the vast flat expanse of the plaza and form empty vessels. The pools, recessed 30 feet into the ground, are lined by waterfalls, delineating the location of the former towers. These voids mark an absence that is present and visible.

Surrounding each acre-sized void is an eight-foot-wide and two-foot-high water table that serves as the source and springing point of the waterfalls. Panels inscribed with the names of victims line the perimeter of the pools. The names appear to be in no discernible order but are in fact carefully composed in an arrangement that emerged when every family of a victim was asked to participate in the design process by suggesting what other victims’ names should be placed adjacent to the name of the person they lost. The final placement of each name met every request and is therefore unique and personal for all.

One of the core guiding principles of this design was the belief in the resiliency of public space and its important civic function in a democracy. This design sprang from the searing experience of witnessing individuals in a city coming together as a community in its public spaces to support one another and look savagery in the eye with courage, compassion, and stoicism. It is a place where solemn contemplation coexists with office workers and residents who are at work and play. It is a place where the past and the present can merge.

Additional Credit

  • Agronomist: C.R. Dixon & Associates, LLC
  • Architect of Record: Davis Brody Bond
  • Blast Hardening Consultant: Weidlinger Consulting Engineers
  • Code Consultants: Code Consultants, Inc.
  • Commissioning: Horizon Engineers
  • Construction Manager: Lend Lease Inc.
  • Engineer: Geotechnical: Mueser Rutledge Consulting Engineers; Langan Engineering & Environmental Services
  • Engineer: MEP: Jaros Baum & Bolles Consulting Engineers
  • Engineer: Paving: Mark Smallridge Associates
  • Engineer: Security: ARUP
  • Fountain Designer: DEW Inc.
  • Horticulturalist: Paul Cowie & Associates
  • Irrigation Design: Northern Design
  • Landscape Architect: PWP Landscape Architecture
  • Lighting Designer: Fisher Marantz Stone
  • Waterproofing: WJE Engineers & Architects P.C.

Photo Credit

  • © Silverstein Properties
  • © Joe Woolhead/Courtesy of National September 11 Memorial & Museum

National September 11 Memorial

  • Architect: Handel Architects
  • Owner: National September 11 Memorial Foundation
  • Location: New York City

Jury Comments

This is an exquisite memorial that captures the absence of the towers both literally and poetically. Its execution creates a successful space for collective mourning and remembrance. It lives up to its role as a significant and appropriate memorial but also acts as a functioning part of a more livable and beautiful city by providing remarkable views from above, casual seating for daily use as well as the emotional experience of the memorial.

It is profound, and profoundly good with many successful features which include maintaining the building footprints, using water to evoke the motion and power of the towers’ collapse, and also using water and landscape to symbolize the continuity of life.

This project is important culturally and important as a commemorative element in the city. It transforms Lower Manhattan in a way that is fundamental.

More about National September 11 Memorial.

2013 Institute Honor Awards for Regional and Urban Design Jury

  • Mark Shapiro, AIA, Chair
  • Mithun, Inc.
  • Seattle
  • Ellen Dunham-Jones, AIA
  • Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Atlanta
  • William A. Gilchrist, FAIA
  • Place Based Planning
  • New Orleans
  • Toni L. Griffin, AIA
  • The City College of New York
  • New York City
  • Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA
  • U.S. Commission of Fine Arts
  • Washington, DC

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