9/11 Memorial Architecture

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9/11 Memorial Architecture

The 9/11 Memorial is located in the World Trade Center complex. 

It is a place of remembrance and contemplation within the hustle and bustle of lower Manhattan.

Creating the 9/11 Memorial

The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, formed after 9/11 to supervise the reconstruction of the downtown region, sponsored an international competition in April 2003.

It was held to select a design for a permanent memorial at the World Trade Center site. 

The competition was open to people 18 and older, regardless of nationality or professional credentials, and received 5,201 submissions from 63 countries. 

A 13-person committee reviewed the entries, looking for designs that honored the victims, addressed the needs of families who had lost loved ones, and provided a space for healing and meditation.

Reflecting Absence, a design submitted by architect Michael Arad and landscape architect Peter Walker, was chosen as the winning entry in January 2004. 

Their design includes twin waterfall pools flanked by bronze parapets that list the names of 9/11 fatalities and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing victims. 

The Twin pools are in a plaza with around 400 swamp white oak trees.

The 9/11 Memorial was dedicated on 11 September 2011 – ten years after the 9/11 attacks.

Ground Zero’s careful design includes numerous symbols, including the 9/11 Memorial & Museum.

The 9/11 Memorial stands on the old World Trade Center Complex and Twin Towers site. 

It remembers the September 11 attacks and the thousands of lives lost.

Restoring Ground Zero provided an opportunity to establish a narrative around the sorrow and courage of New Yorkers and Americans on 9/11. 

The architects of this new plaza were able to impart more meaning across the memorial and museum by utilizing diverse design features.

Purchase tickets to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum to explore the remarkable architecture.

How the Design of the 9/11 Memorial was Selected

The idea for the memorial took shape shortly after the events of 9/11. 

An international design competition was held in 2003, and 63 countries submitted over 5,000 proposals.

The one that stood out the most was submitted by landscape architects Michael Arad and Peter Walker. 

They were chosen as the winners, and their design was realized and debuted on September 11, 2011.

The exhibition space at the National September 11 Museum is 110,000 square feet. 

The pavilion and the building were created by award-winning international architecture and landscape firm SNOHETTA and principal architect David Brody Bond.

It resembles a partially collapsed building, mirroring the destroyed Twin Towers. 

This above-ground entrance connects the memory of previous events preserved in the 9/11 Museum to the plaza’s promise of renewal.

The drop into the main display is done by a ramp, which visitors will note. 

This is reminiscent of several of the numerous construction ramps that were frequently present at the World Trade Center, most notably in the 1960s (to build the original structure) and after 9/11 (to remove wreckage and allow family members access).

The 9/11 Memorial’s design is a representation of a loss.

However, without dwelling too much on the past, the 9/11 Memorial Plaza also invokes the future and the memories of loved ones that we still treasure today.

Everyone has a memory of 9/11, whether it was watching TV, hearing about it on the radio, or from someone we know.  

The 9/11 Memorial’s Symbolic Elements

Though it appears basic on the outside, the 9/11 Memorial integrates various features to enhance its meaning. 

Some components elicit feelings of loss or absence. 

Others, such as the FDNY Memorial Wall featured above, pay tribute to those who died that day.

Arad was adamant that the memorial be a public gathering space — open and expansive — to commemorate how our country and community pulled together in the aftermath of the attacks. 

People from all walks of life would gather at the memorial, just as they had in the days after 9/11.

All of this is important to remember to appreciate the site fully.

For a better understanding of the 9/11 attacks, you can book a guided tour of the 9/11 Memorial. Your guide will assist you along the way. 

Every tour guide has a personal connection to September 11 and delivers their 9/11 experience and information on the memorial plaza and neighboring sights.

The Twin Pools

The twin ponds in the footprints of the North and South Towers are the focal point of the memorial plaza. 

Continuous running water cascades nearly 30 feet from the perimeter on all four sides, producing America’s largest man-made waterfalls.

Running water drowns out adjacent traffic and city sounds, providing a sense of serenity. 

It has the feel of a sanctuary and a place to think. The water flows downward in distinct streams before rejoining the flow at the pool’s bottom. 

This relates to combining many unique lives into one, including individual and collective experiences.

A secondary drop in the middle of the pool sends the water down an extra 30 feet. It’s hard to see the bottom from any vantage point. 

You never know where the water will end up. This portrays how you feel when you lose someone you care about. 

The empty gap represents both the loss of life and the actual void caused by the Twin Towers demolition.

The names of the 2,977 victims of September 11, 2001, as well as the six fatalities of the North Tower explosion in 1993, are carved in the parapets around the pools.

Instead of being displayed alphabetically, each person’s name is placed based on their closeness at the time of the assaults and their link to neighboring names, such as coworkers or loved ones. 

Featured Image: 911memorial.org