9/11 Memorial Uses Green Design to Create a Place of Remembrance

by , 09/11/12

national september 11 memorial, september 11 memorial, 9 11 memorial, 911 memorial, michael arad, ground zero, world trade center memorial, ground zero memorial, green design, ground zero plaza

Arad and Walker’s design was selected from a global competition that received more than 5,200 submissions from 63 nations. The reflecting pools, which sit in the exact footprints of the Twin Towers, are the center of the memorial. In their proposal, Arad and Walker describe the pools as “large voids, open and visible reminders of the absence.” They wanted the space to resonate with the feelings of loss that were caused by the destruction of the World Trade Center. The pools are each nearly an acre in size, and they will feature the largest man made waterfalls in North America. Bronze panels edging the pools will be inscribed with the name of every single person who died on September 11, as well as the terror attacks in 1993.

The street-level plaza surrounding the pools has been described as one of the most eco-friendly plazas ever constructed. It’s aiming for LEED Gold certification, and has irrigation, stormwater and pest management systems that conserve energy and water. The designers planted the plaza with more than 400 swamp white oak trees, as they are natural reminders of life and rebirth. “These trees, like memory itself, demand the care and nurturing of those who visit and tend them,” they wrote in their proposal. “They remember life with living forms, and serve as living representations of the destruction and renewal of life in their own annual cycles.”

national september 11 memorial, september 11 memorial, 9 11 memorial, 911 memorial, michael arad, ground zero, world trade center memorial, ground zero memorial, green design, ground zero plaza

Swamp white oaks were selected for their durability and leaf color, and they were harvested from 500-mile radius around the WTC site, with several also coming from areas in Pennsylvania and D.C. that were affect on 9/11. The tree-filled plaza acts as a green roof for the Memorial Museum and the train station that are located 70 feet underground. To support the trees, a suspended paving system was used, meaning that the pavement sits atop troughs filled with nutrient rich soil for the tree roots. Rainwater will be harvested and used as irrigation for the trees.

The plaza will be free and open to the public, but because of the construction going on surrounding the space, visitor passes are required. Reservations for tickets began at 9 a.m. on July 11, and within just a few hours, more than 11,000 passes had been reserved. No doubt, the memorial will fast become a place of solitude for New Yorkers and a destination for all those who want to pay tribute to the lives lost on September 11th.

+ National September 11 Memorial & Museum


or your inhabitat account below


  1. sunil and madhuri March 24, 2014 at 9:34 am
    I love United States of America. I am although Indian ( Asia), I am proud of USA as a tourist and non-immigrant. Americans are born courageous. God bless United States of America. Sunilddchaudhari@gmail.com
  2. avanwhy April 18, 2012 at 2:04 pm
    I am a 9/11 survivor and moved out of New York City in 2003. I visited the 9/11 Memorial this past April 6th. It's taken me up till now to be able to put my reaction down in words. http://visittomemorial.blogspot.com
  3. pablorenato September 11, 2011 at 9:46 pm
    @lazyreader I saw a doco on the building of the memorial last night You'll laugh to hear that in order to meet the 9/11 2011 deadline, cost of production roughly doubled
  4. mlmlm September 7, 2011 at 10:45 am
    @lazyreader While your point regarding smaller buildings is very valid, you have to think about sustainability in that sense as well. A gathering of smaller buildings takes up more of the earth's footprint than an equal square footage vertical building. I live in Detroit, where the tallest building we have is only about 40 stories tall and there are no plans (nor will there be any time soon) for another sky scraper because we have an overabundance of landmass and a low population. In New York, land mass is scarce and they must plan for a future of a larger population. The suburban theory is long gone, by 2040, the current world population will be living in cities and if we're still using oil as a fuel source, it will easily be 3x the current price. People will be either moving to a centralized location to save on travel costs or be working from home. Above all, it is a status symbol and (I think) a pretty well put together tribute to those who lost their lives without just cause. Sometimes you've just got to do it, this is one of those instances where the country would not have been satisfied if we had done nothing and let the site rot to be reclaimed by the earth (even though that would most likely be the best solution in terms of sustainability).
  5. anand bhashyakarla September 6, 2011 at 3:28 pm
    It is very nice and knowledge oriented ,learn able site. we are very thankful to the site creators and update's.
  6. lazyreader September 6, 2011 at 2:25 pm
    It takes energy to run pumps especially to keep the water from flooding the WTC basement. It's more aesthetic than green so who cares. But the WTC site in general is an example of just about everything wrong with modern government. The price tag will make it by far, the most expensive office building ever constructed in America, yet it will add just 2.6 million square feet of office space in a city that doesn’t need it. Even when the original, 13.4 million-square-foot World Trade Center was destroyed, Manhattan already had more than enough vacant office space to make up for it's loss. According to a report I found downtown Manhattan alone currently has more than 10 million square feet of vacant space. This along with the memorial itself will be just one part of a staggering 11 billion dollars worth of government sponsored construction. How fitting that we celebrate the attack that led to the most expensive war we’ve ever fought with the most expensive war memorial ever built. To pay for this new building, which is renting out for half the amount needed to repay its costs, the Port Authority is planning to increase the tolls on the six bridges and tunnels into Manhattan that it controls. I don't mind if auto user fees are used to pay for our roads, New York City just wants to get as much money from motorists as possible to spend on boondoggles like the Second Avenue Subway, the East Side Access tunnel, and the new Trade Center. That’s why the future of cities will probably not rely on the skyscraper in the future. In America there is an abundance of land for businesses to build inexpensive offices in suburban areas and small towns. Go to my hometown, Baltimore there are highrise buildings, but throughout much of the city, there is an entire collection of smaller, architecturally impressive buildings. They’re short, typically less than 10 stories and in most cases never more than 3-5. Chicago had plans to build the 2,000 foot tall (150 story) Chicago spire. Only to go into default and the project died. I wouldn’t be surprised if Chicago had a surplus of office space ready for occupancy, why do we need additional towers in the heart of major cities. The new towers at the WTC site, you can see a uniform similarity of the tallest to shortest. After a while, it gets hard to tell one from another and there isn’t anything really special about any of them, no decoration or ornament or anything that makes us look at them as impressive except their height (eclipsed by supertowers in Dubai and China, but we’ll see how long their trend lasts). Even the ones that style themselves “green”. Expensive costs just to build them self defeat the green benefits it describes. Fortunately we have a group of architects still designing smaller buildings, ones that you can actually walk around or up without feeling as if you scaled Everest. (Just take out the elevators and we won’t have an obesity problem anymore). The growing trend are businesses with employee’s that can work from home. If you work from home, you don’t need to drive or take transit or be clustered into an office. Buildings with smaller floor plans and small clusters of networked employees will render the cubicle farms obsolete. Look no further than Washington D.C., which has no skyscrapers, just midrise buildings (a lot of them hideous but a few are interesting). Don’t get me wrong, modern architecture is fine in small doses but most of it is bland, unimpressive and stale. The architecture of the older buildings is obviously superior (to be fair that was easy to do when you were just paying depression era youths less than a dollar an hour or immigrant masons and artists).
  7. Bernie Goetz July 16, 2011 at 7:10 pm
    Green? Sustainable design? The inmates are running the asylum. These waterfalls will use about $40 million a year in electricity, and will be dull besides. Remembrance? Revered? Its a non-memorial. Lets see how these pits are rated after they have been open one year.