Originally published in September of 2011, republished on September 11, 2012
The tenth anniversary of the September 11th attacks is this coming Sunday, and New Yorkers across the city are reflecting and remembering the lives of those who were lost. The city is planning a day-long vigil on September 11, which will include the opening of the highly anticipated national 9/11 Memorial at Ground Zero. Designed by architect Michael Arad and landscape architect Peter Walker, the memorial consists of a peaceful tree-filled plaza and two reflecting pools in the exact places where the towers once stood. Sustainable design principles were used to create the space, which conveys a spirit of hope and renewal and provides a quiet escape from the city. Click through for a preview New York's next iconic landmark.
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.”
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