Placed between the beautiful Arad-designed waterfalls that flow in the footprints of the Twin Towers, the museum is surrounded by lush trees that have been planted across the entire site. The curving organic form of the pavilion coexists with the nature around it, while also blending with the horizontal design of the flowing memorials. The glass structure sits atop the museum space underground, acting as the main entrance. The changing seasons and leaves of the surrounding trees reflect in the pavilion’s glittering façade.
The pavilion ranges in height from 57 to 72 feet (roughly equal to a six-story office building), and it will contain 47,499 square feet of floor area, 34,834 square feet of which is devoted to public programs and museum functions. The ground floor will have a large airport-like security screening area and the ticket windows, and the second floor will house a 180-seat auditorium.
The glass atrium provides visitors with a panoramic view of the memorial and new tower outside. Inside the atrium, two steel tridents, each almost 90 feet tall, from the original Twin Towers greet visitors, a stoic tribute to the original buildings. Visitors pass the tridents, and are lead down a long ramp to the subterranean museum space, designed by Davis Brody Bond Aedas, some 70 feet below street level. The angled glass walls and ceiling guide sunlight to the Memorial Museum below ground, illuminating it naturally. The ramp ends near part of the exposed slurry wall, a section of the World Trade Center’s original foundation, and visitors will also be taken alongside a remnant of the Vesey Street Stairs, also known as the “Survivor Stairs,” as hundreds of WTC workers used the stairs to escape on 9/11.
The glassy pavilion and underground space, designed by different architecture firms, use elements from one another to work seamlessly together. The September 11 Memorial Museum Pavilion allows visitor to engage with the site, stirring emotions and memories of the towers which once rose above.