National September 11 Memorial
December 27, 2011
*all images courtesy of Architectural record
As 2011 comes to an end, I find myself reflecting on the past twelve months. Architecturally speaking, there have been projects which deserve recognition, but probably the most anticipated of those was the National September 11 Memorial and Museum. While this particular piece of architecture will have a different effect on everyone, for this Denver architect it acts as not only a reminder of the events that happened on September 11, 2001. 9/11 also happens to be my second day as an employee in the architecture industry, a day I'll never forget.
While I am not necessarily a fan of the museum, I really appreciate the memorial itself. It is very tastefully done. The memorial, designed by Michael Arad and Peter Walker, focuses on remembering the dead while embracing the living. And while the museum and memorial act as one, overlapping physically and metaphorically, it is the memorial which makes the bigger impact.
The memorial design, titled "Reflecting absence", does just that, preserving the footprints of the Twin Towers as square holes with cascading water and pools which reflect the existing skyline of Lower Manhattan.
The 8-acre site is a series of outdoor rooms shaped by granite, bronze, water, and trees. The trees were difficult to find because they had to be a species that could survive in a tough urban environment with just six feet of soil to grow in. White Oaks were selected, grown in New Jersey and then transplanted to the plaza.
When you approach the memorial from the East or West the trees seem to stand in rows, and when you approach from the North or South, the trees look like they are randomly placed. The combination of the two approaches reveals the formality and informality of life of every American citizen.
Daniel Libeskind submitted a master plan that separated the memorial from the surrounding site by placing the plaza thirty feet below street level. Unlike the Libeskind submittal, "Reflecting Absence" keeps the memorial plaza at street level so the connection between the site and the city remain. It also memorializes the names of those 2,982 people who lost their lives in the World Trade Center attacks of 2001 and 1993.
The memorial opened in September this year, the tenth anniversary of the World Trade Center attack which brought down the Twin Towers. The museum won't open until September 2012. As indicated above, the intent is to celebrate life, past, present, and future. The memorial plaza, and its outdoor spaces, elicits a range of emotions and interpretations. It's a public space which knits society together, similar to the American response of unity at the time of the attacks, an American pride that will carry into 2012 and beyond.