The National September 11 Memorial, New York, will open this weekend on the tenth anniversary of the 11 September 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
The National September 11 Memorial is a tribute of remembrance and honour to the nearly 3,000 people killed in the attacks in 2001 and the six people killed in the World Trade Center bombing in February 1993. The memorial occupies approximately half of the sixteen-acre former site of the World Trade Center. The master plan for the entire site, designed by Daniel Libeskind and now in various stages of construction, includes high-rise office towers, a museum, a transportation hub, retail and a performing arts centre designed by world-class architects such as Santiago Calatrava, Norman Foster and Richard Rogers.
In 2004 the largest design competition in history (over 5,200 entries from sixty-three nations) saw architect Michael Arad and landscape architect Peter Walker awarded the honour of designing the memorial. Two large reflecting pools, each nearly an acre in size, dominate a large eco-friendly plaza containing hundreds of trees. The pools sit within the original footprints of the World Trade Center twin towers and contain the largest man-made waterfalls in North America. Edging the reflecting pools are bronze panels inscribed with the names of those who died in the 2001 and 1993 attacks. The surrounding Swamp White Oak trees create a rustling canopy of leaves that changes colour and texture with the seasons. A small clearing in the grove of trees – the Memorial Glade – provides a space for gatherings and ceremonies.
Michael Arad and Peter Walker’s design conveys a spirit of hope and renewal and creates a contemplative space separate from the usual sights and sounds of a bustling metropolis.