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National September 11 Memorial & Museum
Reflecting Absence Memorial Rendition.jpg
Artist's conception of the memorial. The two square pools will be located where the twin towers formerly stood.
General information
Location New York City (World Trade Center site)
Status Under Construction
Groundbreaking March 2006
Estimated completion September 11, 2011
Opening September 11, 2011
Use Memorial
Roof The footprints of the Twin Towers will be underground, the Museum pavillion will be between 50 or 60 meters.
Companies involved
Architect(s) Michael Arad, Peter Walker and Partners, Davis Brody Bond
Structural engineer WSP Cantor Seinuk

In August 2006, the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey began heavy construction on the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.[1] The Memorial will be located at the World Trade Center site, on the former location of the two towers destroyed during the September 11 attacks in 2001. The World Trade Center Memorial Foundation was renamed the National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center in 2007. The winner of the World Trade Center Site Memorial Competition was Israeli-American architect Michael Arad of Handel Architects, a New York and San Francisco-based firm. Arad worked with landscape architecture firm Peter Walker and Partners on the design which calls for a forest of trees with two square pools in the center, where the Twin Towers stood.[2]

The design is consistent with the original Daniel Libeskind master plan that called for the memorial to be 30 feet below street level (originally 70 feet) in a piazza. The design was the only finalist to throw out Libeskind's requirement that buildings overhang the footprints.

A memorial was planned in the immediate aftermath of the attacks and destruction of the World Trade Center to remember both the victims and those involved in rescue. The National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center is a non-profit corporation with the mission to raise funds for, program, own and operate the Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center site.


Winning design

Michael Arad design board submitted in the World Trade Center Memorial Design competition

The memorial consists of a park at street level with two recessed square pools located 30 feet (9m) below street level, fed by waterfalls along the walls. At the center of the pools are recessed squares into which the water flows. The waterfalls will be the largest manmade waterfalls in the country.[3]

The names of the victims will be inscribed on parapets surrounding the pools at street level. The design will place the names of the victims who were in Tower 1 and the victims on Flight 11 (which hit Tower 1) around the North Pool. The names surrounding the South Pool will include: those killed in Tower 2, the victims who were in the immediate vicinity of the Towers, the victims on Flight 175 (which hit Tower 2), the first responders, the passengers on Flight 93, which crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, the passengers on Flight 77, which hit the Pentagon; those killed at the Pentagon, and the victims of the February 26, 1993 WTC bombing. Company employees and their visitors will be listed together, but without the names of their companies. Passengers of the four flights will be listed together under their flight numbers. First responders will be listed together with their units.[4]

The Sphere, the Fritz Koenig-designed sculpture that formerly stood in the outdoor plaza between the towers, will be returned to its original location. It is currently located in Battery Park, serving as a temporary memorial.

National September 11 Memorial Museum

The National September 11 Memorial Museum will be located 70 feet below ground. An admission fee is under consideration.[5] The museum will feature interactive exhibits that are designed to teach visitors about the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and February 26, 1993 through firsthand accounts and artifacts. The largest asset of the museum will be the exposed slurry wall, which held back the Hudson River and remained standing after the attacks.

Design competition

In 2003, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation launched an international competition to design a memorial at the World Trade Center site to commemorate the lives lost in the September 11 attacks.

Individuals and teams from around the world contributed design proposals.[6]

On November 19, 2003, the thirteen-member jury – which included Maya Lin, designer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and deputy mayor Patricia Harris – selected eight finalists. "Reflecting Absence" was chosen as the winning design on January 6, 2004. On January 14, 2004, the final design for the World Trade Center site memorial was revealed in a press conference at Federal Hall in New York.

National September 11 Memorial & Museum

Formerly the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation, Inc., the National September 11 Memorial & Museum was formed as a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation to raise funds and manage the planning and construction of the memorial. Its board of directors had its inaugural meeting on January 4, 2005. The National September 11 Memorial & Museum reached its first phase capital fundraising goal of US$350 million in April 2008. This money, along with additional amounts raised, will be used to build the Memorial & Museum and to create an endowment for the museum.


Mission statement

The non-profit corporation that will manage the memorial states its goals as the following:

The Memorial Mission:

  • Remember and honor the thousands of innocent men, women, and children murdered by terrorists in the horrific attacks of February 26, 1993 and September 11, 2001.
  • Respect this place made sacred through tragic loss.
  • Recognize the endurance of those who survived, the courage of those who risked their lives to save others, and the compassion of all who supported us in our darkest hours.
  • May the lives remembered, the deeds recognized, and the spirit reawakened be eternal beacons, which reaffirm respect for life, strengthen our resolve to preserve freedom, and inspire an end to hatred, ignorance and intolerance.


The Foundation has fundraising responsibilities because of the tasks assigned to it by the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC). The Foundation is to own, operate and finance:

  • National September 11 Memorial, the formal "Reflecting Absence" memorial designed by Michael Arad and Peter Walker.
  • National September 11 Memorial Museum, a museum to tell the story of the events.

John C. Whitehead was chairman of both LMDC and the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation. He announced his resignation in May 2006. Former LMDC President Kevin Rampe will become chairman of the LMDC. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg replaced Whitehead as chairman of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.

Fundraising suspended

Thomas S. Johnson, chairman of the foundation's executive committee announced on May 9, 2006:

The decision was made to not actively pursue new fund-raising efforts until complete clarity can be achieved with respect to the design and costs of the project. Cost concerns emerged publicly last week with the disclosure of an estimate by the construction manager, Bovis Lend Lease, that the memorial and museum would cost $672 million and that it would take a total of at least $973 million to fully develop the memorial setting with a cooling plant, roadways, sidewalks, utilities and stabilized foundation walls. An estimate earlier this year put the cost of the memorial and memorial museum at $494 million.[7]

On May 26, 2006, Gretchen Dykstra resigned as President and Chief Executive Officer of the World Trade Center Foundation.[8] The current President and CEO of the Foundation, Joseph C. Daniels, was appointed in October 2006.[9]

The memorial projects were eventually toned down, and the budget was cut to $530 million.[10] Heavy construction for the memorial began in August 2006, and despite delays, the National September 11 Memorial & Museum is still confident that the memorial will be complete by September 11, 2011.[11]

Criticism of "Reflecting Absence"

While the memorial initially received good reviews, it has had its share of critics who say it will be too expensive, too complicated, or aesthetically untenable. Among the critic's claims:

  • Cost — Preliminary estimates place the cost of the memorial alone to be US$500 million, which was the exact same cost to build the original Twin Towers. According to The Wall Street Journal, it would also place it among the most expensive memorials in history.[12] In February 2006, Mayor Michael Bloomberg criticized the memorial, which he estimates will cost at least US$40 million a year to operate, as being too complicated and too expensive. Bloomberg is now chairman of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.
  • Below-ground orientation — The memorial was originally below ground level. Some families as well as fire and police organizations wanted a memorial built above ground, as a below-ground memorial would be a potential disaster if something similar to September 11 happened on the site. The design for the Memorial was modified and the underground galleries removed, bringing the names of the victims to street level.
  • Presentation of names — The representatives of the New York City Fire Department and New York City Police Department insist that the names of their officers appear apart from the civilian victims and in addition to the name, indicate service, badge, rank, and assignment. An example would be: "FF. Michael F. Lynch, Badge No. 2315, Engine 40-Ladder 35, on rotation from Engine 62-Ladder 32."[13] It has been decided that the names of the first responders will be listed with their units; however, their ranks will not be included in this section of the memorial.[4]

Construction commences

Construction of the memorial (March 2009)

On March 13, 2006, construction workers arrived at the WTC site to commence work on the Reflecting Absence design. On that same day, relatives of the victims and other concerned citizens gathered to protest the new memorial, stating that the memorial should be built above ground. The president of the memorial foundation, however, has stated that family members were consulted and formed a consensus in favor of the current design, and that work will continue as planned.[14][15]

In May 2006, it was disclosed that the estimated construction costs for the Memorial had risen to over US$1 billion.[16]

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the costs of building the Sept. 11 memorial are skyrocketing and must be capped at $500 million.

'There's just not an unlimited amount of money that we can spend on a memorial,' Bloomberg said. Any figure higher than $500 million to build the memorial to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks would be "inappropriate", even if the design has to be changed, he said.'

At $1 billion, it would approach the cost of the World Trade Center for which construction was completed in 1970 in nominal dollar terms.In 2006, at the request of Governor George Pataki and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, builder Frank Sciame performed a month-long analysis, which considered input from victims' families, the Lower Manhattan business and residential communities, members of the memorial jury, architects and others. The analysis recommended design changes that kept the memorial and museum within the $500 million budget.

In July 2008, the Survivors' Staircase was lowered to bedrock, marking the first artifact to be moved into the museum. By the end of August 2008, construction on the footings and foundations had been completed.[17] On September 2, 2008, construction workers erected the 7,700-pound first column for the memorial, near the footprint of the north tower.[18] By then, approximately 70 percent of the construction trade contracts had been bid or were ready to award. All told, 9,100 tons of steel will be installed at the site for the memorial.[17]

Withdrawn proposals

Two centers were proposed and withdrawn from the World Trade Center Memorial plan in 2005:

  • The International Freedom Center – a "think tank" which was intended to draw attention to the battles for freedom through the ages. World Trade Center Memorial Foundation member Deborah Burlingame wrote in The Wall Street Journal that the center would have a mission that had nothing to do directly with the events of September 11 and could potentially criticize American policies.[19] Blogs and commentators heavily criticized the center until Governor George Pataki withdrew support for it.
  • The Drawing Center Art Gallery at the World Trade Center – Plans called for the Freedom Center to share its space with the Drawing Center in a building called the "Cultural Center." The New York Daily News ran a series of articles questioning whether its exhibits would be appropriate at Ground Zero based on the gallery's previous exhibits in its small Soho quarters.


Other 9/11 memorials


  1. ^ Trade Center Memorial Name Changes, Gets Longer | The New York Observer
  2. ^ The politics of remembering Ground Zero - Haaretz - Israel News
  3. ^ National September 11 Museum & Memorial- Build the Memorial
  4. ^ a b The Arrangement of Victims' Names at the Memorial
  5. ^ New York City News - Crime - Politics - National & World News - NY Daily News
  6. ^
  7. ^ Dunlap, David W. (May 9, 2006). "9/11 Group Suspends Fund-Raising for Memorial". New York Times. 
  8. ^ "Gretchen Dykstra Resigns As Head Of WTC Memorial Foundation". NY1 News. May 26, 2006. 
  9. ^ "WTC Memorial Foundation Names Joseph C. Daniels as President & CEO of the Foundation". October 31, 2006. 
  10. ^ "9/11 memorial plans scaled down". BBC. 21 June 2006. 
  11. ^ "Sept. 11 memorial head wants to open by 9/11/11". July 1, 2008, 2006. 
  12. ^ Frangos, Alex. The cost of the Memorial and Museum is estimated to be $530 million. "An Expensive Memorial Mess On World Trade Center Project", The Wall Street Journal. May 09, 2006. Retrieved June 22, 2008.
  13. ^ David W. Dunlap (April 2, 2006). "Alphabetical, Random or Otherwise, Names Are a Ground Zero Puzzle". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-07-25. 
  14. ^ Perez, Luis (March 14, 2006). "WTC memorial construction underway". Newsday.,0,7984990.story?coll=ny-top-headlines. 
  15. ^ Laura Trevelyan. "Work commences on 9/11 memorial". BBC. 
  16. ^ Amy Westfeldt (May 6, 2006). "Sept. 11 Memorial Cost Estimate Rises". Guardian (UK).,,-5800493,00.html. 
  17. ^ a b
  18. ^ Associated Press (17 August 2008). "Steel column for 9/11 memorial rises at Ground Zero". Newsday (Melville, New York: Newsday Inc.).,0,6320030.story. 
  19. ^ Debra Burlingame (June 8, 2005). "The Great Ground Zero Heist". Wall Street Journal. 

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