September in New York City means lots of different things to lots of different people: back to school, back to work, the pennant races, Fashion Night Out, a reprieve from the heat of summer, lots of new restaurant openings, and the kick-off of the busiest, most exciting cultural season of year. But to all New Yorkers, now and forever, the coming of September also means memories, and the anniversary of the worst moment in our city’s history. In 2011, of course, we’ll be commemorating the round-numbered 10th anniversary, and so it seems appropriate to take a look at the progress being made at the site, both on the magnificent One World Trade Center (aka the Freedom Tower), as well as the remarkably ambitious, remarkably on-schedule, 9/11 Memorial and Museum.
The 9/11 Memorial is looking like it could be a spectacular public space, for the neighborhood, for the city, for visitor’s from around the world, functioning both as a place for specific reflection and respect as well as a lovely area to stroll and relax. Earlier this month our friends at Curbed served up a terrific set of pictures from their on-site visit. To get a sense of the scale of the project, remember that the Memorial Plaza itself covers eight full acres of land, and will eventually be home to a veritable forest of 400 trees (215 of which will be in place by the opening), providing shade and color and life to the space below One World Trade Center.
The trees, Swamp White Oaks, will eventually grow to be 60 to 80 feet tall. And as the A/N Blog (“Quick Hits and Big Thoughts From the Architect’s Newspaper”) pointed out in their post last week on the engineering of the space, because the Memorial Plaza is only six feet deep because of all the infrastructure (subway tunnels, mechanical systems), as well as much of the 9/11 Memorial Museum, that is set below, the trees’ roots will spread laterally.
A couple more amazing facts about the 9/11 Memorial and Museum: in addition to all of the greenery, the space will be home to “49,900 cubic yards of concrete, enough to pave more than 200 miles of NYC sidewalks”; the waterfalls in the South Pool, built at “a scale that is unmatched” according to designers Michael Arad and Peter Walker Partners, will move 24,000 gallons of water per minute, cascading over 30-foot walls of granite, then flowing down and disappearing into a center pool, only to be pumped back up to start the process over again; the entire 9/11 Memorial Plaza is built to function as a rainwater collection tray, supplying much of the water needed for the fountains in the footprints.
About a third of the 9/11 Memorial Plaza will not open in September, while crews complete the spectacular Santiago Calatrava PATH train station. One other note: it looks like this will be the final year for the Tribute in Light, the haunting twin towers of light that have shown each of the past nine years. A public art project created by the Municipal Art Society and Creative Time, Tribute in Light costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to produce each year, and the funding will run out after the 10th anniversary this September. A fundraiser is being started to continue the tribute past 2011, but nothing is certain at this point.
As far as One World Trade Center is concerned, the pace of construction has been almost blistering of late, and earlier this month the tower reached 78 stories, making it the tallest building in all of lower Manhattan. When One World Trade Center is completed in 2012, it will be the tallest building in the United States, and the tallest all-office-space structure in the world. DNAinfo posted a dramatic set of aerial photos recently showing all of the progress being made at the site, which you can view here.
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