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National September 11 Memorial & Museum

Design

Davis Brody Bond Aedas, the North and South American partner of the international design firm Aedas, launched its renderings for the museum section of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York City (USA) on September 10, 2009.

The architectural design of the Museum incorporates artifacts that pay homage to the history of the World Trade Centre site and the events of September 11, 2001.

Descending to the base of the site, visitors will be guided alongside the Vesey Street staircase, also known as the Survivors’ Stairs, which was used by hundreds of people to escape the World Trade Centre Towers on September 11.

Within the west chamber of the museum, visitors will encounter an enormous space created by large sheer walls and long span trusses. The space references both the absence of the buildings and the enormity of the site.

A preserved portion of the original WTC slurry wall, which withstood the collapse of the Towers and prevented the site from being flooded by the Hudson River, will be displayed in this space.

The West Chamber will also house the Last Column—which was returned to the site in late August 2009 for permanent installation in the 9/11 Memorial Museum.

The massive column was covered in tributes from members of the construction trades, rescue personnel and family members before being removed from the site, marking the end of nine months of recovery efforts in May 2002.

“This architectural design creates a meaningful and authentic space to tell the story of 9/11 and remember [the deceased],” said Memorial Museum director, Alice M Greenwald at the NYC press conference. “Visitors will be able to access historic remnants of the World Trade Centre that demonstrate… the enormity of the devastation and the void that was left in the wake of the attacks.”

How it will function
Visitors enter the Museum through the Museum Pavilion, which was designed by Norwegian architecture firm Snøhetta.

From the pavilion, visitors will be able to access the Museum’s lower-level lobby and public gathering space known as Memorial Hall, which then leads to the exhibition spaces at the bedrock level.

Descending to this depth below grade provides a sensory contrast from the bright and active life of the plaza to the quieter, contemplative environment of the museum.

To reach the primary exhibition space, visitors will descend a gently ramped ‘ribbon’, echoing the ramp that was first used by construction workers to help build the World Trade Centre and then again used in the aftermath of the attacks for recovery and clean-up of the site and by bereaved family members on 9/11 anniversaries.

From the ramp, vistas will be created, providing a sense of the vastness of the site and the scale of the original towers. The last viewing platform delivers visitors to a space directly between the original twin towers. The towers’ original locations are marked by two large metal-clad volumes that match the towers in their dimensions and exact physical position.

“The architectural design of the museum represents the synthesis of a variety of experiences and will mediate between our memories and the realities of the events of 9/11,” explained Steven Davis, partner in Davis Brody Bond Aedas.

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