There are numerous signs requesting the proper behavior to honor the memory of the fallen hanging in the 9/11 Memorial Park in New York, on the site where the World Trade Center towers once stood. Visitors must be dressed properly, should talk respectfully and keep their voices down, and most importantly, they should not forget that on September 11, 2001 three thousand people lost their lives on that very same spot.
Of course, no one will even think of doing something tactless, but this still unfinished Memorial Site has already become a popular tourist attraction with all its sad memories experienced during visits. Every day we see a large number of tourists waiting in line to visit the museum. Next to them are those who just want to relax in the cool shade of the trees. Bright flashes of cameras and fashionable iPhones accompany this on Selfie sticks.
The flow of water that falls to the depth of 9 meters, surrounds each of the bases of the destroyed twin towers and symbolizes the endless tears shed in grief, but for many it is a symbol of continuing life. The affirmation of this is the new skyscrapers erected around the area, because they are even stronger and stand even higher.
The construction of this memorial site was delayed for a long time. Although the decision regarding its construction was made immediately after the destruction of the towers, former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, Governor of New York State George Pataki, and President Bush agreed to it together. In September of 2001, the corporation to develop Lower Manhattan (LMDC – Lower Manhattan Development Corporation) was founded. This organization was given the power of control and interaction with the U.S. government and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, residents and city authorities, relatives of victims, as well as the developer of the land, Larry Silverstein, and architect of General Design of this project – Daniel Libeskind.
Daniel Libeskind is the architect who designed the Jewish Museum in Berlin. Emigrant son of a Polish Jew who survived Holocaust, he understands the price of mass casualties like no other. His concept of architectural projects is an area of empty and solid spaces, and empty rooms, like cavities in continuously streaming time. He attempts to show the disappearance of many people over time: here they were but now they are not—the tragedy took its victims, leaving a void in the flow of time.
However, as soon as Libeskind descended down into the pit in the depth of the construction site where the twin towers once stood, he realized that this concept may not be in the construction of a memorial but in its underground cavity. Not all the relatives of the victims rejoiced at this idea. Pickets began to appear at the start of construction but after negotiations the issue was resolved, and the idea gradually came to fruition.
Once the Ground Zero site was ready for construction, protracted litigation regarding real estate issues had begun. These long and unproductive debates about numerous proposed projects of the memorial site lasted from 2002 to 2006.
All projects were rejected: a primitive suggestion from Donald Trump to build the same towers, only higher, and the design of the whole area with a beautiful Freedom Tower topped with a glass pyramid. Finally a draft from Israeli architect Michael Arad was adopted. The project was called “Reflecting Absence.” It was Michael Arad who proposed the concept of two cascading waterfalls located on the perimeter of the fallen towers. The project also involved the creation of a park with 400 White Oaks, and the construction of the museum.
The opening of the Memorial complex was planned for the tenth anniversary of the tragedy and its construction began in 2007. The work was constantly overshadowed by confusing information of a rapidly growing budget allotted for the memorial site. At first, $350 million was collected in donations, but with time the estimated sum of the project increased to $500 million. Then Governor George Pataki and New York City Mayor Michael Blumberg went back to the contractor requesting to review the budget. After a month of work, the sum was back to the one originally proposed, however, as they say, “it left a bad taste.”
On September 12, 2011, after 10 years and one day, the memorial site was officially opened and was called the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, although it is frequently referred to as the Ground Zero Museum. On May 21, 2014, the first visitors walked into the museum, the entrance of which is created in the form of a glass pavilion, although the museum is underground. The pavilion, in addition to the lobby and atrium, hosts the auditorium, exhibition space and “family room” (built for relatives of the victims of 9/11, 2001 tragedy). The architect is Davis Brody Bond.
As part of the memorial, a partially preserved underground wall was incorporated into the design. During the tragedy, it maintained the flow of water from the Hudson River, preventing the entire Lower Manhattan from flooding. Pools with waterfalls were erected around the perimeter of the former Twin Towers, edged with granite slabs with carved out names of all those killed in these buildings, names of people who were killed in the planes, and the names of rescuers and those who died in the explosion at the International Trade Center in 1993.
Today, the construction of all facilities is completed or is in its final stage. It just so happened that Daniel Libeskind was actually suspended from further designing individual objects in this complex. The general direction taken was to increase the efficiency of usable space while the design of other buildings was entrusted to different architects.
In the southern part stands the glass skyscraper, World Trade Center One, the Freedom Tower, the height of which is 541 meters, including the spire. As such, it is the tallest building in the U.S. and ranks fourth tallest in the world. Construction of the tower, World Trade Center Four, based on the design of Fumihiko Maki, is completed. Two more towers based on the designs of Norman Foster and Richard Rogers are in the process of construction and in search of tenants. Also, in 2006 the construction of tower, World Trade Center Seven, was quickly completed. It was not a part of the master plan, but it will be a part of the World Trade Center complex.
Photo: Svitlana Vais and from archives of InLove magazine.
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