Archtober Building of the Day #8
National September 11 Memorial Museum
Liberty Street, Manhattan
Davis Brody Bond
The space is cavernous. Visitors to the National September 11 Memorial Museum are confronted, upon arrival, with their own memories, and the collective recall of a day unlike any other.
Crisp fall air, a blue sky, 9/11 in 2001, like today, started with that harvest season sense of expectation and plenitude. For those on the Archtober Building of the Day on Wednesday, the trip was, in part, time travel. Suddenly back in what had been the parking garage of the original World Trade Center, the only vehicles now in sight were those of first responders. Damaged but recognizable, the fire trucks and ambulances of that day paralleled the heat-tortured steel, filling the space with relics that, together, have come to define New York’s sense of resilience and fortitude.
The underground museum space has been shaped by Davis Brody Bond. What the design and curatorial team have achieved starts with a meandering ribbon descending to bedrock, plunging into an architectural heart of darkness, and building out the museum’s mission to “bear solemn witness to the terrorist attacks.”
Davis Brody Bond Partner Carl F. Krebs said, “We started this project with a 16-acre hole in the ground, and thousands of people looking in,” referencing the crowds that gathered to view Ground Zero. To Associate Partner Mark Wager, the emotional impact of the site has made the architecture a secondary component, helping to direct the way visitors and future generations experience the void.
Those on the Archtober tour included some who were intimately connected to the place and its history, and others who were far away that day. The power of the museum and its iconic content had equal impact on all.
Rick Bell was on the volunteer committee organized by the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation that wrote the program statement for the 9/11 Memorial.