9/11 memorial by Michael Arad
and Peter Walker


Here's an animation of the two memorial fountains at the World Trade Centre site in New York, which are due to open in three weeks time on the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Reflecting Absence by Michael Arad and Peter Walker

The two sunken fountains designed by architect Michael Arad and landscape architect Peter Walker occupy the exact footprints of the twin towers, which were destroyed in 2001.

Each waterfall will plunge 30 feet into a square basin then another 30 feet through a smaller hole in the middle, with the names of victims inscribed onto bronze plaques around the perimeter. The fountains are set in a paved plaza that's planted with 415 trees, all identical in size, beneath which a memorial museum is under construction.

See Dezeen Wire for a review of the memorial by architecture critic Rowan Moore and his take on the political and professional infighting that continues to surround the project.

The animation is by Los Angeles digital designers Squared Design Lab.

Posted on Monday August 22nd 2011 at 7:34 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • felix

    this link, it does not work

    anyway watching the video, the renders look all shiny, but i think the concept is bad, and that when realised, the lack of shininess in the real world will make that clear.

    the 'footprint' + park idea is fine. what I object to is the fountains disappearing into oblivion below, or even hell. it is not a hopeful or nuanced message. it just says "woe unto us!". here are two holes that will never be filled… i.e. the loss of the towers will never be overcome, it seems overdramatic, depressing and almost macabre.

    though this may have accurately reflected american sentiment at the time, to make this the message for the future seems wrong. "if you hurt america, we will never be fully healed" is wrong.

    why couldn't the memorial be something more respectful and optimistic?

    • Max

      Well I don't think this is a pessimistic memorial at all?
      True, the central hole could remind you in some portal to the underworld, which in some way reflects the dramatic component of the momorial. But it just represents a minor part of the memorial, in which the mayor part is the surface of the basin, which obviously is reflecting the sky; and there is no doubt, this is a symbol of hope. Besides I really like the idea of the waterfalls refering to the colapsing twintowers. It's just the museumsbuilding, that looks a lil strange in my eyes, as its architecture doesn't refer to the tragedy pretty much.

      • felix

        will flowing water reflect the sky? you need still water to do this.

    • fxd

      because the entire point of having a memorial is not to pretend that everything is going to be just fine, but to remember what has taken place, so that the future generations make sure that it will never happen again.

      • david

        Everything will be fine after enough time passes. The real pretenders are those who claim 9-11 will never be forgotten. Maybe the holes fill up with water.

  • Vijendranath.R

    It is not the hollowness that needs to be looked upon but the sheet of reflection that is the key to optimism in this design….earlier the towers were soaring high physically towards teh sky…but now the grounded sheet of water reflects the sky, saying being tall is not jus about soaring high, but bringing the sky down through reflection…i really admire the concept…and i think it works jus perfect for the context…

    • felix

      after looking at it a bit I realised this. but flowing water won't reflect the sky. it needs to be still to do this.

  • WDP

    As much as I like the design, I can't help but marvel at the quality of the animation rendering itself.

  • douglas montgomery

    My first reaction was the same as Felix.


    two portentous holes where once stood two architectural landmarks; 'You win!'.

    Yes, its incredibly attractive, but given this particular historical context, a defeatist message.

  • douglas montgomery

    … and to a degree I'm one of those who 'understood' the motives of those who flew the planes.

  • xtiaan

    water endlessly flowing into a dark pit….. hmmmm
    well its goth as f*&k, Ill give it that.

  • My main criticism is that it's a mechanical memorial. What other memorials are mechanical? Machinery breaks, and anyone that's been to Versailles when the fountains aren't running knows how bleak a non-functioning fountain can be.