National September 11 Memorial Museum
completed in New York

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News: a Snøhetta-designed pavilion marks the entrance to the memorial museum at the World Trade Centre site in New York, which will be inaugurated by US president Barack Obama tomorrow (+ slideshow).

Designed in memory of those killed during the September 11 terrorist attacks, the National September 11 Memorial Museum is the only building on the memorial plaza – the site of the destroyed World Trade Centre.

National September 11 Memorial Museum by Snohetta opens in New York

New York firm Davis Brody Bond located the museum beneath the surface of the plaza. It emerges above ground in only one place with Snøhetta's angular glass pavilion, located between the two memorial fountains designed by architect Michael Arad and landscape architect Peter Walker.

Conceived as "a bridge between two worlds", the faceted pavilion provides a entrance to the museum's subterranean exhibition spaces.

National September 11 Memorial Museum by Snohetta opens in New York

"Our desire is to allow visitors to find a place that is a naturally occurring threshold between the everyday life of the city and the uniquely spiritual quality of the memorial," explained architect and studio founder Craig Dykers.

"It is important that people physically engage with the building and feel that it helps lead them on to other areas of the site and other thoughts about their experiences there," he said.

National September 11 Memorial Museum by Snohetta opens in New York

The exterior of the pavilion comprises a mixture of transparent, reflective and striped surfaces, designed to encourage people to touch and gaze into the building, but also to mirror the changing seasons.

Behind the glass, the architects have installed a pair of structural columns rescued from the remains of the twin towers.

National September 11 Memorial Museum by Snohetta opens in New York

The National September 11 Memorial Museum and Pavilion opens to the public on 21 May.

Photography is by Jeff Goldberg for Esto.

Here's a description of the design from Snøhetta:


National September 11 Memorial Museum & Pavilion

On May 15, 2014, President Obama will be present for the dedication of the National September 11 Memorial Museum & Pavilion at the World Trade Centre site. The pavilion and museum will open to the public for the first time on May 21, 2014.

National September 11 Memorial Museum by Snohetta opens in New York

In 2004, Snøhetta was commissioned to design the only building on the memorial plaza. In the years since, the program has changed several times, however it has remained a cultural facility dedicated to visitor comfort and orientation. The design for the building embodies a careful reaction to the horizontal character of the memorial plaza's design, while also providing the area with a lively organic form that allows the visitor to imagine the site and city in a broader sense.

Snøhetta's design approach has always been characterised by an exploration of context. The WTC Memorial site carries with it both the power of its history and a new hope for the future. It is a place that conveys the memories and dreams of people around the world who are affected by its presence without forgetting its intimate connection to the people of New York.

National September 11 Memorial Museum by Snohetta opens in New York

With its low, horizontal form and its uplifting geometry the pavilion acts as a bridge between two worlds - between the memorial and the museum, the above and below ground, the light and dark, between collective and individual experiences. Inclined, reflective and transparent surfaces encourage people to walk up close, touch and gaze into the building.

Within the atrium there will stand two structural columns rescued from the original towers. Although removed from their former location and function, they mark the site with their own original aesthetic gesture.

National September 11 Memorial Museum by Snohetta opens in New York

Once inside, visitors look out through the pavilion's atrium to see others peer in, and begin a physical and mental transition in the journey from above to below ground.

The pavilion's jewel-like, striped facade was developed in collaboration with the client to allow the building to have a strong resonance for the visitor as well as providing visual and architectural connection to the surrounding urban environment. The flat plane of the Memorial Plaza is pierced by the glass atrium of the pavilion, which allows visitors to enter the below-grade museum and bring with them sunlight from above.

National September 11 Memorial Museum by Snohetta opens in New York

The alternating reflective treatment of the facade will mirror the changing seasons, revealing the Pavilion's differing qualities throughout the year.

The pavilion follows the memorial's sustainability design guidelines. As a result, the pavilion is on target to receive a LEED rating of Gold. The pavilion features a number of sustainable features including optimised minimal energy performance, daylight and views, water efficiency, wastewater re-use, low emitting and locally sources materials and fabricators wherever possible.

  • Pipp

    Very surprised here by Snohetta. Going by the images, seems like a missed opportunity.

  • Trent

    The architecture seems too commercial and lacks personal intimacy in my opinion. It’s almost as if the two waterfalls are so powerful and poetic that anything around it or near it seems to compete rather than integrate.

    Despite my critique, I applaud all architects and professionals involved in this monumental build.

    God bless all the fallen.

  • Colonel Pancake

    I can’t take this design seriously as something other than a video game arcade for a Tampa Bay mega-mall.

  • hellfire

    i find it hard to believe that during the design phase no one pointed out that the design building looks like the old WTC fallen on its side.

  • TylerK10

    Those bolted connections on the building’s structures are so hideous, and they are an unfortunate eyesore! They are trying to compete with the WTC’s rusty bolted connections structures for some “LOOK AT ME!” attention! And that is just not right! Why? Probably a layperson wouldn’t be able to distinguish which structure is which. After such a long wait and so much anticipation, the building’s exterior form is such a banal disappointment.

  • Happy Camper

    I agree that this building is underwhelming. They also missed a great opportunity to make more of that iconic and impressive steelwork artefact from the twin towers, which looks crammed into a spare piece of space next to the stairs.

    The stairs probably allow visitors to move down past the ‘object’ appreciating its scale from differing vantage points, but I had imagined when I first saw the design a while back that this would take a more central roll in the space and in the visitor experience. Maybe it’s better in reality.

  • iag

    Interior looks interesting.