WTC Memorial Plaza on Schedule for 2011 OpeningNov 17, 2009
Already the north tower’s footprint is clear — a square concrete hollow that will eventually hold a reflecting pool surrounded by the largest man-made waterfall in the world. Nearby, the south tower’s footprint is halfway done, and below grade, oversized artifacts are being moved into their future homes.
That was the report from Joe Daniels, president and CEO of the National September 11 Memorial and Museum at the World Trade Center site. Daniels presented the latest news to Community Board 1 (CB1) on November 9th, saying that by early 2010 all steel will be installed for the Memorial — on schedule for a “permanent, public opening” of the plaza in September 2011.
With steel currently 88 percent installed and concrete 34 percent in place, Daniels’s team is working closely with the Port Authority to complete structural work. He called out two last major engineering challenges now in play: erecting steel over the PATH tracks on the south edge of the Memorial site, and building at the northeast corner, where the Memorial overlaps with the WTC Transportation Hub. Still, crews are proceeding in both areas with careful coordination.
Meanwhile, below the Memorial plaza and inside the subterranean Museum, the “survivors stairway” is in its permanent location, where crews are now building around it. An area Daniels called “the grotto” will be home to some extraordinary, large artifacts, including a damaged fire truck, a giant elevator motor from the twin towers, and part of the north tower’s needle. That area already houses the last steel column that was removed from the WTC site after the 9/11 attacks, complete with markings left by recovery workers.
Daniels said that public awareness for the Memorial design and artifacts has gotten a boost from the 9/11 Memorial Preview Site, located at 20 Vesey Street. Since it opened in early September, the free-admission Preview Site has hosted about 230,000 visitors, averaging about 3,000 per day. Visitors can check out the site seven days a week to view historical videos and panels about the WTC, read about artifacts, and buy merchandise that benefits the Memorial construction. Guests also can record their own stories about 9/11; more than 750 stories have been collected so far.
Fundraising for the Memorial and Museum continues, and the Preview Site also has bolstered that effort by raising more than $400,000 in sales and donations since September.
Responding to reiterated concerns by CB1 members, Daniels said that his agency is discussing tour-bus parking plans with the Port Authority. With Vehicular Security Center construction planned only to start in 2010, Daniels said a joint committee is considering temporary parking solutions for large numbers of buses bringing visitors to the Memorial. One proposal involves parking buses in Jersey City for visitors to visit the WTC using PATH trains, among several ideas.
Daniels explained that the Memorial aims to cover three main areas: Preserving and commemorating the historical events of 9/11; what led up to 9/11; and what happened in the 9/11 aftermath. With those objectives in mind, he said, final design decisions are being made, including how to represent recovery workers in the inscriptions around the Memorial pools.