National September 11 Memorial Museum
New York, NY

110,000 SF • 10,220 SQ M

The 9/11 Memorial Museum was conceived as the global focal point for presenting and preserving the history and memories of the events of 9/11, documenting the impact of the attacks and exploring their enduring significance. The Museum is located beneath the 9/11 Memorial at the World Trade Center.

Descending nearly 70 feet to the original footprint of the World Trade Center towers, its 110,000 sf interior gives visitors access to the monumental underground site where remnants of the Trade Center’s construction and recovery frame the story of the terrorist attacks and the days that followed. Confronting the physical void left at the end of the recovery process, the spaces of the museum are revealed, progressively disclosing the various elements of collective and personal memory of the event.

Given a fixed set of existing geometries at the site, we were faced with the challenge of translating them into a series of coherent spaces that are punctuated by surface, texture and volume. We chose as the space’s main narrative element a gently descending procession (dubbed “the Ribbon”) that guides visitors from the plaza to the bedrock level where the cut columns of the World Trade Center towers are revealed. The ribbon evokes the ramp used to remove debris from the site in the aftermath of the attacks. It also offers multiple views of the slurry wall, the original retaining wall that was built to withstand the lateral forces of landfill and river, and which survived the collapse of the towers. At the end of the ribbon, the descent continues down along the Vesey Street Stair (“Survivors’ Stair”), which was used by hundreds to escape to safety on 9/11. It ultimately leads to two exhibition spaces and Foundation Hall, the Museum’s culminating space whose sheer scale conveys a sense of the enormity of the site and reinforces awareness of the absence of what once was there.

Davis Brody Bond had a dual role on the site as Design Architect for the Memorial Museum and as Associate Architect (with Peter Walker and Michael Arad) for the Memorial Plaza. The Museum was dedicated by President Barack Obama on May 15, 2014 and opened to the public on May 21, 2014.