After almost 13 years of meticulous planning and construction, earlier this week the National September 11 Memorial Museum opened its doors to the public for the first time.

The project consists of two complementary spaces: an underground exhibition hall designed by architecture firm Davis Brody Bond, and a street-level entry pavilion designed by Snøhetta. The pavilion is a stunning crystalline structure clad in glass and striped stainless steel, with an atrium that visitors pass through on their way underground from the surrounding plaza. Outside this pavilion is the 9/11 Memorial itself, architect Michael Arad’s pair of somber, black reflecting pools.


The museum’s subterranean interiors go down 70 feet, reaching the foundations of the original World Trade Center. Here, visitors can browse displays that feature vestiges of the fallen skyscrapers. The World Trade Center’s original slurry wall, which withstood the 9/11 attacks, is the centerpiece of one of the exhibition halls, and a pair of salvaged columns towers over visitors in the pavilion’s atrium, a powerful reminder of the tragedy in 2001.

The museum also features numerous gathered artifacts and records, ranging from an audiotape of final phone calls to a collection of charred documents that clouded lower Manhattan. It is a contemplative, moving space – yet despite the sense of sadness, a resilient spirit also fills the museum and its rooms.

“Though we often think of architecture in terms of great design, beauty or lifestyle, the 911 Memorial Museum is a great example of how architecture can convey emotion and a sense of national pride,” comments Billy Rose, President and Co-founder of The Agency. “Kudos are due Davis Brody Bond and Snøhetta for so deftly handling such a politically and emotionally bound project.”


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Image source: Architectural Digest