Designing The Landscape As Sacred Space At 9/11 Memorial

9/11 Memorial

Primo Landscape Design was once called in to replace the sod at the 9/11 Memorial. Photo from Primo Landscape Design.


No one will ever forget the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001 when four coordinated terrorist attacks killed 2,977 people. Eighteen years later, the 9/11 Memorial and Museum are now located where the World Trade Center Towers once stood. While the Museum itself is located underground, beneath the Plaza, the Memorial speaks through the art of landscape architecture to commemorate those victims lost so tragically. Designed by architect Michael Arad and landscape architect Peter Walker of PWP Landscape Architecture, the Memorial incorporates two sunken waterfall “voids” to symbolize the Towers and a dense forest of 416 swamp white oak trees to create a sacred space for contemplation and remembrance. A grassy clearing within the grove, called the Glade, creates a quiet, green park space.

9/11 Memorial

The Glade at the 9/11 Memorial. Photo from Primo Landscape Design.

Vincent Naclerio, owner of Primo Landscape Design LLC in West Nyack, NY remembers when his firm was called in to replace the turf at the Glade. Due to an irrigation problem, the existing grass had succumbed to fungus. Hired by the management firm at the time, Primo came in with a crew of 12 and worked from late afternoon into the night removing approximately 2,000 to 3,000 square feet of old sod and laying down new.

“At the time, the WTC area was still  [being rebuilt]. They were just starting to put everything together,” recalls Naclerio. Fire and police personnel were also there, training for possible alerts. He remembers noticing “…a lot goes on behind the scenes.” The importance of working at the site wasn’t lost on Naclerio. “A lot of people from my area perished.”

For more information on the landscape design of the 9/11 Memorial, including tree digging and boxing, paving, and more, visit this PWP Landscape Architecture page.

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