The Story Behind the 9/11 Memorial Glade Design

A person places their hand on a granite monolith at the 9/11 Memorial Glade. A bouquet wrapped in a blue flower sleeve sits to the right.
World Trade Center steel is incorporated into the 9/11 Memorial Glade design. Photo by Jin S. Lee, 9/11 Memorial.

The 9/11 Memorial Glade, which opened on May 30, is a new addition to the evolving 9/11 Memorial. It is a dedicated space to first responders, recovery workers and those who have died or are suffering from health-related issues as a result of the attack. Behind its design, proposed by the Memorial’s original architects Michael Arad and Peter Walker, the Glade is rich with symbolism. Here are a few key things to know about the Glade’s design and its physical transformation.

The Glade, which resides next to the Survivor Tree, is an open, beautiful pathway surrounded by greenery. The centerpiece of the Glade includes six monoliths that erupt from the ground, pointing skyward in an act of defiance. The coarse edges of the massive monoliths might lend an appearance that is bruised and battered, which symbolizes the resilience and character of the recovery workers and the city of New York.

Another notable part of the Glade’s design is the use of steel throughout that was recovered from the original World Trade Center. The steel was melted down and added to align with the fissures that were engraved into the monoliths, thereby unifying the monoliths with the broader lower Manhattan community.

While observing the Glade, one may notice the many docents stationed near the site, many of whom experienced 9/11 firsthand. Their role is to be of service to those who come to visit. They are available to explain the significance of the Glade, answer questions and educate visitors.

The various design elements that comprise the Glade lend themselves to a meaningful, dedicated space to honor those who suffered and continue to suffer because of the attacks.

By Elizabeth McCarthy, Marketing Department, 9/11 Memorial & Museum

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