Peter Walker: National 9/11 Memorial, New York City

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Peter Walker is an accomplished landscape architect, whose career spans more than fifty years. He received two degrees in landscape architecture one from the University of California, Berkeley and the other from Harvard’s University Graduate School of Design. Along with designing projects, he has taken part in teaching, lecturing, advising, and writing about the field.

One of the most notable projects he was involved in was the National 9/11 Memorial which opened on September 11, 2011. Collaborating with architect Michael Arad, one of the main focuses of the project was to commemorate the victims who tragically lost their lives from the attacks of 9/11. The final design created, implemented two rectangular voids representing the location of where the twin towers once stood, surrounded by oak trees.

The objective of the design was to establish a symbolic language which would be universally understood by a multitude of individuals and cultures around the world. Peter Walker and Michael Arad both used this language to illustrate “reflected absence” among the design and its association to the space. The presentation of oak trees surrounding the voids are arranged in a linear pattern allowing the vegetation to form arching corridors which took inspiration from Minoru Yamasaki’s design on the bottom of the original twin towers.

The linear arrangement of oak trees is also accompanied by an open space known as “The Glade”. Surrounded by grass and the view of the exterior New York skyscrapers, it provides a park like feel for typical daily usage. This area however, was also meant to exert a sense of peaceful relaxation and for ceremonial remembrance of the victims of 9/11.

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