Memorializing 9/11 – 16 Years Later

Tom Jaske
Sixteen years after the attacks of September 11th, I reflect on our work for the iconic memorial and museum.

I know I am not alone in saying that as I drove into work on September 11, 2001, I could never have imagined the tragic events that were about to unfold in our country. At the time, I was working on-site at Newark Airport. That morning, I remember being focused on a 66-truck concrete pour that was in progress, when I received a frantic call from the Port Authority alerting me to stop all construction activity immediately as the airport was about to be shut down. I almost thought it was a joke and couldn’t imagine a good reason to shut down with so much going on with our construction project. My initial annoyance was quickly replaced with the same concern that spread throughout the country on that fateful day.

Eventually, as Americans have always done, we began to rebuild...

It has now been sixteen years since these infamous attacks on our country. Eventually, as Americans have always done, we began to rebuild. We at Faithful+Gould had the opportunity to directly contribute to this effort when Faithful+Gould was selected to provide project management services for the National September 11 Memorial & Museum (NS11MM), as well as cost estimating for the whole site for the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC). The Memorial project was comprised of three elements: the plaza, complete with landscaping and waterfalls in the footprints of the fallen towers, a memorial museum built below ground and an above grade museum pavilion, which also serves as the entrance to the memorial museum.

Working on this site was a truly humbling and gratifying experience. Understanding the significance of the work, the project was a true team effort, with everyone working together toward the noble cause of creating a space to memorialize and celebrate those lost through the events of 9/11. Watching the site being rebuilt and getting to develop these relationships with the various teams was a highlight of my career. The end result is a beautiful piece of architecture and a very moving exhibit, one that I am so very proud to have helped to bring to life.

On September 11, 2011, exactly ten years after the attacks, the plaza was official unveiled at a grand opening ceremony. I was able to attend, along with several members of our project team including Lead Project Manager Jim Glover, Senior Project Controls Manager Paul Roberts, Lead Cost Manager Siva Rajan and Senior Cost Manager Hiren Shukla. This was a once in a lifetime event that welcomed a crowd that included two presidents. I will always remember how the very somber tone of the commemorative event gave way to a joyous feeling as the crowd entered the plaza and took in the space for the first time. There were overwhelming strong and mixed emotions of pride and sadness as one beheld the great site, yet also saw the inscribed names of the victims on the parapets surrounding the waterfall pools. I myself was overcome with pride, both as a member of the project team and as an American. We had truly created an iconic site that will stand as a testament to the strength of our nation for years to come.

Even after 16 years, the loss experienced on September 11, 2001, can still be felt. We will never forget those lost or what we endured together as a nation. We will also never forget the acts of heroism, strength and kindness that came in the immediate aftermath and the following years. If you have not been yet, a visit to the National September 11 Memorial Museum is a remarkable experience, that brings the emotions of the time flooding back. It reminds all visitors of a time of great national unity that would behoove every American to reflect on and be proud. 

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