The spirit of the competition mission statement is embodied by forming a narrative experience of earth and sky, shadows, and reflections. Responses to seeing, understanding, expressing and respecting the heroes and events of Flight 93 are embodied in a rural landscape of paths and traces.
Every landscape is a palette of abstracts and fragments, a personal collection of glimpses bathed in the light of the seasons.
We will seek clues in this landscape for answers to the unanswerable, to what happened here, to what acts precipitated the loss of loved ones, and ultimately to find our own place of comfort, hope, and inspiration.
The mining legacy of scaring and ultimately reclaiming the land provides for a rich vocabulary of forms e.g. berms, ridges, glades, clefs, faults etc, each conceptually linked to the idea of caring for and healing the earth.
This inherent poetry of the site, juxtaposed with these forms, is invoked as fundamental to finding a solemn and tranquil expression of real space and experience of landscape. Walks along paths map time, distance, and the magnitude of the events, leaving us with a memory of place. As formal devices, axial and figural landforms organize and direct the experience of scale and focus our reflection on the past, present, and future. Seemingly floating in space, the Memorial design assumes a reflective lightness, as if to suggest the weight of the world has been lifted.
As art and landscape combine in a dialogue of the natural and the man-made, the Flight 93 National Memorial explores the rich territory between two ideological positions, namely that of choosing to make monuments or, conversely, to leave only footprints.
1 : The Entrance Berms
Two berms rise parallel to US30 to frame the public entrance to the site. A third berm acts to screen the arrival rest area, reception parking areas, public rest rooms, orientation, and security building. A picnic area is designated on the shallow slope of the rest area berm. A Flight 93 National Memorial sign is located on the berm on the central axis of the entrance. The sign incorporates a site guide relief map visible from the picnic berm area. Following arrival and orientation, visitors proceed along Haul Road as it winds into the site.
2 : The Viewing Berm
The new Memorial Drive branches off Haul Road, leading to the viewing berm located at the high point of the ridge. To support the experience of gradually revealing the crash site, this approach and berm siting conceal the naturally declined area around the crash site from view. Visitors park on the northern side of the berm with a screened path leading up to the viewing area. Visitor attention is focused along a wild flower path stretching out towards the sacred ground and crash site. Functionally, the viewing area provides directional site orientation, seating, and shelter from the elements.
3 : The Sacred Ground Berm
The axial path of the Memorial continues as a contemplative walk across the sacred ground. First, as a path across the meadow, then through the hemlock grove to the south meadow, culminating at the wetlands pond.
The sacred ground berm forms a elevated perimeter path for viewing the Memorial, its continuation along the perimeter of the sacred ground directly involves the visitor in the magnitude of the event and stages points for further reflection.
4 : The Memorial Expression : Berm Paths
Departing the Visitors Center, two parallel paths follow the ridge of the berm to the perimeter of the sacred ground berm. A central path leads families directly to the Memorial.
A shadow well is created at the coordinates of the crash site. Representing each of the forty passengers and crew, individual polished stainless steel name plates are linked together to form a unified horizontal surface level with the ground plane. The names form an edge of cut letters that project shadows on the ground. The polished surfaces reflect the sky, its patterns, and the power of the event.
5 : The Visitors Center
Memorial Drive culminates at the main parking area for the Visitors Center. The Visitors Center, Archival, and Maintenance Facility are strategically sited on a lineal berm extending along the Flight Path to the crash site. The architectural massing and public/services organization of these facilities is divided on both sides of the flight path axis. Parallel walls frame a central courtyard, acting as a place for personal expression and access for family and visitors to the berm paths.