I have just returned from a 6 week whirlwind around the world trip. Except that I probably need two new feet, I am totally broke as well as exhausted. Then again, I haven’t felt this alive, excited and motivated in a long time! Over the next few weeks I will share a few of the things I learned on my trip. As I had two teenagers in tow, there wasn’t much of a “design element” to my trip, but still, being exposed to other countries and cultures you always learn a few new tricks.
Today I want to kick off with my visit to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York. Yes, most of us know exactly where we were the day the aeroplanes hit the twin towers. However, being an outsider I could never imagined the impact on New Yorkers and the Manhatten skyline. This museum has probably touched me more than any other museum I’ve ever been in. It was extremely well presented. (One day I will tell you how it took 7 years to build this structure, but it fell down in 20min) What I actually want to discuss today is not the museum, but the shopping mall on the memorial site. At the time of the attacks, there was a Westfield shopping mall on the site already. This was damaged and demolished during the clean up operation. As we know, Westfield is an Australian owned shopping mall group. I was blown away by the amazing new mall that Westfield built on the same site. (Imagine the new Castle Towers could look like this!) It only openend in August 2016, so it’s brand new. It is architecturally stunning, with its’ huge white gleaming structures. However, the symbolisation of the fallen towers are breathtaking. At the moment it’s the biggest shopping mall in Manhattan.
The photo on the left is one of the most well known images the day after the attacks. The image on the right is the inside of the new Westfield centre. It is an amazing and huge structure. It’s supposed to represent the fallen building. I think it was very well done, especially because it is extremely white and bright and feels like a new, fresh beginning for the people of New York. This white structure is called the Oculus. Many people have mixed feelings about it as some people have never set foot on the site again after 2001.
The shopping mall is mostly underground, except for the top of the huge Oculus that sticks out above the ground. The Oculus is designed so that every year on 9/11 at exactly 10:28 a beam of light will penetrate the opening in the roof of the building, dividing the structure in half.
With a project so close to so many people’s hearts, one can understand that some love it and others prefer not to shop in a mall that reminds them of the fallen towers. I’m not a New Yorker, but from an emotional and architectural point of view, I really like it. I love that it has a story. So this is why Australia plays a small part in part of the 9/11 memorial site. The mall/Ocuclus hosts a huge subway station and entrances to the Memorial site. The two reflection pools are right outside the exit of the mall.
What I thought was going to be an hour visit to the World Trade Centre museum, turned out to be a life changing and architecturally inspiring 5 hours . When Americans go big, they go big!
I wish I had more time and space to tell you more!
Until next time,