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Project Type

Cultural & Civic




120 Liberty St, Ground Zero


September 11th Families’ Association

A former deli space and canteen for rescue workers was transformed into the first Ground Zero visitor’s museum, the 9/11 Tribute Center. Located directly opposite the former World Trade Center site on Liberty Street in Lower Manhattan, the Center provides a connection point for visitors, families and community to reflect on the events of September 11th through the integration of images, artifacts, and personal narratives.

The architecture firm worked closely with the September 11th Families’ Association and graphic designers to bring the Center’s mission of “person-to-person history” to life. Thoughtful space planning and interactive elements shape the visitor experience.

A series of five open galleries were designed to reflect the sequence of events. Spare design and materials—a concrete floor and soft grey walls—set the contemplative tone and highlight the images and words that tell the story. The exhibit route is punctuated with a series of freestanding panels whose 22-inch width recalls the Tower’s vertical windows. A long blue wall with missing person flyers recalls the vivid blue sky of September 11th. The final gallery space on the main floor commemorates the victims with images and personal mementos. The lower level is a space to facilitate volunteer activism and accommodate the Center’s programs.

The design of the 9/ 11 Tribute Center went beyond a conventional architectural response to program. The creation process was used to shape and define the mission of the Association and goals of the space, and to create a Center at Ground Zero that celebrates the vibrancy and resiliency of the community, rather than memorializing what was lost.


“Connection Point: Defining Purpose Through The Architectural Process,” Oculus, October 2007

“Families Created Tribute Center Out Of Love,” USA Today, September 2006

“Tribute Center, an ‘Interim Destination’ Sept. 11 Memorial, Is Readied For Opening,” The New York Times, September 2006

“Tribute Center To Share 9/11 Insights,” USA Today, August 2006

“A Memorial’s Final Words Haven’t Been Written,” The New York Times, June 2006

“Just The Facts About Sept. 11: A Visitor Center Is Under Way,” The New York Times, June 2005

Poulin & Morris – graphic design; Cauldwell Wingate – construction management; Weidlinger Associates – structural; Ambrosino, DePinto & Schmieder – MEP; Kugler Associates – lighting design; Daniel Schnur – special exhibit consultant; MSL Productions – exhibit fabricator; Monadnock Media – a/v

Photos by Jonathan Wallen and Jeffrey Totaro

"It’s about the vibrancy of a community, not death and tragedy."

Lynn Tierney, former President of the September 11th Families' Association