For architect Paul Murdoch, it was essential to create a design that would work with the surrounding environment, enhancing and contrasting with the natural splendor rather than attempting to overwhelm it.
“I grew up outside of Philadelphia, so I had some familiarity with that part of Pennsylvania, having camped and canoed there,” says Murdoch. “I always loved that landscape.”
“Now, they want a living memorial, and to take it back to how it was pre-mining, and to really create a beautiful area to commemorate the 40 people who died there.”
John Bernstiel, a national parks service ranger who manages the Flight 93 Memorial added, “Coal was mined here for the better part of 40 years.
“Although the coal industry brings a lot of prosperity to the area in the form of well-paying jobs and business, strip mining is a very invasive process that is harmful to the land.”
“Certain steps have to be taken to reclaim or heal the land after the mining is finished. This process can take decades.
“Paul Murdoch, the architect of the memorial, working with his firm and landscape architect, decided that he wanted to directly incorporate this reclamation process into his design.
“He did this through natural elements, such as our wetlands and 40 memorial groves, and also through the planned reforestation project, now in its seventh year.
“His idea was that we could help heal this scared landscape, as we as a country continued to heal after the events of Sept. 11.”
“We also needed a type of structural engineer who deals with moving mechanisms and dynamic forces, because the chime mechanism is our biggest technical challenge to work out,” Murdoch says.
The tower’s meant to be ever-changing with natural forces, and a one-of-kind experience for visitors at any time of day or season. There are different moods from different conditions on site.
“We’re trying to achieve that in terms of sound because it’s changing with the wind with a lot different qualities with the sound,” he says. “The winter wind is quite severe, at 30 to 40 miles per hour from the northwest, and the rest of the year it comes from different directions and lower wind speeds.”
We are proud to announce that our project, Flight 93 National Memorial, has been awarded with the prestigious World Architecture News Concrete in Architecture Award 2017. Our project was chosen from a shortlist of six entries. You can read the full announcement here.
A few jury quotes:
“It’s stunning. The concrete is used perfectly to capture the kind of gravity and the momentous thing that it is there to commemorate. That’s where concrete really shines in the use of this scheme, they’ve used it very particularly. It’s quite a responsibility and they’ve taken it completely seriously, that in itself is a difficult thing as there must have been some very competing voices in a scheme like this. It typifies what’s great about a memorial, it’s entirely appropriate.” Rick Roxburgh
“It's a wonderful use of the concrete from a technical point of view and I think it's been used very appropriately. It's a back drop, its solemn, quiet, yet bold, beautiful and dramatic. I love the colour and the contrast of the different textures and where they’re placed.” Elaine Toogood
“Although I’ve not visited this project, just seeing the images creates an immediate memory. They are just very, very powerful and simple forms. I think they really need to be congratulated for holding it back and just allowing it, the material and the mass to speak for itself.” Gordon Talbot
“A grand and fitting vision which envelopes a hugely significant site. Concrete as monument reflecting a sense of permanence. Lighter built elements interplay allowing optimism to lift above the mass of concrete.” Jason Parker
Soundbreaking: Flight 93 National Memorial architect Paul Murdoch explains his inspiration for the Tower of Voices, a 93-ft-high musical memorial w/ 40 chimes to symbolize the 40 voices of lives lost in the Flight 93 crash on 9/11 in Shanksville, Pa. The video was shot during the "soundbreaking" at the Tower's future location on Sept. 10, 2017.
Dubbed The Tower of Voices and designed by Paul Murdoch Architects, the tower will feature 40 wind chimes suspended by corbels (one for each individual lost) cast into a concrete tower. Notably, this will be the first major vertical element in an existing, expansive memorial that is almost entirely flat. The rest of the site, a bowl-like earthwork designed by Paul Murdoch Architects and Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects in 2005, is nearly three times the size of Central Park and was designed to encourage contemplation through subtle alterations and restoration of the site’s existing landscape – an old growth field and adjacent wetland. Arup is providing engineering and design consulting to simulate a 3D soundscape of the acoustic experience.
Out of all these entries, it was Paul Murdoch Architects – a California-based architecture practice who pride themselves in their poetic approach to sustainable architecture and their mission to shape new activities and experiences for people – who stood apart and won the competition. Subsequently teaming up with landscape architecture firm Nelson Byrd Woltz, Paul Murdoch’s design preserved the crash site as the central focus of the memorial, going against the creation of a monument on the site.
Architect Paul Murdoch has spent more than a decade reflecting on this question. Selected in 2005 from more than 1,000 competition entries, the design he created with his wife and business partner Milena, along with Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects, emphasizes subtlety over spectacle. Instead of aiming for a singular iconic form, the team designed a landscape that highlights particular qualities of the site and its history.
Eric Staudenmaier | Flight 93 National Memorial, PA. designed by: Paul Murdoch Architects
“Unusual structure, interesting graphic nature and great relationship light/shadow. Well-composed and well-scaled.”
The project team noted in its submission that the visitor center and memorial “offer a timeless tranquility appropriate for the final resting place of 40 heroes, combined with the starkness of an open, windswept landscape where one of the most courageous acts in American history occurred.”
With its emphasis on landscape, the Flight 93 National Memorial resonates with the quiet power of a great battlefield.
A memorial is one of the most challenging and meaningful projects an architect or designer can take on. It must be solemn but hopeful, visually impactful but respectful. Following the tragic events of September 11, 2001, many cities, both in the U.S. and abroad, have built memorials to the victims, survivors, and first responders. These symbolic designs were often years in the making, and many have faced controversy and criticism. In honor of the 16th anniversary of 9/11, AD has gathered beautifully designed tributes from New York to Italy. Conceived by some of the world’s leading architects, artists, and landscape designers, each of these moving memorials is a powerful remembrance of one of America’s darkest days.
The office headquarters for a venture capital firm focused on clean technologies is located on Sand Hill Road in Silicon Valley, occupying some of the most expensive real estate in North America. Wood, steel and concrete finishes are used to express both the firm’s sophistication and to create a warm, understated office environment, while interior color accents embody the company’s bold entrepreneurship. Although well located for a venture firm, the site’s configuration presented several challenges.
Commercial projects from Ankrom Moisan Architects, Paul Murdoch Architects, Arch11 Inc and H&P Architects stand in the way of both the Australian buildings when the winners of the awards are announced March 28.
“This is a very hi-end and high-pressure corporate culture,” says Paul Murdoch, president of the firm. “We knew we needed to create a warm environment. We also needed to provide flexibility regarding the interior spaces. The building has to function as temporary office space for the start-ups being incubated within. And finally, we needed to accomplish this on a very tight piece of property with zoning restrictions.”
Memorial designed by Paul Murdoch, commemorating the victims of the hijacking of United Airlines flight 93, which was crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, during the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.