Flashback Friday: Look Inside September 11 Memorial & Museum

Published: September 11, 2015

Editor’s note: On the 14th anniversary of the most deadly terrorist attack on American soil, we look back at Electrosonic’s work on the museum dedicated to preserving the memory and bravery of those who died that day. Although our 2014 Integrator of the Year has worked on much more elaborate and large projects, this one touched everyone involved. Find out what effect it had on them here.

While it’s certainly important for integrators to make money on the work they do, some projects are about something a little more important. Such was the case when Electrosonic was called upon to be part of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the site of the largest terrorist attack on America in 2001.

“What it was and where it was made it an emotional project,” says project manager Jackson Benedict. “Everyone was attached to it.”

The museum, which has welcomed more than one million visitors since opening in May, has seen people from all 50 states and more than 130 countries come through the door to find out more about the events of September 11, 2001 and honor those who died that day.

View photos of the September 11 Museum & Memorial.

The museum also honors those who died in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. It was designed by Davis Brody Bond, LLP with exhibit designs by Thinc Design and Layman Design. It is accessed by an entry pavilion designed by Snøhetta.

Both Thinc and Layman have AV designers on staff, says Benedict, and the museum owners and operators were “very hands-on,” a dynamic that “provided another set of eyes” and limited the amount of confusion in a project with so much riding on it. Weekly coordination meetings also kept everyone moving toward the same goal, he says.

More About the Museum

The main exhibition space includes remnants of the Vesey Street stairs, the Twin Towers’ structural columns, a portion of the original foundations plus a permanent collection of artifacts. The memorial exhibition features the Wall of Faces, which displays photo portraits of the nearly 3,000 victims of the attacks, and interactive tables to learn more about them.

The historical exhibition uses artifacts, photographs, and media to recount the events of September 11, explore the background leading up to these events, and examine their aftermath and continuing implications.

The vast Foundation Hall houses the exposed side of the slurry wall, the surviving retaining wall of the World Trade Center, and the well-known Last Column, a 36-foot high column covered with mementos from Ground Zero.

“This was a very large museum project located several stories underground, which made it a bit of a logistical challenge,” says Benedict. “The site is spread out over nearly eight acres, so just getting from one side to the other took a long time.”

Overcoming Challenges

Working in New York City is “always a challenge,” he says, mentioning the ability of getting equipment where it needs to be by truck and ensuring they maintain good relationships with the various trades in and around the city.

Because of the museum’s underground location, there was no cellular phone service in case someone forgot something or needed to get a message to someone who wasn’t working on the project at the time, says Benedict. There was also no elevator on the site until close to opening day, making the coordination of freight deliveries even more challenging, he says.

“We became very aware of having everything we need,” says Benedict.

Electrosonic put an emphasis on making sure the projection met the design intent of the project, says Benedict. That meant ensuring hidden projectors, unique angles and other one-of-a-kind aspects were done to perfection, he says.

“We had to make sure all of the projectors fit the way they were supposed to and the image was the right size to be seen,” says Benedict.

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