A Backstage Pass at the Ground Zero Fountain
Set within the footprints of the former Twin Towers at Ground Zero, the largest manmade waterfalls in the United States will be a site to be both seen and heard. These massive waterfalls and expansive reflecting pools will convey the power and significance of the events of 9/11, yet they will be set in a tranquil surround of stately oaks.
This was my first trip to the site since 2003 and a lot has changed within the physical environment; world perspective on the events of that day has changed as well. For some, the completed memorial will be a welcome milestone reflecting ten long years of healing.
Joe Petry of Delta Fountains, fountain designer and supplier for this project, recently invited Chris Golden, Terry Kinsler and me (all from CRJA) on a tour of the construction site so we could better understand the overall scale, complexity and functionality of the two fountains. We were able to circumnavigate the fountains from the upper level where the public will ultimately view the fountains. We then descended below plaza level to the first of two lower levels within the fountain basin and surrounding pump rooms. Once in the pump rooms, we were able to appreciate the sheer volume of water that is required to operate the fountains and all that goes into keeping them looking good and functioning well above ground.
The approximate overall length of each upper waterfall wall including surrounding weir is 200 feet. There is a +/-28-foot-drop between the public plaza level and the upper pool level and an additional +/- 24-foot-drop to the lower pool level. Each fountain is just shy of one acre in overall size. Surrounding each of the waterfall wall levels are the expansive pump rooms that house the impressive 24-inch (diameter) stainless steel return pipes, display and filter pumps, a multitude of various filters and purifiers, touch screen computers with video display, climactic and system controllers, and other necessary equipment. Each fountain is supported by several pump rooms and can purify and re-circulate several hundred thousand gallons of water a day.
To say that the tour by Joe was an eye-opening experience for each of us would be an understatement. When the memorial is finally open to the public, I am sure the overall perception will be that it is a simple and clean memorial, but little will viewers realize that beneath the surface lies a highly complex infrastructure which allows the system to function.
Although it was always a powerful site, since the 9/11 tragedy, the World Trade Center site possesses an even greater power to draw people from all over the world. Hopefully this memorial site and the reconstruction of the surrounding towers will be both an appropriate testament to the lives lost and a signal to move forward.
Here are a few photos showing impressions of our visit:
Ground Zero site, September 2010
Sense of scale
Not a minor league pump room
The future of Ground Zero emerges
More information on the 9/11 Memorial is available at the official website.
By Rick Williams (all text and photos)