Saturday, December 10, 2011

Flight 93 National Memorial

Less than one year after September 11, in an extraordinary and unprecedented show of government support, the Flight 93 National Memorial Act was passed designating the crash site near Shanksville, Pennsylvania as a national memorial and appointing the National Park Service as its steward. It is the only national park unit commemorating the events of September 11, 2001.

The Flight 93 National Memorial, encompassing the final resting place of the 40 passengers and crew of Flight 93, will be the nation’s permanent tribute to the heroism of those aboard whose incredible acts of bravery saved countless lives at the cost of their own. The memorial transformed what was once a common field into a “Field of Honor.”

The Flight 93 National Memorial is the centerpiece of a large and expansive 2,220-acre publicly accessible national park site, one of the newest of the 395 within the National Park system. Paul Murdoch Architects of Los Angeles was selected as the project designer in 2005, following a year long, international design competition from over 1,000 design submissions from 48 states and 27 countries.
This has made the Flight 93 Memorial the first national park designed entirely through an open, public competition. The overall final design will be split in multiple phases, and the first of which was recently completed by Arrow Kinsley Joint Venture.

The centerpiece of the memorial landscape is the landform known as the Bowl. The memorial design frames the Bowl, as a Field of Honor. During the first phase of construction, Arrow Kinsley graded the bowl and built the ring road, taking visitors down towards the Sacred Ground. Visitors will encounter multiple landscape experiences as they drive around the Bowl on their way to its focus, the Sacred Ground.

Kinsley Site division began earthwork in April of 2009 and moved over nearly 500,000 cubic yards of cut-to-fill soil along with an additional 160,000 cubic yards of strip and replace topsoil. This large amount of soil movement was complicated further since the jobsite was a reclaimed coal mine many years ago. Due to this fact, cut-to-fill work became anything but routine. Since the site was a former mine, the soils needed to settle into the final required elevation, which took a little more time to complete than average projects.

In addition to the large amount of sitework completed by the Kinsley Construction Site Division, Arrow Kinsley Joint Venture also completed the 1200-foot long memorial walkway, sacred ground plaza, visitor shelter, arrival forecourts, visitor parking lots, and the flight path wall, which features the engraved names of the 7 crew members and 33 passengers in 3.5-inch slabs of Olympian White Danby Marble.

Considering the importance of all design features the 1200 foot memorial wall posed
the most difficulty during the construction process.  One obstacle was working through Western Pennsylvania winters. Another complexity was the critical design element of having the outside face of the memorial wall (along with the entire visitor’s shelter) finished in a hand-hewed hemlock texture, an architectural process achieved using formliners. This element was incorporated into the design due to the Boeing 757 crashing into a field of hemlock trees. Kinsley’s meticulous quality control during every single concrete pour assured that we achieved the architect’s desired vision with this concrete texture.
With teamwork and dedication Arrow Kinsley Joint Venture completed the project ahead of schedule, allowing a two–day event marking the tenth anniversary of September 11. The memorial was dedicated and officially opened to the public on September 10, 2011, with a ceremony including moving remarks by Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., President George W. Bush, and President Bill Clinton. They joined several special guests including Speaker of the House John Boehner, Dr. Jill Biden, former First Lady Laura Bush, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis, and Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett among others. Grammy-award winning singer-songwriter Sarah McLachlan gave a moving performance at the ceremony.