Powerful September 11 Memorials Around the World

Architects, designers, and artists pay tribute to the victims of the attacks


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.

National September 11 Memorial and Museum, New York City

Photo: Yagil Henkin/Alamy

National September 11 Memorial and Museum, New York City

Architect Michael Arad designed the two massive waterfalls and reflecting pools, which sit in the footprints of the Twin Towers and are inscribed with the names of the victims of the 2001 and 1993 attacks. PWP Landscape Architecture did the landscape design for the surrounding plaza, incorporating elements such as the Survivor Tree, a Callery pear that was found at Ground Zero and rehabilitated.

Pentagon Memorial, Arlington, Virginia

Photo: David Stuckel/Alamy

Pentagon Memorial, Arlington, Virginia

Age is the central thread that runs through the Julie Beckman and Keith Kaseman design. Cantilevered stainless-steel-and-granite benches—one for each of the 184 victims of the Pentagon attack—are arranged along age lines from youngest to oldest. On the western edge of the memorial, the Age Wall rises from three to 71 inches, symbolizing the range of life spans of those who were lost.

Flight 93 National Memorial, Shanksville, Pennsylvania

Photo: Xiaoling Keller

Flight 93 National Memorial, Shanksville, Pennsylvania

Paul Murdoch Architects and Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects collaborated on the tribute to the passengers and crew of United Airlines Flight 93. The first phase of the project was dedicated on September 10, 2011, including the Memorial Plaza and walkway, the visitor’s shelter, the Wall of Names, and the hemlock grove. The visitor’s center is currently under construction and slated to open in 2015.

Tribute in Light, New York City
Photo: Henk Meijer/Alamy

Tribute in Light, New York City

The Municipal Art Society of New York and Creative Time’s installation of 88 searchlights—conceived by John Bennett, Gustavo Bonevardi, Richard Nash Gould, Julian Laverdiere, and Paul Myoda with lighting consultant Paul Marantz—initially ran from March 11 through April 14, 2002, to mark the six-month anniversary of the attacks. The simple yet powerful design is re-created annually on September 11.

The Rising, Valhalla, New York
Photo: Clarence Holmes Photography/Alamy

The Rising, Valhalla, New York

Built to honor the residents of Westchester County who died on 9/11, the monument includes 109 stainless-steel rods ascending from a circular granite base and joined together at the top. Architect Frederic Schwartz named his design after the Bruce Springsteen song released in the aftermath of the attacks.

Postcards, Staten Island, New York
Photo: Anthony Pleva/Alamy

Postcards, Staten Island, New York

The first major memorial to be completed in New York City, Masayuki Sono’s poetic design consists of two soaring fiberglass structures meant to symbolize postcards to loved ones. Two hundred and seventy-five granite plaques commemorate the residents of Staten Island who died.

Empty Sky, Jersey City, New Jersey
Photo: InkaOne/Alamy

Empty Sky, Jersey City, New Jersey

Frederic Schwartz worked with Jessica Jamroz, an associate at his firm, on the design of the official New Jersey memorial. Two stainless-steel walls, each nearly 210 feet long—the width of each side of the World Trade Center towers—border a granite path looking across the water to Ground Zero. Inside the corridor, the walls are engraved with the names of the 749 New Jersey residents who were killed.

BOSTON - SEPTEMBER 2: The Massachusetts Port Authority will unveil a 9/11 memorial at Logan International Airport on Sept. 9. (Photo by Travis Dove for The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
Photo: Travis Dove/The Boston Globe/Getty Image

Boston Logan International Airport 9/11 Memorial

Dedicated in 2008, the Boston Logan International Airport 9/11 Memorial is set on 2.5 acres and was designed by local firm Moskow Linn Architects. The site features a large glass box that contains panels inscribed with the names of the passengers and crew of United Airlines Flight 175 and American Airlines Flight 11, which both took off from the airport.

9/11 Living Memorial, Cedar Park, Jerusalem, Israel, Middle East
Photo: Eitan Simanor/Getty Images

9/11 Living Memorial Plaza, Jerusalem

Artist Eliezer Weishoff designed the 9/11 Living Memorial Plaza, located 20 miles outside Jerusalem. The site includes a 30-foot-tall sculpture of an American flag that transforms into a torch at the corner. The base contains steel from the Twin Towers. The sculpture is surrounded by a circular wall with plaques listing the names of the victims.

The Libeskind Monument (monument to the victims of the September 11th attacks), Padua, Veneto, Italy, Europe
Photo: Stuart Black/Getty Images

Memoria e Luce, Padua, Italy

Architect Daniel Libeskind devised Memoria e Luce, a tribute in the Northern Italian city of Padua. The 56-foot-tall book-shaped structure incorporates a piece of a steel beam from the World Trade Center.

Garden memorial to the 67 British victims of the World Trade Centre terrorist attack.  Located in Grosvenor Square, by the US Embassy. London. Architechts were Carden and Godfrey Ltd and Land Use Consultants. Opened 2003. The main structure is an oak pergola with relaxing seating for visitors. Names of all victims are inscribed on the inside wall.
Photo: Richard Radford/Getty Images

September 11 Memorial Garden, London

Set in Grosvenor Park, the September 11 Memorial Garden was dedicated in 2003 and contains three plaques paying tribute to the 67 British victims. The garden features an oak pergola and pavilion and is planted with a mix of American and British plant species such as rosemary, ivy, and phlox, each chosen for its meaning or September blooming time.