United Airlines Flight 93 was one of the four planes hijacked during the September 11, 2001, attacks in the United States. It was on this flight that 40 passengers and crew members courageously gave their lives to thwart a planned attack on the Nation’s Capital. Tragically, the plane crashed in Western Pennsylvania with no survivors. To honor these heroes, Congress passed the Flight 93 National Memorial Act in 2002 and launched a two-stage, international design competition in 2005. A Jury of planners, landscape architects, architects, designers, government representatives, family members and community representatives chose Paul and Milena Murdoch’s proposal, which treated the 2,200 acre former coalmine as a memorialized national park where visitors embark on a sequence of experiences that leads them towards the crash site of Flight 93.
In the first stage of the competition, Paul Murdoch Architects presented a master plan with key memorial features, such as a the “Tower of Voices” featuring 40 wind chimes, a large curving landform with memorial trees framing the “field of honor” and integrating memorial walls that frame the flight path and enclose a visitor center, and a memorial plaza along the edge of the crash site that leads to a ceremonial gate. In the second stage, Nelson Byrd Woltz was invited to join the team, along with a team of consultants, to further develop the design. Following selection, the National Park Service became the administrator of the design process through a contract with Paul Murdoch Architects.
The park, formally a coalmine, transforms the site into a designed memorial landscape that enhances the qualities and physical features of the site for its expressive power. Once a hallowed ground surrounding a former strip mine is now transformed into a native meadow and a “field of honor”. Additionally, the existing wetlands will become part of an extensive storm water mitigation system that restores the health of the land, reflecting the growth and healing possible for those who visit the memorial.
This large scale master plan will be implemented over several phases. The first phase was completed on September 11, 2011. It includes the entry road, re-grading of the large field of honor, and the construction of the memorial features adjacent to the crash site that includes the Wall of Names – forty inscribed white marble panels inscribed with each heroes name lined along a black granite walkway.
At the dedication, government and family representatives paid tribute to the 40 heroes and pledged to complete the memorial. Former President Bill Clinton publicly committed to join Speaker of the House John Boehner in raising the rest of the funds through a bipartisan effort. Funding for the $60 million project comes from Federal, State of Pennsylvania and private sources. To date, nearly $50 million has been raised to purchase the land, build the first phase of construction and begin future phases of work. This includes donations from over 75,000 individuals, foundations and corporations. Design Team – Phase 1 Architect: Paul Murdoch Architects Landscape Architect: Nelson, Byrd, Woltz Landscape Architects Client: National Park Service Location: Shanksville, Pennsylvania Construction Budget: $50,000,000 Completed: Phase 1, September 2011 Photographer: Eric Staudenmaier Civil Engineers: The Eads Group, RBA Partners Structural Engineer: Sato & Boppana MEP Engineer: HF Lenz Company Lighting Design: George Sexton & Associates Graphic Design: Impact Design Associates Typography Design: Ana Llorente Security Design: Sako & Associates Cost Consultant: Davis Langdon Reference: Paul Murdoch Architects