Close to the eve of the 14th anniversary of September 11, I visited the 9/11 Memorial in NYC. I had been by the site soon after the terrorist attack that fateful day. There were simply two very large, cavernous holes on a massive, vacant site in lower Manhattan. Today, the memorial co-exists with the inspiring tower that is known as One World Trade Center or One World.

One World is the tallest building in the western hemisphere and the fourth tallest in the world. It is symbolic of the indomitable spirit of New Yorkers and Americans, to rebuild such a tribute to our citizens on the very spot where the attackers attempted to wipe us out. As someone in the development business, I was impressed by the safety measures that were included in the design of this impressive structure:  safety systems exceed code requirements, elevators housed in protected central building core, protected tenant collection point on each floor, dedicated staircase for use by firefighters, extra wide pressurized staircases, concrete-protected sprinklers, emergency risers and communication systems, enhanced emergency communication cabling. This building is not going down. Conde Nast, occupying a variety of leased locations around Manhattan, elected to become the anchor tenant in this marvelous structure in an act of faith and confidence not often seen in corporate America. They leased over 1 million square feet.

The museum, located below street level at the base of one of the prior structures, portrays the horrific essence of that day’s events in great detail; this exhibit is not for the faint of heart. You hear, see and very nearly taste and touch the impact of the blast and the dust created when the towers fell.  Around every corner is a personal tribute to each person who perished in the assaults on the 1993 Trade Center bombing, the 2001 assault on the Trade Center Towers, the Pentagon and Flight 93 that landed in rural Pennsylvania. The Pentagon casualties and NYC civilians as well as first responders are also recognized. Their names, faces and unique stories recall the life that was and is no more.

NYC

You feel this great sense of loss outside as well. The two memorial pools, giant cascading fountains really, are located in the prior footprints of Towers one and two. The lip of each pool is actually a huge metal plate, where the name of each of the victims is inscribed in bronze. I felt the enormity of the tragedy when seeing a seemingly never ending list of victims before my eyes. While I was deeply saddened in the aftermath of the attacks, I felt as though I did not really understand the Act, as I did this week. My heart goes out to all who were lost and their family and friends. May they never be forgotten.