A Behind-the-Scenes, Underground Look at Michael Arad’s September 11th Memorial Waterfalls

Despite the slow and regularly-hindered efforts to build and rebuild memorials and new towers at the World Trade Center site being called “a nation disgrace” by news outlets like 60 Minutes, one of the memorials that has avoided some of the more recent criticism is Michael Arad‘s “Reflecting Absence.” Granted, the ever-flowing waterfall memorial received its fair share a back in 2007 when it too was delayed by more than a couple of years. But with last year’s unveiling of working prototypes out in a test facility in Brooklyn, it seemed a bit more of a reality than, say, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill‘s finally-making-progress One World Trade Center. And to further the “why has all of this taken so long?!” leniency, reading this report by the Seattle Times, which takes a look at the underground, inner-workings of Arad’s fountains, makes you appreciate how much work has been and is involved in making something like this work. Reporter Shawn Boburg went below the surface to see the “extensive pluming work” needed to make the thing, “one of the most extensive and sophisticated water-control systems of its kind,” operate. Here’s a bit:

The automated system controlling the country’s largest engineered waterfalls will keep the water’s chemical balance and temperature at precisely prescribed levels. Ultrasonic sensors will trigger an increase in the volume of falling water when the wind picks up, or will shut down the fountain altogether if gusts get too strong. And a filtration system will flush out the coins, flowers, pictures or any other object visitors drop into the pools.