Peter Walker has played a significant role in the field of landscape architecture over a career spanning five-decades.
Walker studied landscape architecture at the University of California and earned an M.L.A from Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. In 1983 he founded PWP Landscape Architecture. Walker’s portfolio includes gardens, public parks, plazas, corporate headquarters, universities, museums, memorials and urban regeneration projects worldwide.
His landscape designs reflect his knowledge of contemporary art, modernism and historical, cultural and ecological considerations.
With a wealth of significant projects under his belt, Peter’s recent, National September 11th Memorial design, helped to gain recognition on a global scale.
The National September 11th Memorial commemorates the victims of the two separate attacks on the Pentagon, Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and at the World Trade Centre site, both on September 11, 2001, and February 26, 1993. Two gigantic voids – in the footprints of the Twin Towers – and a surrounding forest of Oak trees form the core of the rebuilt World Trade Centre in New York City and provide a place for connection, contemplation and remembrance within this revitalized urban centre.
The sheer scope of the impact of 9/11 required that the Memorial use a symbolic language understood by a diverse audience; this language is an integral part of “Reflecting Absence”, developed in collaboration with fellow designer Michael Arad.
Their design allows visitors to leave the everyday life of the city and enter into a sacred zone defined by a dense forest of 416 Oaks. Above the limbed-up trunks, a canopy of leaves provide welcome shade in the heat of the summer and seasonal colour in the autumn. In the winter the sun casts shadows through a light tracery of bare branches, and in spring, the trees express the renewal of nature.
Within the protected space of the forest, visitors arrive at the two great voids with their thundering waterfalls. After viewing the victims’ names on the bronze parapets of the voids, visitors can move back to the city through the trees and take comfort from the soothing, life-affirming forest.
The Memorial grove resembles a “natural” forest, until visitors discover that the trees align to form arching corridors in one orientation. The form recalls the arches that architect Minoru Yamasaki placed at the bottom of the original towers. In this way, the grove seeks to express the shared patterns of nature and humanity.
A grassy clearing within the grove provides a quiet space away from the bustle of the plaza. Designed to accommodate ceremonies – specifically, the reading of victims’ names annually on September 11th – the space also provides an invigorating green leisure area accessible by the public.
For more on Peter and this incredibly moving landscape design, click here