Latino Led Team That Created National 9/11 Memorial And Museum Exhibition


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Ricardo Mulero: architect, designer and preservationist
Photo: Luis Carle

Like many New Yorkers, Ricardo Mulero has a September 11th story. He was getting off the subway at Greenwich Village in Lower Manhattan on his way to work, when he stopped to see what a crowd of people were looking at. Just seconds before, United Airlines Flight 175 had crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center.
Thirteen years later, Mulero has a different perspective on that tragic day, one that has earned him a historic- and prestigious role. Mulero led the team that created the National September 11 Memorial & Museum exhibition, which opened last May. In this capacity, Mulero and his team at Thinc Design worked with the museum team, architects and engineers to help plan the museum’s structure as well as the presentation of the many artifacts remaining from that tragic day.
“Unlike any other history project that I have worked on, it was something that I had been part of,” Mulero told NBC News. “That became kind of interesting.”
Having previously worked on exhibitions at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Freedom Park in Pretoria, South Africa, Mulero was in a prime position to take charge of this monumental project. Still, the Puerto Rican designer, who also studied architecture and preservation, faced major challenges, not the least of which was the fact that the museum itself is quite massive, at around 125,000 square feet.
“We analyzed the space and instead of looking at the obstacles, we tried to look at what were the opportunities here,” Mulero said.
Many of the artifacts included in the exhibition are quite large, such as the remains of the World Trade Center’s large steel frames and a damaged fire truck recovered from the site. Displaying these was not only a feat of design but of engineering as well.
Like in all museums, the artifacts had to be mounted, but mounting large metal structures isn’t so easy. Mulero’s team had to figure out ways to preserve the visual integrity of the artifacts, so that they were differentiated from the engineered mounts. To do this, they painted the mounts gray so that they were less noticeable.
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