Trees Intended for the 9/11 Memorial Coming to The Wharf

Trees Intended for the 9/11 Memorial Coming to The Wharf
A rendering depicting the Capital Yacht Club piazza, just outside the Trabocchis' future restaurant, Del Mar. The large tree to the left represents one of the 9/11 Memorial trees. Rendering courtesy of Hoffman-Madison Waterfront.

The developers of the Wharf—the $2 billion neighborhood of condos, apartments, hotels, entertainment, restaurants, and retail rising along the Southwest DC waterfront—have a lot to think about, to put it mildly. For instance, they had to figure out how to engineer a 6,000-person concert venue to ensure the apartments built atop it will be totally sound-proof. And in the likely event fewer people drive in the future, they designed part of their massive subterranean parking garage so that it can be repurposed. But they’ve also thought a lot about something much lower tech: Trees.

During a tour of the construction zone on Thursday, Monty Hoffman—whose PN Hoffman is developing the Wharf along with Madison Marquette—emphasized repeatedly how important it is to him that the final product feel “authentic,” and not like a bunch of buildings that came out of the ground at the same time. A key component of generating authenticity? Beautiful, mature trees.

Hoffman’s team found two such trees among the group of swamp white oaks originally intended, but ultimately not selected, for the National September 11 Memorial and Museum at the Ground Zero site in New York.

The National September 11 Memorial in New York. The swamp white oak trees surround the two reflecting pools that are built within the original footprints of the Twin Towers.  Photo by Flickr user Tony Fernandez.

One of them will serve as the centerpiece of the Wharf’s Capital Yacht Club piazza (depicted in the rendering at top), which is next to a forthcoming Spanish restaurant from Fabio and Maria Trabocchi. For that particular spot, Hoffman said he wanted a tree with “a story.” He initially set his sights on a tree already in Southwest DC, notable because it survived urban renewal, but it was ultimately deemed too unhealthy to be moved to the Wharf.

The second swamp white oak will be planted at the Wharf’s 7th Street Park. Hoffman said he hopes the trees will be a way to honor those who lost their lives on September 11: “These trees are truly a living memorial.”

Both trees are roughly 32 feet tall and 26 feet wide. The tree destined for the piazza cost $85,000.

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Senior Editor

Marisa M. Kashino joined Washingtonian in 2009 as a staff writer, and became a senior editor in 2014. She was previously a reporter for Legal Times and the National Law Journal. She lives in Northeast DC with her husband, two dogs, and two cats.