Formerly the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation, the National September 11 Memorial & Museum was formed as a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation to raise funds and manage the memorial's planning and construction. Its board of directors met for the first time on January 4, 2005, and it reached its first-phase capital-fundraising goal ($350 million) in April 2008. This money and additional funds raised will be used to build the memorial and museum and endow the museum.
In 2003, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation launched the World Trade Center Site Memorial Competition, an international competition to design a memorial at the World Trade Center site to commemorate the lives lost on 9/11. Individuals and teams from around the world submitted design proposals. On November 19, 2003, the thirteen-member jury selected eight finalists. Reflecting Absence, designed by Michael Arad and Peter Walker, was chosen as the winning design on January 6, 2004. It consists of a field of trees interrupted by two large, recessed pools, the footprints of the Twin Towers. The deciduous trees (swamp white oaks) are arranged in rows and form informal clusters, clearings and groves. The park is at street level, above the Memorial Museum. The names of the victims of the attacks (including those from the Pentagon, American Airlines Flight 77, United Airlines Flight 93, and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing) are inscribed on the parapets surrounding the waterfalls in an arrangement of "meaningful adjacencies". A portion of the slurry wall originally designed to hold back the Hudson River, about half of what Daniel Libeskind originally wanted to preserve, is maintained in the museum. On January 14, 2004, the final design for the World Trade Center site memorial was unveiled at a press conference in Federal Hall National Memorial