Queen Elizabeth II Garden
It all began with an invitation to enter a competition. Entering competitions is not something we have ever been able to afford to do, and are rarely asked. Such submissions require a level of work and expense and such a high standard of presentation that they are better suited to large practices. But this was a special case. We had all watched on September 11th; watched it happen, knowing things would never be the same again, and the ideas came fully formed and asking to be put forward. We plunged in, almost failed to get it across the Atlantic on time. The portfolio did arrive and we won the competition. The design was for a garden, a triangle called Hanover Square, a few blocks from Ground Zero, given by the City of New York Parks Department to a British 9/11 Memorial Trust to make a garden in honour of the 67 British-born who died in the World Trade Center. This was the simple reason for the garden, and remains so. Everything quickly became very complicated, but we, and all the unbelievably dedicated and well-meaning people involved, were working on it on account of the victims and especially their families. The design was intended to be both classical and innovative, a nod to English country church yards; the artist Ian Hamilton Findlay; fluid; flowery; contemplative; calm; green and grounded. That remains the intention and it remains an oasis with its own very special mood down the bottom of Manhattan Island.