Work on Flight 93 Tower of Voices chimes continues 10 months after dedication
Ten months after the dedication of the Flight 93 Tower of Voices, only eight of the 40 wind chimes planned for the monument are installed.
An alert posted to the National Park Service website for the Flight 93 National Memorial notes that field testing on the eight prototype chimes that were installed last year is ongoing. There is no date for final installation, but project leaders are hoping for completion this fall.
“While the timeline is longer than anticipated, we are committed to providing a chime system that appropriately honors each of the passengers and crew members and will stand the test of time,” NPS spokeswoman Sally Mayberry said.
From the beginning, the biggest challenge associated with the design of the tower — essentially a 93-foot-tall musical instrument — has been the chimes and their ability to sound the proper notes as wind passes through the tower.
Field testing of the chimes took place in Arizona, Southern California and, eventually, in Illinois, where the chimes were manufactured from aluminum tubes by Fugate Inc. The percussion and musical instrument manufacturer had eight prototype chimes ready in time for the Sept. 9, 2018, dedication of the Tower of Voices near Shanksville, Somerset County.
Based on the performance of the prototype chimes, further modifications were deemed necessary, officials said.
“The components of all 40 assemblies are completed in accordance with the design of the eight chimes that are currently in the Tower of Voices,” said Brett Fugate, owner of Fugate Inc. “However, performance-enhancing retrofits of the 40 chime tube assemblies is currently in progress.”
Modifications are being done to the flexible components of the assembly, the sail associated with each chime and the striking mechanism, Fugate said.
The chimes, which range in length from 5 to 10 feet, are suspended from the interior of the C-shaped tower by an anchorage bar above and a tether below. The notes are sounded by an internal striker that is activated when wind catches an S-shaped sail that projects from the bottom of each chime, according to NPS.
The unique nature of this chime system, plus its scale and complexity, has necessitated further design and engineering adjustments, as well as retrofitting, Mayberry said.
“There are no chime systems of this scale anywhere in the world,” she said. “We anticipate revisions to joints, the sail and the tether. Other components also will be modified to accommodate changes to the joints, sail and tether. The modified components will replace the similar components on the existing chime assembly.”
The Tower of Voices, designed by Los Angeles architect Paul Murdoch, sits at the entrance to the Flight 93 National Memorial and represents the final phase of major construction of the memorial’s original design.
It is unclear whether the 40 chimes will be ready for this year’s 9/11 observance at the memorial.
“We’re more concerned the project is done properly (than quickly),” Mayberry said.
Fugate’s contract with NPS continues through the end of the year.
Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Stephen at 724-850-1280, [email protected] or via Twitter .