View Full Version : C.B. 1 *WTC Site Plan Recommendations

January 30th, 2003, 09:15 PM
Downtown Express * * *Jan 29, 2003
by Josh Rogers

Community Board 1 has recommended that architectural plans by Daniel Libeskind, Norman Foster and the THINK Team (Sky Park) should be considered as the basis for the final plan for the World Trade Center site. *
The board's resolution, approved last week, also said a short underground "bypass" or tunnel along West St. adjacent to the site should be considered. The full board amended the draft resolution so it doesn't read like a full endorsement of the tunnel, which has been opposed by some residents in Battery Park City.

Madelyn Wils, chairperson of C. B. 1, said the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. is still gathering more information from the architectural teams, so the resolution is "based on limited information."
"We're giving recommendations based on the information we have," Wils said.

The L.M.D.C. and the Port Authority, which owns the site, and the mayor's office plan to narrow the field of nine designs down to two early in February and to have a final street and land-use plan by the end of the month.

"It's a little quick to do all of that," said Wils, who is also a member of the L.M.D.C.'s board of directors.

The Board 1 resolution, written by C.B. 1's W.T.C. Redevelopment Committee, did not find a perfect plan among the nine released last December but found promising elements in the three it said merited consideration.

The Foster plan, which includes the so-called kissing towers reminiscent of the Twin Towers, was praised because it "effectively restores the skyline," allows for the extension of Greenwich St. and has enough parks and green spaces, according to the resolution. But the Foster plan was criticized because there was too much office space along Church St., Fulton St. would not be extended through the site, and because it opts for an elevated platform over West St. rather than the short bypass.

Libeskind, who proposes keeping the protective slurry wall, known as the "bathtub," exposed 70 feet below ground as part of the memorial, was praised because his plan "addresses many of the practical and emotional concerns" designing the site and would extend Greenwich and Fulton Sts. The resolution says that although the bathtub provides an effective memorial, it also creates a barrier at the west end of the site and should be reduced in size. The plan calls for gardens on the upper levels of Libeskind's 1,776-foot tower, and the board said more of the green space should be at street level. The architect also designed a semicircle walkway, which overlooks the site and Battery Park City, and the board recommended including better connections to B.P.C. The resolution says there should be more space provided for tour buses to park.

THINK's Sky Park was recommended because it includes a large amount of park space, community facilities and a restored skyline. The board also liked the fact that the park and community facilities could be built in the early phases of construction. The plan by the architects, led by Rafael Vinoly and Frederic Schwartz, includes retail space under the park and pedestrian bridges connected to B.P.C., which the board criticized. The resolution says the high walls on Vesey and West Sts. would create a "forbidding" atmosphere around the site.

The other plans were not recommended for a variety of reasons, including poor connections to the local neighborhoods, office buildings that were too bulky and park space in skyscrapers above ground level. One of the nine plans, designed by a team led by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, is no longer being considered by planning officials because S.O.M. withdrew from the project.

One board member, Bernard D'Orazio, suggested the board highlight top priorities in the resolution such as having street-level retail and protecting the view corridors, but most of the board decided to keep the points equally weighted.

Alexander Garvin, the L.M.D.C.'s chief planner, said last Friday that street-level retail was an essential component to add more life to Lower Manhattan and that if any of the selected plans did not include this, the architects would have to find a way to change their scheme. "They would have to change to adjust to the program," Garvin said during testimony before the City Council.

The land-use plan will include the site of the memorial, the transportation center and its entrances, the new street grid and a plan for West St. A decision about which transportation investments to make will also be made by the end in February and Garvin said building "a single-seat ride from Kennedy Airport" to Lower Manhattan was the highest priority, which is consistent with what several other officials have said in recent weeks.

He said the recommendation for West St. may not be locked in by the end of February because it will require approval of the state Dept. of Transportation, which is not involved in the other planning decisions.

At last Tuesday's community board meeting, members spent the most time debating the West St. issue. The original resolution approved by the subcommittee recommended "a short bypass" between Liberty and Vesey Sts.

John Dellaportas, a B.P.C. resident who is one of the leaders of an anti-tunnel organization, said calling it a bypass does not change his view that the recommendation would be too expensive and cause too much disruption.

"If Community Board 1 supports a tunnel, they should just say this," said Dellaportas.

One plan for the bypass is to depress West St. by several feet and build a wide, four-block pedestrian cover. To some, that's a tunnel, while to others it's more of a deck. Several weeks ago, Garvin said it was not a tunnel but a "platform over." Last Friday, he did use the T-word at the Council to describe the plan.

Assemblymember Deborah Glick, who is against the short tunnel, said she was surprised people are having trouble with definitions. "If the cars travel for three or four blocks under a deck, that's a tunnel," she said in a telephone interview.

One board member, Tim Lannan, proposed an amendment calling for better connections to B.P.C. without any reference to a bypass, but that idea was defeated by a vote of 21-13, with three members abstaining. After the amendment failed, members added the words "consideration of" to the bypass clause and the resolution passed with that addition.

"After a half-hour debate we have added two words," Wils said after the resolution passed.

She said she will make sure the L.M.D.C. gives the resolution proper consideration.

January 31st, 2003, 02:27 PM
Zippy, why are BPC residents so against a tunnel, even a shorter 3-4 block platform over a depressed West St.? It would reduce noise and improve access.

January 31st, 2003, 02:34 PM
They don't want to go through the trauma of the construction period.

January 31st, 2003, 04:48 PM
Some of the BPC residents have stopped thinking logically about the tunnel. Its become an ideology for them. Anything done in front of the WFC will have no more impact on the residential areas of BPC than construction on the actual WTC site itself will.

NYers have always lacked the ability to compromise.

January 31st, 2003, 04:53 PM
Quote: from NYatKNIGHT on 2:27 pm on Jan. 31, 2003
Zippy, why are BPC residents so against a tunnel, even a shorter 3-4 block platform over a depressed West St.? It would reduce noise and improve access.

Christian has it right on the number 1 reason. I was in favor of the tunnel when it was first proposed, as a full tunnel from the Battery Tunnel/FDR tunnel directly into the Holland Tunnel. A lot of the traffic on West St is thru- traffic from Brooklyn and the east side on the way to NJ. When I found out about the cost and construction time, I changed my mind. It didn't help that tunnel proponents estimated contruction time on a 7/24 schedule (unrealistic in a residential area).

I don't know why the anti-tunnel people are against a platform from Vesey to Liberty. I think this is a perfect and relatively low-cost solution.

It's difficult to get an accurate percentage of those who oppose the tunnel, since the pro tunnel people are mostly indifferent.

The was a meeting about West St plans last night. I couldn't attend, but when I get some info, I'll post it.

January 31st, 2003, 05:03 PM
You're right JM. Once the city lied about construction time, positions hardened. Now, if it looks like a tunnel, and quacks like a tunnel, it's a tunnel. One of the arguments was that residents would prefer an enclosed bridge (like the old north bridge). It was suggested that an enclosed passageway could be built on one side of a platform. The anti-tunnel people didn't have an answer for this.