View Full Version : 2 WTC Finalists to be announced Tuesday

February 3rd, 2003, 07:40 PM
Officials Narrowing Down Eight WTC Design Proposals

The eight remaining design proposals for the World Trade Center site are being whittled down to just two Monday.

A committee comprised of representatives from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, the Port Authority, Governor George Pataki's office and the city are expected to narrow the field during today's closed door meeting. The LMDC is expected to announce the two finalists on Tuesday.

The eight designs were on display at the Winter Garden for the official public comment period, which ended Sunday.

Last week, there were unconfirmed reports that two of the designs had already emerged as front runners: one submitted by a Berlin-based team led by Daniel Libeskind, and another submitted by "THINK," a New York team headed by Rafael Vinoly and Fred Schwartz.

The finalists will be asked to revise their design, and a master plan will be chosen by the end of the month.


Nothing new but NY1 is extremely well plugged into the process and I would pretty much count on the results being reports on Tuesday and that only 2 finalists will be chosen.

The real interest here is what will the requested modifications of the 2 finalists be?

NyC MaNiAc
February 3rd, 2003, 07:42 PM
Oh no. I wanted Foster. I hope the unconfirmed rumors are not true.

February 3rd, 2003, 09:34 PM
Common Foster!!!

Suzana Spasic
February 4th, 2003, 04:15 AM
They should make round three. Not to choose finalists yet.

February 4th, 2003, 08:25 AM
I would be surprised if the LMDC chose Foster's plan. *After all their talk of "listening" to the public, they will do exactly what they want anyway. *Of the 2 potential planners, I have to say I will go with THINK's twin-structure. *I'm already insulted by Libeskind's "tallest" skyscraper. *At least THINK doesn't try to make fools of us, as Libeskind has with the media....
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Officials to discuss WTC progress today
Associated Press

Officials from the agencies overseeing the rebuilding of downtown Manhattan met privately yesterday to choose two finalists from eight alternative designs for the new World Trade Center site.

The committee "reached a consensus" by the end of its four-hour meeting, said Matt Higgins, a spokesman for one of the agencies, the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., but he wouldn't elaborate.

A design that evokes the original Trade Center with twin latticework towers and another that exposes the foundation walls of the old towers emerged as leading contenders in recent discussions.

Higgins said there would be a press conference this afternoon to discuss the finalists. A final choice is to be made later this month.

A source familiar with the rebuilding effort said a group of development corporation staff and board members meeting Jan. 29 favored designs from the team of architects known as THINK, and from Berlin-based Daniel Libeskind.

The THINK team, led by New York-based architects Rafael Vinoly and Frederic Schwartz, proposed the World Cultural Center, whose lacy, 1,665-foot towers have been called 21st-century Eiffel Towers.

Libeskind, who designed Berlin's Jewish Museum, proposed starkly geometrical buildings clustered around the foundations of the fallen towers and topped by a 1,776-foot spire.

Each features structures rising higher than the tallest in the world, Malaysia's 1,483-foot Petronas Twin Towers.

While no one expects an exact replica of any of the models to rise at the trade center site, officials at the development corporation have said that whatever is built there will be based on one of the plans.

Recurring turf battles over control of the site may complicate the decision-making.

Developer Larry Silverstein, who holds the lease to the trade center site, complained in a letter to development corporation chairman John Whitehead last week that the proposed designs do not include enough office space.

Silverstein warned that he could obstruct rebuilding plans, since he controls the insurance reimbursement funds from the destruction of the towers.

Some rebuilding officials have disagreed with that evaluation, saying the Port Authority is ultimately entitled to the money.

Skidmore Owings and Merrill, the architecture firm hired to design a new 7 World Trade Center, last month withdrew its design for the main site.

February 4th, 2003, 12:45 PM
2 WTC Plans Chosen
By The Associated Press

February 4, 2003, 12:33 PM EST

Two plans featuring structures that would rise taller than any other in the world have been picked as finalists in the selection of a design to rebuild the World Trade Center, a source familiar with the plans said Tuesday.

One proposal evokes the original trade center with twin latticework towers, while the other preserves the foundations of the twin towers, according to the source, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

The selection of the designs — by an architectural team known as THINK and by Berlin-based architect Daniel Libeskind — was to be announced publicly Tuesday afternoon.

Both designs feature structures rising higher than the tallest in the world, Malaysia’s 1,483-foot Petronas Twin Towers.

The THINK team, led by New York-based architects Rafael Vinoly and Frederic Schwartz, proposed the World Cultural Center, whose lacy 1,665-foot towers have been called 21st-century Eiffel Towers.

Libeskind, who designed Berlin’s Jewish Museum, proposed starkly geometrical buildings clustered around the foundations of the fallen towers and topped by a 1,776-foot spire.

While no one expects an exact replica of any of the models to rise at the trade center site, officials at the development corporation have said whatever is built there will be based on one of the plans.

Recurring turf battles over control of the site may complicate the decision-making.

Developer Larry Silverstein, who holds the lease to the trade center site, complained in a letter to development corporation chairman John Whitehead last week that the proposed designs do not include enough office space.

Nine proposals for redeveloping the 16-acre World Trade Center site, where 2,792 people died in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack, were unveiled Dec. 18.

Skidmore Owings and Merrill, the architecture firm hired to design a new 7 World Trade Center, last month withdrew its design for the main trade center site.

The plans for rebuilding the lower Manhattan site and surrounding neighborhood came from seven teams of architects from Berlin, London, Amsterdam, Tokyo, New York and Los Angeles and were selected from 407 submissions.

A first group of plans, released in July, was criticized as boring and overstuffed with office space.

February 4th, 2003, 12:58 PM
There is now an open message forum on the NY Post on this decision to select the two finalists. Read it at http://www.webforums.com/forums/f-read/msa154.69.html and you'll be pleasantly surprised.

February 4th, 2003, 01:20 PM
I vote for the lattice cultural towers surrounded by office buildings yet to be designed in full. *The overall design of the german architect is nice, but NYC does not need an open pit to look at--a case of lepracy.

February 4th, 2003, 01:38 PM
I'm behind the Think proposal too, with the hope that the surrounding office towers grow to be more substantial with further refinement of the plan. The overall land use design makes the most of the site, and let's face it, those giant Viñoly twin towers are much more dramatic than Libeskind's garden pole.

February 4th, 2003, 02:03 PM
I can't believe it.
Thank God there's still Midtown.

February 4th, 2003, 02:18 PM
Well, at least Think gives NYC the tallet occupied structure. *It will be a world attraction. *And it will be fascinating with the intracate details built within it. *Something to look at and stare and say, wow that is incredible, and something for the public to attend live concerts and a museum and viewing platform at the top. *A twin towered spectrum of fun and fascination, and yes, surrounded by office towers hopefully compementing the site and the skyline.

February 4th, 2003, 02:30 PM
I don't like either much, but THINK has the lesser of the 2 evils. *I am against Libeskind in any incarnation, and I'm already sick of the "tallest spire in the world" at 1,776 ft talk...

February 4th, 2003, 02:54 PM
February 4, 2003
Two Proposals for Ground Zero Are Picked as Finalists

Two teams of architects, one that sees the foundations of democracy in the concrete walls surrounding Ground Zero and another that sees New York's rebirth in soaring towers of culture, have been selected as semifinalists in the rivalry to create the design for the World Trade Center site, rebuilding officials said today.

The two teams, Studio Daniel Libeskind, the firm headed by the Berlin-based architect Daniel Libeskind, and the Think team, headed by the architects Frederic Schwartz, Rafael Viñoly, Ken Smith and Shigeru Ban, will continue to work with rebuilding officials on their designs, with a winning plan to be selected by the end of the month, officials said.

The winning team will be responsible for laying out the system of buildings, transportation terminals and a memorial to the victims of Sept. 11, 2001, at the World Trade Center — an architectural commission like no other and one certain to be among the most watched projects in the world.

Officials of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and the office of the mayor and the governor made the announcement yesterday at a packed news conference, a day after they met behind closed doors for four hours to review the plans and assess their feasibility and creativity.

"Each plan ascends into the atmosphere with iconic structures — structures that once fully designed would become among the most recognizable buildings in the world," John C. Whitehead, the chairman of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, said at a news conference today. "Both plans would, in fact, create the tallest structure on earth, a symbol of humanity's unbreakable unity and undiminished optimism. In addition at Ground Zero, the plans would reclaim the site of tragedy, returning the space to our city as a symbol of our strength."

The two teams are likely to be asked to make some revisions to their designs to incorporate changes required by the rebuilding effort. Among the possible changes are greater efforts to accommodate vehicle and pedestrian traffic in and around the site, the phasing of construction of commercial office buildings over several years, and the immediate focus on construction of a transportation terminal and a memorial.

Even after a single team is chosen to complete a final land-use plan for the trade center, however, it is unclear whether the site, when it is completed about 10 years from now, will look much like the current designs.

That is because several forces are competing for control of the site and for the authority to go forward with its development.

Among those forces is Larry A. Silverstein, the lead representative of the firms that hold the lease to the site. In a letter Friday to rebuilding officials, Mr. Silverstein asserted that the lease gives his group the right to rebuild the site as the group sees fit and to choose the architecture firm that will design it.

The city, meanwhile, is seeking to negotiate a land swap that would give it authority over the trade center site while transferring ownership of the city's two major airports to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the agency that owns the trade center property.

Officials of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation have maintained that regardless of who owns the land, it has the authority to oversee the development. Development corporation officials have said it will seek to make certain that the rebuilding effort follows the chosen architect's plans, including the specific visions for a memorial, building sizes and heights, a transportation terminal and ground-level landscaping.

Those elements are all crucial parts of the two chosen designs. Mr. Libeskind's plan, for example, includes an open pit on the western portion of the trade center site, where the memorial to victims of the attack on the trade center would be located.

The pit, including the footprints of the trade center towers, would be outlined by the concrete slurry walls designed to hold back groundwater from what formerly were the concourse and basement levels of the trade center.

It is within those walls that most of the remains of the victims of the attacks were found. Mr. Libeskind has said that the slurry walls "withstood the unimaginable trauma of the destruction and stand as eloquent as the Constitution itself, asserting the durability of democracy and the value of individual life."

A museum that would cantilever over the pit would serve as an entrance to the Ground Zero memorial. In addition, two large public spaces at ground level would also commemorate the victims; the park areas would be located to catch rays of sunlight each year on Sept. 11, from the time of the first attack to the collapse of the north tower.

Additionally, a series of office and cultural buildings would surround the memorial site, including a 1,776-foot spire inhabited by hanging gardens.

The second semifinalist, the Think team, originally designed three options, but the team began in recent weeks to promote its "World Cultural Center" design almost exclusively. The design includes two soaring, latticework towers, inspired by the Eiffel Tower, that would include individual buildings housing cultural and educational facilities.

The towers would surround the footprints of the twin towers and would themselves be surrounded by large glass-bottomed reflecting pools, which would bring natural light to the underground retail and transit concourse.

As many as eight commercial office buildings and a hotel would surround the towers on the site's perimeter. Within the towers, various buildings would be constructed to hang seemingly in midair. They would include a museum, a performing arts center, a conference center, educational facilities and viewing platforms and other public spaces.

The semifinalist teams were selected by a task force of rebuilding officials, including Roland Betts, John C. Whitehead and Louis R. Tomson, representing the development corporation; Joseph Seymour, Charles Kushner and Anthony Sartor, representing the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, which owns the trade center site; Daniel Doctoroff, the deputy mayor for economic development and rebuilding; and Diana Taylor, an adviser to Gov. George E. Pataki.

The two architecture teams were chosen from seven that were asked to submit designs for the trade center site last year. In recent weeks, six of the seven teams have submitted volumes of additional information about their designs, including the square footage and potential cost of buildings, memorial areas, transportation outlets and the like.

Only six of the seven remained because one of the seven teams withdrew from the competition in late December. A member of that team, the architecture firm Skidmore Owings & Merrill, said it wanted to be free to continue its work with Mr. Silverstein.

The designs were unveiled in December and a display of models of the designs at the World Financial Center attracted tens of thousands of visitors. The development corporation received at least 12,000 comments on the designs by visitors to the exhibition and to its Web site, www.renewnyc.org.

When the new designs were released, they were immediately hailed as being far more inspiring than a set of six designs released in July. Those plans, by a previously hired architecture firm, Beyer Blinder Belle, were ridiculed as boring and were withdrawn after several weeks of negative public comment.

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

February 4th, 2003, 02:54 PM
Next step: they make revisions.....

http://graphics7.nytimes.com/images/2003/01/28/arts/28desi.jpg *http://www.imagineny.org/images/NineDesigns/design_1B_pic.jpg

(Edited by NYatKNIGHT at 2:58 pm on Feb. 4, 2003)

February 4th, 2003, 03:03 PM
The WCC makes absolutely no sense economically.
Unless, of course, it's even emptier and cheaper than it looks.

February 4th, 2003, 03:19 PM
Face it, the area has been devestated, and adding a huge cultural element adds to the attraction of bringing business downtown. *Look at 42nd street--the shows went on, and the businesses and buildings moved in. *I vote no PIT.

February 4th, 2003, 03:26 PM
That thing won't attract businesses.
But it'll act as a ghost of the twin towers. Bringing back painful memories.

February 4th, 2003, 03:29 PM
Downtown might become what Italians call a city of art. No longer the financial center.

February 4th, 2003, 03:37 PM
"Each plan ascends into the atmosphere with iconic structures — structures that once fully designed would become among the most recognizable buildings in the world," John C. Whitehead, the chairman of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, said at a news conference today. "Both plans would, in fact, create the tallest structure on earth, a symbol of humanity's unbreakable unity and undiminished optimism. In addition at Ground Zero, the plans would reclaim the site of tragedy, returning the space to our city as a symbol of our strength."

this really says a mouthful, these 2 plans satisfy the most number of interests....but i think here there is a general consensus here that anything less than the wtb (occupied) would be a disapointment

February 4th, 2003, 04:11 PM
I'm very happy to know Libeskind is in final. Libeskind project is a clear exemplification of his theory described in 'Between Zero and Infinitive'. The metaphoric idea of the 'green spire' (life in the sky where came the dead), the circular plan (symbol of perfection), the irregular shape of the bldgs cutted like the destruction of the former bldgs after the tragedy (we have not to forget), the cuts in the surface of the bldgs, evident *wounds of the tragedy; sings, but in all these things, the life, the 1776 ft green-spire, wins if you wanna continue to believe in it.
All the rest is a detail. Architecture is art, (Libeskind has studied even philiosophy), is a place in our minds, has to be a place where we can continue to think in a society where it seems that thoughts are the last thing that people wanna do.

February 4th, 2003, 04:28 PM
There will be no green spire.
Or, if there is, most of the trees will be replaced before long by offices. This is Downtown Manhattan, not the Bronx Botanical Garden.

February 4th, 2003, 06:11 PM
This is absolute garbage. * I really hope that Silverstein doesn't let those two disasters in waiting get built. *I am sick of this culture crap. *Culture is not a structure. *Culture is a way of life. *Culture is customs that are passed down from one generation to another. *Not some lattice-tower with museums and theatres built into it. *Libeskind's plan could be good, but that garden tower is a joke, and the pit is just not feasible. *I see nothing wrong with the "violent" slants. *How is it that Hong Kong can have 2 International Finance Center and Union Square, while NYC gets the World Cultural Center, and the Garden Tower?

February 4th, 2003, 06:46 PM
Architecture is culture.

February 4th, 2003, 09:17 PM
I just found a linkage to a poll by New York 1 for those who wanna vote on the plans. It's http://www.newsday.com/news/local/newyork/nyc-wtc0205,0,5554446.story?coll=ny%2Dtop%2Dspan%2Dhea dlines

As of this posting THINK is slightly edging out Neither, while Libeskind is dead last.

(Edited by Agglomeration at 9:17 pm on Feb. 4, 2003)

February 5th, 2003, 08:31 AM
Newsday had a similar poll with similar results...
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NY Post...


February 5, 2003 -- LMDC Chairman John Whitehead called yesterday's selection of design finalists Daniel Libeskind and the THINK team a "major step forward" for Ground Zero. But the stresses that could send the whole, rudderless process back to square one were on more vivid display than the architectural models.

At last November's groundbreaking for 7 World Trade Center, everyone involved showed up and said only the nicest things about each other.

But yesterday, the two players with the biggest stake in the Ground Zero saga weren't even there.

Prominently taking a pass was Gov. Pataki, who created the LMDC and has the decisive say over the Port Authority - but who seems to regard Ground Zero as a nuisance best left to the next governor.

Even more conspicuous by his absence was Larry Silverstein, who holds a 100-year leasehold on the World Trade Center site but wasn't invited - a virtual admonition to get lost.

Port Authority Executive Director Joseph Seymour reminded us the winning proposal still would have to be reconciled with the PA's own secret site plan, which it has kept under wraps like the "Joe Millionaire" finale.

Deputy Mayor Dan ("Olympics or Bust") Doctoroff followed Seymour by saying, "We're shaking hands on the land swap - that's a joke."

Some joke: City control of the site, a scheme pushed by Mayor Bloomberg, would likely spell the end of any of the LMDC's initiatives.

The THINK and Libeskind plans promise a spirited debate in the weeks ahead. But political rigor mortis makes it questionable whether either will get past the talking stage.

No wonder companies trying to decide whether to stay or move downtown - to say nothing of ordinary New Yorkers - regard Ground Zero's future with foreboding.

February 5th, 2003, 08:38 AM
Already talks of rejecting those plans.
That's what happens when there's no clear vision by the architects nor political will by the decision makers.

February 5th, 2003, 09:06 AM
That's true. *Where are the leaders in all of this? If Robert Moses had been around (I know some hate him) there would have been major construction already.

My thoughts on what has become the WTC soap opera:
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Its interesting that the towers of both proposals are being called tallest buildings in the world, but in my opinion both make a mockery of the title - the same as the Taipei 101.

THINK's "world cultural towers" need to include more institutions inside the towers. *Leaving too much open will give the city a look of permanent construction, an imcompleted skyline. *The observatory needs to be moved to the top. *The top of the structures themselves could use a crown of some kind. *Even a 350-ft antenna wouldn't hurt. *That would at least give the TV broadcasters another option in case the Jersey option falls through.

Speaking of which, we are expected to get excited about Libeskind's 1,776 ft "spire" while a taller, 2,000 ft. "tower" will likely be constructed just south of the skyline. *No difference in the two in my opinion, even if one does have a 70-story building attached to it.

If there were going to be height restrictions, wouldn't it have been better to state it in the beginning rather than wasting the money on useless proposals? *I can't say exactly what changed between now and as recently as last fall, when the designers were given "guidelines" on what to plan for the site. *But I smell a rat, the kind that lives in Albany. *Particularly one that promised New Yorkers that the WTC would return "bigger and better than before". *

With the election over, Pataki who has his eyes on a potential higher office, didn't want the idea of large, unleased towers coming back to haunt him down the road. *New Yorkers be damned.

Silverstein and his "its my yard, I make the rules" attitude doesn't help things. *His own SOM proposal for the site hasn't been revealed, but it should have been. *It's likely better than Libeskind's.

We will just have to stay tuned as things develop, and they change almost daily now.

February 5th, 2003, 09:14 AM
If Robert Moses was still around, we'd be getting a parking garage.

February 5th, 2003, 09:33 AM
Quote: from BrooklynRider on 9:14 am on Feb. 5, 2003
If Robert Moses was still around, we'd be getting a parking garage.

You're getting a parking garage anyway, but with Moses you wouldn't have this indecision. *It's an embarassment to the city.
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More looks at THINK's plan...







February 5th, 2003, 11:41 AM
The site plan is a mess. *The LMDC needs to stop listening to the opinion polls, which are derived from the opinions of people who only look at the skyline renderings

February 5th, 2003, 12:18 PM
Skyline renderings should be carefully pondered.
The impact on the skyline is an important issue.

February 5th, 2003, 02:53 PM
Haha, if Robert Moses was around, the Cross-Brooklyn, Lower Manhattan, Bushwck, Queens Interboro Expressways, Richmond and Willowbrook Parkways, Westway and the Oyster Bay/Rye and Long Island Sound crossings would be complete. Don't put it past him - Moses was first and foremost the reason why transit nearly died in the 1960's. He'd be 114 is he was alive today, but he still might have had it upstairs since he was still sharp when he died in 1981.

I've read "The Power Broker" twice - arguably the best book ever written about New York City in the 20th century. Robert Moses might have gotten the WTC under construction right now, bit it would be have been designed by a committe, much like Lincoln Center, the U.N. and the '64-'65 World's Fair. Anyone interested on how things were done, how New York City and State ran in the early and middle 20th centuries, and why things look the way they do today, should definitely read "The Power Broker" !

(Oh yeah, I like the Libeskind proposal better, anyone who knows what I've said before about this would know - I feel bad that most of us were Foster advocates. He should have been the other finalist!)

February 5th, 2003, 05:28 PM
I've been bogged down in The Power Broker for a while now. *His rise to power is fascinating but then it's hundreds of pages of him being a complete asshole. *I know I have to get through it, though. *I've skipped ahead to the story of the Cross Bronx.

It's true Moses' projects were at the expense of other vital improvements, most notably mass transit, to which he was openly hostile. *And there were major things he was unable to do, even at the height of his power (though not many). *The Brooklyn - Battery bridge is top on that list, along with the Mid-Manhattan expressway and Lower Manhattan Expressway.

February 6th, 2003, 02:01 AM
dbhstockton - I've read "The Power Broker" twice and may again a 3rd time. Yes, Moses is an asshole, but Jones Beach, the Triborough Bridge, and the ramps from the Cross Bronx/Alexander Hamilton Bridge to the roads below were nothing short of amazing. The big sin, as ya said, was shortchanging mass transit. Caro talks about the Van Wyck and how a rail line could have been put in it, but expanding the right of way before it was too late. Guess what the Port Authority is working on as we speak?

The Lower Manhattan Expressway was a great idea. Canal St. is a mess now, but trucks (I think) are banned from it now, and that might be permanent. It would have ruined the area, but better connections with the FDR and West Side Highways would have helped. Oh well...

Back to the topic, I would like to see the Libeskind proposal tweaked with. Taller Buildings would be my main concern. As for the THINK proposal, I agree with those on this forum that feel that it is a "ghost" of what was there and a reminder. In other words, it's not very forward looking. I would never be able to look at those towers if they were built. It would be too painful!

February 6th, 2003, 02:39 AM
I just don't like Libeskind's "needle in the sky" concept, that in itself is not a "real" tall building, it is a cheap cop out.

February 6th, 2003, 02:47 AM
I hope Libeskind wins, too. *But what are we going to do if WCC wins? *I trully despise the design and I can't imagine having to look at a morbid reminder of the twin towers every day and night.
I do like the THINK team, though. *Their other ideas had merit, and their highly open-minded creative process is to be commended. *But it would be a tragic failure of vision if this echo of the old WTC is the best we can do for the future. *It would just be too sad. *

February 6th, 2003, 03:30 AM
Foster would have been the best, unfortunately, we only have these*remaining designs. What a sad choice. *:( *If I was forced to choose, and root for one design, I couldn't possibly make myself root for a meaningless spire.

(Edited by amigo32 at 4:15 am on Feb. 6, 2003)

February 6th, 2003, 03:40 AM
February 6, 2003

Balancing Reason and Emotion in Twin Towers Void

Taken together as a kind of shotgun diptych, the two designs chosen as finalists by the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation illustrate the confusion of a nation torn between the conflicting impulses of war and peace.

Daniel Libeskind's project for the World Trade Center site is a startlingly aggressive tour de force, a war memorial to a looming conflict that has scarcely begun. The Think team's proposal, on the other hand, offers an image of peacetime aspirations so idealistic as to seem nearly unrealizable.

While no pacifist, as a modern-day New Yorker I would like to think my way to a place beyond armed combat. The Think project accomplishes this. As I observed in an appraisal last week, the design — by the architects Frederic Schwartz, Rafael Viñoly, Ken Smith and Shigeru Ban — is an act of metamorphosis. It transforms our collective memories of the twin towers into a soaring affirmation of American values.

The Think project calls for two frameworks of steel lattice in approximately the same locations as the original towers, but without touching their footprints. The new towers would form the infrastructure for a vertically organized complex of cultural and educational buildings designed by different architects. New York could only gain from the restoration of the image of the twin towers to the skyline.

Students of civilization will not be offended by the thought that a tragedy of global proportions has given birth to an occasion for civic self-regard. That is how cities have been responding to acts of terror and destruction for at least 4,000 years. Destruction is not a path anyone would choose to get to art, but it is well-trod path.

Compared with Think's proposal, Mr. Libeskind's design looks stunted. Had the competition been intended to capture the fractured state of shock felt soon after 9/11, this plan would probably deserve first place. But why, after all, should a large piece of Manhattan be permanently dedicated to an artistic representation of enemy assault? It is an astonishingly tasteless idea. It has produced a predictably kitsch result.

Mr. Libeskind's Berlin-based firm, Studio Daniel Libeskind, has not produced an abstract geometric composition. It is an emotionally manipulative exercise in visual codes. A concrete pit is equated with the Constitution. A skyscraper tops off at 1,776 feet. As at Abu Simbel, the Egyptian temple, the play of sunlight is used to give a cosmic slant to worldly history. A promenade of heroes confers quasi-military status on uniformed personnel.

Even in peacetime that design would appear demagogic. As this nation prepares to send troops into battle, the design's message seems even more loaded. Unintentionally, the plan embodies the Orwellian condition America's detractors accuse us of embracing: perpetual war for perpetual peace.

Yet Mr. Libeskind's design has proved surprisingly popular. Its admirers include many culturally informed New Yorkers. With its jagged skyline and sunken ground plane, the project does make a graphically powerful first impression. Formally, at least, it represents the furthest possible extreme from the six insipid designs released by the development corporation in July.

The contrast is surely part of the appeal of Mr. Libeskind's design. Those who rejected the earlier designs because of their blandness cannot accuse Mr. Libeskind's concept of wanting to fade into the background of Lower Manhattan. Isn't his design precisely what some of us were seeking? A vision that did not attempt to bury the trauma of 9/11 in sweet images of strolling shoppers and Art Deco spires?

And yet the longer I study Mr. Libeskind's design, the more it comes to resemble the blandest of all the projects unveiled in the recent design study: the retro vision put forth by the New Urbanist designers Peterson Littenberg. Both projects trade on sentimental appeal at the expense of historical awareness. Both offer visions of innocence — nostalgia, actually.

Peterson Littenberg is nostalgic for Art Deco Manhattan circa 1928, before the stock market crash caused the United States to abandon the prevailing ideology of social Darwinism. Mr. Libeskind's plan is nostalgic for the world of pre-Enlightenment Europe, before religion was exiled from the public realm.

This yearning is not restricted to Mr. Libeskind's project. The seductive spirituality of premodern society goes far toward explaining the emergence of memorial architecture as a leading genre in the public realm today. An examination of this phenomenon is overdue. Inadvertently, perhaps, Mr. Libeskind has forced the issue into the foreground.

The secular public space is a modern invention. Like the United States, it is a child of 18th-century Enlightenment thought. Before then, land was defined by ownership or utility. There were estates, markets, streets, taverns, military fortifications, government seats and the faubourg. Above all, there was the church, or the parish, which offered the nearest approximation to the open, civil environments of today's public realm. Public space, in other words, was religious space.

Today's disputes over the display of crosses, manger scenes, menorahs and other icons are throwbacks to a time before religion had been separated from civil society. This separation comes with a cost. It has left a void in public space that has not been completely filled in by reason, recreation, art, nature or the other secular alternatives placed there over the last few centuries.

That is the void that overtook ground zero on 9/11. We can use words like sacred or spiritual to describe this emptiness, but what we are really referring to is the absence of organized religion from the modern civil sphere. Memorial architecture has long been one way to fill the void.

In recent decades, memorial architecture has taken up an increasing share of public life and space. Since 1982, with the stunning public response to Maya Lin's Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, memorial architecture has emerged as a branch of industry. Through it, quasi-religious sentiment has gained a socially sanctioned place within the public realm.

Like other institutions in civil society, memorialization is vulnerable to political pressure. What and how we remember are not neutral, self-evident propositions. They are debates. Their outcome is often susceptible to manipulation by those in power.

This should be a reminder of why the religious and civil spheres were separated in the first place by Enlightenment thinkers. In medieval society, the power of religious faith was customarily exploited for political gain. In modern society, political actions are held accountable to reason.

The issue is one of proportion, in time as well as space. Boundaries must be placed around grief lest it overwhelm our ability to gain new perceptions. We do not embrace reason at the expense of emotion. We embrace it at the expense of self-deception.

A public realm devoid of religious authority may be the price of living in a modern democracy. But the price does not exclude the most profound depths of feeling and spirit.

That is why the Think team's proposal is the correct one for us. The spaces it proposes for memorial observance could be as eloquent as a cathedral's. But they would be enclosed with the Enlightenment framework that has stabilized this country since birth. From mourning, it would build towers of learning. They would lift us high above the level of feudal superstition in which our enemies remain mired.

Copyright 2003 New York Times

February 9th, 2003, 02:58 PM
Is this a scheme? Two wonderful designs perhaps, but not practical ones, two idealistic designs that Silverstein will have no problems brushing aside with a "viable" second rate development. RIP NY.

February 10th, 2003, 02:19 AM
Quote: from amigo32 on 2:39 am on Feb. 6, 2003
I just don't like Libeskind's "needle in the sky" concept, that in itself is not a "real" tall building, it is a cheap cop out.

That's why I'm disappointed with both of the finalists--neither one gives us a true skyscraper.

February 10th, 2003, 04:09 AM
That's unfair. Libeskind's projects contains several true skyscrapers.
The embarassment is that they are nothing compared to the 110-story twin towers.

February 10th, 2003, 05:13 AM
Libeskind's plan does indeed, contain a couple of nice "true skyscraper" buildings. *It just dosen't seem that he wants to build very high. He seems to shrink from height, almost like he is afraid.
I hope that they sort out this horrendous mess by providing a *good amalgamation *of all of the designs and plans presented. *
(I guess that I am dreaming)! * *:( *

(Edited by amigo32 at 6:15 am on Feb. 10, 2003)