View Full Version : The Street Level - WTC plans

February 6th, 2003, 04:30 AM
February 6, 2003
Map Becomes Clearer in Trade Center Choices

EVER since nine competing architectural visions for the World Trade Center site were unveiled in December, it has been irresistible to talk about their place on the skyline and in the civic heart. The winnowing announced Tuesday permits closer scrutiny of a more basic building block: their place on the streets of Lower Manhattan.

Comparing the plans by Studio Daniel Libeskind and a team called Think (Shigeru Ban, Frederic Schwartz, Ken Smith and Rafael Viñoly) may still be a matter of apple and orange. But the persimmons and kumquats are off the table. It is now possible to understand better what the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey have in mind for ground zero and the surrounding blocks.

Aside from the aesthetic eloquence of the most distinctive features in the Libeskind and Think proposals — latticework towers, hanging gardens and the preservation of the concrete "bathtub" that was the trade center's very foundation — they both offer a framework for intense commercial development.

Neither would restore the total amount of office space in the original five-building complex, 11.4 million square feet, but Think contemplates the creation of floor area almost equal to the 9.4 million square feet in the twin towers.

Its World Cultural Center plan would allow for the development of up to 8.6 million square feet of office space (in contrast to 780,000 square feet of cultural space), with two of the largest buildings on Church Street and a third on the block now occupied by 1 Bankers Trust Plaza, a 41-story skyscraper that was badly damaged during the attack and has never reopened.

Libeskind's plan calls for 7.6 million square feet of office space, with two of the largest buildings on Vesey Street and a third on Church Street.

Both plans call for more than twice the retail space that previously existed. This would be controlled by Westfield America as a subtenant of Silverstein Properties, which holds the overall lease on the site.

There would be 1.1 million square feet of shops under Think's plan, three-quarters of it underground, as the trade center concourse was. The Libeskind proposal would create 900,000 square feet of retail space, almost two-thirds of it underground.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg called for the creation of a new residential neighborhood south of Liberty Street and west of Broadway when he offered the city's vision for Lower Manhattan on Dec. 12. Both the Libeskind and Think plans provide potential housing on sites identified in the mayor's report, though in much different proportions.

The Libeskind plan envisions a 1.7-million-square-foot residential development on Liberty Street, between Greenwich and Washington Streets, which is the north half of Bankers Trust Plaza. That would translate into roughly 1,750 apartments. (To put this in perspective, the city estimates the current residential population downtown at 20,000.)

More modestly, Think would set aside the block bounded by Liberty, Cedar, Washington and West Streets for a 213,000-square-foot, 10-story office building that could be residential. That might yield 200 or more apartments.

On this block stood the tiny St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, which was crushed under the collapsing south tower. Think would relocate St. Nicholas to the corner of Church and Vesey Streets, opposite St. Paul's Chapel.

On the face of it, this is a far more prominent setting. But Archbishop Demetrios, the spiritual leader of the Greek Orthodox Church in America, would strongly prefer that St. Nicholas be rebuilt on or near its former location, 155 Cedar Street. The Libeskind proposal provides for that.

Both plans would restore Fulton and Greenwich Streets, thereby creating a giant X through the single 16-acre superblock site created in the 1960's to accommodate the trade center. But they treat the Fulton Street extension slightly differently. Think would run it straight across to West Street on its current course. Libeskind would bend it slightly to the south, thereby creating a visual corridor leading to the Winter Garden at Battery Park City.

Re-establishing Fulton Street is a goal of the mayor's. He has said, "Fulton would join Broadway as one of the two great arteries in Lower Manhattan."

The comparative analysis of the design proposals was undertaken by 10 consultants led by Ehrenkrantz Eckstut & Kuhn Architects, which is advising the Port Authority on redevelopment planning at the trade center site. A guiding design concept and a transportation, infrastructure and land-use plan are to be completed by the end of the month.

Until then, the Libeskind and Think proposals may be seen at the Winter Garden every day from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., beginning tomorrow, or on the development corporation's Web site, www.renewnyc.com.

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

February 6th, 2003, 06:03 PM
It's good to see some focus on other aspects of the plan than the towers aesthetics and height. The article leaves out the issue of connectivity over West St. though which I think is important.

February 7th, 2003, 02:47 PM



February 7th, 2003, 03:12 PM
In their current state the two plans are similar but almost inverted: THINK's joins the site's heart with two or three spots (the model shows a central link to a higher mezzanine) of the World Financial Center with pedestrian bridges; Libeskind's connects the two extremities of the site to a central point of the WFC in a circular course, and there seems to be a direct connection of Fulton Street to the Winter Garden which I can't quite discern in pictures of the model.

February 7th, 2003, 05:13 PM
I'm trying to remember Libeskind's model, and i think he connects the Winter Garden to his circular memorial promenade, but not directly to Fulton street. *I do like the orientation of Fulton street in his plan, and the location of parks around it when it meets the Winter Garden. *

If I had my druthers, I would have made it a requirement of the plans that Fulton street meet the mezzanine level of the WFC, if not the winter Garden itself. *The grade of the WTC site allows this -- if you kept relatively Fulton level with Greenwich, it would continue west to the second story of the WFC. * This would also make a West st. overpass more viable and easily executed.

February 7th, 2003, 05:17 PM
I think the link to the Winter Garden is part of the underground complex.


Neither plan deals with West St. particularly well. I think that this may be one of the modifications requested of the finalists.

February 9th, 2003, 06:39 PM
From the NY Times article Feb 08 on Pataki's transportation
letter to Fed govt:

"Dollar amounts were not specified for the other projects, among them the restoration of West Street, which Mr. Pataki's letter said was likely to include "the tunneling of some portion" of the street, most likely the stretch alongside the trade center site, from Vesey Street to Liberty Street."

Recently, Community Board 1, by a 21-13 vote, endorsed a short tunnel between Vesey and Liberty. Brookfield wants the tunnel to integrate the WFC retail with the rest of lower Manhattan. The LMDC decision on West St was to have been Feb 15, but has been pushed back to the end of the month.