View Full Version : Need for commercial office space is still reshaping WTC

May 29th, 2003, 08:52 AM
Developer insists towers unaffected

By Anthony Flint, Globe Staff, 5/29/2003

NEW YORK -- While the rest of the world is under the impression that architect Daniel Libeskind is in charge of rebuilding the devastated World Trade Center site, Larry Silverstein, who holds the lease on the complex, continues to press his own commercial interests for the site.

In January, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, with approval by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Governor George E. Pataki, picked Berlin-based Libeskind to redesign the complex on the 16-acre site, with a soaring 1,776-foot tall tower, three angular office buildings, and a sunken memorial space built into the foundations of the twin towers. The corporation is the state agency coordinating the redevelopment.

A competition for the design of the memorial to the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, to be done by a separate architect, is underway.

The Libeskind scheme has already changed significantly. The memorial pit will not be as deep as originally proposed, for example, and five floors of indoor parks, to be designed by landscape architect George Hargreaves of Cambridge, will also not occupy the upper reaches of the tower.

Those changes were driven by economic and logistical realities. But in recent weeks, planners and community groups have grown increasingly worried that Silverstein will insist on changing the Libeskind design even more.

Silverstein has hired John ''Janno'' Lieber, a respected real estate specialist from the New York firm of Lawrence Ruben Co. and assistant transportation secretary under President Clinton, to be development director for the site and to work with Silverstein's architect, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. Silverstein's company, Silverstein Properties, recently pushed a proposal to add a fifth office building to the site.

''Everybody thinks he is bound by the Libeskind plan, but it is not entirely clear who's in charge,'' Robert Yaro, president of the Regional Plan Association and a leader in the community-based Civic Alliance to Rebuild Downtown New York, said of Silverstein. ''He appears to be pursuing his own development plan.''

A spokesman for Silverstein, Gerald McKelvey, said that Silverstein is committed to building the 1,776-foot tall tower that Libeskind proposed, but that he reserves the right to suggest different forms that the other office buildings might take, as the 10 million square feet of space lost in the twin towers is replaced.

Libeskind, who has never designed an office building, has proposed structures with large floor plates or footprints, of 50,000 square feet each, while market conditions require more slender, shorter buildings that provide more offices with windows, McKelvey said.

''Libeskind's mandate is for more than the office buildings; ours is not,'' McKelvey said. ''It's a complex process, but it will be done in a consensual fashion.''

As the leaseholder of the twin towers, Silverstein is a key player in the dizzying array of stakeholders in the rebuilding process. He will be the financial force behind reconstruction, the man who actually builds the new buildings and fills them with tenants.

The property was leased to Silverstein by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the land. Under the terms of that lease, the Port Authority ultimately needs to grant permission for any rebuilding plans, but the Port Authority is also eager to start being paid again by Silverstein.

Some community groups have pushed the idea of a land swap, in which the city would exchange the land it owns at La Guardia and John F. Kennedy airports for the World Trade Center site. Buying him out in that fashion would allow the city to take Silverstein out of the picture, but those negotiations have gone nowhere.

Nancy Poderycki, a spokeswoman for the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, insisted that all participants in the process are on the same page.

''We are all working toward realizing Studio Daniel Libeskind's vision for the World Trade Center site,'' she said.

Anthony Flint can be reached at flint@globe.com.

May 29th, 2003, 11:10 AM
Libeskind, who has never designed an office building, has proposed structures with large floor plates or footprints, of 50,000 square feet each, while market conditions require more slender, shorter buildings that provide more offices with windows, McKelvey said.

It may not be all that bad if Libeskind followed McKelvey's interpretations of market demand.

May 29th, 2003, 11:10 AM
Ahhh...now it makes more sense. *More offices with windows, slender (shorter) buildings. *This site looks more and more doomed by the economy, indecision and fear disguised as pragmatism. *

I can see a distant future on CNN (Chinese News Network) when they are talking about how the US lost its edge after the 9/11 attacks.

May 29th, 2003, 11:19 AM
I have no problems with more slender but why shorter?!?!


May 29th, 2003, 11:33 AM
This defeatism in the New York real estate world is getting out of hand. The last thing we want to see is to see Silverstein come under heavy pressure to lower his buildings even more. I still remember hearing about that meeting where Libeskind was pressured by NIMBY's trying to lower his Freedom Tower.

You know, I never thought I would see corporate interests, or the entire country, start turning cowardly so fast after 9-11. This is also true of the airline industry, where United Airlines is still struggling to get out of bankrupcy because many people are still afraid to fly:sad:.

May 29th, 2003, 11:51 AM
Quote: from JMGarcia on 11:19 am on May 29, 2003
I have no problems with more slender but why shorter?!?!I don't understand shorter either. How does that make more offices with windows. Taller - it's so obvious.

May 29th, 2003, 12:26 PM
market conditions require more slender, shorter buildings

Since when ?
The only slender towers that were built recently in NY were hotels or residential buildings.

TLOZ Link5
May 29th, 2003, 05:43 PM
Barclay-Vesey has a 50,000-square-foot footprint.

May 30th, 2003, 03:15 AM
How about the 4 big towers of the WFC ?
Probably way more than 50,000 sq.ft.

May 30th, 2003, 04:56 AM
May 30, 2003

Leaseholder Sees Limited Role for Libeskind at Trade Center


Larry A. Silverstein, the leaseholder of the World Trade Center site, said yesterday that Studio Daniel Libeskind would inspire but not actually design the office buildings he is planning there, including Freedom Tower, the 1,776-foot skyscraper that is expected to be the first to rise.

Mr. Silverstein has been talking with other renowned architects, among them Skidmore, Owings & Merrill; Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates; Foster & Partners; and the Renzo Piano Building Workshop. But he said no decision had been reached and declined to discuss any of his prospective choices.

He insisted in an interview that he would maintain the essence of Mr. Libeskind's design, which was chosen three months ago by the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

"With respect to the iconic tower," Mr. Silverstein said, "it will reflect the spirit of Dan's site plan, which contained sketches of the buildings on the individual sites, and the architect will draw from and be inspired by Dan's portrayal."

In images seen around the world, Mr. Libeskind advanced a striking concept for the tallest building on the site, now called Freedom Tower. It is a relatively slender shaft that dematerializes as it rises skyward into an angular, open latticework whose shape is meant in part to echo and complement the skyline presence of the Statue of Liberty.

"I've been assured by Larry, whom I like, that I'll be meaningfully involved in the design of the building," Mr. Libeskind said yesterday. Asked about sharing the job with another architect, he cited the Seagram Building, on which Ludwig Mies van der Rohe collaborated with Philip Johnson. "There's a precedent of working together on great projects," Mr. Libeskind said.

Mr. Libeskind appears to have a powerful patron. A government official close to Gov. George E. Pataki said yesterday that the governor "strongly believes Daniel should be meaningfully involved" in the design of Freedom Tower.

Though Mr. Silverstein's search for architects raises a question about how closely the development will resemble the widely publicized renderings and models, rebuilding officials said Mr. Silverstein and his architects would have to follow the outline of Mr. Libeskind's plan.

If this sets them on a collision course, it is not the first time since Mr. Libeskind's plan was selected. Mr. Silverstein has complained that the plan does not fit his needs. Rebuilding officials have talked privately about how Mr. Silverstein might be eased out of the site.

Meanwhile, no agreement has been reached on planning details, though Mr. Silverstein said that Mr. Libeskind's site plan "is one that we will fully respect" and that "whatever is done here will clearly involve Dan as part of a peer group to ensure the quality of the design."

Asked then why he would not simply designate Mr. Libeskind as his architect, Mr. Silverstein said Mr. Libeskind was chiefly known for low-rise and mid-rise public buildings, like the Jewish Museum in Berlin. In contrast, Mr. Silverstein said, the towers at the trade center site will be tall, large and "house major corporate offices."

That, in turn, suggested "a relatively small group of architects who have spent their lives designing high-rise office towers," he said.

Among the likeliest candidates to design Freedom Tower would be David M. Childs of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, the architects of Mr. Silverstein's 7 World Trade Center project across Vesey Street from ground zero, who have been advising the developer on the trade center site.

William Pedersen of Kohn Pedersen Fox said in an interview last week that Mr. Silverstein had spoken to him about possibly designing one of the buildings. "It was kind of a conceptual thing," he said.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Piano confirmed in an e-mail exchange that he, too, had been contacted by Mr. Silverstein about possibly designing a building but said that Mr. Piano was unable to accept the invitation.

Neither Norman Foster nor a spokeswoman returned phone calls. But a person close to Lord Foster said Mr. Silverstein contacted him soon after Sept. 11 to talk about a role in the rebuilding, and that those contacts continued.

Roland W. Betts, a director of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, said in an interview last week that there was "no expectation that Libeskind would design the different buildings."

"But the whole idea of the design guidelines is to preserve the plan we picked for the site," he said. "We're going to be pushing pretty hard to make sure that the Libeskind plan comes into being. We do not want his comprehensive vision of the site to be compromised."

Fredric M. Bell, executive director the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, said Freedom Tower already reflected Mr. Libeskind's unmistakable influence in its distinctive upper reaches.

"What made that building an icon, a symbol of New York, was Libeskind's pure and simple," Mr. Bell said. "I'm still guardedly optimistic that that's in the cards, Silverstein or no Silverstein."

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

May 30th, 2003, 07:38 AM
9/11 Families To Sue To Stop New WTC

By Katia Hetter

A group of Sept. 11 victims' families wants the newest World Trade Center site plans to be declared "illegal, null and void," a danger to lower Manhattan and future rescue workers, according to the draft of a lawsuit against the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and others.

Although the Port Authority has enjoyed immunity from local fire and building safety codes, the lawsuit asks that the agency be ordered to follow those regulations in the redevelopment of Ground Zero. The suit they plan to file Monday claims the agency's role as a commercial landlord isn't protected under the two-state agency's immunity from local codes.

"A government agency that operates a commercial office building should be held to the same standards as the private sector," said attorney Thomas Shanahan, lead attorney on the lawsuit. "There is no reason for immunity to be attached to a commercial landlord. The Port should have no problem with that because they say they meet or exceed the code already."

The lawsuit, to be filed by the Skyscraper Safety Campaign families group, Councilman Alan Gerson (D-Lower Manhattan) and Councilwoman Helen Sears (D-Jackson Heights), doesn't ask for any money beyond legal fees. "If you build in the city of New York, you should be in compliance with the building regulations," Sears said. "When you don't have to do it, there's something wrong."

But the lawsuit does seek to require that the redevelopment plans be approved by the New York and New Jersey state legislatures and the New York City Council, and includes other Port Authority commercial buildings such as 111 8th Ave., in the court order.

A Port Authority spokesman declined to comment on the proposed lawsuit, which is also being filed against the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., trade center leaseholder Silverstein Properties, trade center retail leaseholder Westfield Group, Marriott Hotel Services, trade center architecture firm Studio Daniel Libeskind and Brookfield Properties.

"The Port Authority's policy is that we do not comment on pending litigation," said Port Authority spokesman Greg Trevor, who had not yet seen the complaint. He said the Port Authority is committed to meeting or exceeding all city building and fire codes under existing agreement with the city.

The agency can't prove it is meeting or exceeding local code requirements, says Skyscraper Safety Campaign chairwoman Sally Regenhard, who lost her firefighter son, Christian, in the attacks.

"There is no documentation of inspections, the Port Authority doesn't allow the FDNY in [to inspect], so the codes are not enforced even if they do follow them voluntarily," Regenhard said. "That building was a death trap. If we allow the Port Authority to build again with the same immunity to building and fire codes, who's to say they won't build another death trap?"

May 30th, 2003, 09:08 AM
The NY Times article posted by Christian is the best one of the bunch IMO regarding what is likely to happen.

No that what a lot of us have been saying right along about other architects being brought in and potential changes to the massing models Libeskind has done so far are proving to be true, it really shows how futile Libeskind bashing was. It was a huge tactical error IMO for rebuilding groups to not get on board with Libeskind. They have totally marginalized themselves when they could have had strong input, much as the families have over the memorial.

May 30th, 2003, 12:26 PM
In contrast, Mr. Silverstein said, the towers at the trade center site will be tall, large and "house major corporate offices."

OK, if tall means over 1000 ft and large means not anemic like the Freedom Tower, we have a deal.

the governor "strongly believes Daniel should be meaningfully involved" in the design of Freedom Tower.


Mr. Silverstein said that Mr. Libeskind's site plan "is one that we will fully respect" and that "whatever is done here will clearly involve Dan as part of a peer group to ensure the quality of the design."

Pataki calls him Daniel.
Silverstein calls him Dan !
Dan must be one fun guy...

TLOZ Link5
May 31st, 2003, 02:39 PM
Quote: from Fabb on 3:15 am on May 30, 2003
How about the 4 big towers of the WFC ?
Probably way more than 50,000 sq.ft.

From site maps I've seen of the area, I'd say that they had the same size footprint as the WTC Towers-- namely, about 44,000^2 feet.