View Poll Results: Construction is underway, how do you feel about the final design for the WTC site?

192. You may not vote on this poll
  • I am more than satisfied; I believe that the final design surpasses that of the original World Trade Center. 10/10

    50 26.04%
  • While nothing may ever live up to the Twin Towers, I am wholly satisfied with the new World Trade Center; it is a new symbol for a new era. 7/10

    55 28.65%
  • I have come to terms with the new World Trade Center; although it has a number of flaws, I find the design to be acceptable. 5/10

    48 25.00%
  • I am wholly disappointed with the New World Trade Center; we will live to regret the final design. 0/10

    22 11.46%
  • I am biased, but honest, and hate anything that is not a reincarnation of the original Twin Towers.

    17 8.85%
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Thread: World Trade Center Developments

  1. #181


    September 7, 2003


    Public Building


    In 1366, the wardens of the Opera del Duomo submitted to the citizens of Florence a referendum on the construction of the dome of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. The wardens had chosen a design that would raise the widest and tallest dome ever constructed without recourse to the buttresses that typically supported great church buildings -- an act of boldness they decided required the stamp of public approval. The referendum passed, thus germinating a process that would flower half a century later with Filippo Brunelleschi's extraordinary design for a giant free-standing dome.

    The debate that has unfolded over the rebuilding of the World Trade Center for the last year has brought New Yorkers as close as they have ever come to the ancient Florentine conviction that the most profound questions of urban design demand a public voice. When city and state officials presented a plan consisting of a half-dozen unimaginative and practically indistinguishable proposals from two design firms, the sheer force of public scorn compelled them to throw open the process to the world's greatest architects. In February, in a fine triumph for democratic engagement (and inspired rhetoric), a master plan designed by the protean Daniel Libeskind was named the winner.

    Now, as the second anniversary of 9/11 approaches, that democratic moment seems to have passed. Larry Silverstein, the developer who holds the lease on the site, has become, with the clear support of Gov. George Pataki, the lead player in the rebuilding process. Silverstein had ridiculed Libeskind's master plan as impractical, and he recently named David Childs, a prominent corporate architect whose own plan was widely deemed the most pedestrian of the seven proposals, as the lead architect on Libeskind's signature 1,776-foot tower. Pataki has said that he wants construction on the tower to begin by next summer, conveniently timed for the Republican National Convention. It's beginning to look like a classic case of regression to the mean.

    But if the sense of civic purpose that drove the design process has ominously paused, it has not altogether petered out. The competition to design a memorial to those who died provoked an astonishing 5,200 proposals, the great majority from nonexperts who were plainly moved to use design to express their feelings about the catastrophe. The announcement of the finalists this fall will surely provoke another round of public introspection and debate.

    What is more, it's impossible to take the measure of what has already been achieved without understanding how utterly unprecedented the public response has been. In the now discredited era of master planner Robert Moses, development decisions were made by a handful of men. The enormously complex process the city instituted after Moses's downfall changed the size and composition of the group, but development remained an insider's game, sustained by public indifference and thus governed by the conflicting interests of various factions. Very few of the development battles of the modern, putatively democratic era -- Westway, Columbus Circle and Times Square, among others -- actually vindicated the merits of public engagement.

    Of course, the reason for this is that most of us just don't care very much: buildings and places do not resonate with meaning for us. The Florentines thought of the physical city as a monument to their own glory, whereas we think of it as a giant machine for the performance of work and the satisfaction of wishes. Think of the contrast with our social or interpersonal environment, which we care about so much -- about smoking in public places or the quality of our gym. In our own endless quest for personal self-perfection, monuments to collective experience, and to a life that existed before us and extends beyond us, exert only the most feeble pull.

    And then the terrorists insisted on the meaning of the twin towers by destroying them. Sept. 11 marked a new moment in urban self-awareness. The terrorist attack so profoundly sacralized the World Trade Center that many people seriously spoke of precisely rebuilding the towers, previously known as the most glaring possible example of anti-urban 60's gigantism. Still, the emotional response was right: the kind of meaning that can be expressed through architecture, and the making of places, comes to the fore at moments of profound civic feeling. A new idea dawned, and I don't think that idea has lost its potency.

    In fact, the choice of Libeskind was far less surprising than the announcement last month that the Port Authority, which in years past has been famously indifferent to both public and aesthetic values, had selected the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava to design the trade center's new train station. The fact that officials staged a worldwide competition for an architect was almost as astounding as the fact that they chose a figure widely described as the world's greatest architect of transportation. It seems plain that the public demand for meaningful architecture had altered the climate within which the Port Authority operates.

    How lasting will that climactic change prove? The World Trade Center is, of course, sui generis. And yet I am not convinced the public will slip back into its wonted passivity the next time an important project comes along. Architecture has become a matter of public discussion as it never has been before, and a significant number of buildings worth looking at and caring about are either planned or in the process of rising. New Yorkers will never be Florentines -- we have more transitory things than buildings on our minds -- but we will remember the World Trade Center attack as a time when the city began to matter to us in a new way.

    James Traub is a contributing writer for the magazine.

    Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

  2. #182


    "He argued that the symbolic spiral at the tip of the tower is too expensive to build and pushed for something more straightforward. As part of a compromise, Mr Libeskind relinquished control for the tower to another architect chosen by Mr Silverstein. "

    This sounds horrible. This sounds absolutely disasterous. :x :cry: If the spire on the Freedom Tower is made cheaper it is going to suck. I hope that it isn't just going to be lattice-work. I'll drop dead if it is. I was actually hoping it'd be made better, not worse. I wanted office space in it, now it'll be a miracle if it's even usable at all.

  3. #183
    Forum Veteran
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    Nov 2002
    New York City


    In all fairness, I don't think that Childs was really as involved in SOM's WTC plan as this article lets on. Earlier articles have stated that his concepts were often overruled in favor of Roger Duffy's.

    But to play to the argument being presented, yes; Childs is most definitely a corporate architect, albeit somewhat unwitting. The final designs of many of his buildings he has publicly stated he despises, e.g. Bear Stearns, perhaps WorldWide Plaza, and to an extent AOL-TW. We'll have to see how he works with Silverstein, although I myself am not getting my hopes up.

    To his credit, Silverstein is not so much fool as he's let on to be. I doubt he'll play the role of a business-as-usual developer to the degree that the press accuses him of. He'll listen to the people to a certain extent for fear of bad public relations.

  4. #184


    Today I walked along the Vesey St pedestrian passageway. A few observations:

    The concrete base of 7WTC is going up much faster now. As Gulcrapek noted, they are not pouring entire floors, but working from the center out.
    You can see the interior structure - I have never seen an office building so massive.

    At Verizon, the walkway detours under the now completed arcade (they are working on the street). Glazing has been installed in all the openings. Years ago they were replaced with painted plywood panels. It looks great.

    One of the stone arches has a large chunk missing. Not sure, but I think it's being left that way as a historical record.

  5. #185
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Chicago, Illinois


    Quote Originally Posted by ZippyTheChimp
    The concrete base of 7WTC is going up much faster now. As Gulcrapek noted, they are not pouring entire floors, but working from the center out.
    You can see the interior structure - I have never seen an office building so massive.
    That is the way composite structures are build. It will in essence be a steel structure with reinforced concrete shear wall core.

    At Silverstein's website they describe the buildings features and they are impressive. I wonder if the tower will have belt trusses on some of the upper floors.

    Too bad the design is not more daring or environmentally friendly.

  6. #186


    An artist's rendering of the performing arts center Daniel Libeskind, the master-plan architect, has envisioned for the redevelopment of the 16-acre property at ground zero.

    Proposing a National Theater Downtown

    $170 million three-stage theater complex that its backers say would bring the best of the nation's plays and musicals to Lower Manhattan is being proposed for the redevelopment of ground zero.

    The project, called the American National Theater, has gained the support of Arthur Miller, Meryl Streep and the director Harold Prince, among other prominent people in the theater world. The actress Blair Brown is giving a cocktail party in Connecticut tomorrow to raise seed money for the project.

    "Theater in New York really needs a shot in the arm," Ms. Brown said. "We're locked into big musicals or plays from England, and actors can't make a living Off Broadway."

    The proposal is to be submitted to the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, which is overseeing the rebuilding of downtown. The corporation has invited arts groups worldwide to submit ideas for the site by Monday. Two of the most prominent institutions already competing to be at ground zero are the New York City Opera and the 92nd Street Y.

    The national theater would cull the finest offerings from the country's regional stages and present them in the performing arts center that Daniel Libeskind, the master-plan architect, has called for at the World Trade Center site. The complex would include three theaters: one with 800 seats, one with 700 and one with 400. The backers envision 15 productions a year, five on each stage, each running six weeks.

    "They will be presented in New York as near as possible in their original form," said Sean Cullen, an actor who has spearheaded the project.

    He said the national theater would have an annual budget of $17 million to $20 million. Financing would come from corporations, foundations and individuals. Mr. Cullen said its pool of money would be potentially wider than that of most arts groups because of its national character.

    The project is not the first attempt to create a national theater. Lincoln Center Theater's Vivian Beaumont stage was established with that mandate in mind, and the Kennedy Center in Washington also considers itself the nation's cultural center. Some producers have previously considered creating a permanent acting company that performs plays in repertory, akin to the Royal National Theater in London.

    Mr. Cullen said he would pursue the project whether or not it was selected for ground zero.

    Several regional theater executives have already embraced the idea of a national theater there. "You could start to see the rich theatrical work that's all over this country," said Emily Mann, artistic director of the McCarter Theater in Princeton, N.J. "It could be an amazing production of `Antigone' or a new play by Nilo Cruz."

    She said regional theater needed a presence in New York. "New York still in so many ways lets the nation know what the great pieces are," she said. Unless you see a regional production where it's staged, she added, "you've missed it."

    "So many great productions have been lost into the ether because of that," she continued.

    The proposed theater complex at ground zero would include four or five rehearsal halls that could be shared with other organizations, like the TriBeCa Film Festival or the Joyce Theater, Mr. Cullen said. He said he had not yet contacted those potential partners, though both have expressed interest in the site and have discussed a partnership with other groups, like City Opera.

    The proposal also provides for a restaurant and a "great hall," a ground-level space that would present audiovisual promotions for the shows playing in the theaters.

    The national theater would consider the work of about 150 regional theaters, Mr. Cullen said. A jury of five theater professionals — actors, directors, designers, playwrights — would travel the country looking for worthy candidates. These scouts would serve 15-month terms at salaries of about $100,000. "I guess you could liken it to the Peace Corps," Mr. Cullen said. The 15 final productions would be selected by an artistic director.

    "It would take imaginative curating, which is exactly what has happened in the dance world," said Carey Perloff, who is artistic director of American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco and serves on the proposed national theater's advisory board. "It's such an enormous country that we don't get to see each other's work enough."

    Ms. Perloff would be a strong candidate for the national theater's artistic director, Mr. Cullen said. He also mentioned Ms. Mann, who said she was happy in her current position but welcomed the chance to help.

    Mr. Cullen said the idea for such a theater occurred to him four years ago, when he heard Emanuel Azenberg, the Broadway producer, say on television that he imported plays from London because good home-grown work was so scarce. The idea gained momentum when a performing arts center became part of the plans for the World Trade Center site, Mr. Cullen said; he had previously considered the former Coliseum site at Columbus Circle.

    Mr. Cullen said he met on May 6 with Mr. Libeskind; Anita Contini, the director of memorial, cultural and civic programs at the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation; Ron Pisapia, a director in the priority capital programs department at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the 16-acre property at ground zero; and James Connors, deputy director of real estate at the Port Authority.

    Mr. Cullen said he obtained the meeting through one of his board members, Christopher Cline, the former chief financial officer of ACTV Inc., which builds interactive television technology. Mr. Cline had a real-estate relationship with Mr. Connors, who in turn took the project to Mr. Pisapia.

    Mr. Pisapia expressed enthusiasm for the idea on the theater's Web site, "On a personal and professional level, it's difficult to not be excited about the prospect of an American National Theater facility as part of the cultural development of the W.T.C. site." A spokesman for the Port Authority said the agency did not support any particular proposal for ground zero.

    The Web site says the theater's advisory panel also includes Nina Lannan, a Broadway general manager; Richard Nelson, the playwright; Jennifer Tipton, the lighting designer; and Mr. Prince, who has directed most of Stephen Sondheim's work, as well as "Phantom of the Opera."

    Mr. Prince said the country might be too big for one national theater, but that he was interested in a downtown theater district with productions that were not expected to run indefinitely or to turn a profit. "Producers have a priority, and it's `Is this going to make money?' " he said. "And I don't think that should be our qualifying agenda."

    "We're spinning out of control in pursuit of `What do people want?' " he continued. "I've been around long enough to remember a time when we weren't worried about what people wanted. We did what we wanted, and people came along."

  7. #187


    A very good article from the New Yorker about Libeskind...

    A small excerpt...

    ...Early this summer, Silverstein’s money and chutzpah seemed to be getting him what he wanted, but Libeskind, who was born in Poland and grew up in the Bronx, turned out to know more than a little about street fighting in New York. He had hired a lawyer, Edward Hayes, who is a close friend of Governor Pataki, and Hayes argued that the public expected his client to build everything he had envisioned—that his plans had been presented as a package. Libeskind made it clear that he was prepared to walk off the project, which would have embarrassed both the L.M.D.C. and Pataki, whose support was crucial to Libeskind’s selection, and who has pledged to start construction on the tower by next year, when the Republicans come to town for their Presidential Convention. He made the pledge in April, standing in front of a six-foot-tall rendering of Libeskind’s Freedom Tower.

    Pataki urged Kevin Rampe, the president of the L.M.D.C., to force Libeskind and Childs to sort things out, and Rampe called a meeting at L.M.D.C. headquarters at One Liberty Plaza on July 15th. Libeskind came with Edward Hayes and several staff members. Childs, who said later that he hadn’t been told about the draconian aspect of the meeting, brought one of his architectural partners and Janno Lieber, Larry Silverstein’s executive in charge of the World Trade Center site. The architects and their entourages sat in separate conference rooms at opposite ends of the twentieth floor, and Rampe and Matthew Higgins, the chief operating officer of the L.M.D.C., shuttled between the two camps. After five hours of this, nobody had budged from his original position.

    “The Libeskinds are afraid of being chewed up by the Skidmore, Owings & Merrill machine,” Rampe told Childs. “Well, I’m afraid of being chewed up by the Libeskind machine,” Childs replied.

    Sometime after nine in the evening, Higgins sent out for pizza, and not long after that Rampe suggested that it might be helpful if Libeskind and Childs discussed things face to face, away from everyone else. The two men went into a third room. Childs was firm. He had a design for a tower and he didn’t want Libeskind’s design to be the starting point of any collaboration. “Only if this is a blank slate can I work with you,” he said.

    “This is not a tabula rasa,” Libeskind replied. “The Freedom Tower is an image, a basis.”

    “I have my own image,” Childs said. “I appreciate and respect what you do, but it is not what I do.”

    Libeskind began to sketch his design on a piece of paper. “I have an idea how we can develop it,” he insisted, but Childs continued to demur. Libeskind said that he would agree to a fifty-fifty sharing of authority. Childs said that was impossible: “Someone has to be the writer of the Constitution.”

    Childs told me later that he felt that Libeskind was wedded to a sculptural image, and that he found his asymmetrical scheme illogical. “He is shaping a clay block and sticking a sword on one side of it,” Childs said.

    “It was gruelling,” Libeskind recalled. “It felt like the Grand Inquisitor scene in ‘The Brothers Karamazov.’”

    It is hard to say which architect wore the other down, but shortly before eleven o’clock they came out of the room and announced that they had agreed that while Childs’s firm would be the official architect of the Freedom Tower, Libeskind would “meaningfully collaborate” on the design, and that it would be presented as a joint creation...


    ...Westfield, the enormous mall operator that leased the Trade Center’s retail space, wants to build something like a suburban shopping center on the site, and while Libeskind was trying to resist Westfield he was attacked by left-wing urban planners as having made the project too commercial. His master plan contains ten million square feet of office space, which is what Larry Silverstein and the Port Authority asked for, and it seemed to some people that he had simply conferred an avant-garde veneer on an immense business development. A couple of members of the L.M.D.C.’s board, Carl Weisbrod and Madelyn Wils, who represent the lower Manhattan business and residential communities, objected to the sunken memorial space, because some of their constituents don’t want to walk around it to get from Battery Park City to the subway. They thought the memorial should be moved to ground level. (The seventy-foot exposure had already been changed to thirty feet, for engineering reasons.) The L.M.D.C. defended Libeskind, however, and there appears to be almost no chance that the memorial site will be moved to ground level, or that the area will be turned into a big mall...

  8. #188


    New Yorker
    ...Frank Gehry says that he has warned Libeskind about being a celebrity architect. “His political savvy is ahead of his best work, and that can be dangerous,” Gehry says. Gehry’s own international celebrity, he reminded me, came after he designed the museum in Bilbao, which wasn’t finished until he was nearly seventy. “Part of me thinks he’s in over his head, and yet part of me thinks he’s such a survivor, and with her”—Nina—“he can figure it out.”

  9. #189
    Forum Veteran
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    West Harlem


    Childs is an ass. As is his pimp. If that's not clear by now, I don't know what is.

  10. #190

    Default From Newsday

    Primary Plan for Redoing Towers Begins Wobbling
    By Justin Davidson
    Staff Writer

    September 11, 2003

    Two years after the Twin Towers tumbled, architect Daniel Libeskind's plan for replacing them is beginning to look wobbly.

    Among his most powerful selling points was the "Wedge of Light," a term he used to describe the glint of morning sunlight on glass facades each Sept. 11, but the concept withered under analysis. Two other principal components have been assigned to architects whose aesthetics barely overlap with his: David Childs is designing the 1,776-foot Freedom Tower, Santiago Calatrava the transit hub.

    It is starting to seem possible that Libeskind's plan could be built without including a single Libeskind building. It is far too early to declare his vision dead, but it is not soon to defend it. Virtually all the work remains to be done -- not just the actual construction, but also the legal wrangling, the political arm-wrestling, even the basic decision-making about what cultural institutions will anchor the site. Libeskind has been designing an opera house for a company that may never arrive.

    In all likelihood, Ground Zero will not be made whole again for a generation -- long after current political agendas have become historical and today's power plays have run their course. In the meantime, avoiding a bland downtown that is farmed out piecemeal to architects of convenience must be a top public priority. So far, so good: Childs and Calatrava are both world-class architects, and the chances that they will deliver superb buildings remain high. But in the long run,

    Libeskind's plan remains our best shot at embodying idealism in steel and glass and concrete.

    Perhaps it was inevitable that all the talk of bold design and airy symbolism that swirled around Ground Zero in February would eventually lift, leaving bare the hard, calcified issue of money. Libeskind found a powerful critic in developer Larry Silverstein, who signed a 99-year lease to the World Trade Center weeks before terrorists destroyed it and claims the right to rebuild what he lost. Silverstein's position to influence the architecture of a new downtown rests on the insurance money he controls: $3.5 billion at least; twice that if a judge rules that the downing of the towers were two separate events.

    Gov. George Pataki and the semi-public agency called the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. have been giving him plenty of leeway.

    In July, Silverstein forced Libeskind into a shotgun marriage with Childs, of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, who was selected to design the tower intended to restore the skyline and the missing acres of office space. The decision was understandable from a business point of view -- Childs is a proven master of the skyscraper, while Libeskind has never designed one -- and may yet yield marvelous results.

    But the move was unnerving in its implication that Libeskind's creative phase was over, to be followed by a long denouement of detail, in which pretty pictures give way to the tough realities of sewage hookups and dollars per square foot.

    The public's interest does not necessarily square with Silverstein's. More depends on the World Trade Center site than the billions of dollars in investments. This is a great public works project, not just a mammoth real estate deal, and Libeskind cannot be allowed to become irrelevant.

    While the project's future is bleared, Libeskind's design still possesses the powerfully affecting clarity that got him the job in the first place. He envisioned a neighborhood arranged in crystalline trapezoids, with places of commerce and culture and open spaces not neatly stacked or separated, but poking into each other at irregular angles. His buildings speak to a part of Manhattan where the street grid gets warped, where steel was bent and where the stock market's jagged chart is generated every day.

    Libeskind was chosen in part because he seemed able to navigate the project's vortex of conflicting forces. The families of the victims craved a sacred site; Silverstein wanted a cash cow. Gov. Pataki urged that rebuilding be carried out at a quick clip; civic groups argued that the process should not be rushed. New buildings had to address future needs and simultaneously honor the past. The plan had to forge a link between memory and mammon.

    Libeskind negotiated these shoals with enormous dexterity, and the barbs that were slung at him were less surprising than the rough public consensus that formed around an avant-garde urban design and the notion that contemporary architecture could exert a moral force.

    It is true that Libeskind's plan was rushed, vague and longer on metaphor than on technical details. Libeskind himself has been somewhat rubbery about what elements he considers crucial to his plan. Last spring, he was saying that while he assumed others would design some of the office buildings, the Freedom Tower would be his signature. He has since learned the first principle of doing business in New York: Everything is negotiable.

    No dream this large gets translated into physical reality without a thousand compromises and adjustments being made along the way. Libeskind certainly understands better than anybody that his plan is not a static document; it is a proclamation of ideals.

    In a recent interview, Childs claimed to have understood Libeskind's message, too: "Here is a man who's had an idea about the site. That idea is formative, and that's what we all want to create."

    But Childs has deep reservations about that idea. Architects who would shape this city, he argues, have to begin by aligning their buildings with the street, and confine their diagonal lines and canted walls to upper stories. "New York is about filling in the block and then getting away from the grid, releasing your own vigor as you go up," he said. "That's what the Empire State Building does; it's what the Chrysler Building does." The implication is clear: Libeskind's sidewalk-level angularities, with jagged buildings placed askew to the axis of the grid, need to be fixed to conform to a New York tradition.

    Whether Childs' desire for understated elegance can be reconciled with Libeskind's angular, expressionistic shards should become apparent when the designs for the Freedom Tower are made public, possibly within the next few weeks. It will more months to see how well Calatrava's fluid forms mesh with Libeskind's stylistic idiosyncrasies.

    The long-term question is whether the whole tangle of overlapping interests that govern the site's development can be teased apart so that Lower Manhattan can grow the way the rest of New York did -- block by block, storefront by storefront -- without simply degenerating into a grim patchwork of bland buildings executed on the cheap. Libeskind's plan will change, as all plans do. The public has a compelling interest in seeing those alterations wrought with the same intensity of imagination, the same symbolic fervor, the same sense of mission that he brought to the original design. Libeskind's site plan needs to be treated, not as a merely an infinitely malleable set of abstract wishes, but as an architectural Constitution, to be upheld, updated and interpreted and protected.
    Copyright © 2003, Newsday, Inc.

  11. #191


    September 11, 2003

    A Day to Look Forward

    For the second anniversary of Sept. 11, New York's leaders have planned a simpler ceremony than the one held a year ago, which marked the conclusion of 12 months of deep mourning. The less-elaborate event at ground zero in many ways suits the moment. It signals a city slowly beginning to mend, a community moving toward the hope that something worthy, even inspiring, will come of so much grief.

    Anyone who stands at the fence around the World Trade Center site now sees more than the gaping hole of a year ago. The substructures that will eventually house a much improved network of mass-transit connections are beginning to take shape. Nearby, in buildings that overlook the full 16 acres, planners sift through proposals and computer projections, slowly settling on which powerful ideas deserve to fill the remaining space.

    With each week now, more detail about the future of ground zero is coming into focus. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has picked Santiago Calatrava, the famed Spanish architect, to build a new PATH train terminal. The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation and the Port Authority, which owns the site, hope to announce by later this fall the finalists in the competition to design the memorial, which will serve as both the physical and emotional center of the area.

    Another competition is taking place as well, one that underscores the vision of the new Lower Manhattan as a vibrant multifaceted neighborhood where the very richness of the life on the streets and inside the buildings makes the best possible rejoinder to the terrorists' intents. That involves the search for a cultural center. City Opera is one possibility. Another intriguing proposal would create a new national theatre. A complex of museums focusing on the city's history and the details of the trade center tragedy will also be part of the mix.

    Gov. George Pataki, who has worked to meet his own demanding timetable for the site, has done well recently as the head referee among the many competing forces. His timetable, criticized by some as too speedy, seems more like creative prodding to us. But he needs to make certain that Daniel Libeskind's grand design stays intact as the buildings take shape, and he should be more aggressive in making sure that the public keeps participating in this process.

    This being New York, such matters are subject to debate, some emotional or even acrimonious. There is nothing wrong with these disagreements. But they cannot go on behind closed doors — even the esoteric discussions about designs or the gritty dialogue over square footage. The people making these choices may regard them as a natural part of their jobs, but others will help make sure they aren't subtly eroding the Libeskind design or neighborhood hopes for the layout of their reinvented and renewed community.

    The aerial view of ground zero in April, 2003.

    A worker walks along the floor of the pit on May 6, 2003.

    A view of ground zero just before sunset on Aug. 13, 2003.

    Work continued at ground zero eight days before the second anniversary of the attacks.

    Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

  12. #192


    WTC Rebuilding Proceeds, But Outside Public Eye

    By Katia Hetter
    Staff Writer

    September 11, 2003

    For all the evidence of rebirth at the World Trade Center site -- from architects' plans and retailers reopening downtown to new information centers giving recommendations to tourists -- Ground Zero has remained a construction zone, off limits to the public.

    That will change in November, when the trade center's temporary PATH station on the eastern side of the slurry wall opens, allowing an expected 50,000 displaced New Jersey commuters and others to step on the site of America's worst terrorist attack for the first time since Sept. 11, 2001.

    "It's a landmark event to have the public moving en masse through the World Trade Center site," said David Stanke, a longtime lower Manhattan resident who hasn't lived in his home at 114 Liberty Street, across the street from the site, since the attack. "I used to look down at the street and see people pulsing out of the trade center, then listen to the quiet in between. It will be great to have it again."

    As PATH, which previously transported 67,000 commuters daily, reopens to cheers from residents and politicians alike, other evidence of revitalization abounds -- from the opening of the Millennium High School to the reopening of the green market kitty-corner to the site and construction of the 7 World Trade Center office building just north of the site. About 800 construction workers are busy at Ground Zero most days, working on the temporary station and stabilizing the site for permanent construction.

    Long-term work to rebuild the office and retail space destroyed in the attack could take more than a decade, but it's progressing on schedule. Two key pieces will debut this fall: the revised master site plan expected sometime this month and a winning memorial design by November. Other promising projects will come to fruition in coming months: The historic Verizon building, which was severely damaged by falling debris on Sept. 11, will reopen in November. Developers plan to start construction of more than 2,500 apartments in Battery Park City, a neighborhood that lost many of its renters in the weeks after the attack.

    By spring, the Downtown Alliance and its partners will finish installing new sidewalks and signs from Battery Park to City Hall.

    By summer, the Con Edison power substation, which forms the base of 7 World Trade Center, should be providing electricity to lower Manhattan.

    Lower Manhattan must be more than it was before Sept. 11, said Port Authority executive director Joseph Seymour, whose agency owns the site.

    "We need to go beyond where we were before 9/11 to entice people to come downtown, to work and to invest," said Seymour, a Gov. George Pataki appointee.

    Transit agencies are developing plans to renovate the convoluted Fulton Street subway station and to partially depress West Street. Agencies are also also conducting studies of other projects planned for downtown, from a train connection to the area's major airports, the East River waterfront to a new Fulton Street retail corridor and the future of Chinatown.

    Cultural institutions are vying to be part of the cultural complex at the trade center site. And with more than $1 billion left to spend, the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. has held several facilitated meetings downtown to learn how lower Manhattan residents want the money spent. From affordable housing and cultural facilities to transit improvements and a community center, there will be plenty of options for the money.

    "I'm very pleased that the aggressive timeline we laid out in April has so far been kept," Pataki said in a recent telephone interview. "There will always be revisions, [but we hope to] marshall a consensus behind a very, very broad, sweeping and visionary plan."

    To ensure the process keeps moving, Pataki has settled disputes about the site's future at key points along the way. He supported the victims families' demands that the footprints of the Twin Towers not be covered by commercial construction and that any tour bus parking not be located under the memorial.

    He has protected architect Daniel Libeskind's "Memorial Foundations" plan for the site, rejecting proposals by trade center leaseholder Larry Silverstein to add a fifth tower to Libeskind's master plan and move the 1,776-foot Freedom Tower from the northwest to the northeast corner of the site.

    Still, this next 12 months is when government agencies start implementing plans -- or not. Already, the plans to place a cornerstone of the Freedom Tower next summer has drawn complaints that it will be a political move -- just in time for the start of the Republican National Convention in late August 2004.

    Downtown's largest landlord said the momentum must continue so the destroyed infrastructure gives way to an even better transit system, including train connections to the region's airports.

    "We look forward to seeing whether the proposals made by the governor and mayor are executed," said John E. Zucotti, chairman of Brookfield Financial Partners, which owns the World Financial Center in Battery Park City. "Planning gets you to first base. There is a long, long step between planning and execution. It's fraught with problem of politics, the problem of bureaucracy and the problem of money."

    The momentum could still be derailed by disputes between key downtown stakeholders, which have already spilled into federal court. Trade center leaseholder Silverstein has a pending lawsuit against most of his insurers, claiming that the collapse of the Twin Towers constituted two attacks that should be covered as such. Silverstein's main financier, GMAC, has filed a lawsuit against him, claiming his company isn't spending enough of GMAC's money on rebuilding at the site.

    Silverstein declined to comment on the lawsuits yesterday, saying he was "focused on what's transpiring" on the Sept. 11 anniversary. But he said he had no plans to sell his lease back to any government agencies. Silverstein predicts a decade's worth of rebuilding work, with the first Freedom Tower completed by end of 2008 or beginning of 2009. An office tower will be completed every year until the fifth and final one is done, in 2013.

    And it's not clear if government officials' hopes to move some of the trade center's 10 million square feet of office space off-site will happen. If his key piece of property at 140 Liberty Street isn't purchased or condemned by the government, developer Howard Milstein said he would build an apartment building with ground-floor retail "to the full height allowed by zoning."

    Deutsche Bank, owner of 130 Liberty Street, has indicated more willingness sell its building to be included in the trade center plans. But the company has also sued its insurer to obtain more coverage for the damage.

    Despite many good reviews for the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., which invited renowned architects to redesign the site after an initial group plans were panned, Ground Zero-area Councilman Alan Gerson and other elected officials from lower Manhattan say the Pataki-dominated decision-making process has excluded them.

    Gerson would like to see more discussion of affordable housing downtown, environmental restrictions on construction at the site and the reopening of Chinatown's Park Row, which is currently controlled by the New York Police Department.

    "As we go about rebuilding, I'd like us follow the values we want the rebuilding to reflect," Gerson said. "If we mean what we say in our commitment to democracy, we should restore the checks and balances of decision-making." Kevin Rampe, president of the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., insists the process has been more public and democratic than most developments.

    "Usually, the the public has not seen the design prior to environmental review," Rampe said. "People aren't looking at a plan for the first time. In this case, the public created the plan, in some ways."

    More than any of the lawsuits pending in federal court, Rampe fears a wave of environmental litigation. The mandated environmental review will be completed next April.

    "If anything keeps me up at night, that's it," he said.

    Even the threat of the insurance lawsuits doesn't worry Deputy Mayor Daniel Doctoroff, who says politicians can intervene if the lawsuits threaten to bog down progress.

    "We could encourage the parties to reach any agreement if any of those disputes held anything up," Doctoroff said. "This is not just about money. This is about a moral imperative" to rebuild lower Manhattan.

    Nikki Stern, who lost her husband, James Potorti, said she hopes people remember that day without using "Freedom Tower" or "Patriots Day" labels.

    "They provide an easy out for people who don't want to think too deeply about what happened," she said. "Somehow, this event has to be transformed into something that affects people, that makes them aware of how precious life is, how precious freedom is, how precious New York is, without resorting to easy platitudes."

    As he celebrates the return of 280 PATH trains to the World Trade Center site, resident David Stanke prepares to return home. His apartment, across the street from Ground Zero, is scheduled to be cleaned up by June. As the Stankes prepare for years of construction, every improvement counts, he said.

    "I am not excited about living next to the site," Stanke said. "Construction is going to be part of our lives and work downtown."

    But he is excited about the next visible sign of progress: the steel coming up out of Silverstein's first reconstruction project in lower Manhattan sometime this fall. Said Stanke, "I can't wait until I see outsides of 7 World Trade Center."
    Copyright © 2003, Newsday, Inc.

  13. #193


    September 13, 2003

    Ground Zero Plan Seems to Circle Back


    When the revised master plan for the rebuilding of the World Trade Center is released this month, it will include scores of changes to Daniel Libeskind's design, both major alterations and minor refinements, many of them never before seen in public.

    The plan will retain its signature elements — the recessed memorial area, the 1,776-foot spire that will be taller than the original towers, and a grand new transportation terminal. But other features will come into sharper focus, like a giant waterfall that has so far attracted scant attention and shrinking "urban parks" that in reality are little more than streets with flower beds.

    The secretive evolution of the plan contrasts sharply with the continuing portrayal of the rebuilding process as one of the most open and inclusive civic building projects in memory. Government officials, architects, civic groups and developers still speak in awestruck tones about the town hall meeting in the summer of 2002, when more than 4,000 New Yorkers spent hours discussing, of all things, urban planning.

    Ever since, the officials overseeing the rebuilding effort have congratulated themselves for their courage to go back to the drawing board after the public rejected the original six designs for the site. And they have cited that process for their defense of the Libeskind plan from mutations that would rob it of its singularity.

    "It was the aggressive outreach to a broader public that resulted in the consensus behind this plan," Gov. George E. Pataki said in an interview last month.

    As much as the Libeskind plan evolved by the will of the public, however, it also turned on the political needs of Mr. Pataki, who was running for re-election last fall. The governor's decrees, like his early declaration under pressure from victims' families that the footprints of the towers be preserved as a memorial, sometimes created public opinion as much as reflected it.

    Mr. Libeskind's plan, for all its ingenious originality, was just as prized for its flexibility. There also were financial considerations: The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the owner of the trade center, wanted to guarantee its revenues from the site, and its leaseholder, the developer Larry A. Silverstein, stood alone in his ability to pay for the rebuilding, thanks to his control of the twin towers insurance money.

    Though the new master plan could be further revised in the environmental impact review, by most accounts it will be superior to that of the World Trade Center design of the 1970's. It will reconnect neighborhoods that were split apart by the original project and provide a somber memorial to the victims of the 9/11 attack.

    In the minds of some officials, though, it also seems reminiscent of a design rejected by the thousands of citizen planners who packed that July 2002 town hall meeting in the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center.

    Politics of the Memorial

    Months before that huge meeting, rebuilding officials knew that almost all the decisions about the site would be driven by the memorial to the victims of the Sept. 11 attack, leaving few options for its basic design.

    In early 2002, Louis R. Tomson, the president of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, and others advised Mr. Pataki that the most sensible plan was to re-establish Fulton and Greenwich Streets through the site. That would carve the property into quadrants, saving the largest section — the southwest corner, where the towers had stood for some 30 years — for a memorial. The restored streets would physically separate the memorial from the remaining nine acres, which could then be used for office space and the rail connections that carried commuters to the financial district.

    "It was pretty obvious where the memorial was going," Mr. Tomson said in an interview last month. "And it was clear we were going to put the rail station where the rails are."

    The proposal would satisfy several critical constituencies: the victims' relatives, who wanted significant space for a memorial; neighborhood residents and architects, who wanted to break up the much-lamented 16-acre superblock; and the Port Authority, which wanted to keep receiving $120 million in annual rents from the site.

    By doing so, it would help to fulfill another significant goal: muting any significant controversy over the ground zero project that could disrupt Mr. Pataki's re-election campaign.

    When development officials unveiled the six original proposals, all of them had streets and pedestrian walkways running through the site, and four preserved the footprints of the towers for a memorial. It quickly became evident, however, that the Port Authority's goal of rebuilding all 10 million square feet of lost office space was fundamentally incompatible with leaving so much open space.

    "We all knew from the beginning that you can't take half of the site away and put the same bulk back," said Alexander Garvin, who was then the director of planning, design and development for the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation.

    Even Beyer Blinder Belle, the architecture firm that created most of the six designs, told the Port Authority as much. And the thousands of private citizens at the Javits Center said it even more loudly.

    But the rough outlines of some rejected designs seem to have endured. One in particular, called Memorial Plaza, included an eye-catching tower at one corner, topped by a huge television antenna, and a large, open memorial space including the tower footprints. Long-absent streets were re-established through the middle of the former superblock, and a row of office buildings joined with the tower in an L-shaped formation around the memorial.

    Mr. Libeskind and Mr. Garvin reject the similarity as coincidental at best. But Joseph Seymour, the executive director of the Port Authority, sees it differently. "When we roll it out," he said, "the land-use plan is going to be almost exactly what Beyer Blinder Belle proposed."

    To address the perceived shortcomings in the early proposals, in August 2002 the development corporation called for the world's most prominent architects to think grandly about the future of ground zero.

    Port Authority officials were livid at the development corporation's attempt to establish its own design for what the authority saw as its site, so the call for entries deliberately stated: "This is not a design competition and will not result in the selection of a final plan."

    Still, Kevin Rampe, who succeeded Mr. Tomson as president of the development corporation, said the project evolved into a full-blown competition because of "the prestige of the architects involved and what they did in exhibiting their plans."

    "They ignored the rules and did what they did best," Mr. Rampe said. "I don't think any of them thought about whether it was a competition of ideas or a competition of plans."

    In December, the agency unveiled nine plans from seven groups of architects at the World Financial Center's Winter Garden. First to present was Mr. Libeskind. When he finished, applause echoed through the Winter Garden. None of the eight plans that followed received as great a response.

    It was not an accident that Mr. Libeskind was the first to present his design, officials said later. As the design teams met with rebuilding officials every two weeks during the competition, they said, it became clear that Mr. Libeskind's "Memory Foundations" was the plan to beat.

    When the public weighed in, it favored Sir Norman Foster's "kissing towers," which evoked the original twin towers but left little room for a restored street grid. In the minds of the officials, however, the only feasible alternatives were the World Cultural Center, by the Think team, which included Rafael Viñoly and Frederic Schwartz, and a design by Peterson/Littenberg Architecture and Design. Peterson/Littenberg hurt its cause when Barbara Littenberg, one of the principals, criticized the design competition and rebuilding officials at a public forum, infuriating Mr. Tomson and others.

    And Then There Were Two

    The competition was soon whittled down to Mr. Libeskind and Think. Yet the final decision was made less by consensus or by appeal to the public, than by fiat, born of indignation.

    The two teams approached the final weeks of the competition in very different ways, which had significant bearing on their fortunes. The Think team spent nearly all of its time working on the elaborate engineering of its cultural towers, twin cylinders of scaffolding within which multiple buildings and viewing platforms would be suspended.

    Mr. Libeskind, meanwhile, spent several days cloistered with Port Authority officials, working to satisfy their desires for underground parking and mechanical systems.

    "The genius of Daniel Libeskind," said Mr. Seymour, the Port Authority official, "is that he worked hard with us to understand all the engineering and transportation elements on the site. He showed his flexibility."

    For example, Mr. Libeskind agreed to raise the floor of the memorial site from 70 feet below ground level to 30 feet, allowing for the bracing of the foundation walls and an expanded train station and pedestrian concourses below the memorial.

    When the two teams made presentations in late February to the officials who would choose the winner, nearly all of the Think team's time was spent explaining the engineering of its towers. Mr. Libeskind, however, reprised his stirring monologue portraying his design as the embodiment of America's hopes and dreams.

    The day before the architects made their final pitches, a committee of development corporation directors had recommended that the Think team's design be chosen, and one committee member told The New York Times, "We don't expect anyone to overrule us." Aides say that comment incensed Mr. Pataki and caused him to favor Mr. Libeskind.

    The Think design was favored by Daniel E. Doctoroff, the deputy mayor for economic development and rebuilding. But his boss, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, was dismayed by the cost of the towers, which without accounting for any office buildings was estimated at more than $800 million, compared to $330 million for the Libeskind plan.

    "How can we spend so much on the memorial?" Mr. Bloomberg asked in a meeting after the two presentations, according to two people who were present.

    Both the mayor and the governor also expressed a basic dislike for the Think design. Mr. Bloomberg compared it to industrial natural-gas storage tanks, and Mr. Pataki said it reminded him of a skeleton. Hours before a 10-member steering committee of officials from the Port Authority, the development corporation and the mayor's and governor's offices was to meet to choose a winner, the decision was already sealed.

    Though they picked the design, neither Mr. Pataki nor Mr. Bloomberg was in a position to pay for its construction. That would fall to Mr. Silverstein, the developer and leaseholder, who was expecting billions of dollars in insurance payments for the destroyed towers.

    Just before the competition had been narrowed to the two finalists, Mr. Silverstein sent a letter to rebuilding officials claiming that none of the proposed designs met his requirements.

    After Mr. Libeskind was selected, Mr. Silverstein continued to push for his own priorities. This summer, Mr. Libeskind agreed that David M. Childs, who had designed the new 7 World Trade Center for Mr. Silverstein, would be the primary architect on the 1,776-foot Freedom Tower, which will dominate the Manhattan skyline.

    Mr. Libeskind said that made sense because he has never built a skyscraper. But Mr. Silverstein went further, asking other architects about their interest in designing the remaining commercial buildings.

    Already the Port Authority has hired another architect, Santiago Calatrava, to design the train station. Although he will follow guidelines set by Mr. Libeskind, his characteristic style, gracefully symmetrical forms, could conflict with Mr. Libeskind's angular geometries.

    Mr. Libeskind says these are all normal accommodations that an architect has to make for any client on any project. "People are being educated by the process," Mr. Libeskind said. "They say to me, `You won, what's the problem?' But I tell them, `No, there's an investor who has a say in this.' "

    An Evolving Master Plan

    The accommodations in Mr. Libeskind's design, however, are extensive. For example, rebuilding officials gushed about his plans for the intersection of the restored Fulton and Greenwich Streets.

    John C. Whitehead, the development corporation chairman, said it would be "one of the world's most majestic crossroads," a grand piazza on a par with the open plazas of European capitals, bounded by Mr. Libeskind's Wedge of Light and the Park of Heroes.

    But the open space has been shrinking. Fulton Street, rather than being part of an open pedestrian plaza, is likely to be active with buses traveling from the Hudson River ferry terminal to the South Street Seaport.

    The green space in the Park of Heroes, which originally was to mirror the Wedge of Light across Greenwich Street, has been cut roughly in half by a redesign of the Freedom Tower and the attached office building.

    So the grand piazza appears to be, in recent renderings, more like a street with flower beds. And at the site's southern edge, the proposed Liberty Street Park is not much wider than the sidewalk next to it.

    "They are urban parks," Mr. Libeskind said last month. "No, it's not Central Park. But the point is to make a connection through West Street to the Hudson."

    Mr. Libeskind also said he has made changes to the borders of the Wedge of Light — a feature meant to mimic how the sun was shining on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001 — but he declined to elaborate.

    The architect acknowledged that he has not fully designed the waterfall proposed for the eastern edge of the south tower footprint, which would help filter out street noise. The waterfall has received almost no attention in public reviews, but as originally depicted, it would be mammoth — up to 100 feet tall, rivaling the world's largest man-made waterfalls.

    The effect of these prospective changes has unnerved some people who have supported the planning process. Robert Yaro, the president of the Regional Plan Association, a civic group, said rebuilding officials were very responsive to public opinion last year. "Since then, it's been a less open process," he said. "That has been unfortunate."

    But Mr. Doctoroff, the deputy mayor, said the general lack of dissension indicated that the public supported what has happened. "I think it's remarkable the level of praise that not only the process but the end result got," he said.

    Mr. Libeskind and others credit the aggressiveness of civic groups with helping to preserve elements of his plan. "The vigilance of the public in this process has raised the stakes," he said. "People feel very much that they are a part of this."

    Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

  14. #194


    Peterson/Littenberg hurt its cause when Barbara Littenberg, one of the principals, criticized the design competition and rebuilding officials at a public forum, infuriating Mr. Tomson and others.
    The day before the architects made their final pitches, a committee of development corporation directors had recommended that the Think team's design be chosen, and one committee member told The New York Times, "We don't expect anyone to overrule us." Aides say that comment incensed Mr. Pataki and caused him to favor Mr. Libeskind.
    Be careful what you say in public.

  15. #195


    Well now its past 9/11 2003. I was expecting some new designs to be unveiled by now. I thought they were waiting until 9/11 passed to release them. Seems like the designs may not be finished? Or is there a specific release date anyone knows about?

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