Construction on the memorial will begin in 2006, as per the current plans.
when are they going to start?
Construction on the memorial will begin in 2006, as per the current plans.
Originally posted by NYguy.
Memorial barrier removed from W.T.C. design
By Josh Rogers
Officials with the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. said Wednesday that the proposed wall blocking the World Trade Center memorial from Battery Park City has been removed from the design, satisfying a neighborhood concern about the plan.
“There won’t be a wall,” Andrew Winters, L.M.D.C.’s vice president for planning, design and development, told Downtown Express after the corporation’s board meeting June 2.
Winters told board members that working together, all of the parties were able to keep the memorial within three feet of the surrounding sidewalks on West, Greenwich, Liberty and Fulton Sts. Afterwards, he said the proposed wall on West St. would not need to be built.
Because Greenwich is significantly higher than West St., it was not an easy problem to solve.
Winters said there may be a ramp or steps at Liberty and West Sts., the southwest corner of the site, where the difference in height would be a maximum of three feet. “We’re going to try and push it down lower than that,” he said.
The L.M.D.C. board also approved the World Trade Center site’s general project plan, setting the stage for the start of construction of the Freedom Tower on July 4. The corporation’s advisory committee on the memorial center, made up of historians, preservations, relatives of the victims of 9/11 and residents, also released recommendations for the underground center, including using a remnant from the World Trade Center as a “signpost and icon” at street level to mark the center.
Winters’ comments about the wall was welcomed news by two Downtown residents and leaders who had opposed it, Madelyn Wils and Julie Menin.
“That’s great news,” Wils, an L.M.D.C. board member and the chairperson of Community Board 1, said at the meeting, which also marked Winters’ last day at the L.M.D.C. Winters has taken a job with NYC 2012, the group working on bringing the Olympics to New York and Betty Chen has just been promoted to his position.
Menin, who was one of the 13 jurors who selected Michael Arad’s “Reflecting Absence” memorial design at the beginning of this year, said the wall was added immediately after the jury’s decision and she was pleased to see it go.
“The wall was extremely problematic,” said Menin, who is also the president of Wall Street Rising, a Downtown business group. “In no way was it part of the design that the jury selected.”
She said it blocked access between Battery Park City and the World Trade Center site and would have worked against the efforts to improve conditions for pedestrians.
Arad’s design of two reflection pools where the Twin Towers once stood originally had a narrow cultural building on West St., but the jury asked him to move it and to team up with a landscape architect. Arad then joined with Peter Walker, who added groves of trees to the plan. Menin said only after the jury made its final selection in January, was the barrier added to replace the cultural building.
“The design the jury selected showed no wall, but then the wall was shown that day at the press conference,” she said.
Arad, in a brief telephone interview, said it was good team effort with the L.M.D.C. and the Port Authority, the site’s owner, to come up with a way to solve the wall problem. “Our intent is to have as much open access to the memorial from all sides,” he said without going into the specifics on the solution.
As for the rest of the site, there was concern from a few board members and others that the problems such as traffic and parking for tour buses, black car limos remain unsolved.
Winters said the limos could make pickups on Greenwich St. and the buses could drop off tourists either on Greenwich or West Sts. Wils said she did not think there was enough space for the limos and a highway like West St. was not a good place for buses to stop.
“It needs more work,” Wils said to Winters. “I would suggest West St. is not a good option for the buses.” In a subsequent telephone interview, Wils said: “I’m cautious about all of this. I’m very concerned because of the kind of traffic we’re creating around the site.”
Another board member, Paul Crotty, said he had concerns about the option of adding a truck service entrance at the north end of the site near Vesey St. because he thought it could lead to more traffic congestion. “You’ve imposed a major burden on the surrounding area,” he said. “You’re going to have trucks circling the area.”
Despite the skepticism, the L.M.D.C. board unanimously approved the plan.
Kevin Rampe, L.M.D.C. president, speaking at a Wall Street Rising forum June 3, said the progress on Lower Manhattan redevelopment was proceeding well and the concerns about buses and limos are being addressed.
He said a tour bus garage was under consideration for the Deutsche Bank site between Liberty, Cedar, Greenwich and West Sts, and under Towers 3 and 4 between Church, Liberty, Dey and Greenwich Sts.
He said the limos — a consistent source of complaints of Lower Manhattan residents for years – may be able to park in the Tower 3 and 4 garage at night.
Barry Skolnick, a Battery Park City resident and C.B. 1 member, liked the idea of possibly seeing fewer idling black cars. “I think that’s a great idea,” he said.
Put the wall back, the people of Battery Park City don't want pedestrian access accross West Street. Without the tunnel it's an eight lane highway already, what difference does a wall make?“The wall was extremely problematic,” said Menin, who is also the president of Wall Street Rising, a Downtown business group. “In no way was it part of the design that the jury selected.”
She said it blocked access between Battery Park City and the World Trade Center site and would have worked against the efforts to improve conditions for pedestrians.
Memorial Architect Says Trade Center Remnants Belong Elsewhere
June 7 (Bloomberg) -- Remnants of the World Trade Center such as a piece of the twin towers' facade may fit better elsewhere on the 16-acre Ground Zero site in lower Manhattan than as part of a memorial to victims of the Sept. 11 attacks, one of the principal architects said.
The proposed memorial, Reflecting Absence, features a pair of square voids where the towers once stood, leaving little room for an artifact as large as the four-story facade remnant advocated by some victims' relatives, said Peter Walker, a landscape architect brought on to help winning designer Michael Arad refine his plan. Walker suggested the facade might fit best on a two-acre park proposed for south of the site, or near the transit hub designed by architect Santiago Calatrava.
``One of the things that have been recommended is that the entire'' trade center site ``be thought of as a memorial,'' Walker said, ``and that things may be placed in other areas.''
The architect, interviewed by phone from his Berkeley, California office, was responding to the call last week of a panel of victims' relatives and community leaders for a ``powerful, visible artifact'' of the trade center's destruction to be added to the memorial design. The panel is working with state rebuilding officials on a planned ``Memorial Center,'' an 80,000 square-foot underground display of Sept. 11 artifacts.
The memorial is the emotional heart of a redevelopment plan that reaches beyond the site left barren by the Sept. 11 attacks. That plan also includes the 1,776-foot Freedom Tower, whose construction is slated to start on July 4, plus a transportation center, four other skyscrapers, a culture and performing arts center, and retail space. Lower Manhattan's economic future is riding on the project, New York Governor George Pataki and city business leaders have said.
With hundreds of emotionally charged artifacts to pick from, plus the need for ventilation shafts and emergency exits, getting everything people want into the site ``is like trying to get six pounds into a five-pound bag. We may have to do it by magic or something,'' Walker said.
``At first, it seemed like a good-sized site, but it's now feeling somewhat small to me,'' he said. ``You have air intakes and exhaust that have to come through the plaza, and that's going to have to take up a fair amount of space.''
Walker, 71, a landscape architect whose works include Millennium Park for the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, joined Arad after members of the 13-member memorial jury asked him to add some warmth to Arad's then-concrete plaza. Arad's design, which features water falling through the square voids where the twin towers once stood, was selected from 5,201 entries, the biggest architectural design contest ever. Walker added clusters of deciduous trees at street level to the plan.
Many family members and others interested in the memorial, including former New York Mayor Edward Koch, have called for inclusion of some of the surviving tower facades, or the Koenig Sphere, a bronze sculpture that was at the center of the trade center's plaza fountain. The battered sphere is now in Battery Park, while the four-story remnant of the north tower facade is stored in a hangar at John F. Kennedy International Airport with hundreds of other artifacts.
Walker said there are less than seven acres left to the memorial site after allowing for the two 200-foot-by-200-foot (70- meter-by-70-meter) square voids, and those pieces are irregular, leaving scant space for a large piece such as the facade. Arad has said adding artifacts above ground would detract from the symbolism of the two voids.
Walker suggested that the facade might fit best on park proposed for south of the site in front of a rebuilt Greek Orthodox church, near the transit center or on one of the planned side streets if those streets are closed to vehicular traffic. He also said a section of the site, between the south tower footprint and West Street, might accommodate the remnant, though some family groups have said they wanted that part of the site used for gatherings and possibly outdoor concerts.
Joanna Rose, a spokeswoman for the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., which is overseeing redevelopment at Ground Zero, said that ultimately, the decision of what will go into the memorial center and on top of the site will rest with the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation, which is to raise much of the memorial's estimated $350 million cost. Pataki is still seeking a volunteer to chair the foundation, after Citigroup Inc. Chairman Sanford ``Sandy'' Weill and Tishman Speyer Properties LP President Jerry Speyer declined to serve.
A call to Arad wasn't returned. He and Walker are to complete their design by year-end and then take about another year to complete construction drawings. Construction is scheduled to begin in early 2006.
Originally posted by tonyo.
Q+A - Michael Arad
Like all the finalists in the Ground Zero memorial competition, Michael Arad was a complete unknown until the jury plucked his design-a stark, minimalist scheme called "Reflecting Absence"-out of a pile of 5,201 entries. An assistant architect for the New York City Housing Authority, the Israeli-born Arad, 34, studied at Dartmouth and Georgia Tech and now lives in Manhattan with his wife and baby boy. But inexperience didn't keep him from submitting an entry that blatantly ignored some of the key competition guidelines. Arad's design challenged Daniel Libeskind's master plan by lifting the memorial out of the so-called bathtub and up to street level. It also pushed a pair of cultural buildings to the edges of the site so they wouldn't shadow the Twin Tower footprints, where Arad placed his sunken reflecting pools. As it happened, the judges were looking for just that sort of statement; after suggesting that Arad find an experienced collaborator to help him polish the rough edges of his design-he chose veteran landscape architect Peter Walker-the jury awarded him the commission in January.
Interview by Christopher Hawthorne. Portrait by Yoko Inoue.
Q: When did you first begin sketching ideas for a memorial?
A: A few months after 9/11. My initial idea was to place a memorial out in the Hudson River, two voids that would be close by but inaccessible. Water would flow in both but they wouldn't ever fill up. By October of 2002 I'd made a basic model of that design. Then, after seeing the master plans for the site begin to emerge, I started imagining a design for the site itself.
Q: Your entry, like a couple of others favored by the jury, defied the basic guidelines of the Libeskind master plan by bringing the memorial out of the bathtub and up to the street.
A: I wanted to connect the memorial to the city, to the life of the city. Keeping the void there seemed to sever the site.
Q: Peter Walker has said that in retrospect maybe he followed the guidelines too closely in his own entry, and that it took a younger, brasher designer to question the master plan as you did.
A: Well, I didn't enter with any expectation of the design going anywhere, so that might explain my willingness to bend the rules. But I also think the differences between our plan and the master plan have been overplayed. Daniel Libeskind's design for that part of the site was one large void. Ours has two smaller voids. And the process of walking down to the bedrock is part of both. There are real similarities in our approaches-they're just not as exciting for the press to talk about.
Q: Where were you when you found out that you'd been named a finalist?
A: I'd changed my cell phone from the one that I'd given the LMDC [Lower Manhattan Development Corporation], and so they called me and didn't get an answer. Then they sent me an email, and because my son was six weeks old at the time I wasn't checking my email all that often. So the news sat in my inbox for about three days. I came across it late one night.
Q: You have been aggressive so far in defending your design. There have even been some news reports that the LMDC had to ask you to stop bringing your lawyer to planning meetings.
A: That hasn't really been portrayed accurately. I believe strongly in the integrity of the design and I want to see it executed. And that's not true of everybody in the process.
Q: There has been a lot of discussion about what to do on the western edge of the site-whether it's worthwhile to spend roughly $1 billion to put several blocks of West Street underground, so there's not heavy traffic rushing right by the memorial.
A: I wish I were in more of a negotiating position on this issue than I am. It involves so many other entities. I think we need to find a way to maintain openness across the site but also keep the memorial protected from all kinds of traffic. What I really want to avoid at all costs is a large barrier between West Street and the site.
Q: How will security be handled at the memorial? Will people have to wait in long lines when the crowds are big, or go through metal detectors?
A: It's a major concern. I'm not really the right person to do that sort of analysis, but we're going to hire an expert and begin working that out with the Port Authority and the LMDC. It's early in the process, but we're very aware of security and how it might affect the experience of visiting the memorial.
Q: Some relatives of 9/11 victims have made a big push to include the relics from the attack-pieces of the towers, crushed fire trucks-in the memorial. Do you think a literal record of the attack will detract from the abstract nature of your design?
A: I was never against the inclusion of them. I just thought putting them above ground wasn't the right way to treat them. The way we've decided to handle those objects, below ground, they'll be protected. These pieces are very fragile. When I went out to the hangar to see them you could see huge flakes of rust falling off.
Q: How tough has it been to reach a compromise about marking the names of uniformed personnel as opposed to other victims?
A: The issue of names is one of the most difficult I've had to deal with. Some of the firefighters want their [peers'] names segregated as a way to mark their sacrifice, that they lost their lives trying to save other lives. But the victims' family members feel that would be putting a higher value on some names. I thought it was important to keep all the names together. But we'll mark the police and firefighters with a small shield or other symbol.
Q: What are the biggest misconceptions about your design? What has the press gotten wrong?
A: I wouldn't say the press has really gotten anything wrong. But it's been hard for people to understand the entirety of the design based on the handful of images that have been released so far. I hope in the coming months we'll be able to share more renderings and models. But in the end, the experience of actually standing there and physically experiencing the magnitude of the space and seeing all the hundreds of names of people who perished there-well, no rendering can convey that.
Christopher Hawthorne is a freelance architecture and design writer based in the Bay Area. He contributes regularly to The New York Times, Metropolis, and Slate.
Blueprint of a Life
Architect J. Max Bond Jr. Has Had to Build Bridges to Reach Ground Zero
By Lynne Duke
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 1, 2004; Page C01
J. Max Bond Jr., who will oversee the completion of the World Trade Center memorial, is one of the few black architects in the country.
He's 68, white-haired and exudes a comfortable-in-my-own-skin kind of dignity. J. Max Bond Jr. is kind of courtly, too, especially wearing an elegant suit and tie as he stands in the cavernous marble and glass lobby of One Liberty Plaza across the street from the World Trade Center site.
Bond is meeting Michael Arad there. The men, both architects, are to be photographed. But when Arad, 34, arrives, he takes one look at Bond and fears a faux pas.
Arad isn't wearing a tie. It seems a small thing. But to Arad, it is wrong. He had spoken respectfully of Bond some days earlier, had called him "accomplished" and a "gentleman." So Arad is quite serious about appearing appropriately attired with his architectural elder. He halts the photo shoot.
"You don't need a tie," Bond tells him reassuringly.
Bond wants to get moving. They've got a whole room filled with architecture and planning officials waiting for them upstairs. But Arad insists.
Pulling a tie from his suit pocket and slinging it around his neck, Arad protests that it's "a sign of respect."
"But we're supposed to reflect the difference: You're young and I'm old," Bond says with a laugh, as Arad turns his back to the camera and struggles with the tie.
Then he turns to Bond for inspection.
"Looks great," Bond says jovially, checking Arad's handiwork. "Very good, very good."
The two men face the camera, offering a portrait that is unprecedented. For the first time in the redevelopment of the trade center site, an African American is a major player.
While Arad is the lead architect on the World Trade Center memorial project, it is Bond's firm that will make Arad's design, "Reflecting Absence," a reality. Davis Brody Bond has been selected by the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. as the associate architects who will flesh out and complete the Arad design. And Bond is leading that team.
The contrasts between the two men begin with experience. In a turn of fate similar to the youthful Maya Lin's emergence in the 1980s as the designer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Israeli-born Arad was a virtual unknown in his field, toiling away within a New York City agency. He designed police stations.
Bond's résumé is far more epic. A fellow in the American Institute of Architects (AIA), he's been an architecture educator as well as practitioner.
He's designed a memorial (the Martin Luther King Jr. crypt and memorial in Atlanta, for instance) and office buildings and libraries and university research facilities. He's designed in Ghana and Zimbabwe, too. He and his firm did designs for the old World Trade Center's plazas and concourses. In his early years, while in Paris just after finishing graduate school at Harvard, he worked on buildings designed by the famed Swiss-born French designer Le Corbusier, who conceived the buildings of the United Nations.
And the fact that Bond is black makes him a contrast not only with Arad but with the whole crowd of architects and planners and developers who've been steering the trade center redevelopment process. With the inclusion of Bond (and Richard Franklin, another African American colleague from his firm), the white male club at Ground Zero has been integrated.
It is the story of Bond's life.
A Lecture Ignored
At Harvard, those many years ago (not long after a cross-burning incident outside Bond's dorm), a friendly white professor took him aside to offer some advice: Forget it.
"There have never been any famous, prominent black architects," Bond recalls the professor saying. "You'd be wise to choose another profession."
Even in retelling it for the umpteenth time, Bond looks stunned at the patronizing gall.
"He thought he was being helpful," he says.
It did not matter to the professor, or perhaps he did not know, that a classical architect named Julian Abele, who was black, had designed the main Harvard library. And Bond knew Hilyard Robinson, the low-key modernist whose Langston Terrace Dwellings, built in 1937 on Benning Road in Northeast Washington, would ultimately be put on the National Register of Historic Places.
And had the professor been paying attention to the doings out west, he might have heard of Paul Williams, the flashy Los Angeles architect whose clients included Lucille Ball and Frank Sinatra. (Bond spent a summer working for Williams, even handled the tiling project inside Sinatra's house.)
So Bond knew it was possible to practice architecture. He persevered. He earned both his bachelor's and master's degrees in the field, becoming one of the scant few such men (or women) of color in his profession.
That is why, say observers, his new role in the trade center project is noteworthy, considering that architecture, even today, remains highly exclusive.
Dreck Wilson, a building official for the D.C. government and author of "African American Architects: A Biographical Dictionary, 1865-1945," describes Bond's new role as representative of "the mainstream acceptance of black architects, black designers."
If that is true, the numbers don't reflect it. Only 1 1/2 percent of the nation's licensed architects are black, says Dennis Mann, architecture professor at the University of Cincinnati and co-editor of the online Directory of African American Architects (blackarch.uc.edu). The National Organization of Minority Architects agrees with Mann. The AIA says it does not keep racial statistics.
Of Davis Brody Bond's 59 architects, about half are minority, says Bond, which makes the firm quite an anomaly in the field.
Mann calls Bond "one of the finest designers in the country."
That hasn't kept him from his share of controversy. Bond's design for an expansion of the Harvard Club in midtown Manhattan caused a firestorm among some Harvard alumni. Traditionalists wanted the expansion to repeat the neo-Georgian style of the main building. Even though a club selection committee had approved the modernist glass building that would bring new meeting rooms, hotel accommodations and a gymnasium, opponents of the Bond design went to court to try to stop it.
Bond says the opposition was so intense that he wondered if there were unspoken undercurrents of race involved. Gender dynamics may also have been at play, he suggests, since part of the project included adding women's restrooms where once there had been none.
The dispute reached a head during a general Harvard Club membership meeting where the design was discussed and debated. It was "the ugliest [meeting] I've ever been to," he says now.
Lonnie Soury, a spokesman for the club, acknowledges the acrimony.
"There was a lot of nastiness out there," Soury says, referring to the dispute. The design became a battleground over the Harvard image.
But the court challenge failed. The new Harvard Club opened last fall.
Looking for a New York industry voice to sum up Bond's reputation, we find Frederic Bell. He's executive director of the AIA's New York chapter. But he's not quite objective, as it turns out. Bond was Bell's professor at Columbia University. Bell considers him a mentor.
"Max has been a hero not just for African American students -- and I'm not one -- but to many others," Bell says. "He's opened people's eyes not only to other people's worlds but also to the interconnection of the real world with the design world."
While teaching at Columbia, Bond sat on the city planning commission and designed in his private practice -- a heavy load for anyone. That is why Bell calls him "a renaissance man. He has excelled at everything he's ever done."
A genial man who is both genteel and informal in his manner, Bond has thrived as an architect, he says, because of "a lot of luck." But it is clear that mediocrity of any kind was unacceptable in the Bond family, where his father, an educator and university president, pushed him hard to achieve.
"We had a funny relationship," Bond says of his late father. "It was a good relationship particularly in terms of these high expectations. . . . But the difficult side is you're always expected to do better."
The Bonds, it seems, had made a tradition of plowing right through obstacles. At a time of deep segregation and racism, J. Max Bond Sr., for instance, earned his doctorate in sociology and economics in 1934 from the University of Southern California. And Bond's mother, Ruth Clement Bond (who turned 100 in May), majored in literature during undergraduate work at Northwestern University in Illinois.
The elder Bonds wanted their son to be a doctor. They even arranged for him to work as a hospital emergency room orderly in Louisville, the family's home town.
"The first time I saw an operation, I virtually fainted," Bond says.
He had found his own passion years earlier, when his parents lived in Tuskegee, Ala., where the elder Bond taught at Tuskegee Institute after a stint as a dean at Dillard University in New Orleans.
Something about campus buildings fascinated the young Bond, who lived in Tuskegee between the ages of 5 and 9. He watched a dormitory being built and wondered how it happened. The architectural bug had caught him.
He became especially enamored of the huge airplane hangars at a military complex next to the institute. That was the training base for the storied black pilots, the Tuskegee airmen.
A Site of Sorrow
Toward the east, a still life of gargantuan rooftop water towers stretches across Manhattan. That's one of the views from the 10th-floor offices of Davis Brody Bond.
To the west, one sees the Hudson River and the skyscrapers of New Jersey. North is the tangle of buildings low and high, old and new, that form an ever-changing, ever-evolving cityscape so thick that at night Bond says his office seems to float in a "bowl of lights."
Looking south is to remember what once stood there, a mile away, and what now is gone. Bond and all the others at his firm can see the absence.
Firm staffers stood at this south-facing window on Sept. 11, 2001, and watched the World Trade Center burn and collapse after the terror attacks.
Bond was up in Harlem that day, attending a meeting about the renovation of the Apollo Theater. Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) was in the same meeting. Bond learned that planes had struck the twin towers when he heard one of Rangel's aides come in and say something like, "Mr. Rangel, you have to get out of here."
One of the architects in Bond's firm lost his wife during the attack. And for months thereafter, Bond says, the firm kept that south-facing window covered so staffers would not have to see the haunting landscape of Lower Manhattan.
Remembering was difficult. What was gone seemed so ever present.
And that, really, is the essence of the memorial design. "Reflecting Absence" includes a vast, austere yet tree-studded plaza (to be designed by landscape architect Peter Walker) that will surround the architectural footprints of the old twin towers. Those footprints are to be preserved 30 feet below ground, where pedestrian visitors will reach them via ramps. In each void, a memorial fountain will flow down the walls and into pools surrounded by stone etched with the names of the dead from the 1993 and 2001 terror attacks.
Bond has worked with water. He has used it to evoke life and continuity. At the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, King's crypt is surrounded by a pool of water.
Bond also has grappled with ways to give space and respect to the site of an iconic tragedy. The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute stands adjacent to the 16th Street Baptist Church, where four little black girls were killed in a 1963 bombing.
He has embraced Arad's design. Its power, he says, is in the serenity it evokes. And he is pleased that a young architect received the commission. With Bond's guidance, Arad says, his design will be "further clarified, as we take it from the broad strokes and work on the details."
Those details are daunting, considering that the memorial fountains are to run year round, meaning freezing has to be avoided; and considering that the treed plaza will dump tons of leaves on the site; and considering that the place will likely be jammed with tourists. The list of challenges goes on.
"There are lots of issues to be resolved," Bond says. "Our role is to take the design and develop it and carry it through. . . . Not to change the design, but to really implement it and make it work."
The ruins seemed to command the earth. They were Roman and grandiose.
The temples and theaters were stunning to see. Though decayed, they still towered over the Tunisian terrain near the town of Dougga. Some 20 centuries had passed since the Romans conquered the Numidians there, but Bond, visiting in 1960, still could feel ancient Rome's power.
It was, Bond says, the "architecture of conquest," of one culture asserting itself over another. And suddenly Bond was struck by something: Beyond pure aesthetics, architecture is about power, the power to transmit a culture's symbols, its politics.
That is why, he realized, "when one culture dominates another it brings its literature, its language, its religion and its architecture."
He didn't learn this in school. There had been no philosophical talk about power and conquest and architecture's role. In fact, Tunisia made him realize the limits of his formal studies. But what two Harvard degrees had not given him he would pick up on his own during that summer he calls "a great moment in my architectural development."
En route to study in France on a Fulbright scholarship, Bond, then 23, had stopped in Tunisia to visit his parents. After a foreign aid stint in Haiti, and three years as president of the University of Liberia, Bond Sr. by this time was administering overseas education programs for the State Department. The elder Bonds lived near Sidi bou Said, a quaint seaside village whose buildings were a stark contrast to the grand ruins of ancient times.
As he strolled the town's winding cobblestone lanes, Bond marveled at the gentle artistry of the whitewashed and blue-shuttered Arab homes, with their lush courtyards, that climbed the cliffs over the Mediterranean as if hugging the land.
He'd been taught that buildings such as those were only "vernacular" architecture. It was a term he often felt was used to marginalize the architecture of the Third World, which often was more functional than artistic, compared with the architecture of Europe and the United States.
He'd been taught that real architecture had its roots in the structures of the European classical era and that ancient ruins like those at Dougga were the source from which this architectural-cultural dogma grew.
"The European architecture was the only architecture that was 'high art,' and that was just accepted," Bond says of his formal training.
"So in Tunisia, one really begins to see, well, wait a minute: This really is not true."
On his strolls through Sidi bou Said, Bond came to see the lovely white stone houses as a form of high art in their own right. It was there, he says, that his aesthetic sensibility and his architectural philosophy were born.
Help Not Wanted
You can see Tunisia in the King Center -- in the columns and the barrel-vaulted roofs. You can also see the influence of Thomas Jefferson, Bond says, if you know about the curved walls that Jefferson used in his designs.
It is the kind of eclecticism that is Bond's trademark, though he acknowledges that the influence of Jefferson is perhaps odd, considering Jefferson's history on race.
The Africanist aesthetic that infuses Bond's modernism also can be seen in the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Its octagonal design evokes the influence of Africa in the earliest buildings built by slaves here in the United States, churches.
After Tunisia, Bond spent time studying Le Corbusier, Auguste Perret and other designers of religious buildings. Then, Le Corbusier's former studio chief, Andre Wogenscky, hired Bond to work on a couple of Le Corbusier's projects. He spoke to the great architect by phone, though he never actually met him.
"You don't get introduced to the big man," he says with a laugh of the year he worked in the famed architect's shadow.
As his time in Paris wound down, Bond sent letters to five architecture firms in the United States, seeking interviews. With his credentials and early experience, he received enthusiastic responses from all five. He made appointments.
At each firm, his arrival -- the black face behind the impressive qualifications -- stirred "this moment of confusion."
"Then somebody would come out and say, 'There must be some mistake. We don't have work.' "
Eventually, he did get work. But he was wiser, even hardened by the rejections, "another one of those rude awakenings."
Three years later, he and his wife, Jean Carey Bond, decided to move to the newly independent West African nation of Ghana, which at that time was filled with promise under President Kwame Nkrumah. Many young professional black Americans saw wide-open opportunities there that they would not find in the United States. And they were swept up in the belief that "we were going to help build a new African state," Bond says.
The Bonds lived there for four years, during which he worked for the national construction company. In effect, he says with a laugh, he became the "palace architect."
"I'd design it, and they'd build it."
The push was primarily for libraries, as part of Nkrumah's campaign to spread literacy throughout Ghana. Bond designed the Bolgatanga Library -- his first major project. And it remains, to this day, his favorite design. It is one story tall, with four separate buildings under an "umbrella"-style roof, with ventilation occurring naturally through the open spaces between roof and walls.
The Bolgatanga, he says, is "the firstborn."
"As an architect, I sort of grew up in Ghana."
Returning to the United States, Bond established the Architect's Renewal Committee of Harlem. He taught at Columbia University and served as dean for a time for the school of architecture at the City University of New York. He also co-founded the firm of Ryder Bond and Associates, which merged in 1990 with the firm of Davis Brody & Associates.
The Best Revenge
His father died in 1991. There was the grief, and there was the taking stock. Bond began to consider his state of mind. He began to ponder bitterness.
His father wasn't the worst example, he says, but many of the African American men he knew in his father's generation were gripped by bitterness because of the limitations that racism had placed on their lives. He saw men being squeezed by their bitterness, almost debilitated by it.
Obviously, racism had impacted his life. And the battle against it was part of the Bond family's daily life. (One of Bond's cousins, by the way, is Julian Bond, chairman of the NAACP.)
But the younger Bond did not want to fall into a private hell of "If I were white" and fill in the blanks: The jobs would have opened up; his work would have been published more, causing more work to come. All that may be true, he says, but it gets nowhere to wallow in the hypothetical.
"I would argue that, yes, maybe if I'd been white I'd have done this and that," he says. "But on the other hand, I never wanted to be white. I always felt I was fortunate to be black" and thus have a broader frame of reference on the world.
He has tried to work through his own bitterness, with his wife's help. (He calls her "my best friend." She is a publicist for the Black Radical Congress, a national group of activists and academics.) But a spark of it is there.
He is asked if he holds a grudge against those five unnamed firms that refused even to interview him once they saw he was black. He smiles slyly and dramatically hisses, "Yessss." The sting of those rejections is still there.
Yet he is careful not to name the firms now. He doesn't want to pick a fight or cause a stir. Some of those big names are still prominent. So is Bond. And that, for him, is the victory.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company
Very interesting article...thanks. It is the first I've read of Mr. Bond.
WTC Memorial Designer Feels The Weight Of Responsibility
SEPTEMBER 08TH, 2004
Michael Arad gazes out onto the World Trade Center site, knowing the memorial he's designing will one day be a centerpiece of a rebuilt Lower Manhattan.
“In many ways it's like every other project; you have to work it every day, work the details out,” he says. “In other ways it's an incredibly emotional project.”
A memorial jury chose Arad and landscape architect Peter Walker's vision from among more than 5,200 submissions. It's called “Reflecting Absence,” and includes two reflecting pools and a paved stone field to remember the victims of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and those killed in the 1993 Trade Center bombing.
Since winning the design competition, a number of other members have been added to the design team.
“What's been incredible in this is that what started in my apartment working alone in one room has snowballed into this huge team, and as we add more and more people it's a real challenge to lead such a team,” says Arad. “But it's been going very well.”
“All of them have been working together and moving the memorial forward on schedule,” says Lower Manhattan Development Corporation President Kevin Rampe. “We are going to have a schematic design for the memorial at the end of this year, which is right on the schedule the governor set forth.”
So now Arad and his team work on a design that each day takes form in greater and greater detail, and try and tackle a myriad of operational issues which appear along the way.
“It seems like a huge site until you realize that there are so many things you want to put in it; underground road networks, train station, subway lines, buildings,” he says. “And we don't even have the designers on board yet, so trying to keep together all of these things going simultaneously is very difficult.”
But Arad says what's even harder is the pressure to somehow make all of the stakeholders in this project happy. His plan left exposed bedrock 70-feet below grade at the tower footprints, allowing access to family members. Yet a family group recently sued the LMDC and Port Authority to stop construction at the site until the agency's meet requirements for preserving it, particularly the footprints.
Arad first dealt with the controversy when deciding how to list the names of victims. In the end, the plan lists names randomly, with rescue workers designated by the insignia of their agency.
“It's always been the most difficult part, dealing with this project, how important and emotional it is,” says the designer. “The family members I've met with, some of them love the design, some of them don't, but all of them have been very supportive and very kind.”
As Rampe puts it, nothing worth doing is easy.
“At the end of the day, we can't forget what this is really all about, which is the 3,000 people we lost on September 11th, the heroism we saw, and building an appropriate and fitting memorial,” he says.
And when Michael Arad looks down onto the site, he can't even imagine how he will feel when the memorial is completed.
“Walking by the site coming down here for this interview, it brings back the importance of this to you,” he says.
The importance of creating a memorial which will provide peace, remembrance, and hope in the midst of a rising downtown.
- Roger Clark
Footprints will be preserved
at World Trade Center
By KEVIN M. RAMPE
In recent weeks, there have been attempts to mislead those who lost loved ones in the attacks on 9/11 that the footprints of the twin towers will not be preserved. Nothing could be further from the truth.
From the very beginning of the planning process for the World Trade Center site, at the direction of Gov. Pataki and Mayor Bloomberg, the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. has been firmly committed to ensuring that the historic nature of the site is not only recognized but preserved.
As a result of the efforts of the LMDC and the Port Authority, the resilient slurry wall will remain exposed, the location of the footprints on the PATH platforms will be designated and the original entrance from the Trade Center to the E subway line and artifacts from the remnants of the parking garage in the northwest corner of the site will be preserved.
Make no mistake, the footprints and the now-exposed box beams that mark the losses of 9/11 also will be preserved in perpetuity. Our commitment is clear - access to and preservation of the footprints will be achieved.
The powerful memorial design by Michael Arad and Peter Walker will not only delineate the outline of the footprints, it will provide meaningful access to both the north and the south footprints at bedrock. All family members will be able to continue to journey to bedrock to remember and reflect.
The governor declared that there will be no building on the sacred footprints, and we will carry out his edict.
We have gone to great lengths to leave the footprint area free of all but the most essential infrastructure. To do so, the entire substructure of the site has been reconfigured so necessary truck ramps will not traverse the footprints underground. The permanent central chiller plant will not disturb the footprints. The only remaining infrastructure in that area will be that which supports the memorial and the restored PATH service, itself a symbol of our resolve to rebuild.
While we continue to work to preserve the site's past, we will continue to work to restore the site to its historic role as a center of commerce, as it was on Sept. 10, 2001.
The rebuilt World Trade Center that we will erect together will always be, first and foremost, a tribute to the heroes we lost that day.
It will also be the legacy we leave for generations to come. That legacy will be one of resiliency, strength and a triumph of the goodness of humankind over evil.
Rampe is president of the Lower Manhattan Development Corp.
Originally published on September 16, 2004
I still can't help but thinking that we're making a horrible mistake, here, with the so-called "Freedom Tower," the memorial, and the other stunted and banal structures that will line the site. Quite frankly, the architectural culture of our time is simply not great. And what we're going to get is the result of that mediocrity. The spectacular Twin Towers should have been rebuilt, albeit taller and much stronger. That would have been the finest memorial to the victims, and to the determination of this country to stand firm in the face of vicious murderers. We had an opportunity, here, to correct a mistake in the course of history. Opportunity lost!
I wrote a letter to the NY Daily News in response to the aforementioned article by Kevin Rampe as follows:
To: NY Daily News
The article by Kevin Rampe, “Footprints will be preserved at World Trade Center,” would have us believe that the LMDC and Port Authority have taken all precautions and due diligence with preserving history at the WTC site. It is what Mr. Rampe omits from his congratulatory adulation of these governmental agencies that can point to the real attitude that these public entities have toward the issue of historic preservation at the WTC site.
Not only have historic artifacts been allowed to deteriorate through lack of care at a hangar at JFK airport by the Port Authority, but this same agency has increased the number of tracks that existed prior to 9/11. The Coalition of 9/11 Families is currently suing both of these agencies to prevent an additional platform from being placed on the footprints.
The slurry wall, which was to be exposed to view proudly in the sunlight as required by the memorial competition, now occupies an underground setting. This same memorial design, which relegates all artifacts to the underground, delineates the outline of the footprints not at their true and full measurements but at 15% less than the historical reality due to a lack
of feasibility of this design.
It’s an historical fact that the LMDC considered building a bus garage at the north tower footprint less than a year ago. The LMDC has also reported that "the site's location, setting, feeling and association - not the structural remnants of the World Trade Center - render it historic." These are not words or deeds that are concerned with historic preservation, but with the return of business as usual.
The public cannot rely on the LMDC and Port Authority to preserve the historic importance of the World Trade Center site. It is only through the commitment of individuals outside these agencies that the historic legacy of this site will be safeguarded.
Priceless. But I expected a line stretching from Chinatown.
It was Sunday morning. I'm going to check it out one weekday at lunchtime. Funny, it's aimed at the courthouse.