Ground Zero planner Daniel Libeskind is
demanding greater control over key
projects at the World Trade Center site -
angering downtown officials and
complicating negotiations over his role in
the rebuilding, sources told The Post.
In what one source criticized as
"overreaching," Libeskind has insisted -
in sometimes heated talks - that he be
the lead designer on signature elements
like the PATH station and the
1,776-foot-tall Freedom Tower - even
though he has no experience building
office towers or major transportation
projects, sources said.
Libeskind has made the demands in
meetings with redevelopment officials
and in written proposals he's submitted this month to the Port Authority and
developer Larry Silverstein.
Several times during the discussions, Libeskind's wife, Nina, has threatened to
air their differences in public if her husband is not accommodated, sources said.
"He's threatened to go public and say he's being cut out," said a source.
As it has become clear that additional architectural firms will be hired for the
PATH station and other projects, Libeskind has tried to leverage his role as site
master planner so he can gain control over their designs.
"He's overreaching," said a source - adding that officials have become frustrated
with Libeskind and fear the protracted negotiations could set back progress on the site.
Port Authority officials have said Libeskind will be hired to draw up a detailed WTC site plan - articulating an
overall "vision" and specifying the locations of office towers, the transit hub and the memorial - but they say that
does not give him the right to design every building on the site.
At a meeting earlier this month, Nina Libeskind became angry over discussion of strict criteria the PA will apply
in taking bids for the design and construction of the permanent PATH station at Ground Zero - saying her
husband deserved the job because he was chosen "by the people."
The PA requirements, such as previous work on major transportation projects, effectively disqualify Libeskind
from taking a lead role.
Sources said Libeskind has since agreed not to bid on the PATH station, even as a partner with a more
experienced team - but has focused instead on trying to control the work of the winning bidder.
Libeskind gave the PA a "station design collaboration proposal" for the PATH project on June 5, according to
sources who briefed The Post on the documents.
In the proposal, Libeskind spells out the "division of responsibility and of involvement" he envisions in the PATH
terminal's "schematic design" in this way: "Studio Daniel Libeskind, 60 percent; collaborating A and E
[architecture and engineering] firm, 40 percent."
"The special nature of the station design is secured by the close involvement of Daniel Libeskind working in
collaboration with an architecture and engineering firm," the proposal says.
"A powerful public consensus was created around the architectural, cultural and symbolic shaping of the site,
which uniquely qualifies Studio Daniel Libeskind to contribute to the design process of this most important
Libeskind sent a similar proposal to Silverstein, arguing he should be given creative control over the Freedom
Tower - which the developer has said will be designed by another architect, although in consultation with
PA spokesman Mike Petralia would not discuss contract details.
"There has been positive discussion of the relationship between Daniel as master plan architect and whoever
ends up [winning the right to build the PATH terminal]," Petralia said.
Libeskind could not be reached for comment.
Libeskind is negotiating two separate contracts with the PA. One will let him finish the master plan for the site.
The other will make him the "master plan architect" for the trade center project - meaning he would be on hand
as a consultant to make sure building projects on the site are in keeping with his overall vision.
But officials feel he is insisting on what amounts to design control of every aspect of the project, even in cases,
like the PATH station, where his drawings so far are limited to conceptual sketches.