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LIBESKIND POWER PLAY

By WILLIAM NEUMAN June 17, 2003

-- EXCLUSIVE 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 element." 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 Libeskind. 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.

New York Post Editorial

June 17, 2003 -- Self-promoting Ground Zero designer Daniel Libeskind is getting more bizarre by the day - if that's possible. He may well end up tarnishing the reconstruction of the World Trade Center site - if he hasn't done so already. The Post's William Neuman reports today that Libeskind is demanding control over the work of outside architects who will be hired to turn his designs into actual buildings. That means, for example, that he wants to be the lead designer on such project components as the new PATH station running under Ground Zero, as well as the 1,776-foot-tall "Freedom Tower." This, despite the fact that he's never built a tower - to say nothing of a major transportation project.

But, if he doesn't get his way, he and his wife have threatened the Port Authority and WTC leaseholder Larry Silverstein that they will actually go public with their complaints. Ooops. Too late, Dan. In his letter to the PA, Libeskind reportedly insists on control because of the "powerful public consensus" that "was created" around his "architectural, cultural and symbolic shaping of the site." In other words, Libeskind - who's already started promoting himself by pitching automobiles in an ad that touts his Ground Zero work - thinks that an outraged public will demand that he alone decides what is built Downtown. That's because he was "the people's choice" for the job. Actually, Libeskind was George Pataki's choice. Given the governor's firm control over the Port Authority's New York members and the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., his was the only vote that mattered. As for Libeskind's "vision"? Well, we think of it basically as a 16-acre mausoleum with a minaret in the middle - rather morbid, but very much in sync with his equally bizarre, vaguely anti-American poetry. Maybe Libeskind wants control of the "Freedom Tower" so that he can put one of "America's . . . mass-produced urine antennae" - whatever that is - on top. So far, the LMDC and the Port Authority have bent over backward in an attempt to accommodate Daniel Libeskind. And they get this ludicrous power play in return. Pataki needs to go public himself, and tell Libeskind to grow up - if not to disappear altogether.

http://www.nypost.com/seven/06172003/news/regionalnews/1124.htm

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