NEW YORK -- Seven teams that
include some of the most prominent architects in the world will
present their visions of how to redevelop the World Trade Center
site next week. The unveiling comes five months after an initial
set of six plans was scotched because of widespread criticism.
Several of the new proposals for rebuilding the 16-acre site
that was leveled by terrorists on Sept. 11 include constructing
what would become the tallest buildings in the world. The twin
towers were more than 1,300 feet tall. The current tallest
buildings are the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, at
Another proposal shows a glass
enclosure, many stories high, encasing a public space.
The massive project is so
challenging and far-reaching that it has the potential to affect
fundamental ideas about architecture and the future of cities
beyond New York, says Robert Ivy, an architect and editor in
chief of Architectural Record, the magazine of the
American Institute of Architects. ''This is the project that
every architect should want,'' he says.
The plans being unveiled
Wednesday will not include a specific design as a memorial for
the nearly 2,800 people who died there. However, the plans will
preserve the ''footprints'' where the twin towers once stood as
memorial space. An international design competition for an
appropriate memorial will be launched in February, development
The Lower Manhattan Development
Corp. (LMDC) and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey,
the agencies overseeing the redevelopment of the site, expect to
announce that final plan by February. Construction on actual
buildings will likely not begin before 2008.
Selecting a plan is the first
crucial step in a years-long effort to rebuild at Ground Zero
and remember those who died. But it also presents an opportunity
to rethink the future of Lower Manhattan as a place to live,
work and play. The Port Authority, which owns the site, and the
LMDC must rebuild a commercial and transportation hub devastated
by the terrorist attacks, even as they try to respect the
feelings of those who lost loved ones at the World Trade Center.
They also must meet the needs of tens of thousands who call
downtown Manhattan home.
An earlier set of proposals was
presented in July. But the six designs were widely criticized
for giving short shrift to a memorial and being banal and
unimaginative. One complaint was designers were given little
room to be creative as they tried to fulfill a requirement to
replace 11 million square feet of office space lost on Sept. 11.
Designers get a bit more
When a call for new designs went
out in August, some of the most prominent names in architecture
responded, including Richard Meier, who built the Getty Center
in Los Angeles and Michael Maltzan, who worked on the Museum of
Modern Art in Queens, N.Y. Ultimately, the seven teams were
chosen from among 407 entries from 34 nations.
The latest set of designers has
been given more latitude than the first. The group can include
6.5 million to 10 million square feet of commercial space on the
site, and an additional 600,000 to 1 million square feet of
retail space. Any remaining space that was initially part of the
site could be put nearby, redevelopment officials say.
''These will be a little more
elaborate than last time,'' LMDC spokesman Matthew Higgins says.
''We're encouraging the architects to speak in their own voice
and style and to make them look different, creative,
Ann Ferebee, director of the
Institute for Urban Design in New York, says, ''I think . . .
the general public wants to see some imagination, some
The teams were not asked to
design specific buildings, but their plans will show shapes to
give scale and dimension.
''It will enable the public to
get a good sense of how the World Trade Center site will look
when it's fully realized,'' Higgins says. The plans will show,
for example, how a 63-story building would look perched between
an open space and a 20-story building.
Alex Garvin, representing the
LMDC, and Stan Eckstut, a consultant to the Port Authority, will
recommend a single plan by Jan. 31, officials say.
Silverstein Properties, owned by
Larry Silverstein who holds the lease on the site's office
space, and Westfield America, will be consulted as well. ''They
are important stakeholders,'' Port Authority spokesman Mike
Petralia says. ''Ultimately it's Silverstein that will build the
buildings if he can, if the market is there.''
Silverstein in the past said he
wants to build four 50-story towers. But his spokesman, Steve
Solomon, says, ''Mr. Silverstein has a very open mind on all
this. He's going to see what's presented. And as a group they're
going to evaluate it and make their decision.''
Modifications to come with
The selected plan, which likely
would be modified over time, will show the configuration of
streets and open spaces, as well as where buildings of varying
heights and retails venues would go.
There will be at least one public
hearing. Representatives of victims' families also will continue
to be consulted. ''It's not a 'yes' or 'no' decision,'' Higgins
says. ''We're not asking people to vote on which plan they like
the best. We want them to judge each plan on which aspects they
like the most.''
One of the most important
considerations is whether a plan pays proper respect to the
memorial that eventually will be placed at the site.
Representatives for the families
submitted statements to the designers and development officials
asking that the footprints of the towers and the surrounding
area be set aside for a memorial complex that could include a
museum or cultural center.
With the exception of a train
station that was previously located there, ''there should be no
commercial or residential or transportation infrastructure put
in that area,'' says Jack Lynch, who lost his son, Michael F.
Lynch, when the South Tower collapsed. ''We'll see if our
perspective is reflected in their plans.''
The attacks had damaged the
underground transportation network that includes subways and the
PATH train to New Jersey. That can't be rebuilt until plans for
what will go above ground are in place. ''Right now, progress on
repairing our transportation lines is really being held up by
the design process,'' says Kathryn Wylde, president of the New
York City Partnership, the city's business leadership
organization. ''So hopefully this is going to come to closure.''
The varying commercial and
emotional interests that need to be met make rebuilding at the
World Trade Center site far more complicated than repairing the
sites) and memorializing the 184 people who died there on
Sept. 11, observers say.
''Here, we're starting from
scratch with enormous symbolism, enormous personal loss and
enormous economic values that have to be balanced,'' says
Mitchell Moss of New York University's Taub Urban Research
It's also far different from
building the twin towers, which opened in 1970 and 1972. ''Those
were built first and the businesses came,'' Petralia says.
|Rebuilding Ground Zero