info 02.7.03

The Two WTC Plans

One heartening aspect of the selection process in the World Trade Center site rebuilding is the consideration that has been given to the vox populi. As the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation has narrowed the choices down to two plans, we offer their overviews, by the architects themselves. In our 'On the Radar' section, we suggest ways to put yourself on the radar, by continuing to make your voice heard. The official feedback period is over, but when has that ever given New Yorkers a moment's pause?

Studio Daniel Libeskind
Architect: Daniel Libeskind

I arrived by ship to New York as a teenager, an immigrant, and like millions of others before me, my first sight was the Statue of Liberty and the amazing skyline of Manhattan. I have never forgotten that sight or what it stands for. This is what this project is all about.

When I first began this project, New Yorkers were divided as to whether to keep the site of the World Trade Center empty or to fill the site completely and build upon it. I meditated many days on this seemingly impossible dichotomy. To acknowledge the terrible deaths which occurred on this site, while looking to the future with hope, seemed like two moments which could not be joined. I sought to find a solution which would bring these seemingly contradictory viewpoints into an unexpected unity. So, I went to look at the site, to stand within it, to see people walking around it, to feel its power and to listen to its voices. And this is what I heard, felt and saw.

The great slurry walls are the most dramatic elements which survived the attack, an engineering wonder constructed on bedrock foundations and designed to hold back the Hudson River. The foundations withstood the unimaginable trauma of the destruction and stand as eloquent as the Constitution itself asserting the durability of Democracy and the value of individual life.

We have to be able to enter this hallowed, sacred ground while creating a quiet, meditative and spiritual space. We need to journey down, some 70 feet into Ground Zero, onto the bedrock foundation, a procession with deliberation into the deep indelible footprints of Tower One and Tower Two.

The foundation, however, is not only the story of tragedy but also reveals the dimensions of life. The PATH trains continue to traverse this ground now, as before, linking the past to the future. Of course, we need a Museum at the epicenter of Ground Zero, a museum of the event, of memory and hope. The Museum becomes the entrance into Ground Zero, always accessible, leading us down into a space of reflection, of meditation, a space for the Memorial itself. This Memorial will be the result of an international competition.

Those who were lost have become heroes. To commemorate those lost lives, I created two large public places, the Park of Heroes and the Wedge of Light. Each year on September 11th between the hours of 8:46 a.m., when the first airplane hit and 10:28 a.m., when the second tower collapsed, the sun will shine without shadow, in perpetual tribute to altruism and courage.

We all came to see the site, more than 4 million of us, walking around it, peering through the construction wall, trying to understand that tragic vastness. So I designed an elevated walkway, a space for a Memorial promenade encircling the memorial site. Now everyone can see not only Ground Zero but the resurgence of life.

The exciting architecture of the new Lower Manhattan rail station with a concourse linking the PATH trains, the subways connected, hotels, a performing arts center, office towers, underground malls, street level shops, restaurants, and cafes create a dense and exhilarating affirmation of New York.

The sky will be home again to a towering spire of 1776 feet high, the 'Gardens of the World.' Why gardens? Because gardens are a constant affirmation of life. A skyscraper rises above its predecessors, reasserting the pre-eminence of freedom and beauty, restoring the spiritual peak to the city, creating an icon that speaks of our vitality in the face of danger and our optimism in the aftermath of tragedy.

Life victorious.

THINK Design
Architects: Shigeru Ban, Frederic Schwartz, Ken Smith, Rafael Vinoly

Rebuilding Ground Zero
The moral obligation in rebuilding Ground Zero is not just how best to remember those who perished in this tragedy, but how to make their memory the inspiration for a better future. The issues at stake in planning the site have a local dimension as well as global repercussions; therefore the design should address the specific conditions of our city from a perspective that could also transcend its limits.

Ground Zero should emerge from this tragedy as the first truly Global Center, a place where people can gather to celebrate cultural diversity in peaceful and productive coexistence. Finding the proper balance between the two main objectives of the project — Remembrance and Redevelopment — depends on the way in which investment in the public infrastructure contributes to the Renewal of Lower Manhattan. Since the level of funding will influence the design characteristics, we have developed three different planning concepts - Sky Park, The Great Room and The World Cultural Center - in order to demonstrate the impact of a range these possible levels of investment.

An inspired plan will rededicate our City to the ideals of diversity, democracy, and optimism that have made New York the World's Center for the exchange not only of goods and services, but also of creativity and culture.

Sky Park
A ten block, 16-acre rooftop Public Park is a living memorial that floats above the familiar scale of the New York City street grid. Connecting to the Grand Promenade along West Street and beginning at street level across from St. Paul's Chapel, the Park gradually climbs to ten stories and culminates in a cantilevered three-acre lawn with sweeping views of the Hudson River and the New York Harbor.

The Memorial location is defined by the open squares of the footprints of the WTC Towers and includes the space above, below and surrounding them.

The Park includes groves of trees, an amphitheater, cafes, an ice-skating rink, fountains, community gardens and multiple sites for additional Memorials. Ramps, pedestrian bridges (including one to the Winter Garden), escalators, and a 'vertical pocket park' elevator provide convenient connections within the Park and to the street.

Located below the Park, in typical city blocks are cultural facilities (adjacent to the footprints), street level retail (in addition to retail on the concourse level), a Transportation Center, a hotel/convention center, and office space.

On the Park's perimeter, three large office towers (including the world's tallest) complete the program in subsequent phases. The towers are designed as independent buildings and rise high above the Park to redefine the skyline of the City.

The Great Room
The Great Room is a vast, covered Public Plaza connecting all the elements of the program under an enormous free-span glass ceiling. A soaring living memorial, encompassing 13 acres, serves as the Gateway to the City and as the Great Hall of the Transportation Center — an unprecedented place for arrival, celebration, memory, and civic events.

Two glass cylinders protect the footprints of the WTC Towers as they surround and articulate the Memorial site and the entrance to a 9/11 Interpretative Museum.

Utilizing the large area of the roof and the space that it covers, sustainable systems conserve energy and collect rainwater to reduce consumption and produce solar energy. Stacking shutters regulate the natural ventilation of the space providing the opportunity to control ambient temperature.

Phased mixed-use buildings define the perimeter and support the roof. The tallest structure in the world (2,100 ft), including offices, hotel and a transmission tower, completes the program, is a counterpoint to the Great Room, and redefines the skyline of the City.

Towers of Culture
The World Trade Center is reborn as the World Cultural Center. Built above and around the footprints of the World Trade Center towers, but without touching them, two open latticework structures create a 'site' for development of the Towers of Culture.

Within these soaring structures, distinctive buildings designed by different architects are phased to complete a program of innovative cultural facilities: the Memorial (from the footprints of the original towers to the top of the highest platform in the world), the 9/11 Interpretative Museum, a Performing Arts Center, an International Conference Center, an open Amphitheater, viewing platforms and public facilities for education Arts and Sciences reconstruct the skyline of the City with the icons of the Public Realm. The Towers emerge from large glass reflecting pools that bring natural light to the retail and transit concourse. Two large-scale turbines harvest wind to power the elevators of the Center that will serve 8.5 million visitors a year.

The Transportation Center occupies the memorable space between the towers. Retail is located at both the concourse and street levels to better serve the community. Eight independent mid-rise office buildings and a hotel on the perimeter of the site fulfill the total program according to market demand.
See more of the two site plans at

Send comments to the LMDC at

Pace University's Center for Downtown New York does weekly rebuilding updates at

The Downtown Alliance is an excellent general resource at

See the models in the Winter Garden at the World Financial Center starting today, daily from 7:30am-11pm. More info at

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