Carren's Pitch

Life by Design

[continued from previous]

The World Center battles politics and financials to rise again
Text and Photos by: Carren Jao
Edited by: Judith Torres
Published: Bluprint Magazine, October 2010

Designed to win

The future of Ground Zero was a challenge to say the least. So many different stakeholders had to be appeased and the local government sought to do just that. The government created the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC), a new public agency dedicated to oversee the rebuilding of trade center site. It also appointed Beyer Blinder Belle to create initial designs with some contributions from Peterson/Littenberg.

But after a dismal unveiling of initial plans at Javits Center, it was clear the public wanted a more inspired design for Ground Zero from the LMDC. On its second try, the LMDC called for an Innovative Design Study.

The Innovative Design Study attracted over 900 proposals from architects around the world. From this initial pool, the LMDC chose seven teams, discarding even some prominent architects including Santiago Calatrava, Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown and Eric Owen Moss. The seven teams included Lord Norman Foster, Rafael Vinoly and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.

On December 18, 2002 at the Winter Garden all seven teams got up on stage to present their designs. NY1 News, the public all-news channel, covered all three and a half hours of it. The proceedings felt more like a sport telecast than an bid, wrote architecture critic Paul Goldberger in his book, “Up from Ground Zero: Politics, Architecture and the Rebuilding of New York.”

Forsaking architectural speak in favor of emotional appeal, Daniel Libeskind won the day. His speech rang more the way of sermon than presentation and on his last words, “Life victorious,” applause rang throughout the Winter Garden.

Libeskind’s plan called for angular, crystalline buildings built around the footprints of the Twin Towers. Over the rest of the sixteen-acre site he distributed office buildings, stores and transit lines.

His design exposed the slurry wall, once a portion of the World Trade Center, which had survived the attacks.

His plan also featured an office tower rising to a symbolic 1,776, commemorating the year the United States Declaration of Independence was signed. The tower would include an off-center crystalline spire that mirrors the Statue of Liberty’s upraised hand. It “answered the call of the Statue of Liberty,” said Libeskind during his presentation.

Seeing the office space available in Libeskind’s design, real estate developer Silverstein was also satisfied with the competition’s outcome. While it was Libeskind’s masterplan that was used, different architects designed the surrounding buildings.

One World Trade Center was a dramatic clash of wills between Studio Libeskind and Skidmore, Owings and Merrill architect David Childs. Norman Foster designed Tower Two. Richard Rogers designed Tower Three. Maki and Associates designed Tower 4. [continued]


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