Page N1.1 . 07 August 2002                     
ArchitectureWeek - News Department
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World Trade Center Planning Uncertain

by ArchitectureWeek

At a public meeting on July 16, 2002, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC) unveiled six concept plans for redeveloping the site of the World Trade Center. This first phase of what seems headed toward a lengthy, contentious process was prepared by the New York architecture firm of Beyer Blinder Belle, Architects & Planners. All six proposed options include a permanent memorial, public open space, buildings to replace the destroyed office, hotel, and retail space, a regional transportation hub, and cultural and civic institutions.

The six plans were presented as different ways of arranging these elements on the site, not as specific architectural solutions. Architect John H. Beyer explained: "After a compressed period of intensive creative work, we think these six plans represent a wide range of planning ideas for further discussion. We look forward to public feedback as we move into the next phase."

The public did not delay in providing that feedback. Later the same day, the Associated Press reported that the plans had met with a "mixed reaction, with critics saying they included too much office space on hallowed ground and had too little imagination." Beverly Willis, architect and co-founder of the civic group "Rebuild Downtown Our Town," said: "There's no heart in [these plans] and no recognition of what we all had been led to believe would occur, that we would wind up with something wonderful on this site."

Benjamin Forgey, architecture critic for The Washington Postsaid: "It is rather like taking the downtown skyline of some average American burg and plopping it in one of the most prominent and symbolically important sites of our times." In the New Yorker, architecture critic Paul Goldberger criticized the plans for overemphasizing the replacement of income-producing commercial real estate.

The New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects issued a statement questioning the lack of housing and "intermodal" public transit connections. And New York architect Eli Attia initiated an online petition to take redevelopment out of the hands of "bureaucrats," and conduct an architectural competition to create a "unique, uplifting, and visionary" project.

Responding to such criticism, Joseph J. Seymour, executive director of the Port Authority said the agency could reduce its requirement for office space and consider a longer timetable for finalizing proposals. The schedule had originally called for narrowing the six designs to three by September, 2002; this may be extended by three months.

In the meantime, an exhibit has opened in Manhattan's Federal Hall, where visitors can study the plans and submit their comments. Unless current plans are derailed, a land use plan will be adapted from one of the proposed six; then architects will be selected to design the individual buildings and an international design competition held for the memorial.



ArchWeek Image

Overview of the six concept plans developed by Beyer Blinder Belle, Architects & Planners for the site of the World Trade Center.
Image: LMDC

ArchWeek Image

Concept 4, "Memorial Garden," creates a four-acre (1.6-hectare) open space, with memorial or cultural functions to the southwest. The tallest of five office towers, at 80 stories, overlooks the open space and has an antenna or sculptural top to mark the skyline.
Image: LMDC

ArchWeek Image

Concept 6, "Memorial Promenade," creates a large oval park on a deck above West Street, with public squares, memorial sites, and connections low-rise cultural buildings. A tree-lined promenade extends south to Battery Park, with its view to the Statue of Liberty.
Image: LMDC


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