World Trade Centre reconstruction has many faces
J.T. Nguyen | September 3, 2003
NEW YORK — Efforts to build a new World Trade Center have to take into
account the power of money and politics, which are inextricably
linked in New York City, and meet demands for security- proof
buildings and the emotions of families of victims.
In the two years since the terrorist attacks that destroyed the
centre's 110-storey twin towers, politicians, Wall Street leaders
and families of the nearly 2,800 victims have cooperated to advance
plans for the new centre.
Construction will start in the summer of 2004 to coincide with
the Republican Party convention in New York City at which President
George W. Bush is expected to seek nomination for a second term.
Some 5,000 competitors are currently vying for the top design
for a memorial to the dead, with the final selection expected at
end of 2003. The memorial will be part of the new,
multibillion-dollar World Trade Center.
For Daniel Libeskind, whose design for the new centre won a
competition earlier this year, planning for the reconstruction has
taken on what he called "a new era of consciousness in
architecture" in which new skyscrapers should be built to withstand
Libeskind acknowledged in an interview with Deutsche Presse-
Agentur dpa that money and politics have been important criteria in
getting the consensus for the new centre. But he attributed the
swift handling of the competition for the top design to
wide-ranging public support for his ideas. Libeskind won over eight
"The public opinion has been crucial for the development of the
project," he said. Libeskind is spending most of his time working
on a master plan with other architects designated by developers and
the New York government.
He is confident that by 2008, major constructions will be
completed, including his "Freedom Tower," a museum, the memorial,
an art centre and the transportation hub to be built underneath the
He called the most important structure in the new centre Freedom
Tower in tribute to the American Declaration of Independence in
1776. The tower will be 1776-foot tall (592 metres) with the first
80 floors for office space, while several gardens will decorate the
Critics have spoken against tying the start of construction to
the Republican Party convention. But politics reared its head as
Republicans want to capitalize on rebuilding the site. New York
state, mostly a Democratic bastion, is run by Republicans, from
Governor George Pataki to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Developers and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey,
which lost hundreds of millions of dollars in rent and businesses
with the destruction of the centre, have demanded the restoration
of more than 10 million square feet of office and retail space. For
them the Republicans are the best business partners.
The design by Libeskind, an architect from Berlin Studio, would
restore the lost space, and more. The site, dubbed "Ground Zero,"
is now hallowed ground surrounded by high steel fence and visited
daily by hundreds of tourists.
"In rebuilding the site, we are in a new era of consciousness in
architecture," Libeskind said. "It's about security and the
vulnerability of buildings in a modern world of conflict and
"We are in a new era (of construction)," he said, adding that
security concerns play a major role, compelling architects and
developers to build safe buildings to sustain blasts such as the
one that destroyed the old World Trade Center.
"The site is speaking out with its own voice, it is speaking
about the history of what happened," Libeskind said referring to
the inferno that devastated the twin towers minutes after they were
struck by fully fueled airplanes piloted by terrorists on September
"It is something unusual, something unique," he said about
"My clients are New Yorkers, Americans and every person in the
world for whom this means something," he said.
Libeskind's design includes the 592-metre tower, which is to be
erected at the northwest corner of "Ground Zero." In addition, a
series of buildings will go up under the responsibility of Larry
Silverstein, the developer who owns the 99-year lease to the
Both Silverstein and the Port Authority have vowed to rebuild
the centre for the economic development of lower Manhattan. Money
allocated by Washington for the September 11 events and from
insurance companies will pay for the construction.
A renowned Spanish architect, Santiago Calatrava, has been hired
as lead architect for building the transportation hub underneath
the site, while Libeskind will set the "architectural design
guidelines" for the centre.
The Federal Transit Administration, which will partially fund
the hub, has demanded an architect like Calatrava to lead the
construction. Calatrava is viewed as "the world's greatest living
poet of transportation architecture". –Sapa-DPA
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