Virtual Tour Of The Chosen Design


Daniel Libeskind envisions the World Trade Center replaced by five towers of increasing heights, arranged from south to north so that they rise in a spiral. The tallest point is a 1776-foot tall spire, with offices up to the 70th floor. The top floors are filled with botanical gardens, as well as a restaurant and observatory deck on the 110th floor. A television antenna tops the slender tower. Building Libeskind's spire would make it the10th time that New York City has constructed the tallest structure in the world, Mayor Michael Bloomberg pointed out at the press conference announcing the winning design.

The tall structure has apparently grown on World Trade Center leaseholder Larry Silverstein, who had earlier said he did not like the design. After the February 27th press conference, Silverstein's spokesperson told reporters that the developer is "completely supporting the plan," and will use the insurance proceeds from the attack to pay for the 1776 foot spire.

In his proposal, Libeskind presented two different plans for commercial development in the site's five tower buildings. The buildings can fit a total of either 10 or 10.05 million square feet of office space, depending on the height of the towers and the size of the hotel in the second tallest tower. Silverstein is also likely to build these towers, and their specific design may change based on his desires.

The green, grassy area, with the footprints of the original Twin Towers marked in lighter green, will be used as the space for a memorial competition. The space is sunk 30 feet below street level, exposing a section of the "slurry walls" which keep back the Hudson River and withstood the September 11 attacks. Libeskind's original plan brought the memorial space much further below ground, down to bedrock at 70 feet.

The design was modified to better support the exposed foundations of the original World Trade Center towers and make room for the PATH station and other infrastructure, including a proposed underground bus terminal. Many victims' family members are opposed to a bus terminal in this space, saying that the area where remains were found is sacred, all the way down to bedrock. Mike Kuo, whose father died in the attack, said that changing the depth from 70 feet to 30 feet compromises the design's powerful message. "I would like to see it proven that it needs to be 30 feet," he said. "I'd like to see what goes underneath." Libeskind's revised plan does set aside a small section on the west side of the site that descends the full 70 feet down to bedrock.


Libeskind created a sunken, walled-in memorial space at the center of his design. This illustration views the proposed design looking east. The tree-lined, multi-laned street with the buses in the foreground is West Street; the street to the left, which runs east, is Fulton. Libeskind envisions a diamond-shaped 9/11 museum at the center of his design [marked with a 1]. It is flanked by two other cultural buildings [both marked with a 2].

Visitors would be able to arrive down to the memorial area by several different paths, including walking through the 9/11 museum itself. Others could get to the memorial by walking down two ramps, one on the southern edge of the site at Liberty Street [marked with a 3] and another on the western edge near West Street [marked with a 4].

Community Board 1 Chairperson Madeline Wils and other lower Manhattan residents are worried that the sunken area for the memorial — even at a shorter 30 feet below ground — will be a barrier for residents who want to travel easily from east to west. "The access issues still need to be dealt with," Wils said after listening to Libeskind's presentation of his modified design.


Mayor Michael Bloomberg was reportedly impressed with the way that Libeskind's design suggests a new street life along Fulton Street and a newly connected Greenwich Street. Fulton Street would be lined with storefronts and restaurants on the street level. A performing arts center [marked with a 1] would be located along this area as well.

The sunken memorial area, marked with a 2 in the map, is 4.7 acres. The memorial space is "protected by the museum buildings and cultural buildings that frame it," Libeskind said in his presentation.

These cultural buildings, inside the block bounded by Fulton, Greenwich and Liberty Streets, are marked with a 3 on the map. The center building is to be a museum about September 11. The triangle shaped building across the street, marked with a 4, is the new transportation station.

On the same block are office buildings, marked with a 5, with retail on the ground floor. Libeskind has made space for 880,000 square feet of retail development — both above and below ground — on the entire site.


Libeskind also designed a network of underground infrastructure and transportation connections, which Port Authority officials say meshes well with their own plans for the site. An underground concourse connects the new buildings to the Winter Garden, the PATH station, the main transportation station, and a re-worked subway station on the east side of Broadway. Glass walls would let light from the memorial space down into the concourse. All along the underground concourse would be shops and restaurants.


Libeskind explained in his presentation that a memorial competition could commission works for several different areas in the space that he has set aside for the memorial. This map shows the sunken memorial area. The space that is marked with a number one is the 4.7 acre space, which includes the footprints of the original twin towers.

Number two is a translucent wall, which Libeskind suggests could be designed in a way that memorializes 9/11. The translucent wall would let light into the underground transportation concourse.

Number three is a special corner of the site where the slurry wall will be exposed the full 70 feet down to bedrock. Number four is a new wall that would be built on the Liberty Street side of the memorial area. This wall could also be a memorial structure.

This spring, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation will begin an international memorial competition to design these elements. Development corporation official Anita Contini will pick from 7 to 11 jurors for the competition in March or April. Contini has said that she plans on having a concrete design for the memorial before September 11, 2004.


The foundations of the World Trade Center, and especially the "slurry walls," which keep back the Hudson River and withstood the attack on September 11, were the inspiration for Libeskind's design. "The slurry walls represented everything I believe in," he said in his presentation. "Despite what happened at the site, they stood. They testify as eloquently as the Constitution itself to the value of life, freedom and democracy." The exposed foundations of the original towers (shown here as they would be seen from September 11 Plaza, near the intersection of Fulton and Greenwich, looking to the west) will be a major part of the memorial space. The slurry walls will need to be reinforced and covered with glass in order to withstand the elements and continue to stand firm.


Within four years, Libeskind said in his presentation, several major elements will already be built at the World Trade Center site. The memorial space [1], he said, will be built and filled with a separately designed memorial. The museum [2] and the cultural spaces [3] that flank it will also be built. Libeskind also said that construction will be finished on a new lower Manhattan transportation station [4], on a performing arts center [5] north of Fulton Street and on the iconic office building [6] with its 1776 foot spire [7].

Port Authority officials, however, say that it may take closer to five or six years to build all of these elements.


Libeskind has designed this public space so that it has no shadows on September 11 of each year from 8:46 a.m., when the first tower collapsed, to 10:28 a.m., when the second fell. The Wedge of Light stretches along Fulton Street from St. Paul's churchyard to the entrance to the 9/11 museum. In this image, Church Street is in the foreground.


In creating his design, Libeskind traced onto a map the paths that rescue workers and firefighters traveled to arrive to the World Trade Center site on September 11. He then incorporated these lines into his design. The paths are marked in a new public space near the intersection of Fulton and Greenwich streets called September 11 Plaza. The September 11 museum will open into this space. This image shows the center of September 11 Plaza, looking west towards the museum entrance, the memorial area and slurry walls. The path on the left side of the image reads "Engine 54."


West Street covered with park

West Street open

Libeskind created two different possible landscape plans. One creates a deck over West Street and covers it with a park, while the other leaves West Street open. In both schemes, Libeskind creates many new parks and public spaces. This map shows the sunken memorial space[marked with a 1], the Wedge of Light [marked with a 2] and September 11 Plaza [marked with a 3]. Libeskind also created spaces called Liberty Street Park [4] and Liberty Plaza [5], as well as the Park of Heroes [6] in the Fulton corridor.


Libeskind told the crowd at his presentation that the spiraling form of the Statue of Liberty inspired his design for the World Trade Center site. As a teenager, the Polish-born Libeskind immigrated to New York City by ship, and was struck by the sight of the statue and the city's skyline. Libeskind grew up in the Bronx, and studied architecture at Cooper Union. He became world-reknown for his moving design for the Jewish Museum in Berlin, which opened in 2001. To ensure that the Jewish Museum was built according to his vision, Libeskind moved to Berlin and spent over a decade overseeing the process. Many have predicted that he will face an even more difficult struggle to build his vision for Ground Zero. This remains to be seen, but history has already begun to repeat itself. Libeskind and his family are moving to New York City in May.