Nearly a year after the attacks, there continue to be very emotional, deeply felt -- and mutually exclusive -- ideas about what should be built at the World Trade Center site, with some still advocating for rebuilding the towers and others continuing to call for the whole site as a memorial. What happens when faced with such irreconcilable positions?
The Ground Zero Planner: Preliminary Results
The results of the Ground Zero Planner are not in, at least not completely. But out of the 237 submissions so far from our readers, there are two results that stand out:
- Slightly more than half want to see the twin towers rebuilt.
- A fifth of our would-be planners call for making the entire 16-acre site a memorial.
The Ground Zero Planner is an interactive tool that allows visitors to design what they would like to see on the World Trade Center site, by dragging icons to a virtual map of Ground Zero. There are a dozen different possibilities users of the Ground Zero Planner can choose, ranging from "Office Space" to "Transportation" to "Memorial." The game is still open to play (your computer needs to be equipped with the latest version of Flash). Click here to try it out.
Throughout the rebuilding process, public officials have been hesitant to say whether or not the twin towers will be rebuilt. Daniel Doctoroff, deputy mayor for economic development and rebuilding, has said that there is "zero chance" that the towers will be rebuilt. The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation avoids addressing the issue directly, saying only that it is committed to adding "a skyline element" to its plans. Yet the players of the Ground Zero Planner have been far clearer in what they want.
Fifty-three percent of those who have contributed their visions to Gotham Gazette through the Ground Zero Planner have included "New Towers" as part of their plans. Among all the entries so far, 15 percent locate the towers on the footprints (the two rectangles where the towers stood), suggesting that there is still a significant number of people who desire to have the towers rebuilt exactly as they were before September 11.
This puts them in direct conflict with the twenty percent of the Ground Zero Planner players that placed the "16-Acre Memorial" icon on their virtual map of Ground Zero.
Even victims' families have reconsidered their intentions to keep the whole site as a memorial. But the 20 percent who selected an all-memorial site is a figure that is consistent with recent polls by CBS and the New York Times and Quinnipiac University (there, 25 percent wanting to make the whole site a memorial). Oddly though, many of the participants who advocated for this approach also included other elements on their maps besides the 16-acre memorial. This is odd because no construction would be possible if the whole site were left as a memorial. These results suggest that those who insist on making the entire site a memorial have not thought out what that means - nothing else could go on the site.
Other results from the Ground Zero Planner indicate that there is support for having a memorial surrounded by other non-commercial elements. A resounding 92 percent of the entries submitted include some kind of memorial on the site. 66 percent wanted to see park space, and 51 percent were interested in seeing a cultural center developed on the site. Given the negative reaction to the abundance of office space that was featured in the six plans recently offered by the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, it might be surprising that 48 percent of the Ground Zero planners have included office space of some kind. It is unclear whether or not their vision of office space is as ambitious as that of Larry Silverstein, the developer who leases the property from the Port Authority and is pushing for rebuilding 11 million square feet of office space.
The results from the Ground Zero Planner are not scientific - they represent the views of readers on our site who used it to submit ideas. We are still accepting ideas through the Ground Zero Planner. And we are especially interested in comments to accompany your design. We are now including a text form where you can write about your wishes for Ground Zero.