Rebuilding Roundup Archive: January 2003

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Friday, January 24
The Port Authority is showing a new interest in the city's plan to swap the Kennedy and LaGuardia airports for control over Ground Zero. The land swap was originally suggested last summer by Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff to limited interest from the Port Authority. As swap talks continue, both sides will need to come to an agreement about how much the Port Authority should pay the city as part of the exchange.

This week, rebuilding officials announced that one of the architecture teams that created designs for the World Trade Center site was eliminated from further consideration. The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation dropped the plan after the team's lead partner, Skidmore Owings and Merrill, withdrew from the design study in order to continue working for developer Larry Silverstein. The firm, which designed 7 World Trade Center for Silverstein, had created a plan called the "Vertical City" for Ground Zero, which covered the site with a grid of buildings.

While officials cut one plan from the list, a group of architects suggested another design: one created for New York City in 1908. The group is promoting a convention center and hotel that was designed for New York by the famous Barcelona architect Antoni Gaudi but never built. "If they only knew about this building, the people of New York would come to love it," said Barcelona editor Marc Mascort i Boix.

Friday, January 17
Hundreds of New Yorkers attended two public hearings this past week to comment on the nine World Trade Center designs released last month and the memorial that will go on the site. At the first hearing on Monday night, participants were asked by the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation to give feedback specifically on the new plans. Many who did speak restated certain themes or principles from previous public forums. Some called for safer high-rises, others advocated the rebuilding the Twin Towers, and yet others promoted affordable housing on the site.

The second hearing focused on the memorial. Rebuilding officials asked the public to comment on the draft of a mission statement and principles for the memorial, which will serve as the basis for an international memorial design competition starting this spring. Rather than commenting on the statement, many were concerned that the creation of a master plan for Ground Zero before thinking of a memorial design meant that the memorial was becoming more of an afterthought, rather than the focus.

While many comments from the hearings were not direct reactions to the plans, feedback sent into the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation website indicates that three plans were emerging as the favorites -- one featuring tall towers, another highlighting a below-ground memorial, and another centered around a big public garden. However, only a third of those responding preferred one plan over the others.

It is still not known how the comments from the public will be incorporated into a single master plan. An exhibition of the nine plans at the Winter Garden is set to close February 2, which is also the last day for public comment on the memorial mission statement and principles. The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation says that they plan on releasing their master plan sometime in February.

Friday, January 10
This week the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation released its principles that will serve as the basis for an international design competition for a memorial at Ground Zero. The guidelines call for a tomb for unidentified remains of victims found at Ground Zero and official recognition of each person who died in the September 11 attacks in New York, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania. The public will have a chance to address these initial guidelines, as well as a draft mission statement, during a public hearing to be held Tuesday January 14 at PACE University.

In one of the largest and most ambitious projects of its kind, researchers will study up to 200,000 people exposed to dust and ash from the collapse of the Twin Towers. This health registry, which is focused less on treatment and more on tracking long-term patterns of sickness, will be a joint project of city and federal health agencies. Some officials expressed concern that now it may be too late to perform an accurate study.

Architects and engineers have been using computer and laser technology to map the details of the country's most famous landmarks like the Statue of Liberty and the Capitol building in Washington in the event of another terrorist attack. The information would be used to reconstruct monuments if they are destroyed. The laser scanning is accurate to less than a quarter of an inch.

Friday, January 3
New Yorkers throughout the city will be able to comment via satellite hook-up on the new plans for the World Trade Center during two public hearings, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation announced this week. Those unable to attend a public hearing at Pace University in Lower Manhattan on January 13 will still be able to participate by going to one of five other locations in each of the four other boroughs and on Long Island. Another hearing using the same format but focusing on a memorial will be held the next day, January 14.

The Environmental Protection Agency issued a report this week that said most people living or working near Ground Zero are not likely to suffer serious short-term or long-term health effects from the collapse of the Twin Towers. Their research also indicated that rescue workers exposed to the air downtown in the hours right after the collapse could be at risk for chronic respiratory illness. The federal agency is accepting public comment on the report, which is currently in draft form.

A proposal to connect lower Manhattan to the AirTrain commuter rail station, which is under construction and will link Kennedy Airport to Jamaica, Queens, ran into some problems this week. Engineers from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said that difficulties with using existing tunnels for the proposed connection could mean the project could run over the proposed $1.9 billion budget. Brookfield Properties, which owns the lease to the retail space at the World Trade Center site, has been promoting this plan as a cheaper alternative to Mayor Michael Bloomberg's idea for a $5 billion direct rail link to Kennedy Airport.

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