Rebuilding Roundup Archive: October 2003

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Friday, October 31

Governor George Pataki outlined a new schedule for rebuilding Ground Zero yesterday, saying that architects Daniel Libeskind and David Childs must agree to a design for the World Trade Center site's iconic "Freedom Tower" by December 15. Speaking to the Association for a Better New York and the Downtown Lower Manhattan Association, Pataki said that plans are "right on track" to complete a memorial, transit complex and the first office tower on the site by September 2006.

Eight proposals for the 9/11 memorial will be selected by November 17 and will be exhibited at the Winter Garden before the jury selects a winning design, Pataki said. The PATH station at Ground Zero will reopen on November 23, one month ahead of schedule. Also in November, the security barricades around the New York Stock Exchange will be taken down, and a pedestrian bridge will open to connect Battery Park City to the World Financial Center.

Earlier this week, the mayor's office also made an announcement about rebuilding downtown, saying that the Ground Zero master plan should include one more full street, and more retail space above ground. In a letter sent to state officials, Deputy Mayor Daniel Doctoroff said that Cortlandt Street should be restored between Church and Greenwich Streets.

The city removed 40 names from the official tally of World Trade Center victims this week, bringing the number to 2,752. In updating the list, investigators found people alive who were believed to be dead and uncovered cases of fraud.

Friday, October 24

David Childs, the architect that developer Larry Silverstein hired to design the so-called "Freedom Tower" at Ground Zero, and World Trade Center site master planner Daniel Libeskind have reportedly clashed over how the skyscraper should look, with Libeskind angrily walking out of a meeting. The two architects are supposed to be collaborating on the design, but while Libeskind proposed a tower with a spire rising asymmetrically from its western side, Childs has suggested a more symmetrical building that would "twist and taper as it rose," the Times reported.

On October 22, for the first time since the Twin Towers collapsed, a PATH commuter train from New Jersey pulled into a station beneath lower Manhattan. It was carrying only a conductor and an engineer in a test run. Normal PATH service to the World Trade Center site will resume next month, after $566 million in repairs.

Former New York Stock Exchange chairman Richard Grasso, who stepped down from the Big Board last month, resigned from another board - the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation - on October 18. Grasso, who was appointed to the board by former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, had a poor attendance record at development corporation meetings.

Friday, October 17

The city's plan to swap the land at the Kennedy and La Guardia Airports for the World Trade Center site formally ended this week. On October 15, officials announced plans to extend the lease of the airports to the Port Authority until 2050, in exchange for raising the rents from $3.5 million a year to $93.5 million a year and a $700 million up front payment.

After a revised master plan for the World Trade Center site was released earlier this month, the debate over the site's density was renewed. Critics said this week that the plan has too many tall buildings in too small an area. Architect Eli Attia, who has often criticized Daniel Libeskind's design, said that the design would produce the "most congested sidewalks in our history."

Daniel Libeskind's agent told the press this week that the World Trade Center site master architect is writing a book of his memoirs, and is now shopping around a book proposal. Libeskind plans to donate a portion of the profits to children of 9/11 victims.

Friday, October 10

The iconic tower at the World Trade Center site may rise higher than the symbolic height of 1,776 feet planned by architect Daniel Libeskind, according to rebuilding official Roland Betts. The building's spire may rise over 2,000 feet in order to include a broadcasting antenna, which would get better reception at a taller height. "I appreciate the symbolism of 1,776, but the reception is better at 2,000 [feet]," Betts told the New York Post.

The jury selecting a design for a World Trade Center site memorial has reportedly narrowed the submissions down to a group of finalists. Rebuilding officials say that the public will see a number of memorial designs in the forthcoming weeks, but the details -- even the number of finalists -- remain a secret for now.

Governor George Pataki is working to quickly resolve the battle between developer Larry Silverstein and his insurers over how much Silverstein is entitled to in insurance payments. The settlement money will be used to rebuild the World Trade Center, and Pataki wants the dispute resolved so that rebuilding can move forward. Insurers have paid Silverstein $1.9 billion so far, and $600 million of that has been spent on things like legal fees for the insurance dispute and rent for the site.

Friday, October 3

Three world-famous architects -- Norman Foster, Fumihiko Maki and Jean Nouvel -- will also work to design the World Trade Center site, developer Larry Silverstein announced on September 30. The architects will design Ground Zero office towers, joining Daniel Libeskind, architect of the World Trade Center site master plan, David Childs, who is working with Libeskind on a 1,776-foot-tall tower for the site, and Santiago Calatrava, who is designing a Ground Zero transit station. Some wonder whether the addition of more architects will change Libeskind's authority over the site. "Mr. Libeskind appears to be more and more the odd man out in the redevelopment of Ground Zero," wrote the New York Observer.

Foster, the British architect who designed the rehabilitation of the Reichstag in Berlin, was a finalist in the competition for a Ground Zero master plan. Foster's Ground Zero competition design called for tall towers that meet and "touch and kiss" at several places, but he told the Times he will "start from scratch" on a new design. French architect Nouvel has designed Paris' Arab World Institute, office towers in Tokyo and Cologne, and apartment buildings in SoHo. Maki is a Japanese architect known for the Asahi Broadcast Headquarters in Tokyo.

In other downtown design news, the 115-year-old Corbin Building at 11 John Street will be preserved and may become part of the new Fulton Street Transit Center. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced its plans to preserve the building on October 2. Previous plans had suggested that the building be torn down to make way for the new transit station, which will connect and organize the platforms for the A, C, J, M, Z, 2, 3, 4 and 5 lines, but preservationists successfully lobbied to save the building.


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