Separate the Memorial from Shops and Commerce
Tom Wright, Regional Plan Association
I am testifying today on behalf of the memorial committee for the Civic Alliance to Rebuild Downtown New York. The Civic Alliance is a coalition of over 75 civic, academic, community, labor and environmental groups that came together after September 11 around a vision that to rebuild lower Manhattan should embody the first true, 21st century city, using the best practices in urban design, sustainable development, social equity, while creating a respectful and inspirational memorial for the World Trade Center site to honor the people who lost their lives on September 11.
One of the driving principles of the Civic Alliance is that the World Trade Center site should be designed in the context of a broad vision for all of lower Manhattan and the metropolitan region. We were pleased with the selection of the Studio Libeskind master plan, that now places the memorial site in the heart and soul of the master plan.
Now, the challenge will be to select a memorial design that can be integrated with the rest of the site and lower Manhattan, and respond with similar power and strength to his master plan.
The Civic Alliance has passed several resolutions regarding the use of the World Trade Center site that will have direct impact on the context, approach and treatment of the memorial. First, we feel strongly that the placement of approximately a million square feet of retail space in the World Trade Center site is incompatible with the sanctity and respect that is due to the sacred site. The idea that visiting the memorial and then venturing underground to purchase a sweatshirt does not inspire visions of one of our nationĻs most respected places. We need to maintain an appropriate separation between the memorial and other commercial and retail activities on the site.
Second, the Civic Alliance has resolved that the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation and the Port Authority should explore alternative options to locating a bus garage in the bathtub of the World Trade Center site. While we are aware of the need to manage bus traffic of visitors to the memorial, the public deserves to be presented with more than one viable scenario for the design and scope of the facility. We would particularly like to see the team of Studio Libeskind given an opportunity to integrate portions of the footprint, all the way down to bedrock, in their plans for the site.
Finally, we want to reinforce the assertion that there must be an opportunity for the public to comment on the memorial finalists. The public must have a chance to understand, discuss and debate the merits of the final proposals before the winning design is selected. Never has a memorial been planned in our country so quickly, after so great a tragedy. We must plan with a long vision into the future for this place. The memorial should be powerful, beautiful and moving. We must not be afraid to design something transcendent because of the way this event defined and changed so many of our lives.