Skip to comments.Stand Tall Again: Old thinking for the new World Trade Center.
Posted on 02/06/2003 5:44:45 AM PST by SJackson
The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation yesterday named Studio Daniel Libeskind and THINK Designs as semi-finalists in its quest for a new World Trade Center. With its pointed, sharp angles, Libeskind's project is a high-rise knife attack. Though more sublime, THINK's skeletal latticework filled with cultural structures seems both otherworldly and insufficiently commercial for Manhattan's financial district.
In any case, both plans fail to do what Northwestern University's Justin Berzon has done. He has created something seemingly impossible: A concrete plan that restores the Twin Towers in a way that should satisfy the various constituencies currently feuding over the future of Ground Zero.
For the last few weeks, Berzon practically has suspended his studies at the Medill School of Journalism. He mainly has worked with architectural maps, computer-graphics programs, and satellite photographs of the WTC site. He has produced a solution to the rebuilding challenge that is so elegant and simple as to make one whack his own forehead and wonder, "Why didn't I think of that?"
Berzon's plan, which he calls "Standing Tall," moves the Towers from the west and southwest portions of the WTC's 16-acres to its northeast corner. That simple shift makes way for just about everything that various groups have expected to spring from that gaping hole: untouched footprints of the original Towers, restoration of Greenwich Street, ample space for a memorial and September 11 museum, a transportation super hub below ground and room, Berzon says, for some 90 percent of the office space demolished in al Qaeda's barbaric attack.
Interestingly enough, "Standing Tall" asks something of almost everyone involved in the WTC rehabilitation debate. In this respect, it is a perfect compromise that everyone should embrace with enthusiasm.
·· Purist rebuilders will have to relinquish the position that the World Trade Center be restored exactly as it was, as if the 9/11 hijackers had been arrested the night before they boarded their murderous flights. In exchange for seeing the old footprints vacant, we will revel as the Twin Towers soar to their former glory.
·· Families of those killed on 9/11 will have to accept the return of the Towers. For some, this will be a jarring reminder of the worst day of their lives. Conversely, they will be relieved to see the original footprints preserved as part of a memorial to their loved ones.
·· Grid restorers will see Greenwich Street dog-leg slightly to the west when passing the new Tower One. In turn, they will applaud the reopening of this north-south artery.
·· The Port Authority will get a transit hub, although most likely a subterranean one rather than an above-ground Grand Downtown Terminal.
Developer Larry Silverstein leased the World Trade Center when former Mayor Rudy Giuliani privatized it in summer 2001. He will witness the resurrection of the Towers he bought, although above the 65- to 70-story limit beyond which he has safety worries. On the other hand, he will see nearly all of his private commercial floor space rehabilitated.
Berzon was born in Manhattan and lived last year just two blocks from Ground Zero. He speaks with unflagging passion about the Twin Towers.
"Even though we have photos and footage of the Twin Towers, how will future generations understand the true scale of what was lost on September 11?" he asks. "The only true salve that might heal this hurting city requires 200,000 tons of steel and concrete. We must rebuild the Twins."
Berzon has a tough question for those he acknowledges do not share his love for the World Trade Center. "Whether or not you agree with replacing them in actuality, ask yourself this: 'Would you, right now, give anything to have them back if someone said they could be back tomorrow?' There's your answer."
Americans who want to see the Twin Towers return to Manhattan's skyline should rally around Justin Berzon's "Standing Tall" plan. His serious, practical proposal brings back the Towers in a way that should satisfy the myriad voices concerned with the future of Ground Zero.
If yours is among them, please speak out. Tell the following leaders that you want the Twin Towers back and that Justin Berzon's "Standing Tall" proposal is the best way to make that happen. Come to think of it, why not alert them to this article?
Larry Silverstein Silverstein Properties, Inc. 530 Fifth Avenue 18th Floor New York, New York 10036 212-490-0666 Fax: 212-687-0067
Louis Tomson, President John Whitehead, Chairman Lower Manhattan Development Corporation One Liberty Plaza 20th Floor New York, NY 10006 212-962-2300 http://www.renewNYC.com
Jack Sinagra Chairman, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey 225 Park Avenue South 15th Floor New York, NY 10003 Main: 212-435-7000 Direct: 212-435-4173 Fax: 212-435-4172
Justin Berzon can be reached at email@example.com.
A Proposal for the Redesign of the World Trade Center Site
Imagine trying to tell a small child that millions of years ago, the world was populated by lizards the size of his house. Could he envision such awe-inspiring creatures? Likely not. But imagine if you took him to a museum and showed him a real, fossilized dinosaur. Its teeth the size of his arm would drive the point home.
This analogy springs to mind as New Yorkers debate the future of Ground Zero. For now it appears that the architects and developers involved in the site design process may have focused too much on commemorating the victims of 9-11 and neglected the Twin Towers themselves in the process.
When I briefly moved to Columbus, Ohio in elementary school, I couldnt convince any of my classmates that my previous home had skyscrapers three times the height of Columbus tallest building. My friends had to visit Manhattan before they believed me. Even though we have photos and footage of the Twin Towers, how will future generations understand the true scale of what was lost on September 11? Having lived in Lower Manhattan post-9/11, I believe theres only one way to go. The only true salve that might heal this hurting city requires 200,000 tons of steel and concrete. We must rebuild the Twins.
This isnt a new idea. In fact, WTC leaseholder Larry Silverstein offered it immediately after the attacks. It was rejected almost as quickly. And because it was so swiftly considered taboo to advocate defiant replacement during such a tragic time, the concept largely vanished.
This brings us to today. Considering that top architects and city planners developed these myriad proposals, why has the public responded so frigidly? Because, despite all brain power behind them, theyre bad. And now were told the final design must be chosen from among them.
The problem is, putting a newly designed structure on Ground Zero would have the same effect as building nothing at all. It would produce the psychological pain of looking up and knowing that something that should be there remains missing. Generations from now, people might not know whats missing, but doesnt that defeat the purpose of building a memorial?
We dont need monstrosities like the proposed 100 stories of glass origami or spindly lattice work suspending sky gardens, built ridiculously high just to be tall. These ideas are creative, original and sometimes even beautiful. And maybe theyd look great in Hong Kong or Shanghai (where city planners work feverishly to trump Americas tall-building accolades). But theyre just not right for the World Trade Center. This hallowed soil is no place for abstract art. Lower Manhattans personality was set in stone by two structures for which there is no alternative replacement. They became our friends almost living representations of our limitless, skyward aspirations.
Whether or not you agree with replacing them in actuality, ask yourself this: "Would you, right now, give anything to have them back if someone said they could be back tomorrow?" Theres your answer.
Opponents of rebuilding have argued on the grounds of modesty, practicality and fear. Weve heard that restoring 220 stories of steel and concrete would be ostentatious. Weve been told that buildings that size are no longer economical. And weve been warned until weve gone cross-eyed about the dangers of erecting another "target."
These arguments hold little water. Replacing the Towers would sew up a gash in the physical skyline and the wounded pride of New Yorkers. Building more futuristic and glitzy structures would be ostentatious. I doubt that the 2,792 dead would want the Twins to remain in rubble because rebuilding would be too flashy.
In terms of practicality, more record-breaking skyscrapers are rising in Asia every year, filling the roster of the worlds tallest buildings (America now holds only two of the top 10 places on that list).
As far as targets go, if you believe that, perhaps we should dismantle the Empire State Building and our professional sports arenas while we still have the chance. Halting the construction of grandiose structures because terrorists might hate them is exactly the kind of submission Osama Bin Laden wants.
So I offer a new proposal to hopefully challenge todays inadequate finalists. It would put the Twins back on the east side of the site, preserve the original footprints for a memorial and satisfy the Lower Manhattan Development Corporations criteria for a functional new site. The longer you stare at the Twins, the nicer the proposal becomes. It just looks right.
New Yorkers have always done things larger than life, twice if necessary, to show our unfaltering strength and character. Now, we should embrace a plan that will turn New York back into New York again.
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