rebuilding the World Trade Center. Specifically it will discuss the rebuilding of Ground Zero after the World Trade Center (WTC) attacks of September 11, 2001, including who are the decision makers, what is the process, and who has involvement in the process. It will also look at the cost, who is paying, the timeline, current status, what the final project will look like, who will benefit, the effect on New York City, surrounding boroughs, and the state. Almost as soon as cleanup began at the World Trade Center after the terrorist attacks, there was speculation on what kind of building or memorial could possibly replace the Twin Towers. Today, designs for a new office complex and memorial have been chosen, and some expect construction on at least one of the buildings replacing the WTC could be complete by 2009. As with any large project, the plans have faced adversity, controversy, and just plain criticism. What is the affect of rebuilding in lower Manhattan on the city, the borough, the state, the people, and the world? We know the human cost of the terrorist attacks. Now, the city must calculate the monetary cost of rebuilding, and how it will affect the Big Apple.
After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the area in lower Manhattan where the Twin Towers had once stood came to be known as "Ground Zero." As one writer notes shortly after the attacks, "In addition to the carnage of nearly 3,000 lost lives, the World Trade Center attacks destroyed or severely damaged nearly 30 million square feet of office and retail space in Lower Manhattan, forcing 100,000 of the area's workers to relocate to other areas" (Godfrey). Almost immediately, even as cleanup and recovery was still going on, people began to wonder what could ever replace the Twin Towers in the skyline of Manhattan, and where displaced workers would find new office space and even new employment in some cases. Some people felt the area was "hallowed ground" and rebuilding on the site should never occur. Others wanted a memorial or a cathedral on the spot, and little else. In the end, a design incorporating both memorial and office space won out. Chosen in 2003, two design teams were chosen, one for the buildings and one for a memorial. The design for the new buildings is known as the "Freedom Tower" and was designed by Studio Daniel Libeskind. The design for the memorial is known as "Reflecting Absence" and was designed by architect Michael Arad and landscape architect Peter Walker ("Information"). A Washington reporter notes about the building design, "The Libeskind plan, a media favorite from the beginning, features a spire of 'vertical gardens' installed in what would be the world's tallest man-made structure, at 1,776 feet. It would also preserve as a memorial the exposed bedrock of the Trade Center foundation, which is a gaping hole at ground zero" (Trotta A03). Another writer states, "The central focus of his rebuilding is a huge spire, whose height, at 1,776 feet, neatly reflects the sacred year of the Declaration of Independence. Democracy and freedom, Libeskind declares, must be enshrined in every inch of the Ground Zero rebuild" (Millard 45). It is easy to see, with these bold sentiments, how Lebeskind's plan won out. However, choosing the winning designs is simply one element of an intricate and often controversial plan that will take years, if not decades, to build and complete.
The process of choosing what to rebuild at Ground Zero, as can be imagined, is complicated and quite lengthy. Shortly after the attacks, then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Governor George Pataki created the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC), whose mission is to "plan and coordinate the rebuilding and revitalization of Lower Manhattan, defined as everything south of Houston Street. The LMDC is a joint State-City corporation governed by a 16-member Board of Directors, half appointed by the Governor of New York and half by the Mayor of New York" ("Lower Manhattan"). It is this group of public and private board members who are coordinating the rebuilding of Lower Manhattan, including the Ground Zero site. They are working closely with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ), who administered the site from the beginning when the first Twin Towers were built. There are also many other organizations that formed to help plan and create a new vision for Lower Manhattan. They include "New York New Visions" (engineers, planners and architects), "Rebuild Downtown Our Town" (planners, architects and residents) and "Team Twin Towers" (a grassroots campaign to rebuild them as they were0, and an activist New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (Nobel 49).
The group also works closely with several different advisory councils, including a neighborhood residents' advisory council and a families' advisory council, made up of families who lost members in the attacks. The LMDC and the Port Authority are the two entities who chose the winning designs that will be used to rebuild Ground Zero, and they created the process and competition that took place to choose the winners. From the beginning, the designs had to conform to certain ideas and elements that came from public input and debate. These elements included "preserving the footprints of the Twin Towers for memorial purposes, restoring a powerful symbol in the Lower Manhattan skyline, the need for additional public spaces including parks and plazas, a grand promenade along West Street, and greater connectivity with the World Trade Center site and surrounding neighborhoods" ("Information"). Thus, there were many criteria for each design to meet, and these criteria were quite important to the public who live and work in the surrounding area. This indicates that the final project will have an impact on more than just Ground Zero, it will impact the city, and ultimately even the state, by bringing in new revenue, new construction revenues, and new areas for the public to enjoy, and visit -- even encouraging tourism.
Throughout the process, the LMDC has been committed to creating an atmosphere where the public are free to voice their opinions and objections to the project. The design competition began in 2002, and LMDC held an event in July, 2002 called "Listening to the City," which allowed over 5,000 residents to discuss the plans for rebuilding and voice their opinions. The LMDC Web Site notes, "Engaging the public in an ongoing redevelopment dialogue has allowed LMDC to formulate and refine its overall planning goals for the World Trade Center site and, more broadly, for Lower Manhattan" ("Lower Manhattan"). Thus, the process has always looked to the public for ideas and solutions, but some residents still have problems with the plans for redevelopment and rebuilding. In addition, while much of the focus of the rebuilding is on the Ground Zero site, there are numerous plans for the surrounding area to help revitalize and modernize the downtown area surrounding Ground Zero. Mayor Bloomberg laid out a plan for the entire area, beginning at Battery Park and extending through the Ground Zero area and beyond, that includes parks, open spaces, improved transportation above and below ground, business districts, historical preservation of older buildings, and cultural institutions, along with improved residential areas that welcome residents and visitors alike (Bloomberg). This plan will not happen overnight, but combined with the new Ground Zero projects, it could revitalize an area that his been deteriorating for many years.
Initially, there were nine major plans in competition for the rebuilding project, and the memorial design was a separate competition. The LMDC exhibited the nine plans at areas throughout New York, and took public comments on the designs before choosing the winner in February 2003. The memorial design was chosen in January 2004. However, many feel the results of the competition were flawed. The LMDC actually leaned toward another finalist for the building design, the "THINK" design by Raphael Vinoly and Frederic Schwartz. Much of the public supported this project, too. However, the final design was chosen by politicians, not the LMDC group. Another writer notes, "Yet, belying repeated assurances about the 'open' and 'democratic' character of the process of deliberations on the future of Ground Zero, New York Governor George Pataki and Mayor Michael Bloomberg chose to ignore the LMDC recommendation and go with the Libeskind design anyway" (Rosenthal). While the LMDC Web Site and others announce the competition was a result of popular demand and approval, there are many who believe it was political and benefits the city and the state more than the people and Lower Manhattan. Recent developments have cast a shadow on the entire process, which is now being redesigned due to several different issues. Another architectural writer feels the choice of architects was as flawed as the redevelopment agency itself. He writes, "The result was an incoherent program and the selection of a wildly inappropriate architect" (Lewis). With the current status of the design up in the air, it seems he may have been all too right in his assessment.