By Carter B. Horsley
On Sept. 26, 2002, the Lower Manhattan Development
Corporation, which is overseeing the redevelopment of the demolished
World Trade Center and adjacent areas, announced that it had selected
six "new" design teams, from a total of 407 responses,
for the controversial and very important project.
The new "teams" presumably will come
up with fresh ideas that will gain more public acceptance that
the six plans published last summer by the Lower Manhattan Development
Corporation (see The City Review article).
By and large, the new teams represent modernist rather than traditional
architects and as such reflect the influence of proposals recently
promulgated in The New York Times Magazine (see The
City Review article) and New York Magazine (see The City Review article).
The six teams represent 27 architectural and
design firms in the United States and four foreign countries.
Two of the six teams consist of individual architectural firms:
Studio Daniel Libeskind, the architect of The Jewish Museum in
Berlin, the new Imperial War Museum in Manchester, London and
a planned explansion of the Denver Art Museum; and Foster &
Partners, whose head, Norman Foster, the British architect, has
designed such projects as the Commerzbank Headquarters in Frankfurt,
Germany in London and the new Reichtstag Building in Berlin, and
a planned new skyscraper for The Hearst Corporation on Eighth
Avenue and 57th Street.
In its press release, the LMDC, which has a
website at http://www.renewnyc.com, the following comments were
'These architects and planners represent
some of the best and brightest minds in the world - and New York
deserves nothing less,' Governor Pataki said. 'The rebuilding
of the World Trade Center site is one of the most important projects
ever undertaken in our nations history. What happened on
September 11th affected not only the United States, but the entire
world and all those who cherish freedom. Its appropriate
and inspiring that architects and planners from many different
countries are now coming to together to help rebuild New York
"Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said, 'I am
pleased that we have been able to attract the caliber of excellence
exhibited by the group assembled here today. In response to the
public's comments, the LMDC expanded the search for the most innovative
architects and planners in the world to participate in a new urban
design study regarding the future of the WTC site. We will continue
to take our time during the planning process and seek ideas from
wherever they come so that together, we can create a Lower Manhattan
of the future that surpasses everyone's expectations.'"
"LMDC Chairman John C. Whitehead said,
'The LMDC has reached out around the globe to bring the best minds
in design together with the many planners who have been working
to rebuild and revitalize Lower Manhattan. We believe the end
results will reflect the great potential of the World Trade Center
site and all the surrounding areas.'
"LMDC President Louis R. Tomson said,
'We are extremely pleased with the quality of these six teams
they represent the finest architects and planners from
around the world. The public demanded bold and creative visions
for the future of Lower Manhattan and this new talent ensures
that we will deliver on our promise. The forward-thinking leaders
at New York New Visions played an invaluable role in the selection
of thoughtful panelists, and in turn, the panelists took their
responsibilities the full course by choosing an outstanding and
innovative group of professionals.'
The six teams will each receive a $40,000 stipend
to work with new and supposedly "more flexible program requirements,"
among which, according to the press release, "will be a range
of commercial space, a preference for honoring the footprints
as part of the memorial space, a powerful skyline element, the
creation of a grand promenade on West Street, and the exploration
of residential housing on or off the site."
The press relesae stated that the "LMDC
and PA will continue to work with consultant teams previously
engaged on the project, including Peterson Littenberg Architecture
and Urban Design, and they too will be invited to participate
in the design study. At the end of the study, LMDC and the PA
will select the most promising ideas from those generated during
the study, and invite those firms to work with LMDC and PAs
consultants to refine and develop the ideas into site plan proposals.
By the end of the year, the LMDC and PA will present at least
three new bold site plan proposals for public review. A final
land use plan is expected to be released in Spring 2003."
New York New Visions is a coalition of 21 architecture,
engineering, planning, landscape architecture and design organizations
and it recommended a panel of six to select the six finalists.
The panelists included Toshiko Mori, Chair of the Department of
Architecture, Harvard Design School; Eugenie L. Birch, Professor
and Chair of the Department of City and Regional Planning at the
University of Pennsylvania; Richard N. Swett, former U.S. Ambassador
to Denmark and the only licensed architect to serve in the US
Congress in the 20th Century; Kinshasha Holman Conwill, an arts
and management consultant and Director Emeritus of the Studio
Museum of Harlem; Terence Riley, Chief Curator of the Department
of Architecture and Design, Museum of Modern Art; Michael Van
Valkenburgh, landscape architect and principal of Van Valkenburgh
The press release include quotations from the
submission and except from the review panel's report for each
of the six finalists.
Studio Daniel Libeskind, Berlin, Germany is
quoted as stating that The act of building is an entirely
optimistic one and New York deserves, despite and because of the
tragedy of September 11th, to have an architecture which is exciting,
thought provoking and innovative. The panel's except about
its submission said that "True to his words, architect
Daniel Libeskind brings to this very complex and important project
a depth of understanding and empathy that he has demonstrated
throughout his career. His ability to inspire profound critical
discourse through his ability to use complex and layered sets
of references for an architectural discourse will prove an original
and responsive approach to the design.
Foster and Partners is quoted as stating that New York deserves
something great. Something which looks to the future with an enduring
and classic quality, which will become a symbol once again for
the city itself and the optimism and cohesiveness of the inhabitants
of New York City and the American people. The panel's except
about its submission stated that "Lord Foster of Foster
Partners of London, UK has a longstanding reputation of design
excellence in building design, urban design and transportation
projects. In spite of their large size, they have consistently
addressed concerns for the physical context through their involved
interpretation of the spiritual and material needs of the people
who inhabit their designs. The result has been the creation of
award winning projects all around the globe that are sensitive
to the culture and climate of their locations. This sensitivity
is especially applicable to and required by the World Trade Center
design study. The broad collection of talent and experience encompassed
by this firm will make a significant and innovative contribution.
Several architects who participated in the
proposal presented in The New York Times Magazine, Richard Meier,
Peter Eisenman, Charles Gwathmey and Steven Holl, made up one
of the other teams. Mr. Meier is best known for The Getty Center
in Los Angeles. Mr. Eisenman is well known for the Greater Columbus
(Ohio) Convention Center, Mr. Gwathmey is known for the Morgan
Stanley & Co., building in Times Square. Mr. Holl is known
for the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki, Finland.
This team's submission supplied the following
quotation: "We view design as a discovery process that begins
with a rigorous inquiry into the particulars of location and program
that results in an evolution, transforming problem-solving into
art. The panel's report noted that Despite their international
renown, this proposed collaboration reflects the principals
personal and professional concerns for and commitment to their
adopted hometown. Well known for their signature designs around
the globe, the proposed collaboration holds the potential for
an as-of-yet unrealized greater collective effort. In their confluences
and differences of opinion, the team represents the citys
aspirations for an open debate in the service of architectural
Another team, known as United Architects, consists
of Reiser Umemoto of New York, Foreign Office Architects of London,
Greg Lynn FORM of Los Angeles, Imaginary Forces of New York and
Los Angles, Kevin Kenon Architect of New York, and UN Studio of
Amsterdam. This team's submission was quoted as noting that The
terrible destruction of the World Trade Center site created both
an imperative for commemoration and the need for development.
Ground Zero is the last place any of us want to think about as
a project, the last place any of us want to see developed,
in that cynical, shortsighted manner that the word has come to
mean. And now it has to be the first question. The panel's
report found that This mutually complimentary, multinational
team, (American, British, Dutch, Iranian, Japanese and Spanish)
assembles some of worlds the most innovative and inventive
young designers and architects to address the daunting challenges
of this project. Possessing a broad range of expertise in theory,
research, planning, engineering, infrastructure, transportation,
residential, commercial and landscape design, this group is also
universally recognized as the cutting edge users of advanced computer
technology in design. With their ability to collect and analyze
data, integrate knowledge, and develop design in a short amount
of time, these visionaries will employ digital technology as an
inventive tool and media for communication to bring forth and
reinstate the progressive ideals of contemporary society.
Another team is lead by Skidmore, Owings &
Merrill, which has designed the proposed new Pennsylvania Station
in New York, joined by Field Operations of Philadelphia and New
York, Tom Leader of Berkeley, California, Michael Maltzan of Los
Angeles, Neutelings Riedijk of Rotterdam, and SANAA of Tokyo together
with artists Inigo Manglano-Ovalle, Rita McBride, Jessica Stockholder
and Elyn Zimmerman. The team's submission is quoted as follows:
Like New York, our design team is at once global and local,
visionary and practical, mindful of history and willing to question
it. The panel's report notes that Recognizing New
York as a city of contrasts, the team led by SOM seeks
to reconcile the spiritual and the pragmatic, meaning and
purpose. Their combined talents represent a diverse range
of artistic and design disciplines, generational perspectives,
and cultural backgrounds. The team has the potential to harness
effectively fresh and unexpected thinking with the considerable
resources of a global corporate firm. Rather than a single unified
solution it is hoped that such a team can approximate the complexity,
vitality and sophistication of the culture of Lower Manhattan..
Another team is known as THINK and consists
of Shigeru Ban of Tokyo, Buro Happold Engineers of Bath, England,
Jorg Schlaich of Stuttgart, Germany, Jane Marie Smith of Baltimore,
William Moorish of Charlottesville, and from New York, Frederic
Ken Smith, David Rockwell and Rafael Vinoly. This team's quote
is that The role of memory in the construction of our City
is as crucial as the proof of its constant renewal. The central
problem of this project is not simply how best to remember those
that perished in this tragedy but how to make their memory the
inspiration for a better future." The panel's excerpt maintained
that The core team consists of an experienced and highly
regarded downtown architect and a landscape architect joined by
an innovative young architect of international renown and an architect
with a large New York City firm. Support from international experts
in sustainability and engineering and other design consultants
gives additional resources for this project. This energetic and
comprehensive team structure allows a complex series of multilateral
and multidimensional issues to filter through their creative design
process. Imaginative and realistic in its role as an advocate
for the community to promote excellence in architecture and design,
this team understands the monumental task at hand.
The LMDC also announced that the review panel
also identified seven semi-finalists in the shortlist for this
Innovative Design Study.
The seven semi-finalists included: Ken Greenberg,
architects, Alliance; Behnisch, Behnisch & Partner; ARUP,
NY and Mueser Rutledge; Ian Simpson Architects, Ian Simpson and
Rachel Haugh, Principals; Eric Owen Moss Architects, Eric Owen
Moss, Principal: Lead firm; Coop Himmelb(l)au: Associate firm,
Peter Sellars, Artistic Director: Associate firm; Bernard Tschumi
Architects; Leslie Robertson Associates, Structural Engineering,
ARUP, Transportation; Michel Devigne, Landscape Architecture;
Santiago Calatrava; Smith-Miller + Hawkinson Architects, Julie
Bargmann, Landscape Architect of D.I.R.T. Studio, Ralph Lerner
Urban Design and Sam Schwartz Company, traffic and transportation
design; Sasaki Associates; Dennis Pieprz, Urban Design, Alistair
McIntosh, Landscape Architecture; Alan Ward, Urban Design/Landscape
Architecture, Kathryn J. Madden, Planner/Managing Principal.
Clearly, there are some significant talents
among the six finalists and also among the semi-finalists, and
the purpose of this "design study" is to discover some
new conceptual approaches to the problem of what should be done
in Lower Manhattan. One suspects, unfortunately, that a "Chinese
menu" - one from column (team) A, one from column (team)
B, etc. - may vitiate the conceptual designs. Still, it is a worthwhile
and important exercise that will help bring into sharper focus
the magnitude of the challenge and its potentials. One does wish
that Eric Owen Moss, Santiago Calatrava and Frank Gehry were in
the finalist group.
While the design goals are ostensibly to plan
an exciting new downtown skyline, a fitting memorial for those
lost in the terrorist attacks, a handsome "bridge" to
Battery Park City, and vastly improved transportation access to
Lower Manhattan, such goals can be accomplished and still fall
far short of the real opportunity to make downtown much, much
more vibrant and viable, to make the city much more dynamic and
contemporary, to reassert the city's status as the world's greatest
Before the tragedy of 9/11/01, the proposed
new Solomon R. Guggenheim museum designed by Frank Gehry for a
platform on the East River south of the South Street Seaport promised
much in terms of significantly uplifting downtown with cultural
and architectural excitement. It should not be overlooked in the
new plans. Nor should the city's major historical monuments, which
might provide clues for the new developments, not specifically
in terms of design but in terms of their transformative values.
The City Review offers the following list,
albeit subjective, of the city's most important "transformative"
1 - The Statue of Liberty. No other
structure so richly symbolizes the spirit of the city, and the
nation. It is an indelible icon of inspiration, idealism, and
2 - The Woolworth Building. New York
City truly gained international statue when the lower end of the
island of Manhattan began to sprout splendid skyscrapers and this
"cathedral of commerce" was, and is, thrilling.
3 - The Singer Building. Sadly demolished,
this elaborate skyscraper bulged at the top and marked the city's
4 - The Empire State Building (see The City Review article). By a fluke of
history, this skyscraper's isolation has given it more visibility
than any other.
5 - Rockefeller Center (see The
City Review article). This Art Deco-style masterpiece of urban
planning legimitized midtown as a business district and quickly
became the heart of the city.
6 - The Chrysler Building (see The
City Review article). A good building with the world's greatest
and most spectacular and shiny skyscraper top. It makes imaginations
7 - Grand Central Terminal (see The City Review article). A bulky Beaux
Arts-style railroad terminal that is significant for its great
and gigantic grand concourse, its underground connections to surrounding
buildings, its integration with subways, and the great "Terminal
City" vision that led to the development of many surrounding
compatible projects, many sadly since altered.
8 - The original Penn Station. Sadly
demolished, the original Penn Station had several of the city's
noblest spaces that evoked grandeur far surpassing that of Grand
Central Terminal, but sadly it did not spur nearby development
of comparable quality. Both it and Grand Central Terminal, however,
were very great gateways to the city.
9 - The Brooklyn Bridge. One of the
world's greatest engineering feats when it was created, it has
assumed a romantic, legendary aura even though it is not the city's
prettiest bridge. It did, however, expand the city.
10 - The Metropolitan Museum of Art
(see The City Review article). In its
infancy, it was a nice, small museum, but it has grown into a
gargantuan treasure house that displays the wondrous, world-class
treasures accumulated by many New Yorkers.
11 - The Helmsley Building, originally the
New York Central Building (see The
City Review article). The midtown grid, one of New York's
greatest plans, is violated here but a very romantic and impressive
tower that is equally impressive at its base where it has curved
drive-throughs. It also was a sublime landmark that happened to
be part of the "Terminal City" of Grand Central Terminal.
12 - The New York Public Library (see
The City Review article). A stunning
Beaux Arts-style masterpiece that signified the city's understanding
and support of education.
13 - Central Park. This large landmark
park did much to improve uptown real estate values and is full
of delightful surprises and over the years its edges have been
built up with many important buildings.
14 - The San Remo. The most beautiful
of Central Park West's multi-towered residential skyscrapers,
this epitomized the elegance of high-rise living, even though
it was preceded by the Ritz, which suffers from not facing on
a major park, but which was also designed by Emery Roth.
15 - The Beresford. With its three-towers,
this Emery Roth-designed residential skyscraper solidified Central
Park West's status as the city's most architecturally important
16 - The Municipal Building. Straddling
Chambers Street like the Helmsley Building straddles Park Avenue,
this fine public building has a noble top but unfortunately is
a sad reminder that plans for a truly grand civic center never
got off the ground.
17 - The Plaza Hotel (see The
City Review article). The city's dowager luxury hotel commanding
the southeast entrance to City Park reeks of elegance.
18 - The United Nations. This flamboyant
International Style-landmark ushered in the era of glass-curtain
walls and certified the city as the international center of the
19 - The Flatiron Building. The triangular
plan of this richly detailed Beaux Arts-style skyscraper has never
lost its appeal in part because of its fronting on Madison Square
Park and being at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Broadway.
20 - The old Metropolitan Life Building
on Madison Square. Although its facade was "modernized"
a few decades ago, this huge variation on the famous tower in
Venice added a great lantern, an observatory, sadly closed for
many years, and giant clocks high up on its four facades.
21 - The Seagram Building (see The
City Review article). The building that not only spawned a
generation of bronze-glass office towers, but more importantly
its decision to not building on its entire plot and create a large
front plaza led to a major change in the city's zoning.
22 - Lever House (see The
City Review article). Small by the city's standards, this
Modernist-style landmark spawned a generation of green-glass office
buildings, made Park Avenue the city's most impressive office
address, and its opening of street-level spaces and landscaping
and asymmetrical design qualify it as a masterpiece of modern
23 - St. Patrick's Cathedral (see The City Review article). This twin-spired
neo-Gothic-style building gave midtown its most graceful landmark.
24 - The Sherry-Netherland Hotel (see
The City Review article). This minaret-topped
luxury hotel may well be the city's best skyscraper because of
its massing and gargoyles and location.
25 - 998 Fifth
Avenue (see The City Review article). The first major, palatial
Fifth Avenue apartment house.
26 - Riverside Drive. By building this
highway, Robert Moses created a major park overlooking the Hudson
River with sinuous borders.
27 - Washington Square Arch. Washington
Square Park was the city's most elite residential address before
the arch was built and over the years has been largely taken over
by New York University, but the handsome arch is a lovely southern
anchor to Fifth Avenue.
28 - The World Trade Center (demolished
in the terrorist attacks of 9/11/01). The gleaming twin towers
were awesome even if they tilted the downtown skyline and lacked
some subtlety in detailing.
29 - The World Financial Center at Battery
Park City. Highlighted by Cesar Pelli's great Wintergarden,
this huge commercial complex included a major marina for large
yachts and significantly help reddress the skyline imbalance created
by the World Trade Center and gave a significant boost to the
rest of Battery Park City with its vast and handsome retail spaces.
30 - The Lincoln Center for The Performing
Arts. Disappointing architectural, but an extremely important
incentive for the renaissance of the Upper West Side. Its central
plaza surrounded by huge balconies of the three main "houses"
is very successfully done and one hopes that renovation plans
do not lessen its popularity.
32 - World Wide Plaza. This full-block
redevelopment of a former site of Madison Square Garden was extremely
important in the renaissance not only of Eighth Avenue but also
of Times Square as long-delayed plans to renovate 42nd Street
were mired in legal controversy for many years. The project consists
of a major skyscaper modeled in Post-Modern fashion after the
great New York Life Insurance Building on Madison Square Park
as well as a large-mid-block plaza and a residential section with
a handsome tower and low-rise structures.
33 - Zeckendorf Towers. William Zeckendorf
Jr., whose father was a legendary developer, pioneered several
very important "renaissances," in this case that of
Union Square. He also was a principal in the development of World
Wide Plaza. While this four-towered, full-block project is a bit
ungainly, its illuminated tops complement the great lantern top
of the Con Edison Building across Irving Place.
34 - The Dakota. This legendary apartment
building was a pioneer in the development of Central Park West
and the Upper West Side and its courtyard and fearsome moat railings
never fail to impress.
35 - The Ansonia. Another Upper West
Side landmark, this building is missing some spires but remains
the city's most fanciful "exploded" Parisia-style apartment
36 - The present Waldorf-Astoria (see
The City Review article). One of the
city's Art Deco-masterpieces, this is the city's "grand hotel."
37 - Carnegie Hall (see The
City Review article). The world's most famous concert hall
is also a fascinating mixed-use building.
38 - The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.
Flank Lloyd Wright's inverted cone is one of the masterpieces
39 - Citicorp Center (see The
City Review article). This silvery structure raised on stilts
remains a bold, modern landmark.
40 - The Crown Building (see The
City Review article). The great top of this medium-size skyscaper
adds the right amount of glitter to the city's most expensive
41 - The Equitable Center on Seventh Avenue.
An insurance company with a long and prestigious real estate history
in the city pioneered the renaissance of the West 50th on Seventh
Avenue with this huge tower and, more importantly, its lavish
and interesting art.
42 - The Frick Collection. The finest
small museum in the Western Hemisphere and the crown jewel of
the city's museums because of its very, very high ratio of masterpieces.
43 - The National Museum of Design, originally
the Andrew Carnegie mansion (see The
City Review article). With its enormous garden and handsome
tall fences and great marquee, this huge mansion led to the renaissance
of a neighborhood now known as Carnegie Hill.
44 - The Queensborough Bridge - With
its Gothic finials and huge steelworks, this structure gives great
visual interest to an otherwise bland East River cityscape.
45 - The city's subway system. Not only
did the subways provide fast transit to most parts of the city,
but they also did away with elevated rail lines that were noisy.
46 - 9 West 57th Street (see The
City Review article). A daring, soaring sloped skyscraper
of great sleekness established the Plaza district as a major business
47 - The George Washington Bridge. Public
enthusiasm for the exposed structure led to the decision not to
clad it in limestone, thankfully.
48 - The A. I. G. Building, originally the
Cities Service Building (see The City
Review article). One of the great spires of Manhattan, it
contains the world's greatest observatory, unfortunately closed
to the public.
49 - Waterside Plaza. Slender, chamfered
and bulging residential towers along the East River, designs that
should have been used on Roosevelt Island, one of the city's major
50 - The MetLife building, originally the
PanAm Building (see The City Review article).
Although rightfully detested by many for its marring of vistas
of the Helmsley Building, and its poor detailing, this is one
of the world's finest Brutalist buildings, with an unusual massing
and very strong and deep fenestration pattern, and expansive public
This is not a list of the city's finest architecture,
but of its most important structures historically and it would
be easy to add to this list with structures such as Trinity Church
on Wall Street, One Wall Street, the Whitney Museum of American
Art, the old Madison Square Garden on Madison Square Park, Gramercy
Park, the Jefferson Market Courthouse (now Library), the former
U. S. Customs House, the former Hall of Records, 570 Lexington
Avenue (see The City Review article)
and Trump Tower (see The City Review article).
The redevelopment of the World Trade Center
site hopefully will eventually get near the top of this list.