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Last Updated: Saturday, 11 October, 2003, 12:19 GMT 13:19 UK
Architect 'in control' of WTC plans
Daniel Libeskind's WTC design
Libeskind's design was selected in February after public consultation
The architect of the structure that will replace the destroyed World Trade Center in New York has dismissed suggestions that his plans are being disrupted by other developers, saying he is "absolutely" in control of the project.

Since Mr Libeskind's design for the site was selected in February, a number of other parties - notably the site leaseholder Larry Silverstein - have brought pressure to alter various aspects of it. Control of the central Freedom Tower has already been relinquished to another architect chosen by Mr Silverstein.

But Mr Libeskind said that with a project of the size of the WTC rebuilding, it was inevitable other parties would be involved.

"To build a million square feet of office space, I never thought I'd be the only one, I'd be mad - it would be the largest project any human being had in the history of the world collectively," Mr Libeskind told BBC World Service's The Interview programme.

"Of course there will be other architects, engineers and teams, but the controlling idea, the controlling vision... belongs to a vision that was selected by a democratic, cultural process."

'Project for everyone'

Mr Libeskind's design, selected in February after a long public process, won widespread approval in part because it contained a number of memorial designs such as a Wedge Of Light - designed to allow no shadow to fall on the site between 0846, when the first plane hit the first tower, and 1028, when the second collapsed - and Heroes' Walk.

Daniel Libeskind
It's not about to be disassembled into a series of parcels that mirror the exact plans that were rejected by the public
Daniel Libeskind

Mr Libeskind said that despite some tinkering the basics of his ideas would not be altered.

"New Yorkers selected it, the governors selected it," he stressed.

"It's not about to be disassembled into a series of parcels that mirror the exact plans that were rejected by the public.

"Every New Yorker wants to see that site restored in the sky and in its glory.

"They want to see something inspiring on that site."

But the number of different stakeholders in the site - the governors of the states of New York and New Jersey, who own the land through the Port Authority, Mr Silverstein, and New Yorkers themselves - has meant progress so far has been slow.

However Mr Libeskind said that his plans were making a "political statement" because they were selected by a democratic process.

"That's how this project was selected and that's how it is being built," he stated.

"It's being built in a transparent process. It's unprecedented in the history of America and New York.


Mr Libeskind's plans have also been attacked in some quarters as resembling a "God bless America theme park."

The New York Times in particular has voiced concerns that the plans are tacky, manipulative and kitsch.

But the architect maintained that this was not the view of New York's residents.

"Not a single New Yorker has ever said that," he argued.

"New Yorkers have been very supportive - and Americans, and people around the world who care about the cultural response to this attack."

Many parts of Mr Libeskind's project are symbolic - he hopes to leave the "footprint" left from where the original towers collapsed in place, while the Freedom Tower is to be 1,776 feet tall - echoing the date of the US declaration of independence.

"It's a date and a number and an icon that will never be surpassed, because of what it stands for," Mr Libeskind said.

Ground Zero
The foundation "footprint" has been a source of much contention
"That's what the goodness of America and its freedoms represent."

And he attacked those who felt the design was little more than empty sentiment.

"These are not symbols to me - the living flame of liberty, the torch of freedom - are not just hollow symbols to be talked about in some political rhetorical rallies.

"They belong to my experience - as an immigrant America is a country that welcomes strangers, it is a country that offers freedoms, it is a country of opportunity.

"I'm not embarrassed by these symbols, because they are not hollow to me. They are living and they have the flame in them."

The New York structure is the first tower Mr Libeskind has designed, having until now been most renowned for designing the Jewish Museum in Berlin.

But he said that his comparative inexperience in no way compromised his plans.

"You have to be prepared to do something unprecedented - and of course America in some ways is a country without precedent.

"It's not like Europe - it's a country that dared to do many things, and the fact that some people say I've never built a tower is perfectly fine because there is the precedent of the unprecedented."

The battle over Ground Zero
04 Sep 03  |  Americas
WTC memorial to store lost victims
25 Aug 03  |  Americas
WTC site 'reclaimed by 2006'
24 Apr 03  |  Americas

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