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 Wednesday, 18 December, 2002, 22:33 GMT
Designs seek to inspire New Yorkers
One of the proposed designs for rebuilding the World Trade Center, by United Architects.
United's design calls for a memorial that looks skyward

Five months ago New Yorkers reacted angrily to six plans to restore the World Trade Center, calling them unimaginative and setting in motion a competition among world-class architects for more inspired designs.

Roger Duffy from the Skidmore Owings & Merrill design team.
Design teams had 20 minutes to detail plans
The results of that uproar were revealed on Wednesday, when seven firms from Europe, Asia and the US unveiled dramatic new designs, many of which contained plans to include the world's tallest building.

The inclusion of one or more towers - one stretching 640 metres (2,100 feet) into the air - was viewed by some as a defiant gesture against terrorism that would simultaneously allow New York to regain its claim as the home of the world's highest building.

But perhaps the grandest feature of all the designs, which were showcased at the recently renovated Winter Garden, itself a victim of 11 September attacks, was the attention paid to the demands of the families of the victims who died.

One of the most emotional of those pleas has been a call to preserve the footprints of the Twin Trade Towers, which were destroyed when two hijacked airliners were slammed into them, killing nearly 2,800 people.

The idea was one of the outcomes of a town hall meeting held mid-July seeking public comment about the failed six original plans.

Better designs

It was then perhaps no surprise all nine designs - including three from one firm - called for preservation of the foundations, including one dramatic proposal by architect Richard Meier to turn them into reflecting pools backlit with candles or lights.

Sky gardens
Restored street grid
Major transportation hub
Safer buildings
Restoration of tall structures
Street-level retail spaces
Dynamic plans that evolve with time

Among more pragmatic considerations, common to most of the designs was a call for a return to the street-grid within the 16-acre site that was destroyed in the design of the World Trade Center in the 1960s.

New Yorkers have complained loudly in favour of restoring the original traffic pattern as a way to ease congestion and returning the neighbourhood to a more aesthetically pleasing state.

All the proposals included plans to include retail space outdoors and at ground level, as a way of reviving the neighbourhood through foot traffic.

One of the complaints of the former trade centre was its bunker-like shopping mall, which was below ground level.

Cultural centre

In addition, nearly all of the proposals also included gardens at various levels throughout the buildings, including one design in which the buildings were all topped with greenery.

Also included in all the plans was a major transportation hub, a vocal demand of commuters, who must contend with lower Manhattan's spaghetti bowl of transportation options.

One of the proposed designs for rebuilding the World Trade Center by Think.
Think's design has hollow spires where towers stood

Moving beyond meeting public demands, most of the designs also sought to inspire.

Indeed, design-firm Think used the motto of the Lower Manhattan Development Corp (LMDC) as a basis for its three designs - remembrance, redevelopment and renewal.

In that vein, Think put forth one dramatic proposal that called for transforming the World Trade Center into the World Cultural Center.

Simple structure

That concept includes two enormous, hollow steel structures, inspired by the Eiffel Tower in Paris, built over the foundations of the former twin trade towers.

"The towers are composed also of a very simple structure, which is never touching the footprint [of the former trade towers]," said Rafael Nivoly, in explaining Think's design. "It's built around them."

It is driven by the idea that ownership of height is not just simply the domain of the private sector but rather could become occupied by the public components of the project, such as numerous memorials, conference centres and museums.

In pushing for designs that put public good at the forefront of consideration, Think and the other six design firms have sought to create a building complex that rises above the single pursuit of commerce.

In doing so, New Yorkers can be as proud of the design-firms' efforts this time as they were scornful of the six original plans several months ago.

One of the WTC designsRebuilding NY
What do you think of the new WTC designs?
See also:

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