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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 June 2006, 07:36 GMT 08:36 UK
9/11 memorial plans scaled down
The new design keeps the central elements of twin reflecting pools surrounded by waterfalls

Scaled-down plans for the memorial to victims of the 9/11 attacks in New York have been unveiled after the scheme's original estimated costs soared.

New York's Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Governor George Pataki have approved the new plan, which sought to cut the controversial $1bn price tag in half.

The revised scheme retains central elements of the design but simplifies elaborate plans for a memorial museum.

The public now have a week to submit comments on the new design.

Developer Frank Sciame was commissioned a month ago to come up with the savings, after estimated costs spiralled to almost double the original $500m budget, provoking howls of protest from politicians.

Mr Sciame's plan preserves architect Michael Arad's vision of waterfalls feeding into reflecting pools on the "footprints" of the destroyed World Trade Center towers, saying it was central to the "contemplative nature" of the memorial.

But it proposes a number of money-saving modifications, including:

  • Reducing the number of exhibition galleries in the memorial museum underground and the space allocated for administrative offices

  • Consolidating various proposed entrances to a visitor centre into a single entrance

  • Displaying the names of the 2,979 people who died in the attacks on 11 September 2001, and in a bomb in the World Trade Center on 26 February 1993, at street level rather than underground

  • The handover of responsibility for the construction to the site owners, the Port Authority, to reduce contracting staff and provide a single point of accountability.

The report says such measures should significantly reduce project costs to $510m - just $10m over budget. The report is confident that the project should still be able to meet its target completion date of 11 September 2009.

Impression of what the underground hall at the World Trade Center memorial might look like
The waterfall theme continues in the museum underground
The decision to move the list of the victims to street level should please some relatives, who had complained that in the original plan they could only view the list during opening hours.

But complaints that siting the memorial museum underground displays a lack of respect for the victims, and may even be potentially unsafe for large crowds of visitors, are likely to remain.

In a statement reacting to the new scheme, the original architect Mr Arad said he accepted the "painful cuts" and urged construction to recommence as soon as possible.

Building began in March, but immediately ran into trouble amid the concerns over the skyrocketing costs.

The public now has a week to comment on the new design, after which it will be submitted for final approval by the end of the month.

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