On February 1 Studio Daniel Libeskind's design for ground Zero was chosen by the city's rebuilding officials. It
had been the front runner for days, ever since the field of 7 had been narrowed down to 2 at the start of the month. The Berlin-based
firm's plan for the site centers on the excavated pit to be ringed by glass towers that swirl upward to a 1,776-foot spire.
The plan also proposes to leave the footprints of the towers open along with a section of the site's retaining wall, known
as the 'bathtub'.
We now have a final design, sort of. The whole process has been fraught with disagreements and disgruntlements
on all sides from the very beginning. The first round of plans presented last year met with a roar of disapproval. Packing
the Jacob J. Javits Center, NYC residents using computer technology, got a say in what they thought about these plans. A resounding
"we don't like any of them" came from that 'town meeting'. Also, all along, relatives and friends of the dead and missing,
cried out for a memorial to take precedence over any building on the site. However, it is prime real estate and the property
owners would like to see some utilization of it for office space again.
But the question that has rattled through my head ever since they started securing designs last year is, will rebuilding
Ground Zero be a rebirth and resurrection for that hallowed area or a continuing battlefield? Already we are hearing of things
unsettled. To quote the NY Times online story Libeskind Design Chosen for Rebuilding at Ground Zero by Edward Wyatt March
1, 2003, "battle lines are already being drawn over other issues, from the proposed underground parking garages to an enclosed
mall and the amount of commercial office space on the site. It is by no means certain, for example, how the memorial will
be paid for, when the commercial buildings will go up, whether the towers will look much like the buildings in the design,
or whether the city or the Port Authority will ultimately control the site."
However, "Mr. Pataki has repeatedly said that his focus in the rebuilding process is on the memorial to the victims of
the attack, and from the beginning he has said he was moved by Mr. Libeskind's design. Many family members of victims have
also favored Mr. Libeskind's preservation of so much of the site, and Mr. Pataki has sided with the desires of family members
several times, as when he proclaimed last summer that nothing would be built on the ground where the two towers had stood."
The article goes on to say "Two state officials said last night that they feared the governor could face some negative political
fallout from the decision. The development corporation's site committee voted on Tuesday to endorse the Think plan; those
board members were appointed by Mr. Pataki, Mr. Bloomberg and former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani. Thus these elected officials
overruled their own appointees, appointees who were charged specifically with carrying out the rebuilding."
There you have it, everyone's views and desires pitted against everyone else's. An architectural 'war' over what to place
on the most valuable (in both money and memories) piece of land in the nation. Even terms of war are being thrown around:
battlefield, fallout, control. How sad.
In my opinion, the proper direction to take should be to consider the memorial first. What should it look like, how much
space and what space should it take up. Ask the input from those to whom it really matters: the survivors and those who lost
loved ones. Then start the designs for some office building. Lower Manhattan needs to regain some of its business base, and
yes, Ground Zero is sacred but to build nothing on it? To me that is financial irresponsibility. After all, the Towers when
they collapsed spread the 'ashes' of the dead all over lower Manhattan not just on the WTC acreage! Should we have not cleaned
all those building, bulldozed all the rubble, or done anything but let things lie as was? I think not. What I feel should
be built is something that restores our skyline. Something that soars higher than the World Financial buildings but not necessarily
try to create the 'tallest building in the world' again. And those new buildings should fit in and complement the existing
architecture of those 4 remaining buildings on the skyline. World Financial 1 through 4 are all that is left of that grand
era. Poetically, I see them as the 4 sisters standing guard over the cemetery of their dead twins.
So, Men, stop your sandbox fighting. Listen to some reason. Because if you continue to let Ground Zero be your battlefield,
all you'll wind up with is a multi acre embarrassment: A rebuilt Path Train station and a pit full of swirling dust!