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Construction for Cortlandt Way, a proposed 300-foot-long open-air concourse and pedestrian gateway to the 9/11 Memorial in New York, has the go-ahead to begin in February, with design work by Berkeley, California-based PWP Landscape Architecture. The strip of land the gateway will inhabit runs perpendicular to Church and Greenwich streets and is one of two missing blocks of Cortlandt Street initially torn down to make room for the original World Trade Center Towers. The block, which will cater to high-end luxury retail shopping, will feature a pathway of shops and restaurants that will gradually taper and slightly descend in gradient near the Memorial, forming a ramp of sorts to make a clear focal point of the empty footprints. “The sloping path of the narrow corridor aims to provide a connective link from the city to the memorial while also providing stepped terraces for people to linger [on], hang out, and have a social relationship with the district,” said PWP partner Doug Findley. The streets will be paved in black granite and granite cobblestone. Because of the high traffic of the area, materials were chosen “not just for their durability but for their ability to be cleaned and assembled in a way to not show every speck of dust,” said Findley. Honey locust trees, known for their adaptability to the urban environment, were selected to line the terraces “for the lacy quality of their canopies, which allows light to pass though them” and to frame and harmonize the forests of oaks in the distance.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns and runs the property, announced the board’s approval of an $11.2 million contract with T.B Penick & Sons to build Cortlandt Way. An earlier, 2005, design for the space, featuring an entirely glass enclosed galleria-style mall with additional footbridges overhead for retail outlets, was rejected by city officials, who said they feared that the multi-leveled layout would hide views to and from the Memorial.
As the 11th anniversary of the September 11 attacks approaches, another major design element has quietly moved forward at the World Trade Center site: the design of the St. Nicolas Greek Orthodox Church and an above grade park that will mask the Vehicle Security Center (VSC) at the southernmost edge of the site.
Most World Trade Center maps don’t include the VSC or the Greek Orthodox Church, which will sit south of Liberty Street. It was less than a year ago that the Governor Andrew Cuomo brokered an agreement that allowed the church to return to the site near its former home on Cedar Street. A decade-long battle with the Port had kept its fate in the courts.
TS & BK / The Architect's Newspaper
Now, the steel latticework of the VSC’s truck ramp is clearly visible from nearby towers. In addition to being the entrance and exit for deliveries, the center of the doughnut-shaped ramp will also support the 60 by 60 foot church sanctuary. Steve Plate, the Port’s director of construction, said work on the park will begin this time next year. AECOM is designing an open space that will swell approximately 30 feet above the Liberty Street entrance to the VSC, creating a man-made hill on the south side of the World Trade Center site. State of the art security, engineered by Liberty Security Partners, will allow all vehicles to be x-rayed on their way in.
The church sanctuary will rise another 56 feet above Liberty Street, a full 78 feet above the sidewalk. Church architect Nicholas P. Koutsomitis said that the Port stipulated that the church not rise above the September 11 Memorial Museum’s roof plane. An additional emergency exit will drop Cedar Street below grade and into the VSC complex.
Fritz Koenig’s Sphere for Plaza Fountain, which sustained substantial damage on 9/11 and now sits in Battery Park, appears destined for the VSC site as well. It appears prominently in the renderings, and Koutsomitis confirmed that the sculpture will be included in the new park.