Search results for "9/11 museum"

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East Coast Editors' Picks
Thomas Leeser's addition to the Museum of the Moving Image.
Peter Aaron / Esto

This year we welcomed foreign firms to US shores, marked memorial milestones, tracked the reinvention of abandoned infrastructure, and reported on universities as key players in urban development. Here are a few of our favorite articles from AN's East Coast edition that offer a snapshot of the issues and voices that made news in 2011.

Courtesy Foster + Partners
 
 

01.24.2011

Crit> Museum of Fine Arts Boston

Foster + Partners brings neo-modern seriousness to museum addition, but is it enough? Fame isn’t always glory. That’s one lesson of the career of I.M. Pei, that most underrated of overexposed architects. Though best known for later baubles like the Louvre’s glass entrance pyramid, in the ‘70s and ‘80s he produced buildings of remarkable (yet all-too-often unremarked) competence and diligence. Many of these are to be found in Boston, a city whose small size, long history, and hub-of-the-universe aspirations complemented Pei’s sense of scale and proportion, his balance of deference and showbiz, and his capacity to complement old sites with new interventions. His works in that city, such as the 1974 Christian Science complex and 1971 Harbor Towers, evince monumentality without grandiosity, modernity without brutality, and the acknowledgement of historical neighbors without maudlin imitation of their forms.
 

COURTESY BIG
 
 

01.26.2011

BJARKE INGELS MAKES NO LITTLE PLANS

Danish architect ready to leave his footprints in Manhattan and beyond: Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, principal of Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), has set his sights on the Big Apple. Since September, he has been jet-setting back and forth between his Copenhagen headquarters and his new Manhattan office in preparation for a closely-watched mystery debut. Already an established member of the young architectural vanguard (with an icon of his own in the shape of a figure-eight-shaped housing complex in Copenhagen), Ingels told AN that he is prepared to take American real-estate development head-on: “Everyone has been warning us that it’s impossible to work with American developers—that they’re too profit-driven,” Ingels said. “But it’s really exactly the same with developers everywhere.”
 

Peter Aaron / Esto
 
 

02.22.2011

Crit> Museum of the Moving Image

Thomas Leeser's intricately-paneled architecture recalls the experience of film itself: Oh, to live in the unbuilt world of Thomas Leeser! While most architects have by mid-career accumulated a village of unrealized projects, all offering glimpses of unbuildable wonders or cancelled near-misses, Leeser’s exceptional collection features unbuilt buildings that seem at once otherworldly and down-to-earth. With a long-refined vocabulary of tessellated-panel cladding, continuous-curve surfacing, laconically sculptural massing, knife-sharp edging, and a certain icy taste for sparkle, his practice has produced an evanescent architecture for a counterfactual world, more exciting and exacting than our own: For Yakutsk, Russia, a wooly mammoth museum whose facade tessellations extrude into leggy permafrost-foundation piles, all with the irresistible creaturely charisma of the animal it exhibits; for Abu Dhabi, a hotel whose voluptuous curves manifest as Wright’s Guggenheim in full ballroom spin; for Heidelberg, Germany, there’s a solid-looking museum that, at least seemingly, melts into air.
 

COURTESY GROUNDLAB
 
 

03.26.2011

FEATURE> CONTESTED GROUND

Landscape architecture continues to experience a professional flowering based on the growing significance of sustainability and ecological issues as they relate to planning the broader built environment. But awareness is also growing among architects that they are no longer kings of the mountain. Gwen Webber scouts the perimeter of a possible turf war in the making.
 

FERNANDO GUERRA FG+SG
 
 

04.21.2011

COMMENT> EDUARDO SOUTO DE MOURA

Vera Sacchetti discusses the 2011 Pritzker laureate: In Porto, a small, gray city in the north of Portugal, you grow accustomed to sixteenth- and seventeenth-century weathered granite buildings that seem to rise from the ground as naturally as mountains. This is the foggy, damp place that has shaped the life and work of Eduardo Souto de Moura, the 2011 Pritzker Prize laureate, and he, in turn, has helped bring the city into modernity over the past thirty years. “In Porto, you have the beautiful historical city,” the architect has said, “the monuments and buildings trying to find—like cats when they go to sleep—their natural place and positioning, and then they become almost natural, all made with the same stone… And that gives them an immense serenity.”
 

COURTESY WAGGONNER & BALL ARCHITECTS/SMART MOBILITY
 
 

06.23.2011

FEATURE> GO DOWN, MOSES

Today cities are putting people before cars, replacing highways with green boulevards: Remember highways, those ribbons of concrete that in the 1940s and 50s looped together cities, states, and regions in much the same way as ocean liners connected America to Europe in the 20s and 30s? Once highways represented the country’s proudest infrastructure. Those days are over, as are the urban policies that allowed New York’s ultimate powerbroker Robert Moses, late in his heyday in the 60s, to ram roads (the bigger, the wider, the busier the better) through fragile communities, ripping the urban fabric to shreds for decades to come. Today’s urban thinking puts pedestrians before cars.
 

THE ARCHITECT'S NEWSPAPER
 
 

07.28.2011

FEATURE> CLASS STRUGGLE

Mapping higher education as a potent force of development across the city, now and in the future. Essay by Mitchell Moss: In spite of the recent economic slowdown, New York City’s colleges and universities are on a building spree, providing planners, land use lawyers, architects, and construction workers with well-paying and stable employment. Once a sleeping giant, the city’s colleges and universities have long been active in acquiring individual parcels, modernizing outmoded structures, and building “as-of-right” by taking advantage of the city’s permissive zoning that falls under the heading of “community facilities.” But today, the city’s higher education industry is playing hardball as it seeks to build classrooms, labs, residence halls, student centers, and administrative palaces in order to attract students and faculty in the 21st century. And the leaders of the city’s colleges and universities are anything but shy when it comes to expanding their campuses. In fact, they are using every possible planning and zoning tool: eminent domain, rezoning, leasing, trading air rights, public-private partnerships, strategic acquisitions, and, of course, contributing space for public purposes, as they negotiate the treacherous minefield of land use planning in New York City.
 

COURTESY SILVERSTEIN
 
 

09.07.2011

FEATURE> MAKING MEANING

Drawn largely from stories in our own pages, this selective timeline recalls key design moments, revisions, and decisions leading up to the tenth anniversary opening of the 9/11 Memorial.
 

JESSICA EDWARDS
 
 

09.19.2011

Q+A> GARY HUSTWIT

The director of Helvetica and Objectified talks about his new film on cities, Urbanized: This month Urbanized, the latest film by Gary Hustwit, premieres in selected cities around the U.S. after making its debut at the Toronto Film Festival. Coming on the heels of his odes to typography (Helvetica, 2007) and product design (Objectifed, 2009), Hustwit has now turned his lens on the design of cities. AN met up with the filmmaker to talk about how the key players in urban planning and design and make their ideas comprehensible to a wider public.
 

PHIPPS ROSE DATTNER GRIMSHAW
 
 

09.26.2011

ROAD TO GREEN

Dattner Grimshaw Bronx partnership yields model sustainable housing: Via Verde, the affordable housing complex designed by Dattner Architects in partnership with Grimshaw, would fit with any of the sexy newcomers on Manhattan’s West Side Highway. Built atop a former rail yard in the Melrose section of the South Bronx, the triangular site sits directly across from some featureless low-income housing in uninspiring old-school red brick.
 

Tom Stoelker / AN
 
 

10.12.2011

Comment> Jerold S. Kayden

Occupying Wall Street at the public-private frontier: In future years, people will remember 2011 as the year in which physical public space reclaimed its lofty status in the public sphere thanks to the audacious actions of engaged individuals. From Tahrir Square to Zuccotti Park, physical public space has aggressively reminded the world of its centrality in accommodating and nurturing political debate and protest. Public spaces come in many flavors. They include city-owned streets, sidewalks, and parks. In New York and other cities, they also include a zoning-created variety known as privately owned public space. Through a technique known as incentive zoning, New York since 1961 has encouraged developers of office and residential skyscrapers to provide a now-substantial array of more than 500 plazas, arcades, and indoor spaces in return for valuable zoning concessions. The most valuable concession of all has been bonus floor area, and the City has thus granted more than 20 million square feet of extra building area for developers. Although the spaces differ in terms of the legal specifics that created them, the signature requirement is that they be usable by the public.
 

KIYONORI KIKUTAKE
 
 

10.27.2011

Q+A> REM KOOLHAAS

High on Metabolism, Rem talks about his latest book Project Japan: Sounding weary with focusing on his own positions and prominence and energized by researching Japan in the 60s and 70s, Rem Koolhaas came down for coffee at the Carlyle Hotel to talk to AN about his new book Project Japan: Metabolism Talks (Taschen), a six-year project undertaken with Swiss critic and historian Hans Ulrich Obrist to interview the founders and thinkers of what the architect calls “the first non-Western avant-garde movement in architecture” and the Dutch architect’s search for a more meaningful engagement between architecture and societies.
 

MONTAGE BASED ON PHOTO BY PETER MAUSS / ESTO
 
 

11.08.2011

FEATURE> CULTURAL OUTLETS

What does it mean when museums position themselves as engines of social change...powered by luxury car companies? Stephen Zacks considers new claims on the urban environment: This fall, BMW funded a Guggenheim lab on the Lower East Side that will travel—along with a lot of forward-thinking programs and events—to nine cities around the world for the next six years. Earlier this year, Audi funded the New Museum’s Festival Ideas for the New City on the Bowery which the museum plans on staging every other year. And in May, Volkswagen announced a two-year partnership with MoMA to fund online educational programming, on-site “labs,” and an exhibition of socially conscious international work at PS1.
 

Courtesy BHA
 
 

12.15.2011

Rolling Out

Philly's elevated railway is struggling to become a High Line: The Reading Viaduct, a grass and tree-covered stretch of historically rich yet defunct industrial rail line in Philadelphia, has opened up a lively dialogue about its potential as an urban connector. With a location ripe for redevelopment, the mile-long viaduct runs north from the edge of Center City to Callowhill, a former manufacturing neighborhood. However, as in most public projects where budgets are tight, the realization of an elevated park has a long way to go.
 

COURTESY U.S. COMMISSION OF FINE ARTS
 
 

12.20.2011

PORTFOLIO> UNBUILT WASHINGTON

The National Building Museum presents the nation's capital as it might have been: More and more, the National Mall is living up to its moniker “America’s front yard”: patchy turf, puddles, and cracked sidewalks give it an air of foreclosure. The National Mall Design Competition, now under way, will surely produce ambitious proposals to mend the Mall, but getting them approved and funded could take years and is far from guaranteed.
 

 

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Tracking the Origins of MVRDV’s Cloud
Urban design historian Grahame Shane weighs in on the controversial project tracing MVRDV’s explosive imagery to its source in research. When Ole Scheeren departed from OMA Beijing with the MahaNakhon Bangkok tower to found his own office in 2010, he had the idea to connect tower and urban village, marking a key moment in a very Dutch delirium that moved beyond OMA's CCTV tower. In the Bangkok tower the developer’s website claims this skyscraper "melds with the city by gradually 'dissolving' the mass as it moves vertically between ground and sky." MVRDV pursued this same research and logic in their Cloud twin tower development in Libeskind's masterplan for the ex-US base in downtown Seoul. The firm had earlier developed the Sky Village project in Copenhagen in 2008, similar in concept to the MahaNakon project with its spiral upwards. Indeed, this spiral had long been a concern of Ken Yeang, the Malaysian architect in his "Bioclimatic" Malaysian skyscraper projects of the 1990's. MVRDV pursued this research in their 2011 Vertical Village show in Taipei, Taiwan, that opened at the same time as the announcement of the Cloud. Given MVRDV's devotion to data mining and layering, it is probable that they followed the logic of the delirious Dutch research that believes you can collage anything beside anything else in a pragmatic, post-modern method of assemblage. This line of research descends from Koolhaas' appreciation of the Downtown Athletic Club in Manhattan in Delirious New York (1978). MVRDV's Hannover Expo Pavilion of 2000 demonstrated this technique, as did their project for the Metacity/Datatown exhibit of the same year. All interrelationships are then either pragmatic or better yet random. Then there is the fiction in a scheme like the CCTV, MahaNakhon, or the Cloud that no one person controls the emergent "free" assembly. Yet in Beijing or Bangkok the designers repressed the village-like interior organizations within the building mega-form, allowing a surface marking only, breaking the building surface as a pixilation in the MahaNakhon. The Cloud design represented a step further in this logic, as it projects a so-called three-dimensional vertical village between the two towers. It would seem the excitement of the creation of an urban village half way up two skyscrapers blinded MVRDV to the very obvious 9/11 image the design might provoke. Why was MVRDV so excited? There was already an Asian mega-structural tradition of platforms between towers and even the idea of vertical villages as in Hiroshi Hara's 1988 theories about urban scale in 3-D. Hara completed the Osaka Umeda Skygarden demonstration project in 1993. This tradition continued in the work of Chinese architects such as the Shenzhen based Urbanus group with their Urban Village and skyhook research of 2003-2004. Why was the Cloud breakthrough so important for MVRDV? The design maintained the tower surfaces but burst out of the mega-form to introduce a three-dimensional, cuboid platform with terraces and stepped rooms inside a grid structure showing trees and shrubbery, a veritable hanging garden. Anyone who has visited Bangkok and eaten on the three-dimensional rooftop terraces, could recognize the appeal of this structure. But here its form was also that of a rationalized Brazilian favela or hill town perched above Rio or São Paolo, echoing Safdie's Montreal Habitat (1967). The Vertical Village show asked whether one can hybridize the top-down modernist skyscraper and the forms of the self-build bottom-up favela to make a new "vertical urban village." Oliver Wainright writing for Domus magazine in October 2011 described the sequence of the exhibition that began with an analysis of existing urban villages , drawn in Atelier Bow Wow-style linear axonometrics with calculations of their density and Floor Area Ratio (FAR), proceeding via a corridor of images mined from the web using the terms "vertical village" to a contrasting display of massive, modern building projects for housing slabs and blocks that repress individuality in the search for cheap mass housing. Wainright described how the positive qualities of informal urban villages are outlined in one gallery as an "Urban Community Quality Wheel," which led to other rooms where visitors could use "Housemaker" and "Village Maker" software to adjust the parameters of a vertical urban village design. Wainright wrote that "tweaking settings from typology to aspect, hours of sunlight to distance from neighbors, the Grasshopper script then projects each house into the Rhino model, from where you can spin your clustered cloud of vertical dwellings around to your heart's content—and then share it on Facebook." The Cloud project with its favela-like bridge between two towers emerged from this research. MVRDV released the images without seeing the connection to the 9/11 twin towers, later issuing an apology. How could these otherwise savvy media operators have been so blind? Was it naïvete? Or a planned headline-grabbing publicity stunt? This blindness and emotional disconnection is interesting. Did MVRDV think that the design somehow incorporated the bottom-up built logic of the invisible favelas and shanties in their Cloud as it enveloped the two towers? Did MVRDV hope to signify the one billion slum dwellers here as the global system stresses out? Was their exceptional blindness the result of the uncanny return of the repressed masses in the outlying urban villages and favelas? Why do we need urban villages now in skyscrapers, in Clouds or in museums? Koolhaas and OMA have proposed the "Museum as City" for the Beijing National Arts Museum (2011) with horizontal "Arts Villages" held between "streets" and its vertical "Arts Lantern." What is the symbolism of the village here? Is it time to reverse the mega-scale of the Bubble Years and start over with urban villages? D. Grahame Shane teaches Graduate Urban Design at Columbia University and undergraduate students at The Cooper Union in New York. He also lectures for the Bartlett School of Architecture in London and at the Polytechnic in Milan. He is the author of Recombinant Urbanism: Conceptual Modeling in Architecture, Urban Design and City Theory (John Wiley & Sons, 2005).
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Port Authority Threatens to Sue 9/11 Museum for $300 Million
In the days immediately following the show of solidarity on the tenth anniversary of 9/11, the Port Authority and Governor Cuomo retreated to one corner and Mayor Bloomberg and the Sept 11 Memorial and Museum Foundation to another over accusations of $300 million in cost overruns that neither party has agreed to pay. Construction of the museum has ground to a halt decreasing the likelihood that the Museum will open next year as promised. On December 15, the Governor told Albany radio host Fred Dicker that the Port Authority was “on the verge” of suing the Foundation. The PA charged that the Foundation has not provided $156 million for infrastructure costs and has subsequently not reimbursed the Authority for awarded contracts since immediately after the anniversary. On the radio show, Cuomo said $300 million was owed to the PA, an amount said to include newly revised project costs as well as money already spent on infrastructure. In a statement, Michael Frazier, the foundation’s spokesperson, said, “The 9/ll Memorial has met every funding commitment. There is no validity to the Port Authority’s claim; in fact, as recently as yesterday this claim was half of this amount. The Memorial has a counterclaim against the Port totaling more than $140 million. The Mayor clarified all of this today.” In a rebuttal made at a news conference on Friday at a Bronx elementary school, Mayor Bloomberg said, “We don’t owe anything.” While noting that the city is working with PA to resolve the issue, he added, “It’s hard to see us getting to a courtroom, but if it has to go there, it has to go there.” A source familiar with the situation said that there is a $300-500 million bill lurking and unaccounted for, but that it has to do with site-wide security costs. At issue as well is the dedicated task force assembled by former PA head Chris Ward to cut through previous disagreements, which may have been disbanded when the new director Patrick Foye took over. Whether the city or the Port Authority is responsible for escalating security costs seems unclear. With a virtual halt in construction, Frazier said in a phone call that the timely completion of the Museum is endangered. “The Museum was next in line to be completed before Towers Four and even One. What’s really at stake now are all the items and donations by family members and others that were entrusted to us to preserve but are now in storage and in jeopardy.”
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Slideshow> WTC Memorial at Night
Last Friday, AN went to the 9/11 Memorial, without a press pass, an official tour guide, or a hard hat. We went as a neighbor and experienced the place as any other visitor might. First, we attempted to get our ticket online. After checking the availability on Tuesday, we dithered, and by Wednesday online tickets were gone. But at the temporary exhibition space on Liberty Street, and a manager told us that a $20 ticket to the museum would get us into the memorial without reservations. After skipping the exhibition, we went through a series of checkpoints akin to international travel at JFK. The experience was a sobering reminder of one of the many aftereffects resulting from the attacks. Everything metal had to be removed and placed into an x-ray machine, but shoes did not have to be taken off. The staff at the metal detectors were stern and efficient. The line moved swiftly. At the following two or three additional checkpoints, administrators became friendlier. On entering the plaza, the public was set free. Watching the crowd interact with the space was almost as intriguing as memorial itself. Boy scout troops scampered, parents called out, as the crowd headed toward the South Pool where they clustered for a first glimpse. The recreational mood dissipated as the crowd dispersed and began to walk around the pool. The scale began to take root and voices lowered. By the time they reached Snøhetta's pavilion, more than a few visitors seemed disoriented. Several gazed through the glass at original World Trade columns and wondered aloud if this was in fact where the towers once stood. Others explained that the pools were the footprints. Again, the crowd regrouped and conversed, before separating and drifting off to the next pool. The light on the original column was in fact among the warmest light on the plaza. The the pool's lighting felt as cool as the water itself--stark but not sterile. The lamppost columns spread throughout the plaza in slim vertical gestures, so that the temporary incandescent  washing the World Trade columns provided an oddly warm punctuation to the entire site.
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9/11 Memorial Museum Entry Pavilion
The memorial pavilion sits on two different structures: the memorial museum and PATH station.
Courtesy Buro Happold

Snøhetta, Adamson Associates, Buro Happold

Among the towering giants and behemoth cavern currently under construction at the World Trade Center site, it can be easy to overlook the Entry Pavilion of the National September 11 Memorial Museum. After all, it is only three stories high and contains a mere 47,000 square feet, much of which is mechanical equipment. However, the little pavilion serves vital roles in the master plan, both functional as well as aesthetic. For one, it houses the entrance to the museum—a grand stair that descends beneath the recently-opened plaza beside two of the soaring steel “tridents” salvaged from the wreckage of the original twin towers. The building also contains an advanced security apparatus for screening visitors, an auditorium, the aforementioned mechanical equipment, and a special room reserved for World Trade Center attack survivors and the family members of those who lost their lives.

As with every other piece of the massive construction project, the pavilion is also far more complex than a cursory examination of its architectural renderings makes it seem. The design team—which includes Norwegian architectural firm Snøhetta, local architect of record Adamson Associates, and multi-disciplinary engineering firm Buro Happold—faced the very unusual challenge of designing a building that could perch off the edge of two different lower structures: the Path Station and the Memorial Museum. This required developing a series of unique structural solutions that not only meet New York City building code but also stand up to the heightened security concerns of the World Trade Center site.

   
Left to right: Detail of the erection truss to stabilize the structure while under construction; the pavilion cantilevers atop the transit hub; and a view of the southwest corner under construction.
 

The majority of the pavilion rests atop the Path Station, specifically atop three massive north-south oriented steel girders, each between 13 and 16 feet deep, which were designed by Port Authority engineers. Only the western tip of the building, which contains the grand stair, sits on the concrete mat of the memorial museum, designed by Aedas and Cantor Seinuk. The challenge for the design team was to create a “foundation” for the pavilion that would both distribute the building’s gravity loads across these two underpinning structures as well as handle the rather intense lateral loads that could occur under the conditions of a blast event. Before anybody starts thinking that was an easy chore, there were additional complicating factors. Two of the Port Authority’s girders—the eastern most and the western most—did not span the entire depth of the pavilion’s footprint, meaning that much of the building would have somehow to be hung off their ends. The northeastern edge of the pavilion also extended beyond the easternmost girder, meaning that as much as 15 feet of the building would have to be cantilevered over the path station. Finally, while the Port Authority engineers allowed the team to transfer north-south lateral forces to the girders, east-west forces were off limits.

The team established “footings” for the building that they termed “drag beams”—3-foot-wide by 7-foot-deep concrete beams, heavily reinforced by structural steel wide-flange sections and two layers of No. 10 rebar. The drag beams follow the perimeter of the pavilion, and one bisects its east-west axis, spanning as much as 100 feet across the underpinning structures. Between the center and southern drag beams, which run east-west, and atop the three Port Authority girders, which run north-south, they established a concrete core that rises the full height of the structure, functioning as both hardened ingress and egress as well as a cavernous ventilation shaft for the underground spaces. The core transfers the building’s north-south lateral loads to the girders. All of the east-west lateral forces are transferred from the drag beams at the western end of the pavilion to the memorial’s concrete mat via structural shear dowels.

Hanging the north edge of the pavilion off of the two short girders called for two different solutions. At the eastern-most girder, which was 16 feet short, the team was able to employ an inclined beam that runs up from the end of the girder at a 45-degree angle to the second floor, where it becomes a column and runs vertically to the top of the structure. The westernmost girder, however, was 20 feet short. There, the team ran a column vertically to the roof and then suspended the remainder of the structure from a 22-foot-deep truss.

The rest of the pavilion’s framing is more conventional in nature—steel post and beam and concrete floors poured on metal decking—though many of the members are encased in concrete and are larger than one would expect for a building of this size. In fact, some of the girders that support the infill beams go up to W40x503—the largest rolled sections available—making Memorial Pavilion a very sturdy enclosure indeed.

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WTC Update> POPS on the Periphery
It's been a while since we did the once around the super block that is the World Trade Center site. We held off on WTC Updates until the Tenth Anniversary news fest subsided. Now that all eyes are on the Zuccotti Park and Occupy Wall Street, we figured it'd be a good time to take another walkabout. From an urban planning standpoint, the Privately Owned Public Space (POPS) status of Zuccotti Park has stirred up quite a bit of interest. As the 9/11 Memorial opened only last month—and remains a highly controlled space—the only way to navigate around the site is to walk through a series of interior and exterior POPS. Right now Occupy Wall Street's takeover of the Brookfield-owned park is getting the lion's share of attention, but elsewhere there are little known gatherings in other POPS around Lower Manhattan that happen every day.
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Five-Year Reunion
The Morgan Library & Museum.
Michel Denancc

Grand openings come and go, and the buildings that once occasioned so much hoopla soon enough slide into the rank and file of the working city. Whether they become landmarks of achievement or emblems of unrealized potential cannot easily be known at first. The editors of AN talk to owners and architects of four celebrated efforts to see what stands out at least five years on.

 
The rebuilding of the 52-story 7 World Trade Center helped shape the masterplan for the adjacent site.
David Sundberg / ESTO
 

7 World Trade Center
SOM
Silverstein Properties

Just one month after the 9/11 attacks, and while New Yorkers were still reeling, developer Larry Silverstein and SOM began planning the rebuilding of 7 World Trade Center. With a Con-Ed substation that supplied much of Lower Manhattan including the Stock Exchange located in the base, rebuilding Seven was never really in question.

How to rebuild was. In their earliest discussions, SOM helped convince Silverstein to keep Greenwich Street open, which laid the groundwork for the site’s reintegration into the grid of Lower Manhattan. “It was the first chess piece move in what would eventually become the masterplan,” said T.J. Gottesdiener, a managing partner at SOM. By opting to reopen Greenwich Street, Silverstein gave up over 200,000 square feet of leasable space, according to Gottesdiener. “It was a moment for Larry to prove himself,” he said. “When you think about the building, the Jenny Holzer installation in the lobby, the Ken Smith park, the Jeff Koons outside, people were really surprised. It was a sign that things were going to be done well,” he said. “We were hoping it would be an instant classic.”

   
Left to right: A monumental art installation by Jenny Holzer fills the lobby; The skin on the base reflects ambient light by day, coming alive at night with LEDs.
 

The architects also argue that the project was instrumental in the formation of LEED standards for speculative office buildings. “There were standards for owner occupied buildings, but we wanted to certify for core and shell,” he said. SOM worked with the United States Green Building Council to develop standards for core and shell certification, with Silverstein to write a guidebook for the interior build out of the tower.

Five years ago, the building’s highly energy efficient curtain wall was, and still is, one of its most distinctive architectural elements. The result of design ambitions, the surface is as clear and crystalline as SOM could get it given the limitations of glass manufacturing at the time, while also accommodating the 13.5-foot floor-to-ceiling height prized in class-A office space. At the time, glass could only be fabricated at 12.5-foot lengths. Thus the resulting façade is highly articulated thanks to a 1.5-foot tall black micro corrugated steel spandrel between floors used together with single sheets of low-e glass, which the architects accented with a two inch horizontal gap between each pane.

The curtain wall of One World Trade Center looks comparatively conventional next to Seven, with more mirrored glass and a less articulated surface. Gottesdeiner insists the curtain wall builds upon the technology and the thinking employed at the earlier tower. Glass can be made in larger sheets now and thus the more planar surface of One World Trade. The architects admit that the curtain wall of Seven was more expensive than a conventional building envelope. That may explain why it has not been imitated at a similar scale.

Seven World Trade Center set a high bar for rebuilding efforts downtown. It may prove too singular to ever be a classic. Ironically, it may remain the more outstanding building even as One World Trade will always be the one that stands out.

Alan G. Brake


The Bronx County Hall of Justice's inaccessible plaza faces a residential area.
Jeff Goldberg / ESTO
 

Bronx County
Hall of Justice

Rafael Viñoly/DMJM
The City of New York

Rafael Viñoly began designing the Bronx County Hall of Justice, a huge glass-fronted courthouse on 161st Street, nearly 18 years ago. The project broke ground in the summer of 2001. By that fall, the world was a very different place and when the 800,000-square-foot building opened in 2007, concerns for security and problems with construction undermined the building’s original promise of openness and transparency.

Viñoly’s accordion-like glass facade faces onto 161st Street in a stately manner, while the L-shaped plan creates a generous plaza opening onto a residential area rather than the commercial thoroughfare. “We really wanted to render a building that was open, unlike the building next door which was a fortress,” Viñoly said of the Brutalist former Criminal Court building. “This building is exactly the opposite with openness and access.”


The accordian facade overlooks 161st Street.
 
 

Even before 9/11, designs were evolving out of concern for security, with one substantial change made after the U.S. Embassy bombing in Tanzania along with other makeshift adaptations that eventually found their way into the interior. Initially as well, the plan had Grant Avenue running through an archway in the courthouse, but that idea too was abandoned. The light-filled atrium lobby, which features the two-story cylindrical form of the jury assembly room, feels like a cathedral to an open society. But like courthouses throughout the country, the atrium is now filled with ungainly security equipment and a massive police presence.

The outdoor plaza should have opened immediately after the building was completed. But inspectors found a defect in the floors beneath the plaza which hold a two-story parking garage. An investigation revealed that the rebar was not in the correct location causing the floors to dip. “No one understands why it was consistently in the wrong place,” said project director Fred Wilmers. “It took a long time for the contractor to fess up and to make sure that they fixed it. This was an excuse for not having the plaza open.”

Wilmers said that all the repairs have been made and after the Department of Buildings completes inspections, the plaza should finally open. But judging from the intense security, one has to wonder whether the court police and the NYPD will be willing to ever open it. Access to a rooftop garden over the assembly room has already been vetoed. “I’m a little hopeful that [the plaza] will eventually be opened, but it remains a question. It’s very easy for people to rally behind safety,” said Wilmers. So as the plaza continues to gesture openness to the neighborhood, real transparency remains hard to access.

Tom Stoelker


The climate-controlled courtyard at the Morgan Library & Museum.
Michel Denancé
 

The Morgan Library Expansion
Renzo Piano Building Workshop
Beyer Blinder Belle
The Morgan Library & Museum

By its very nature as a climate-controlled environment, the 2006 Renzo Piano-designed Morgan Library & Museum runs around the clock, so maintenance is an ongoing process. And the same design and engineering team remains on call. “For such a sophisticated building, it is actually performing pretty well,” said Richard Southwick of Beyer Blinder Belle (BBB), architect of record for the project. His respect for its success focuses on the automatic solar control that programs rolling shades in the atrium, which respond to and control the natural daylight. “The introduction and mitigation of light isn't unusual for projects by Renzo Piano, but for a museum it is,” said Southwick. “Most museums are white boxes, with very little natural light.”

In the beginning, the software controlling the shades had to be re-programmed to maintain the appropriate temperature for the building's sensitive holdings. “There was a shaking off period,” said Southwick of the tweaks and adjustments necessary during the first few months. He also mentions the large skylights that suffered water leakage and had to be refitted. “On such a large project, things that weren't constructed per spec are prone to problems,” he said. Indeed, complex systems that underpin the Morgan have been a model of precision design, but the more prosaic, low-tech aspects have proved less stable over the years. “We imported many components from all around the world,” said Southwick, referring to the counterbalance doors at the front of the Madison Avenue building. “For something as simple as a hinge door, it might have been better produced locally.” Meanwhile, the bronze doors on Madison Avenue have a tendency to jar. “It's been a chronic issue,” said Southwick.


The below-grade auditorium.
 
 

Lord Doug Mass of Cosentini, the project engineers, echoes Southwick's satisfaction with the functioning of these details as well as with the design's ability to hide features that are working the hardest. Mass cites, specifically, the displacement ventilation system, which is secreted into the structure. The specially designed mechanism filters cool air into the atrium at floor level depending on how many people are populating it, and has worked almost flawlessly. The limitations of the site—essentially a glass-box connector between the two early 20th-century buildings—have informed the level of scrutiny in design. “Everything is knitted together because we had no other choice,” said Mass, noting that 80,000 of the Morgan’s 136,000 square feet are nestled below grade in a bathtub underground that is the first of its kind at that scale in New York. “It had to be failsafe,” said Southwick.

Gwen Webber


Courtesy Albanese Organization
 

The Solaire, Verdesian, and Visionaire
Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects
SLCE Architects
Albanese Organization

Manicured waterfront parks and quiet cul-de-sacs may lend Battery Park City a retro-suburban gloss, but in terms of environmental design it has long been a model of forward planning. The residential towers, Solaire (2003), Verdesian (2006), and Visionaire (2008) are the products of the same team of developer, architect, contractor, and an army of enlightened consultants making the set of three built over six years an effective testing ground for what does and doesn’t work in sustainable residential construction.

In 2000 the Battery Park City Authority developed the basic green guidelines that made the 27-story Solaire rental the nation’s first green residential high-rise. It has photovoltaics recycled from computer disks armoring the bulkhead and decorating the facade producing a fairly modest amount of electricity for common areas, a basement black-water system, gas-absorption chillers, micro turbine heat recovery and fresh air duct systems, sensor lighting, extensive green roofs, and public areas decked in bamboo, cork, wheat grass rugs and a full array of recyclable materials. The building was pre-LEED in 2003, but it achieved an impressive LEED Platinum rating as an existing building in 2009.

On a recent tour Michael Gubbins, building manager for all three towers developed by the Albanese Organization, noted some of the lessons learned and design changes across the three towers. To meet on-site electric supply requirements, the Solaire deployed photovoltaics and so does the Verdesian, where they were combined with a micro turbine, while the Visionaire tops that with integrated PV’s, a micro turbine, and regenerator elevators. In addition, the Visionaire was able to take advantage of a large-panel curtain wall system (with 4,500 square feet of integrated PV-paneling) that didn’t exist for residential buildings five years ago.

   
Left to right: The Solaire; the Visionaire; the Verdesian.
 

Gubbins noted that PV’s “take longer than anything else to justify the cost.”  They are most valuable as a high-visibility “signifier to the public that the builder is thinking differently.”  Indeed, some 7,000 people have toured the Solaire. While both the Solaire and Verdesian generate about the same 5% from their PV panels, Gubbins said that easy-to-install micro turbines deliver the same with the added advantage that the resultant heat can be recycled—always a big plus in the green scheme of things. Also of limited advantage are the heliostats on the roof of the 25-story Verdesian that are intended to bounce daylight into the sun-deprived courtyard between buildings. Their focused light beams look like they might be better at frying ants.

Rafael Pelli of Pelli Clarke Pelli noted that for him one of the more intensive learning experiences concerned fresh air delivery.  Before the Solaire, he said, fresh air ventilation basically was non-existent in high-rise residential buildings. The issue was to find an efficient way to induct fresh air—for which there are no codes or standards—and not have it automatically carried off by constant-running exhaust mechanisms that have long been mandatory. The Solaire brings a steady fresh air flow in to a single source vent, but the team was able to make adjustments so that at the Visionaire it is possible to flow fresh air efficiently into every room and all public spaces. “It took a lot of research and analysis to figure that one out,” said Pelli. “In the process, we leaned how to be aggressive at testing performance. The secret is working it out at the front end through intense collaborations with the specialized consultants. It made real change happen.” One thing didn’t change at all: the water tanks on the roof are still as efficient as ever, using laws of gravity to deliver water to the apartments below.

Julie V. Iovine

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The Stimulus Blues
Rendering of Santiago Calatrava's PATH Station at the World Trade Center.
Courtesy LMDC

Obama’s jobs speech was music to the ears, but for architects the music is still playing in another room.

Perhaps you sat up at the president’s call for a “world class transportation system” competitive with China’s, and salivated at the prospect of “modernizing” 35,000 schools (although Obama quickly established the modest scale of renovation at fixing roofs and caulking windows and “installing science labs”.) Rebuilding schools still comes closer to design work than filling potholes. It was slightly dispiriting to hear Obama quickly—in the next breathe, actually—go from talk of re-establishing our status as an “economic superpower” through rebuilding to citing a trucking bridge in Ohio in need of a fix. (Sounds like the powerful U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lobby is still calling the shots.)

Obama did not once utter the word “infrastructure” in his speech although some tealeaf readers found implied support for the Infrastructure Bank that architects once thought was going to be the ticket to the kind of ambitious capital investments in which they long to participate—housing, courthouses, libraries, and multi-modal transportation hubs. Many more architects seemed resigned to the fact that the second stimulus, like the first, is going to pass architects by, because the work of making architecture—that’s vertical construction in job-friendly speak—with all the advance prep work from site analysis to public review, takes too long at a time when the economy needs immediate help.

But could it also be that the president believes the American public is wary of Grand Projects, and therefore of capital-A architecture? Two New York projects could easily fuel that impression: One is “New York by Gehry.”

The problem is not that Frank Gehry’s shimmery supertower doesn’t add some glamorous swag to the skyline: it most certainly does. The sorry part is the awful brick box that Gehry designed for the public school at the base. For the rental tower, he was working with $875 million. Surely he could have insisted on spreading some of the joy to the public school. He had the chance to show the world that superstar though he be, he can still do the amazing with a small budget. As it happened, Swanke Hayden Connell did their best with $65 million to fit out more than decent interiors for which they are getting zero credit. At the first day of school, it was Bloomberg and Gehry welcoming the kids. In other words, it was the usual architecture as marketing.

More worrisome still is the World Trade Center transit hub by Santiago Calatrava. If Obama never said infrastructure, he did say transportation, several times. Now under construction, most would agree that Calatrava’s hub will be world class, some ten long years after breaking ground. But as far as stimulus, this winged white elephant is an egregious overproduction. And as soon as the political group hug—also known as the tenth anniversary of 9/11—is a few weeks behind us, someone is going to start wondering why this station serving 80,000 PATH commuters—originally budgeted for $1.9 billion with expected completion by 2006—is now costing $3.44 billion (the memorial and museum cost $925 million). Charles Bagli of The New York Times—the first canary in the coal mine?—notes that Penn Station serves seven times as many people. There is a real danger of this project becoming a Red Letter A for architectural extravagance, and precisely the kind of fancy work that the country cannot afford. And that’s a real pity because the disappointing Spruce Street School cereal box and the bloated transit-osaur do not represent the highly engaged and smart long-term planning that most architects we write about today are working towards. I wish Obama had had some words of encouragement for the important work they are already doing, stimulus or not.

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We Made It
Joe Woolhead

The Architect’s Newspaper published its first issue two years and two months after the tragedy of 9/11/01. By that November 2003, the process of envisioning plans for the site—still called Ground Zero—had reached one of several nadirs: the architects of One World Trade Center—at that time, the Freedom Tower—were not on speaking terms; Governor Pataki was ignoring the recommendations of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, the agency officially charged with sorting out what best to do; and the finalists for the memorial competition had just been announced to tepid response.

It was a rich time for a news organization to wade into the details of how things get done in the city. Now as the tenth anniversary of 9/11 approaches, it seems that every pundit on the planet is weighing in on the emerging results of those tumultuous years, recalling sometimes inaccurately what happened, when, and why. We decided to dig up all of our own coverage from printed pages and on the web, filling in as needed from the Port Authority and LMDC’s archived press releases and such sharply detailed accounts as Philip Nobel’s intellectually knuckle-whitening 16 Acres, to make a contemporaneous timeline.

It proved to be a chastening, even stomach churning, exercise to relive even from a distance the sordid disagreements, the political posturing, and wrenching disillusions as they revealed all too clearly a complete collapse of confidence that anything inspiring, appropriate, or up to world-class standards was going to be rebuilt at the site.

But that time seems past. After several visits from our offices—now just three blocks away from the World Trade Center site, thanks to the Empire State Development Action Plan assisting small businesses in the area—the feeling is very different. In the rank upon rank of nearly grown trees, the measured pacing and pattern of granite pavers that draw all-comers from every direction inexorably toward the vast footprints, the names carved deep into the parapet stone that will be kept cool to the touch in summer and warm and ice-free in winter, there is both dignity and poetry.

Whether this is the result of design or the extreme care so obviously taken in construction and installation—special cranes had to be invented for installing the trees in their customized ground holes—it is hard to say. Certainly, the architecture built so far is compromised. One World Trade Center has been repeatedly assaulted with demands to make the base more bomb resistant—in spite of a growing awareness that prevention and deterrence before contact is the more effective security measure—and less expensive. The Snøhetta building is little more than a shed for the massive vents, mechanical equipment, and staircase serving the 98,000 square foot museum designed by Aedes (formerly Davis Brody Bond) beneath ground. Not the ambitious memorial structure as envisioned, it is still a much-needed focal point for the flat expanse between the plunging footprints. In fact, across the site, still bathed in sunlight for now, the impression is that the designs may not be spectacular visions of 21st century architecture, but they are strong enough to carry the weight all the city, not to mention tourists, will bring to bear on it over time. And sheer durability may be the best that any architecture can offer in the long run.

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Making Meaning
Courtesy Silverstein
 

2001

November
Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC) established.

December
[ 01 ] A viewing platform overlooking ground zero designed by Diller & Scofidio, David Rockwell, and Kevin Kennon opens to large crowds.

 

AN 02_12.08.2003 > Read full article.

“Surely, we can afford to make Ground Zero a place of peaceable assembly for everyone. Indeed, if terror demands a civic reply, what better than a solemn memorial to those lost and a space for the most fundamental exercise of democracy in space, the freedom to gather in a place that is our own.”
-Michael Sorkin, Architect




AN 14_09.07.2004 > Read full article.

“The first and most difficult problem is so obvious that it is amazing that none of the brilliant architects assembled in the design competition dealt with the issue. The site of Ground Zero slopes down 30 feet from Broadway to West Street and the Hudson. This means that the site must be dealt with as a series of platforms from east to west and that north-south cross streets like Church and Greenwich must act as a series of steps across the site. Minoru Yamasaki’s World Trade Center design for the PA completely ignored the island’s topography.”
-D. Grahame Shane, Professor




AN 16_10.05.2005 > Read full article.

“Over the past two years, the tower has gradually been stripped of its best attributes. The final blow was delivered earlier this summer by the New York Police Department, which forced a total redesign when it demanded a greater setback from the street and a heavy barricade to resist potential bombs. Now, just after the fourth anniversary of 9/11, the Freedom Tower has become a bland prism with a forbidding 200-foot-high concrete base.”
-Jonathan Massey, Historian










2002

January 17
The exhibition, “A New World Trade Center - Design Proposals,” 58 submissions by celebrated architects, draws long lines to Max Protetch Gallery in Chelsea.

April
LMDC releases Blueprint for the Future of Lower Manhattan with 15 points outlining the need for transportation, culture, commerce, memorial space, and a reestablished connection to the city grid.

July
Beyer Blinder Belle present planning studies at the Javits Center, plus two New Urbanism-inspired plans by Peterson Littenberg. All are widely reviled by the public and in the media.

August
LMDC announces Innovative Design Study, a call for qualifications. That it is not a competition is disregarded by all parties.

September
Teams are announced: THINK led by Frederick Schwartz and Rafael Viñoly; Peter Eisenman, Richard Meier, Steven Holl, and Charles Gwathmey; Foster & Partners; United Architects; SOM; and Studio Daniel Libeskind.

December
[ 02 ] The six designs are presented in the Winter Garden starting with Studio Daniel Libeskind’s “Memory Foundations,” the cheapest proposal at $330 million.

2003

February 24
On the eve of LMDC’s selection, Schwartz, Viñoly, and Libeskind appear on Oprah Winfrey Show.

February 26
[ 03 ]The New York Times announces on page one that LMDC has chosen the THINK scheme.

February 27
Governor George Pataki officially selects the Libeskind plan.

April
An open competition for the memorial is announced.

June
By deadline, 5,201 proposals for the memorial are submitted.

July
After it is reported that developer Larry Silverstein’s architect David Childs from SOM and masterplan architect Libeskind cannot be left alone in the same room, LMDC announces that Childs and Libeskind are official collaborators on the $1.2 billion office, now named the Freedom Tower by Governor Pataki.

November
Libeskind floats a 59-page treatment for a memoir: “The Foundations of Optimism: My Journey from Communist Poland to Rebuilding the World Trade Center” that will ultimately be published as Breaking Ground: An Immigrant’s Journey from Poland to Ground Zero (Riverhead Trade) in October 2005.

November
Eight finalists for the memorial competition are announced.

December
[ 04 ] Revised design for the Freedom Tower is released.

2004

January
[ 05 ] The Federal Transit Administration announces that Santiago Calatrava will design the WTC transportation hub.

[ 06 ] Libeskind’s Wedge of Light concept is displaced by and then absorbed into the transit hub.

January
[ 07 ] Michael Arad’s “Reflecting Absence,” now a collaborative work with landscape designer Peter Walker is selected for the memorial. The design does not include several Libeskind ideas, including the sunken bathtub and ramps. The focus on the tower footprints includes the names of those who died viewed through waterfalls.

March
Shortlists name potential institutions for the site’s cultural component: a 50,00-70,000-square-foot Memorial Complex (Museum of the City of New York; New York Historical Society; New York State Museum; Project Rebirth; Sound Portraits Productions); a 100,000-200,000-square-foot Performing Arts Complex (The Joyce Theater; New York City Opera; Signature Theater Company; Orpheus Chamber Orchestra; Tribeca Film Institute); and a 200,000–250,000- square-foot Cultural Building (Children’s Museum of the Arts; Drawing Center; Museum of Freedom; New York Hall of Science).

July 4
[ 08 ] Governor Pataki attends the ceremonial laying of a 20-ton block of granite as cornerstone of the Freedom Tower that will be removed again in June 2006.

April
Davis Brody Bond join the Arad/Walker team as associate architect for the Memorial, eventually becoming the architects of the underground Memorial Museum.

June
Tenants selected for the Museum Complex are the International Freedom Center and The Drawing Center. The Performing Arts Complex is to house the Joyce and the Signature theaters.

August
Shortlist of six firms for the Memorial Complex is released, including Moshe Safdie and Associates; Pei Cobb Freed and Partners; Polshek Partnership; Robbrecht en Daem architects with Pasanella and Klein; Stolzman and Berg Architects; Shigeru Ban Architect + Frei Otto with Dean Maltz Architect; and Snøhetta.

August
The shortlist for the Performing Arts Complex includes ten firms: Bing Thom Architects with Meyer/Gifford/Jones architects, Gehry Partners; Moshe Safdie and Associates; OMA and LMN; Polshek Partnership; Rafael Viñoly Architects; Schmidt, Hammer & Lassen; Studio Daniel Libeskind; Ten Arquitectos and H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture; and Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects.

October
Snøhetta is selected to design the Memorial Complex, largely comprised of the the International Freedom Center; Frank Gehry is to design the performing arts complex for the Joyce and the Signature theaters.

2005

May
[ 09 ]Snøhetta’s design for the Memorial Complex is circulated.

June
New York Police Department concerns about vehicular bomb forces Childs to rework base of Freedom Tower.

August
The Drawing Center withdraws over controversial plans to restrict exhibition content at the site.

September
Governor Pataki evicts the Freedom Center from the site. Officials say that the Snøhetta building will now be used in connection with the underground memorial museum.

December
Norman Foster’s design for Tower 2 is unveiled.

2006

February
[ 10 ] Debate erupts over the cost and viability of the waterfalls in the footprints in wintertime. A $175,000 prototype is constructed to resolve the issue. In the final musuem design, the names are moved to the parapets surrounding the waterfalls that are no longer viewable from within the museum now located under the footprints.

April
Silverstein cedes control of the now $2 billion Freedom Tower to the Port Authority (PA).

April
[ 11 ] National Trust for Historic Preservation puts a twin tower original staircase still on the site on the Most Endangered List before it is razed to make way for constructions of Foster’s Tower 2. Renamed “Survivor Stair,” it is given to the memorial museum.

May
7 World Trade Center opens with three tenants: the New York Academy of Sciences, Ameriprise Financial, and Vantone Real Estate. Jenny Holzer’s eight hour stream of LED poetry and prose is featured in the lobby.

June
[ 12 ] Childs unveils revised Freedom Tower with concrete base clad in prismatic glass and aluminum..

June 21
LMDC receives a $2.78 billion block grant from HUD. Concerns about costs result in construction company owner Frank Sciame being asked to convenea design review panel. He invites Rick Bell, Thom Mayne, among others to evaluate the memorial in order to bring cost down to the $500 million cap established by Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Pataki.

September
[ 13 ] Tower designs by Norman Foster, Fumihiko Maki, and Richard Rogers released.

2007

July
Freedom Tower is now called 1 World Trade Center, and Durst Organization takes over leasing.

August 18
While the Deutsche Bank building is dismantled, a fire breaks out and results in the death of two firefighters.

2008

September
[ 14 ] Snøhetta’s revised design is now for a pavilion entrance to the National Sept 11 Memorial and Museum.

October
PA announces simplified plans for the site. In addition to the scaled-back Snøhetta project, Calatrava’s transit hub is pared to essential elements but still budgeted at $3.2 billion.

2009

March
PA announces that rebuilding at the World Trade Center will create 72,202 construction jobs over 10 years and $16.4 billion in economic activity.

March 19
PA and the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church that was demolished on 9/11 deadlock over negotiations to rebuild the church just east of its original site plus a $20 million subsidy.

March 26
Vantone, a Chinese real estate company, is announced to be the first major tenant for One World Trade Center.

November
Silverstein and PA wage on-going battles over financing and the leasing of Towers 2 and 3.

2010

March
[ 16 ] PA and Silverstein reach an agreement calling, in part, for the developer to raise $300 million in private investment to access $200 million each from the City, State, and PA.

August
[ 15 ] Fueled by Internet activists, an international uproar engulfs the plans of an established Tribeca mosque to move into a former Burlington Coat Factory two blocks from the World Trade Center site.

2011

May
Conde Nast Publications is announced as a tenant for One World Trade Center.

May
The prismatic glass base of One World Trade Center is scaled back. PA claims it is too difficult to manufacture, while Childs privately complains of cost cutting.

August
LMDC announces that a board for the Performing Arts Complex will be selected by the end of the year. LMDC will contribute $155 million toward the $400-500 million cost.

August
[ 17 ] One World Trade Center reaches 960 feet.

 

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Blast of Personal Truth from Port Authority's Chris Ward
Far from the expected pablum that these events usually generate, Chris Ward, executive director of the Port Authority, gave a speech opening the New York Building Congress yesterday loaded to bear with fight, a lot of Good Fight, demanding continued federal funding for infrastructure. Along the way, he recalls his own version of the tortured path from Ground Zero grind to the Memorial Moment of meditation to come. It's quite a version and well worth a close read as he "recalls" Libeskind's master plan as "gardens in the sky" and how that was "replaced with another vision, as realities of the site, the market" set in. Then he talks about "Breaking Away from Monumentalism" and "The Assessment" thanks to the Port Authority, which may or may not be the stinking months of pissing match between PA and Silverstein as they wrangled about responsibility for building the first then the other towers. Sit back—but fasten your seat belt—You'll be amazed to read what you went through: Welcome I want to start by thanking Dick Anderson and the New York Building Congress for the invitation to speak here today. For over 90 years, the New York Building Congress has championed infrastructure investments and supported the Port Authority in its mission. Their most recent report “Building Infrastructure Pays Dividends” quantifies just how important this type of investment is. Introduction In twelve days, the world will gather Downtown to remember and commemorate the nearly 3,000 people who were lost on September 11th, 2001. It will be ten years. When the family members gather alongside President Obama, Governor Cuomo, Governor Christie and Mayor Bloomberg on that day, they will place their hands on the bronze parapets etched with the names of those we lost. They will see the fountains flowing into the voids of the original World Trade Center. They will walk among the hundreds of Swamp Oak trees planted on the plaza. This, frankly, is a remarkable achievement. It is a testament to the discipline and hard work of Port Authority engineers, our partners and the construction workers toiling on site. For many who lost their loved ones, this event may not bring closure. The attacks of September 11th were so devastating that closure may never be the appropriate word to describe how we come to terms with that terrible day. But I believe that the tenth anniversary does represent a significant inflection point. Dates are important. And on this anniversary, I believe the opening of the Memorial Plaza represents the end of the World Trade Center site’s past and the beginning of its future. For the first time, the public will be able to walk among the trees and fountains and in so doing, begin the important process of weaving this Memorial at the heart of the site into the fabric of New York City. Today, I want to talk about how the Port Authority stepped back from a difficult conversation about what the World Trade Center should be, stripped the site of what I call monumentalism, and focused on construction, of what it could be. I will then talk about how the challenges that we have faced at the site are unfortunately part of what I would call the deterioration of the social contract. And I will argue that in order to build the next generation of critical infrastructure projects, we need to restore a critical constituency – the pragmatic center. If we are again to become a nation, a City, of builders, current politics cannot endure; we will not only lose the public works that made us great, we will lose our democratic center that has bound us as a nation. A New Downtown On the 10th anniversary, the public will get its first real look at the New Downtown. They will see the Memorial Plaza, a place of profound tranquility for those who lost a loved one and wish to honor their memory. To read a name. But the Memorial Plaza, with 8 acres of unique green space, four times the size of Bryant Park, will also be the heart of a New Downtown. It will be a shaded park for office workers to grab a sandwich; a place for a couple to meet in the early evening before a date; or, a shortcut on a rainy day. It will be New York. The Port Authority’s investments will yield the magnificent Calatrava Transportation Hub, which will redefine the commuter experience, connecting 13 subway lines, 33 bus routes, the PATH system and our Ferry Terminal – the most mass transit connections anywhere in New York City. With our new partners from Westfield, this new site will house world-class retail and restaurants throughout nearly 500,000 square feet in total. With more retail space than the Time Warner Center, this – together with a collection of new public parks – will make Downtown the 24/7 community that Mayor Bloomberg, Shelly Silver and the community have long envisioned. And finally, with One World Trade Center, New York will have a new exclamation point in the sky. One World Trade Center will be Downtown’s counterpoint to the Empire State Building in Midtown, restoring that balance to the skyline. New Yorkers take pride in their skyscrapers, and as the building reaches its towering apex, it will become a vital part of daily life in this City. The site will be open, it will be democratic, it will be a clear demonstration of the City’s energy and vitality. It will be the New Downtown. Monumentalism at the World Trade Center But this reality was not always a foregone conclusion. For many years after the attacks, the World Trade Center site was bogged down by what I call “monumentalism.” The tension between the visions of monumentalism and the recurring reality of failure, of visions and plans unrealized, is not unique to the World Trade Center. It has been present throughout the City’s history. Think of the colossal vision for a huge East Side development for the United Nations – what was then dubbed “X-City” – a plan to build six skyscrapers, three housing complexes, one hotel, an opera hall, a yacht landing and a heliport. That monumental vision was ultimately reduced to the more practical size we see today. Even the original plan for the World Trade Center was not the 16-acre site on the west side, but a huge low-slung complex taking up most of the East Side highway. But think also of those visions that were realized. That today define New York. I think it is fair to say that Olmstead’s monumental vision for Central Park defines New York perhaps more than any other project. But what would New York City’s urbanism be without Rockefeller Center? Think about the transformation still underway at Battery Park City. So we have seen monumentalism succeed triumphantly and we have seen it fail spectacularly. Through the early years, the World Trade Center straddled this divide between success and failure. Think of the early days after the attack, the City itself launched into a collective exercise to fill the void. Seeking the visions of world-class architects, eight plans were put forth. Some so out of context, in terms of shape or form, they went well beyond reimagining the City. Think about how Downtown was described at the time, the very language that was used to describe the vision. There was the rhetoric of patriotism, of national pride, of sending a message – that New York must be number one again. Leaders and elected officials spoke time and again of the monumental need to build a new downtown. And so, in 2003, the Libeskind Master Plan was adopted. Soaring glass towers, glinting sunlight, gardens in the sky, sunken highways, and a vast memorial space. But soon that plan was replaced with another vision, as the realities of the site, the market, and what it might actually look like began to set in. I would argue that what filled out that Master Plan became even more monumental, as the City poured its whole civic heart into the site. And so came the tallest skyscraper in America, 10 million square feet of office space, a museum and memorial of such breadth and power, a new street grid, the third-largest transportation hub in the city, and a performing arts center. It was all to be there, on sixteen acres, linked together in one monumental project. And it was all to rise at once. Breaking Away From Monumentalism [PS! You know who you are!] By time I became Executive Director, the monumentalism of the World Trade Center Site Plan – the tension between its soaring vision and the realities of construction – had reached a breaking point. At that point, what we had was a beautiful set of renderings, but very few blueprints. So the Port Authority undertook a comprehensive assessment of the World Trade Center project. [PS! Some might say The Assessment was May 2006 when Guv Pataki and Mayor Bloomberg brought in Frank Sciame to figure out how to keep Memorial in line with promised $500 million budget.] As we undertook the Assessment, there was a desire in some corners to reverse the trajectory of the seven years since 9/11, to wipe the slate clean and start again. But, as we quickly realized, there was no rewind button to undo the billions of dollars already committed. What we could do, however, was level with the public about the circumstances on the ground and be forthright about cost, schedule and risks. We were candid about the difficult challenges facing the site. Then we went out began attacking each one. Before the Assessment, the 9/11 Memorial was not scheduled to open until 2013. This was simply unacceptable. But by setting a clear priority – to actually open on the ten year anniversary – the Port Authority engineers did what engineers do best. They solved the problem, seeing a whole new way to approach the job. Instead of building the Transportation Hub from the bottom up, we switched the design to build it from the top down. This way, the Hub’s roof, which doubles as the Memorial Plaza’s floor, would be finished in time for the ten-year anniversary. From there, we re-engineered the Transportation Hub itself, simplifying the beautiful, yet extraordinarily complex Calatrava design [P.S.! Still costs over $3.2 billion dollars]. And we completely restructured our procurement process – the way we buy and implement the billions of dollars of construction contracts – going from a huge single package of work with no real milestones and little accountability to multiple smaller packages that we competitively bid to a hungry market. It is amazing what a little competition can do. I often compare the site to an enormous game of pickup sticks, where you can’t change anything without affecting the entire site. Over the past years, the Port Authority and our partners – the 9/11 Memorial Foundation, Silverstein Properties and the hundreds of contractors on site – have gotten very good at playing pickup sticks. I want to personally thank Joe Daniels and Larry Silverstein for their partnership in getting us to this point. It has truly been a team effort. Aside from the creative engineering solutions we implemented, we also made other, more symbolic decisions to reposition the site. Perhaps no other action speaks to this more than our renaming the Freedom Tower to One World Trade Center. The name Freedom Tower loomed over the site, carrying all the symbolism and monumentalism of those early years after the attack. From a real estate perspective, it loaded the site with a difficult image that experts said would make it hard to lease. So we replaced the name “Freedom Tower” and the building’s address, “One World Trade Center.” We were free before 9/11, and we are free today. Just like we had to start treating the World Trade Center site like a construction project, we had to start treating this building like a commercial office building. Making Progress at the World Trade Center Site On the heels of these important decisions, the Port Authority began to make striking progress at the World Trade Center. In 2008, the site was still defined by the family ramp down to the pit. Today, progress at the World Trade Center is advancing on every inch of the site, and you can see and feel the difference. At the Memorial, workers are putting the final touches on the plaza. 225 trees are planted. Grass has gone in and we are getting ready to welcome the world on September 11th. When we published the Assessment in October 2008, our schedule anticipated the completion of the Memorial’s Visitors Center by the second quarter of 2013. As you can see, we are well ahead of schedule. The Visitors Center, which will serve as the entrance to the 9/11 Museum, is nearly complete. At One World Trade Center, we are now at the 80th floor. One World Trade Center is now the tallest building in Lower Manhattan at more than 960 feet above street level, surpassing 40 Wall Street. Floor slabs for One World Trade Center are at the 71st floor and the glass curtain wall is up to the 52nd floor. We are accelerating work on the World Trade Center Transportation Hub's concourse area in the East Bathtub and have made tremendous progress in the Main Hall. Larry Silverstein’s Tower 4 is rising rapidly in the southeast corner of the site, and the curtain wall provides a beautiful reflection of the Memorial’s South Fountain. And all this work is being performed by 3,500 construction workers. At a time when unemployment in this country is at unacceptable levels, the World Trade Center is truly a job creation engine in the region. So we are finally seeing tangible progress. This progress is happening in part because we learned the lessons from the difficulties of the early years – that it is better to focus less on the monumentalism of a project and more on hard and fast decisions like pragmatic design, construction milestones and budgets. The Evolution and Deterioration of the Social Contract But having spoken of this bright future for Downtown, I must share that I do not have the same optimism for both the City and the Country going forward. Like the World Trade Center, we can reverse course, but it will require a major correction in how we talk about infrastructure and how people come to understand their role in shaping this new agenda. Change we must. At times, I worry that America’s dewy eyed nostalgia can blur our real history, but think back to that incredible time of building in America – the Progressive Era. Emerging out of the good government movement – which swept out corruption and the power of political machines – we launched a revolution in infrastructure. It is no coincidence that the New York Subway System, Water Tunnel Number One and Grand Central, the hallmarks of a modern New York, were all opened at that time. It was the Progressive Era because we wanted change; the Nation and City understood its future lay ahead, not in some fixed idealized political past. And, out of this Era, a social contract was formed, establishing an American pragmatism – a center – that said we will endorse a government that, in fact, builds that better world. For the decades that followed, this country continued to build great works of public infrastructure. But that center is quickly vanishing. Across the country and in this region, we have seen both leaders and voters reject that vision. For all his vaunted optimism after the Carter years, Reagan also launched a darker strain in American politics, that somehow government itself is the problem, and that you can always do more with less. No doubt, that strain ran through Gingrich’s Contract With America, Grover Norquist’s No Tax Pledge, and to the Tea Party of today. But the left is not without its responsibility; too often, we have seen rigid opposition to social and private sector market innovation. Today, we are truly seeing the consequences of that slow deterioration of that social contract. The recent debt ceiling debate in Washington is the most depressing reminder. Without action, 90 years of infrastructure investment will be left without a future. But I believe, in a small way, The World Trade Center Project provides somewhat of a model for how we might restore that pragmatic center. In turning the site from a monument into a construction project, setting realistic budgets and deadlines, we were candid and transparent about how much it would cost and when it would be completed. For the public’s support and endorsement, that must be the foundation of all large-scale projects moving forward. Whether it was the early years of the Trade Center, or more dramatically, the Big Dig in Boston, the public has grown increasingly cynical of what we do. But shaped by a different narrative, not one simply characterized by boondoggles for what was obvious cost underestimating, the Big Dig was a huge success for Boston. Think of it: Two Major Tunnels, a brand new bridge, a beautiful park built over the highway, all of it linking Boston back to its historic waterfront. I would say they got their monies worth; what they did not get was realistic schedules and budgets. That is government’s responsibility. Restoring the Pragmatic Center But the public and each one of you have a responsibility as well. We all need to be a part of restoring that pragmatic center and changing the political conversation. The Port Authority recently sought to significantly raise its tolls and fares, and inserted itself into that conversation. In an instant, we became subsumed in the political environment I have been describing – one with little capacity to support the investment our region’s economic backbone so desperately needs. By the end of it, we emerged with a ten-year capital plan that in some ways is all too modest – one that keeps our transportation network in a state of good repair to be sure, but not one that expands it in any transformative way. That agenda was unthinkable in this environment. But what have we lost when the standard is not whether you can get to your job efficiently, fly around the world, ship billions of tons of cargo, or even build a brand new City downtown? No, it has become the price of a pair of blue jeans, the cost of a new TV. Surely, this cannot be the standard by which we judge or govern a great City. Unfortunately, you cannot always do more with less. Sometimes you must simply do more. And until that reality becomes part of our political conversation, we will be playing catch up with the rest of the world. Change we can. But change has to come from both government and its people. I have known many of you for years. I know what you stand for. What is important to you. You are the pragmatic center. I believe we can build the next generation of critical infrastructure projects, and I believe we can restore that social contract. But we need your help to get there. Conclusion At the World Trade Center today, we have proven that by restoring the public’s confidence, we can build big. By focusing on the decisions that really count, by putting aside monumentalism, we are ready to open the Memorial in 12 days, a goal that seemed unthinkable three years ago. But we are not just building a Memorial, we are delivering a vibrant city within a city – a sprawling Transportation Hub, the tallest skyscraper in North America, and the critical infrastructure to support it all. And while it is the Port Authority’s job to translate the site’s monumental vision into concrete, steel and glass, the World Trade Center will not be what a politician or a cultural leader tells you it should be. It will be what you make it. It will be your Downtown. Thank you.
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9/11 Memorial Plaza: How It Works
A decade after the 9/11 attacks, the public will soon be able to visit the site, much of which has been fully transformed into the 9/11 Memorial Plaza. While many were dispirited by the years of revisions to and deviations from the Libeskind master plan (which itself had many detractors), AN's recent visit to the plaza, crowded with workers laboring toward the anniversary opening, revealed a vast, contemplative space that we predict will function well as both a memorial and a public space. Next week AN will take a look at the design and offer a preview of the what the public can expect from the space, but, first, a look at how the highly engineered plaza works. With transit tunnels, mechanical systems, and much of the memorial museum located below the surface, the plaza itself could only be approximately six feet thick. Unlike the original World Trade Center Plaza, which many found to be barren and scorching or windswept, the Memorial Plaza is conceived of as an abstracted forest of Swamp White Oaks surrounding two monumental pools outlining the footprints of the original towers. Designed by Michael Arad and Peter Walker Partners, with Aedas, the plaza will include approximately 400 trees, 215 of which will be in place for the opening. About one third of the plaza has yet to be constructed, while the Santiago Calatrava designed PATH station is being completed. Plaza plantings are arranged in bands, alternating between bands of pavers and bands of trees, grass, and ground cover. This creates both a unifying visual language for the large plaza and a highly rational system for organizing the mechanical and irrigation systems on the site. Between the planting bands, accessible utility corridors house electrical and security equipment. Drainage troughs divide the planting bands from the utility corridors. The whole plaza acts as a vast stormwater collection tray. The plaza is very carefully graded to channel stormwater into the drainage troughs. Rainwater is collected in cisterns below and recirculated in the plaza's drip irrigation system as well as funnelled into the memorial fountain. The trees grow in a lightweight mixture of sand, shale, and worm casings. Growing and installing the plaza's oaks has been a long process. Given the pace of slow construction, the trees, which have been cultivated at a nursery in New Jersey, are much larger now, most standing around 25 feet tall. Trees were hauled onto the site with cranes and then placed in the planting beds with a specially designed lift. Tree roots will spread laterally, filling in the planting bands, and designers believe they will eventually reach 60 to 80 feet in height. The roots are anchored with bracing under the stone pavers. While the PATH station is being completed, the remaining unfinished plaza is still an uncovered construction site, inaccessible to the public. According to Matthew Donham, a partner at Peter Walker, the construction of that portion of the plaza will be even thinner in depth. Aside from an expansion joint, there will be no visible difference between the two sides.