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.
Posts tagged with "World Trade Center":
Hurricane Irene was no match for tenth anniversary preparations at the World Trade Center site. In fact, some are claiming that the storm could have been a good thing for the soon-to-be-open memorial site. Joseph Daniels, president and CEO of the Memorial Foundation, told The Observer that all the trees on the site, including the Survivor Tree, made it out of the storm unscathed. And at a depth of only six feet, the eight-acre plaza "lid" did seem quite vulnerable just a few days ago. While there was some minor flooding and dripping underneath the plaza, Daniels said, there was no major damage. If anything, Daniels was saw Irene's drips in a glass half full, pushing the project slightly ahead of schedule: "All the preparations we did in preparing for the storm actually helped prepare us for the opening, like removing excess equipment and temporary fencing that had been surrounding the pools."
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.
Amidst the flurry of activity surrounding the World Trade Center another monument is nearing completion, though this one is not exactly brand new. By the end of this week restorers of the Montgomery Monument at Trinity’s St. Paul’s Chapel will be securing the last arrow tip and guttae to the nation’s first monument. Major General Richard Montgomery died under British fire in 1775 leading the charge at the Battle of Quebec. Benjamin Franklin championed the monument to him from its design to its installation, in spite of the intervening war and paltry coffers. It was also Franklin who scouted the Versailles sculptor Jean-Jacques Caffieri. By 1776 he convinced the Continental Congress to commission the monument. After Caffieri completed the sculpture in 1777, Franklin had the chutzpa to show it off in Paris while the war still raged. One year from declaring independence and the young nation was already commemorating its own. For the remainder of the war the monument was stowed away in North Carolina. By 1787, it found its way to front of St. Paul’s and Pierre L’Enfant, the so-to-be planner of Washington D.C., oversaw the installation. Today, St. Paul’s has become of shrine of an entirely different sort. In the ten years after the 9/11 attacks the church took on the weight of becoming the de facto gathering place for millions of World Trade pilgrims. Its place at the nation’s birth, well documented as it may be, took a back seat to contemporary history. But colonial New York was never the city’s prime tourism draw. “We have no heritage trail. What are we going to see, where Washington lost Brooklyn? It would be a totally inverse heritage trail,” said Sally Webster, a professor emeritus at Lehman College CUNY, who recently wrote book on the monument. “We were a loyalist city.” The monument brings with it a historic subtext and dichotomy that fascinates Webster: that of a city that went from loyalist stronghold to the nation’s first capital in a span of a decade and a half. The monument is a rather restrained tribute with small baroque elements. There are not any literal representation of Montgomery. Instead, two limestone carvings that cluster at the base of the column depict symbols of a heroic warrior: shields, a helmet, club, arrows, oak branches and a broken sword. Between this confection a staid rose column rises to support an urn in front of flat obelisk carved of St. Anne des Pyreenees, a heavily veined gray marble from France. The years since Washington sat in the chapel have been unkind to the monument. Amanda Trienens, senior conservator at Integrated Conservation Resources, said the stone was originally highly polished and was described as red, white, blue, and black. She added that over time carbonate stones, like the marble used on the monument, dissolves on the surface creating the monochromatic pastel effect. “There was a question of do we bring it back to the high polish, or do we retain some of the aging, so we struck a balance,” said Trienens. “We did a honing to remove some of the rough surfaces that refracts from the light.” But the restorers, along with the client and the Landmarks Preservation Commission decided against retuning it its original luster, allowing the patina of time to win out over gloss.
It's been several weeks since our last visit to the World Trade Center site. On our return today we were taken with the manner in which different architects handle ventilation at the site. The most obvious example are the two large vent structures that protrude from the west side of the Memorial Plaza. The concrete buildings are a necessary solution to a complicated infrastructure problem. Davis Brody Bond (now Aedas) designed a mesh mask for the concrete structures and workers were putting the finishing touches on south building today. Snøhetta's Museum Pavilion also holds more than 13,000 square feet of mechanical functions, and it too must vent. In the last couple of weeks the protective plastic was pealed off building, and it appears that openings for vents merge into the metallic pattern on the south face of the building. But perhaps the most elegant solution we saw today came as a surprise. Tower 4 has been racing skyward for a while now; we noted the glass facing the plaza went up a few weeks ago. But it was a delight to see how Fumihiko Maki's vertical vents play off reflective glass panels on the buildings south face, bringing much needed light to a dark section of Liberty Street.
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An abstract vision of the site's future is also a high-tech marketing display.As work at the World Trade Center site progresses steadily, a matryoshka-like replica of it has taken shape on the 10th floor of 7 World Trade. With a view of the construction below, the Silverstein Properties marketing suite occupies the same floor as the WTC architects’ annex offices, providing a tableau of the working architects as well as the completed site to prospective tenants of towers Two, Three, and Four. Scaled architecture studio Radii Inc. have been designing models of the site since its earliest phases, so Silverstein’s senior VP of marketing and communications approached Radii partners Ed Wood and Leszek Stefanski with his conceptual ideas for the diorama. “He wanted it to be big,” said Wood. “Our first questions was, ‘What are the ceiling heights?’” With 14-foot ceilings and 25 square feet of floor space, the team mapped out a footprint of Lower Manhattan from Chambers to Albany streets on the north and south and from Hudson to just past City Hall from west to east. Radii then began to experiment with varying levels of details and abstraction for the WTC buildings. “When you abstract a building, it can be as challenging as making it photo-real,” said Wood. “How do you distill it down to an iconic replica but still have it read as a whole?” They decided to render the models in ⅜-inch cast acrylic with a P-95 finish, a factory matte that lends a frosted appearance to the crystalline forms. More than 60 sheets of 4-by-8-foot acrylic went into the full model. Fenestration is laser-scored on the exterior, and interiors contain ghosts of interior floor plates and cores. Only details that point to the essence of each design are included: Roger’s structural ladder accentuates its verticality, while Calatrava’s transportation hub is distilled into a bony spine and Snøhetta’s visitors center into a gestural representation of the building’s gradated skin. Towers are lit with interior columns wired with rows of LEDs, a concept developed, along with a backlit transparency of the street grid and subway lines, in collaboration with an exhibit electronics technician. Each LED color identifies separate leasing zones, allowing marketing presentations to control the display via iPad. Even with a two-month design process and thousands of parts to be pre-assembled, labeled, disassembled, wrapped, and transported to the marketing suite, the entire installation took place over a long weekend, in time for a post-Memorial Day opening. Ultimately, though, Wood said the biggest challenge was making sure his team had the latest information about the ever-changing World Trade Center site and building designs. As a result, Radii became a sort of clearinghouse for the latest details, often fielding calls seeking the most privileged information. “We even get calls asking how many trees are on the site,” said Wood. “There are 463. And they will grow to 60 feet when they are mature.”
A Little Help from Friends. You can generate beautiful images in Revit. Marc Teer of Black Spectacles says that with a little patience and help from other programs, pretty pictures are possible. Teer advises that certain elements, such as line weight, take a little legwork, but other elements, such as the level of detail, can be managed within the program. Finally, take it over to Illustrator and InDesign to clean up overlaps and polish your drawing off with a wider array of fancy font choices. Public Transit. Who says Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey doesn't endorse alternative transportation? The Star Ledger reports that the governor rode a spanking new State Police helicopter to his son's baseball game yesterday. Branding Transit. If all of us had a state funded helicopter at our disposal, we wouldn't have to be convinced to take public transportation, but, alas... A new report from EMBARQ says that if public transport wants to compete with General Motors, then it had better go toe to toe with GM's $21 billion advertising budget. The World Resources Institute gives an overview of the report. (Via Planetizen.) Fill 'er up. The World Trade Center is doing just swell, thank you very much. With Anna Wintour and Graydon Carter planning to pull up in their big black Town Cars, Crain's reports that now UBS may pluck their staff from their Stamford, CT locale and put them up in one of the downtown towers.
In lower Manhattan, especially today when President Obama was in town to lay a wreath, the world's media was fast talking about Ground Zero. Very few call it the World Trade Center. The GZ term is so widely used that few think twice about it. And yet, just yesterday, a contingent of men and women responsible for rebuilding the World Trade Center braved the cold rain for a conference hosted by the Building Trade Employers Association (BTEA) and found themselves struck on the semantics of just those words. The event brought together the builders and suppliers of the 16 acre site for an update on building progress. Very little was said about the momentous events of the past week or the impending presidential visit, which, like the rain, was going to slow down work. This was a group with a singular focus: rebuilding. BTEA President and CEO Louis Coletti introduced speakers who in turn discussed a particular aspect of the project. But when one speaker referred to One World Trade as "the Freedom Tower," Chris Ward, the executive director of the Port Authority grimaced, held up his index finger to signify the number one and said, "It's One World Trade." With the event over, the room cleared. In the elevator down, a deputy informed Ward that the Daily News had twice reported that the president would be visiting "The Pit" on Thursday. Ward rolled his eyes, clearly exacerbated. So what's in a name? Well, if you had attended as many community meetings as Ward, you'd know. At one community meeting he attended in February, the residents of downtown Manhattan reiterated that they were tired of the 9/11 terminology used to describe their neighborhood. The memorial fountains have been in place for almost a year now. "The Pit" has been filled and trees are taking root. It's a memorial, not a pit. It's One World Trade, not the politically charged "Freedom Tower." And it's the World Trade Center, not Ground Zero.
It's been a couple of weeks since we stopped by the WTC site. The most striking aspect from the street remains the speed with which glass surfaces begin to rise. It seems like only yesterday that three stories of glass wrapped around Tower One. Now with ten stories completed, the quartz-like surfaces start to take shape. At the Memorial Museum, Snohetta's glass has flown up in what seems a matter of days. The facade already reflects the grove, whose trees continue their own march toward West Street.
Glass wear. Alistair Gordon visits the entrancingly translucent Maison de Verre in Paris, Pierre Chareau's 1928 house of glass blocks, and speaks with current owner Robert M. Rubin about his ongoing restoration of the early modernist icon. Here's a preview of Gordon's feature that will appear in the next WSJ Magazine. Steely resolve. The Calatrava-designed PATH hub for the World Trade Center is now over budget to the tune of $180 million, reports DNA. The stratospheric overrun is due in large part to the decision to use extra steel to "harden" the building for security reasons. The Port Authority Board passed the revised budget on Thursday morning, promising to bankroll the extra costs with a contingency fund. Featuring...foamcore! San Francisco's Museum of Craft commandeers a space near the Moscone Center for a pop-up installation that presents architectural model-making as a form of craft. The show offers a glimpse into the process of 20 notable SF-area architecture firms, writes the San Francisco Chronicle. Awards go immaterial. Producers Bruce Cohen and Don Mischer talk to the Hollywood Reporter about the set design for this year's Oscars (airing this Sunday), revealing that they'll rely on projections to create a constantly changing, animated environment within the Kodak Theater. Architect David Rockwell, who designed the sets in 2009 and 2010 (and snagged an Emmy in the process), this year passed the torch to production designer Steve Bass.
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer pulled together a stellar panel of World Trade movers and shakers to update the community Wednesday night, but the crowd wasn't impressed. Chris Ward, executive director of the the Port Authority, was joined at the podium by LMDC Chair Avi Schick, DOT Lower Manhattan Commissioner Louis Sanchez, Downtown Alliance President Elizabeth Berger, president and CEO of the memorial Joe Daniels, State Senator Dan Squadron and Congressman Jerry Nadler. Silverstein Properties' Malcolm Williams breezed through a PowerPoint update detailing progress of the four towers at the site. Ward's presentation showed the robust ribs of the Calatrava structure from underneath the plaza. But Sanchez's presentation outlining plans for the accommodating tour buses took on the most scrutiny. Sanchez's presentation differed little from the one he presented last week before CB1's World Trade Redevelopment Committee. The difference here was the crowd: restless and peeved. This year alone the site saw 1.3 million visitors and the memorial is not even open yet. Once opened, at least 4 million are expected. Many in the crowd said the that the DOT lacked specifics for the curbside drop off locations intended to accommodate an onslaught of tourists that will arrive in less than 200 days. Sanchez argued that visitor limitations to the memorial would cap tourist buses at about six to eight an hour. The crowd was not convinced. When pressed, he said the DOT would provide exact locations soon, but Stringer wrestled an agreement to meet with the community in six weeks time. In other news, One World Trade is half way up, at 58 stories. Tower Four has reached the 17th floor. Tower Three is now at street level and Tower Two's foundation is complete. But Towers Two and Three will have to wait for market thresholds to be reached before continuing skyward. Elswhere, LMDC has allocated $1 million to pedestrian safety at West Street. Also, the LMDC has received a plethora of requests totaling $200 million for the $17 million they have allocated toward arts organizations.
While most of the World Trade Center site whirls in mid-construction, the National September 11 Memorial is a mere 208 days from completion. That thought brings both relief and consternation to local residents who have seen their neighborhood become a national flash point for mourning, controversy, and debate. It is also about to become one of the most heavily trafficked tourist destinations in the country. Accommodating the tourists and their means of transportation is key to the success of the master plan, but traffic components of the plan are still two to three years away from realization. Currently the area sees 1.3 million visitors annually, when the memorial is completed in September, approximately four to five million will descend on a site about the size of one city block. Last night, Luis Sanchez, Lower Manhattan commissioner from the Department of Transportation appeared before the World Trade Redevelopment Committee of Manhattan Community Board 1 to update the committee on plans for the huge tourist influx. He was joined by Joe Daniels, president and CEO of the memorial and museum. Daniels said that the memorial will operate for ten hours each day, with access controlled, as it is at the Statue of Liberty and Washington Memorial, through a time reservation system (TRS) for ticketing. Visitors will not be able to simply show up; they will have to reserve a time slot in advance, primarily by going online. Though first responders and members of the community will be given preferential ticketing, they too must go through TRS until the entire construction site is completed. While this may control the pedestrian traffic to and from the memorial, it is also intended to mitigate bus traffic and “flatten peaks.” Tour buses would have curbside access within walking distance from the site and a layover time of two to three hours. Sanchez said that DOT is also pushing remote transfer plans, such as water taxis from Liberty Island and parts of New Jersey. He noted that visitors would stay longer and spend tourist dollars in neighborhood businesses if they didn’t have to rush back to a bus in three hours time. Sanchez said that the DOT will actively reach out to the tourist industry to let them know that remote transfer tour groups will get priority ticketing and non-compliant companies would have passes withheld. "John Doe bus company isn't going to be able to just show up," he said. Several board members argued the DOT’s presentation lacked enough details on enforcement for bus traffic that is already heavy enough to makes the area one of the most congested in the city. “How many buses are there going to be and where are they going to park?” asked one board member. “We already made one suggestion—for example, New Jersey.”