| The winning design for the development of the WTC site in New York (Reuters)
New York, Feb. 27 (Reuters): A plan calling for soaring “gardens in the sky” and a submerged memorial for the World Trade Centre site was unveiled today, but wrangling between leaseholders, politicians and September 11 victims’ relatives will ultimately decide what fills the space.
New York officials yesterday chose the design by Berlin-based architects Studio Daniel Libeskind to restore the lower Manhattan skyline. The formal announcement was made today in the rebuilt glass-enclosed Winter Garden across the street from the scarred 16-acre (6.5-hectare) site where 2,800 people were killed.
Architect Daniel Libeskind, a Polish-born immigrant to the US, thanked the people of New York, the US and the world. He paid tribute to New Yorkers “for their extraordinary commitment and passion they have shown for the future of this fantastic city.”
The design competition was restarted last September after the public rejected an initial round of six proposals last July as boring and uninspired.
“Buildings are built out of concrete and steel and glass, but they are actually built out of a spiritual content of the heart and the soul of citizens,” Libeskind said.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a key member of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, established after the hijacked plane attacks 17 months ago to oversee redevelopment and a memorial, said it had three objectives: “To poignantly recall for all time what happened on 9/11, to remake it as a centre of global culture and commerce and to integrate it into a revitalised lower Manhattan.”
“With the selection of the team of Studio Daniel Libeskind we have accomplished all three objectives and in doing so we take a significant step toward fulfilling our vision,” Bloomberg said at the news conference.
Libeskind’s plan, which also includes cultural sites and a complex of angular, glass buildings, won over a second finalist, a team of New York architects called THINK who proposed a pair of matching latticework structures dominating the skyline like the old towers did.
Officials expect more debate and refinement over the Libeskind design with the various interested groups who still want a say in what finally fills the void.
Developer Larry Silverstein bought a 99-year lease worth $3.2 billion on the 110-story twin towers complex just six weeks before hijacked plane attacks destroyed the centre, and is the major player in the future of the site.
Silverstein declined comment at today’s presentation. He insisted that it is his obligation and right to rebuild 10 million square feet (929,000 sq metres) of office space in the area of lower Manhattan in the Wall Street financial district. His partner, suburban mall developer Westfield America, leased the old concourse mall under the twin towers and has the right to rebuild it.
Some groups, such as the Coalition of 9/11 Families, representing relatives of victims said they still feel excluded from the process, despite a series of public meetings and opportunities for New Yorkers to vote their preferences.
Bruce DeCell, whose son-in-law Mark Petrocelli was killed in the attack, said on the sidelines of today’s event, “I want them to take the whole process out of the back room and we want to be included.”