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Rebuilding New York:
The World Trade Center Proposals

Proposals for reconstruction on the site of New York's World Trade Center stirred heated debate. How could architecture meet the practical needs of the City and also honor those who were killed in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001? The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, which coordinated the reconstruction efforts, asked seven teams of architects and designers to prepare the proposals shown below. From these seven, the judges selected Daniel Libeskind of Studio Libeskind to head the reconstruction project.

In the years that followed, the Studio Libeskind plan changed almost beyond recognition. Plans presented by the other 6 teams are all but forgotten. The photos posted below illustrate early visions for renewal, and underscore the complexity of rebuilding from a tragedy as devastating as the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Are you wondering how these early ideas evolved? See these construction updates:

WTC Reconstruction:

World Trade Center Proposal - Foster and Partners
Foster and Partners
"The crystalline tower is based on triangular geometries-cross-cultural symbols of harmony, wisdom, purity, unity and strength. Its two halves kiss at three points, creating public observation platforms, exhibits, cafes and other amenities."

World Trade Center Proposal - Meier and Partners
Meier and Partners
"The two buildings comprised of five vertical sections and interconnecting horizontal floors, represent a new typology in the tradition of innovative skyscraper design. In their quiet abstraction, the buildings suggest screens of presence and absence, encouraging reflection and imagination. The cantilevered ends extend outward, like the fingers of the ground plan, reaching toward the city and each other. Nearly touching at the northeast corner of the site, they resemble the interlaced fingers of protective hands."

World Trade Center Proposal - Peterson/Littenberg
"The heart of the district is a special Public Garden, whose shape and geometry are generated by the WTC tower footprints.... The garden is sunken below the streets and located behind the adjacent blocks. It serves as an inner courtyard for the whole city, a place of refuge. The garden contains an open amphitheater on the North Tower footprint with 2,797 seats, one for each victim of the tragedy. Underneath the theater, at bedrock, is the museum to the events of September 11."

World Trade Center Proposal - Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
"Our proposal is to reconnect the city by creating a dense grid of vertical structures that support multiple strata of public and cultural spaces. Our vision is one that moves beyond the historical drive to build high only in order to maximize the limited resource of land, it is one that builds to multiply that very resource for the greater public. Our proposal covers 16 acres, and in turn, returns those 16 acres twice, by providing within its various horizontal strata, 16 acres of sky gardens and an additional 16 acres of cultural space."

World Trade Center Proposal - Studio Libeskind
Studio Libeskind
"The sky will be home again to a towering spire of 1776 feet high, the "Gardens of the World". Why gardens? Because gardens are a constant affirmation of life. A skyscraper rises above its predecessors, reasserting the pre-eminence of freedom and beauty, restoring the spiritual peak to the city, creating an icon that speaks of our vitality in the face of danger and our optimism in the aftermath of tragedy."
See pictures of the Studio Libeskind Design

World Trade Center Proposal - THINK Team
"Ground Zero should emerge from this tragedy as the first truly Global Center, a place where people can gather to celebrate cultural diversity in peaceful and productive coexistence. Finding the proper balance between the two main objectives of the project-Remembrance and Redevelopment-depends on the way in which investment in the public infrastructure contributes to the Renewal of Lower Manhattan. Since the level of funding will influence the design characteristics, we have developed three different planning concepts - Sky Park, The Great Room and The World Cultural Center - in order to demonstrate the impact of a range these possible levels of investment."

World Trade Center Proposal - United Architects
United Architects
"The entire site is a monument to the tragedy of 9/11 consisting of an interconnected series of five buildings that creates a cathedral-like enclosure across the entire 16 acre site. A vast public plaza and park is formed around the connected footprints by a protective ring of towers. A living memorial will develop over time becoming both a monument to the past and a vision for the future."

Photos courtesy of the Lower Manhattan Development Corp.

Join the Discussion

"Guys! You just don't get it! It is a MEMORIAL to those lost-- NOT a MONUMENT to the architects and NOT a MONUMENTAL opporutnity for Mr. Silverstein! Notice little-- precious little-- is said about the memorial aspect of the plans, and we see just the overbearing, clumsy atempts to fill the space. Where is grace, charm, solitude, elegance, and peace????" -- 3509RA
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Further Reading

After the World Trade Center: Rethinking New York City
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After the World Trade Center

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