Tallest Spire Chosen for WTC Site
By SARA KUGLER, Associated Press Writer
NEW YORK - The city intends to fill its vacant
skyline with an airy spire that stands taller than
any other building in the world and defiantly
recalls the year of America's independence with its
height of 1,776 feet.
The spire, accompanied by five stark
geometrical towers and several smaller cultural
buildings, has been picked as the model for
redeveloping the site where the World Trade Center
once stood, a person close to the process told the
AP on condition of anonymity. State and city
officials were to announce the decision Thursday.
Architect Daniel Libeskind's design calls for
preserving part of the sunken pit that was the
foundation of the original 1,350-foot twin towers,
where he imagines space for a museum and a memorial
to the nearly 2,800 victims who died there on Sept.
Lee Ielpi, whose son was among the 343 firefighters
killed, praised the choice of the Libeskind design,
because the sunken space preserves what the families
consider hallowed ground.
"That area held the largest concentration of
the 20,000 body parts that were found," Ielpi
said. "That land was consecrated by the blood
of the people who were lost that day."
Ielpi is among the victims' relatives who have
expressed concern about plans to include parking
areas in the pit. The areas would be for memorial
visitors, not general public parking, but Gov.
George Pataki told planners to "find an
accommodation" that the families would approve,
the source told the AP.
The Libeskind design was chosen over the THINK
team's twin 1,665-foot latticework towers, the
source told the AP.
The choice was made by a committee with
representatives of the Lower Manhattan Development
Corp., the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
and the offices of Pataki and Mayor Michael
Bloomberg. The governor and mayor favored the
Libeskind plan, an important factor in the decision,
the source said.
LMDC Chairman John Whitehead telephoned Libeskind
with the news, the source said, telling the
architect that his "vision has brought hope and
inspiration to a city still recovering from a
Libeskind told the AP he had no comment on the
announcement. But he told the LMDC chairman that
being selected is "a life-changing
experience," according to the source.
Libeskind, whose firm is based in Berlin, has
estimated the cost of building his design at $330
million. Officials have said insurance payments on
the twin towers and public money are expected to
finance the redevelopment, but the specific funding
plan is one of many questions that remain.
It is also unclear when the buildings will be
constructed or how closely they will resemble the
structures designed by Libeskind. Planners are
expected to focus now on the memorial space, to
prepare for a separate competition that begins this
Nine proposals for redeveloping the trade center
site were unveiled Dec. 18. The design competition
was launched after an initial set of plans, released
in July, was criticized as being dominated by office
space and bland structures.
Two finalists were selected this month, each
featuring buildings that would dwarf Malaysia's
1,483-foot Petronas Twin Towers, the tallest in the
world. A small number of telecommunications towers
would still stand taller than the Libeskind spire.
The LMDC was created by Pataki and former Mayor
Rudolph Giuliani in November 2001, when the
trade center ruins were still burning, to oversee
the rebuilding of the Port Authority-owned site.
The selection process has been a delicate balance
among politicians, downtown Manhattan commercial
interests, transportation officials, area residents
and the families of the victims.
Libeskind, 57, has said he included the sunken space
because he was inspired by the surrounding slurry
walls that hold back the Hudson River — what he
says are the most dramatic elements to survive the
terrorist attack. He wanted to provide a quiet,
meditative space for visitors.
The Polish-born Libeskind was schooled in New York.
His firm is well known for the design of the Jewish
Museum Berlin, an extension to the Denver Art Museum
and the Jewish Museum in San Francisco.
Developer Larry Silverstein, who has said he was not
satisfied with either of the finalists, also met
with Pataki, Bloomberg and both teams of architects
during the past month to voice his concerns.
Howard Rubenstein, a spokesman for Silverstein, said
Wednesday "he has great respect for the
architect" and looks forward to working with
him to "get this project moving."
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