by , 09/11/06

anniversary of september 11, ground zero, world trade center, 9/11, Daniel Libeskind, David Childs, SOM, Foster and partners, Richard Rogers, Fumiko Maki

Before the day ends, we wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the 5-year anniversary of 9/11, and to look at the most recent developments at Ground Zero, where David Child’s Freedom Tower has just been introduced to its three little siblings, each designed by a different starchitect. We are not entirely sure that having every tower designed by a different architect was such a great idea – the whole thing looks like sort of a weird hodge-podge of competing aesthetics (unlike Daniel Libeskind’s beautifully cohesive original design), but hey – at least the project finally seems to be moving forward again.

For those of us keeping an eye on Ground Zero’s green attributes, there are organizations like Green Ground Zero and dedicated architects like Randy Croxton, who spearheaded the authorship of the Sustainable Design Guideline Reference Manual for the World Trade Center. An interesting article on these sustainable WTC advocates can be found at Treehugger, as well as on In addition, New York Governor George Pataki announced three days ago that all four towers will aim for LEED Gold and will generate energy on-site with fuel cells.

It’s been a very long road, not only for those affected by the tragedy, but for those working to plan the rebuilding. Divergent interests and high emotions have made the process slow and difficult. But we’re beginning to see a hopeful forecast for the empty space in Lower Manhattan.

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  1. Norman September 20, 2006 at 12:00 am

    What the city suffered from and grew extremely tired of was a protracted clash between the city and state government’s well meaning design competition to rebuild the trade center and, understandably and deservedly, include a memorial, vs, the private property owner’s desire to quickly rebuild his site, with his own architect’s design, to maximize it’s potential (aka profit). The personality clash between the ultimately competing (originally cooperating) architects was just a part of the problem.

    Ultimately Liebskin got screwed over, but at least the city got the needed memorial it should have had from the start. Unfortunately in the process, as feathers needed unruffling and egos stroked, we also got stuck with a bunch of unrelated buildings including a Chicago Sears-Hancock Tower Hybrid and Chicago Associates Center step child.

    As far as green buildings go, New York has come a long way towards environmentally responsible buildings, more so than other cities to my understanding, but not far enough.
    I just don’t think there are enough green savvy architects in New York at this time.

  2. Psuedonym September 18, 2006 at 5:40 am

    I love the aesthetics of Daniel Libeskind’s Freedom Tower, but I feel that the other buildings are taking away from the significance of his design. Overall, the area looks cluttered rather than thoughtfully placed. Although I am glad that work is finally taking place at Ground Zero, I wish a little more thought would be given to the three additional buildings. Sometimes less is more. Just because the land is there, does not mean we have to build on it.

    I was unaware about the Green Ground Zero campaign, however. Thankfully they are taking the environment into consideration. Since this is such a high profile site, it may draw more attention to sustainable architecture and the ability to make it more mainstream.

  3. Lou September 14, 2006 at 3:04 pm

    Just wish they would get one of these up…

  4. Kazmer Kovacs September 14, 2006 at 9:50 am

    If one not only looks at larger sites designed by one and only architect, but also tries to imagine living in them, any “weird hodge-podge of competing aesthetics” finally seems preferable to any “beautifully cohesive original design”, regardless its aesthetic quality.

  5. aaron September 12, 2006 at 9:22 pm

    hodge-podge indeed, what are they thinking?

  6. Anthony September 12, 2006 at 5:45 pm

    Buildings at ground zero: Green = good. Architecture = mediocrity. What should be uplifting, transcendant and inpiring is derivative, corporate and bland. This signifcant sight and lower Manhattan (not to mention the whole of America, which feels a stake in the place) deserve better. These sterile monuments to commerce are not worthy to be background for a memorial of such signifcance. Alas, the whole process has been a mean lesson in private greed and a lack of visionary leadership.

  7. Richie September 12, 2006 at 10:22 am

    ‘Ellsworth Toohey’ (‘The Fountainhead’, Ayn Rand) would be so proud ! It’s creativity by committe ! Sir Norman Foster’s design was the best. Liebskind ‘won’ the competition because small minds decided… and then they even SCREWED him out of having his design realized !

    the truth is that the people who decide by committee what gets built on this site will never be happy until these designs all have aluminum siding, have malls inside, and a memorial which features a permanently ‘on tour’ extension of the Mormon Tabenacle Choir singing dirges and prayers on a 20 miute continuous cycle.

    As Donald Trump said; Why not rebuild the same two towers ?

    Yeah… why not ?

    Maybe the same (2) towers are not being rebuilt because structural steel doesn’t melt until it’s heated to 3,000 º (while jet fuel only burns at 2,000º)… and rebuilding structures that could not have collapsed from burning jet fuel weakened steel skeletons raises too many questions ?

  8. John Cox September 12, 2006 at 9:18 am

    I prefer Libeskind’s design a lot. It has a symbolic as well as functional purpose. I never understood the controversy it generated. From here in the UK it just looked like a childish personality clash — the committee
    just didn’t seem to like him. Was there ever anything more to it than that?

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