Controversy surrounding the rebuilding of the World Trade Center


Controversy surrounding the rebuilding of the World Trade Center

The controversy surrounding the reconstruction of the World Trade Center stems from the beliefs of a grassroots campaign to rebuild the former Twin Towers of the original World Trade Center. The Lower Manhattan Development Corp. (LMDC) was formed after the September 11 attacks to plan the redevelopment of Lower Manhattan and distribute nearly $10 billion in federal funds aimed at rescuing downtown Manhattan. Currently under construction at the site is the 1,776-foot (541 m) Freedom Tower and several smaller buildings. Nevertheless, some make a distinction between constructing a new complex on the site of the former World Trade Center and "rebuilding" the Twin Towers.

Grassroots reaction

Rebuilding guidelines were formulated by the LMDC that required the replacement of all commercial space and the street grid before the construction of the original complex. Six plans published in July 2002 were met with mixed results. The option of reconstructing the Twin Towers was not considered. Silverstein representatives subscribed to the theory that new office buildings with more than 70 floors would create short- to medium-term vacancies while rebuilding the towers. There was also the call by a number of civic planners to restore the pre-World Trade Center street grid. Chief architect David Childs of Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill publicly denounced the original plan and described the towers and the "superblock" as out of place, not conducive to public-space activity and lacking in aesthetics.

During the planning process newspaper polls, letters to the editor, as well as the feedback forms on the LMDC "Listening to the People" initiative and on its website suggested that there was a bloc of people who advocated restoration of the former towers, arguing it was a moral imperative and an indispensable act of counter-terrorism. After an initial competition was met with unfavorable reaction the LMDC was forced to restart the design process almost from scratch leaving in place essentially the same guidelines that had been repudiated the first time. Seven new designs were published and narrowed down to two candidates: one from Studio Daniel Libeskind and one from THINK Design which was the closest of the seven to evoke the fallen towers.

Question of public interaction

Despite claims of an "unprecedented democratic process" the LMDC never allowed victims' family members as a group to vote on memorial proposals nor allowed the victims' families to select the "family representatives" to the LMDC.

When offered a choice between the Libeskind or THINK plans, the official LMDC poll showed that the public preferred "Neither". Nevertheless, Mayor Bloomberg and New York Governor George Pataki preferred Daniel Libeskind's design plan and its approach to the specified guidelines. It has since undergone multiple revisions into the current plan for the site.

Criticism of progress

Following the six-year anniversary of the attacks, Bill Maher said: [ [http://www.billmaher.com/?page_id=207 [ Bill Maher » Episode 518 - September 14th 2007 ] ]

In the "Ground Zero" episode of the Showtime television series "", Penn & Teller criticize the bureaucracy of the LMDC officials involved and list the multiple architectural setbacks in the initial design plans for the site. [ [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0805436/ [Penn Teller: Bullshit! (2003)] ]

The base of the "Freedom Tower" (fortified because of security concerns) has also been a source of controversy. A number of critics (notably Derek Murdoch in the "National Review") have suggested that it is alienating and dull, and reflects a sense of fear rather than freedom, leading them to dub the project "the Fear Tower". [ [http://www.triroc.com/wtc/media/freedomtower/timesletters.htm Taking the Measure of the New Freedom Tower] (9 letters to the New York Times)] [ [http://www.nationalreview.com/murdock/murdock200503111045.asp What Are We Afraid Of?] , National Review Online] Nicolai Ouroussoff, the architecture critic for the New York Times, calls the tower base decorations a "grotesque attempt to disguise its underlying paranoia." [ [http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/04/weekinreview/04ouroussoff.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin Article] , the New York Times "(requires registration)"]

Proposed litigation

On October 26, 2006, the Twin Towers Alliance called upon then-attorney general Eliot Spitzer to conduct an inquiry into official misconduct on the part of Governor Pataki and the LMDC and appealed to seek an injunction against developing the Freedom Tower, pending the findings of an investigation. In the spring of 2006, Spitzer stated that the redevelopment was "an Enron-style debacle" and accused the LMDC of being "an abject failure" that "violated" its "duty to the public". After his election as governor of New York in February 2007, Spitzer came out in support of the Freedom Tower.

References

External links

* [http://www.twintowersalliance.com The Twin Towers Alliance]
* [http://www.teamtwintowers.org Team Twin Towers]
* [http://www.put.com/wtc The World Trade Center Restoration Movement]
* [http://www.cnn.com/2005/US/05/18/wtc.trump/index.html CNN article on Donald Trump]


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