Analysis of Innovative Designs For the World Trade Center Site - Think Design

Feb. 5, 2003
THINK- Ban Schwartz Smith Viñoly – World Cultural Center - LMDC Review
This design by the THINK team of Shigeru Ban, Frederic Schwartz, Ken Smith and Rafael Viñoly recreates the World Trade Center site as the home of the World Cultural Center.  An iconic and bold new skyline for the twenty-first century heralds a remarkable investment in culture unprecedented in the history of New York City.  Two new soaring, open latticework structures are constructed in homage to the twin towers, built above and around the footprints of the original World Trade Center towers but without touching them.  Within these towers—the tallest in the world—distinctive buildings can be designed and phased over time to complete a program of innovative cultural facilities: the Memorial (on multiple sites from the footprints of the original towers to the top of the highest platform in the world), the September 11 Interpretative Museum, a Performing Arts Center, an International Conference Center, an open Amphitheater, viewing platforms and public facilities for education.  The skyline of Lower Manhattan is reborn as a new public realm for culture. Fulton and Greenwich streets are revived and extended as streets with retail, offices and pedestrian life.  Tribeca is connected with the neighborhood south of Liberty Street.  The plan complements the Mayor’s Vision for Lower Manhattan by improving connectivity and enhancing an active, diverse street life around the clock.The phasing plan is especially strong in allowing for development to occur successfully over time.  Eight independent mid-rise office buildings and a hotel are located on the northern, eastern and southern portions of the site, and are easy to develop with great flexibility in timing and staging to fulfill the total program requirements in response to market demand.

Ø      1. How well does the design provide an appropriate memorial setting?

Excellent. Underground, at-grade, and observatory level opportunities.

·Location(s) – two footprints and two observatories·Accessibility – good·Relationship to tower footprints – preserved·Context - suitableØ2. How well does the design meet program requirements?

Very well.·Appropriate memorial site (size and location): yes·new street grid: yes·21st century train station: workable, but requires modification·distinctive skyline: yes§One of the world’s great new skylines, unlike any other city§Highly visible from across the Hudson and East rivers, from Staten Island, driving along West Street, or overhead§The two cultural towers will be slightly taller than the former World Trade Center towers.·sequence of parks and open spaces: requires refinement to improve pedestrian circulation and access to open spaces.·office space (6.5 to 10 million s.f.) - yesoBldg. 1 – 400,000 - 10 floorsoBldg. 2 – 621,000 - 23 floorsoBldg. 3 – 752,100 - 23 floorsoBldg. 4 – 1,935,200 - 59 floorsoBldg. 5 – 1,970,600 - 59 floorsoBldg. 6 –  795,800- 23 floorsoBldg. 8 – 213,000 - 10 floorsoBldg. 9 – 1,870,300 - 59 floorsototal – 8,558,000 s.f.·active street level retail (600,000 to 1,000,000 s.f.) – can be further enhanced by moving below grade retail to Fulton Street, creating a double-sided retail corridorobelow grade – 819,200 s.f.oat grade – 276,200 s.f.oabove grade – 0ototal – 1,095,400·Conference Center + Hotel (600,000 to 1,000,000 s.f.) – meets program requirementsoBuilding 7 – 658,300 s.f. – 29 floors (hotel)·Cultural spaces - yesomuseum – 200,000 s.f.operforming arts – 180,000 s.f.oconference center, school, library – 400,000 s.f.Ø       3. How well does it create practical street, block and development parcels?

Excellent·traffic flow

o        pedestrian – excellent.  Works with or without reflecting pools and bridges.  Requires modification to enhance connectivity to Battery Park City.

ovehicular – good.  Fulton and Greenwich streets are vehicular.  Further improved traffic system if Cortlandt and Dey streets allow vehicles.·retail continuity – numerous opportunities for frontage on Vesey and Fulton streets and Church Street.·office floor plates  - very reasonableoBldg. 1 – 40,000 s.f.oBldg. 2 – 27,000 s.f. (small)oBldg. 3 – 32,700 s.f. (can be enlarged to face of Greenwich)oBldg. 4 – 34,300 s.f. (can be enlarged)oBldg. 5 – 33,400 s.f. (can be enlarged)oBldg. 6 – 34,600 s.f.oBldg. 8 – 21,300 s.f. (could be residential)oBldg. 9 – 31,700 s.f. (can be enlarged)

Ø       4. How well does it support Mayor Bloomberg’s Vision for Lower Manhattan?


·Airport access: possible·Loop and Spine: Fulton or West streets are included; site plan can be modified to make Fulton Street between Greenwich and West streets into two-sided active retail street.·Enhance two residential neighborhoods: yes

Ø       5. How well does it connect with its surroundings?

Very well

·Tribeca: view corridors down West Broadway and Greenwich Street·Battery Park City: bridges – can be modified to create additional connections·South of Liberty: view corridors up Washington and Greenwich streets·East of Church: opportunities to modify west side of Church Street

Ø       6. How well does it allow for phased development over time?


Phase 1 includes the towers and their large pedestrian platform, creating a bold new skyline and major, attractive presence.  Phasing plan also allows for transportation infrastructure and memorial development to move forward in Phase 1.

·Phase 1: Streets, sidewalks, plazas, towers, memorial, 2 office buildings, Transit Center,  Underground and street level retail, some cultural facilities·Phase 2: 2 offices, hotel, cultural facilities, street retail·Phase 3: 2 offices, cultural facilities, street retail ·Phase 4: 2 offices, cultural facilities, street retail

Ø       7. How effective is the addition to the public realm? How much does it cost?

·         Towers: Towers are a spectacular and unique addition to the skyline

·Streets: Streets east of Greenwich can be vehicular or pedestrian·Parks and Paved Plaza Area: Base of towers can be modified to create paved and planted areas, in which case bridges are not necessary·RR Station: dramatic; major project in providing physical support for Greenwich Street·Cultural Institutions: each facility in the tower requires a pre-built platform to stage construction when financing becomes available.  No scaffolding necessary because the structure provides the scaffolding.  Passenger and freight elevators run on tracks attached to the exterior structure.omuseum – 200,000 s.f.operforming arts – 180,000 s.f.oconference center, school, library – 400,000 s.f.·Public Realm:  $175-225 million (current year preliminary construction cost estimate only).  Includes streets and sidewalks at Greenwich and Fulton streets, and the reflecting pool at the base of the Towers. Excludes memorial elements, below-grade infrastructure and private development.·Additional items:  $575 million (current year preliminary construction cost estimate only).  Structural, mechanical, electrical and vertical transportation systems for the Towers.  Does not include development of any program elements within the Towers.Ø       8. How marketable are the office and retail proposals?

Very marketable and flexible.·Office oAbsorption: excellentofloor plates: good and can be enhanced if market demands·Bldg. 1 – 40,000 s.f.·Bldg. 2 – 27,000 s.f. (small)·Bldg. 3 – 32,700 s.f. (can be enlarged to face of Greenwich Street)·Bldg. 4 – 34,300 s.f. (can be enlarged)·Bldg. 5 – 33,400 s.f. (can be enlarged)·Bldg. 6 – 34,600 s.f.·Bldg. 8 – 21,300 s.f. (could be residential)·Bldg. 9 – 31,700 s.f. (can be enlarged)·total floor area: satisfies program·Bldg. 1 – 400,000 - 10 floors·Bldg. 2 – 621,000 - 23 floors·Bldg. 3 – 752,100 - 23 floors·Bldg. 4 – 1,935,200 - 59 floors·Bldg. 5 – 1,970,600 - 59 floors·Bldg. 6 – 795,800 - 23 floors·Bldg. 8 – 213,000 - 10 floors·Bldg. 9 – 1,870,300 - 59 floors·total – 8,558,000 s.f.ogross/net ratio: good·Retail – below grade can be moved to at grade·below grade – 819,200 s.f.·at grade – 276,200 s.f. (one-sided Fulton Street retail can be modified to become two-sided)·total – 1,095,400 s.f.·Hotel and Conference Center – Bldg. 7 - goodØ       9. Are there components that are unresolvable?  No.

Ø       10. How significant are the issues that can be resolved?

·Pattern of streets and blocks east of Greenwich Street.  Building frontage on Church Street can be modified to enhance the pedestrian experience.·Feasibility of tower foundations in current design.  Footprint of South Tower requires additional engineering analysis related to siting of PATH and may require modifications to siting of tower.Ø       11. What is the public response to the design?

·The THINK plan that received the most favorable comments was the World Cultural Center.  Of the favorable comments on the elements of this plan, nearly 50% supported the skyline element in particular.  Many thought it was the most imaginative approach to restoring the skyline.  Others commented that the Twin Towers of Culture are bold and visually appealing and provide great symbolism for the memorial.     ·The memorial context and setting in the World Cultural Center plan also received significant attention.  Approximately 20% of the favorable comments on the elements related to the memorial context and setting in this plan, some advocating that the beams of light within the latticework towers serve as a permanent memorial and others supporting the symbolism of bringing the memorial to the sky.      ·Another favorite element in the World Cultural Center plan is the cultural and civic amenities component. Over 15% of those who commented favorably on the elements of this plan supported the cultural and civic elements.  Many commented they like the emphasis of cultural amenities provided for in the plan.Sample public comments from comment cards, LMDC website, letters, e-mails and public hearings:·“The THINK group’s World Cultural Center is both a formidable presence and a focal point for Lower Manhattan, and a needed space to reestablish New York City as the cultural capital of the world.  From the observation deck to the museums at the impact sites, many features of this structure will awe and inspire future generations.  It is my favorite of the designs, and I will have to look at it everyday, as I live and work in its shadow.”·“World Cultural Center would stand as a symbol of a renewed mentality for U.S. people. But not only a symbol of peace and understanding, a bridge towards the knowledge of foreign cultures.  A new destination for the whole area where all the world community could feel the spirit of a new America strengthened by the pain suffered.”·“This is the most powerful design in the competition – I am particularly taken by the night illumination of the WTC site. Building this design would be the strongest memorial and architectural statement.”·“World Cultural Center is the best skyline symbol while still connecting the surrounding neighborhood.”Taken from the Imagine New York II - The People’s Response Summary Report dated January 2003:“Many people responded positively to the THINK team’s effort to rebuild the skyline and symbolically invoke the Twin Towers with the World Cultural Center.  These respondents found the latticework to be elegant, modern, and very interesting, and praised the design for its light and airy appearance, and for the fact that the sky would show through the structures.”

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