Should new WTC buildings be world's tallest?
Sunday January 12, 2003
By KAREN MATTHEWS
Associated Press Writer
NEW YORK (AP) Replacing the fallen World Trade
Center with the world's tallest building would demonstrate
When it comes to rebuilding at ground zero, the
meaning is in the mind of the beholder. Five of the nine designs
for a rebuilt trade center propose structures surpassing
Malaysia's 1,483-foot Petronas Twin Towers as the tallest in the
world. The public will weigh in on the designs, which were
unveiled last month, at a hearing on Monday. Officials will
select a final plan in the next few weeks after hearing the
"Failing to rebuild full scale is what paints a
bull's-eye on other landmarks," said Louis Epstein, founder of
the World Trade Center Restoration Movement, a group that favors
reconstructing the towers essentially in their original image.
"It emboldens the terrorists to do more."
Beverly Willis, director of the Architecture
Research Institute and a founder of a community group called
Rebuild Downtown Our Town, disagreed.
The "wound" in New York's skyline should be
repaired with something tall and distinctive, she said. But
creating the world's tallest building without regard to the
neighborhood "just seems to be not only impractical, but
ostentatious and generally in bad taste," she said.
Willis said the whole idea of building the world's
tallest skyscraper is outdated a relic of the 1960s, when new
technology allowed construction of 110-story twin towers. The
nine designs by seven teams of architects were commissioned by
the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. and the Port Authority of
New York and New Jersey, which together will choose one plan by
While no one is suggesting the new construction
will faithfully reproduce any of the models, officials will base
their plans on one of the designs.
Some, like Norman Foster's "kissing towers," offer
occupied office buildings taller than the 1,350-foot trade center
towers. Others would consist of airy structures that invoke the
towers without replicating them.
Daniel Libeskind, whose design includes a spire
with the symbolically significant height of 1,776 feet, said only
the first 70 stories of his building would house offices. Above
the office level, tourists would visit his "gardens of the
world," Libeskind said.
"It's like going to the high point of the Eiffel
Tower," he said. "You don't go there for more than a few
The memory of the 2,792 Sept. 11 victims ensures
fire safety will be of paramount concern to the new structure.
Greg Lynn, whose United Architects presented a
design that combines five buildings into one crystalline
structure, described in detail a system of stairways connected
every 30 floors by areas where people also could move
"From any point in the building you have literally
thousands of ways to get down to the ground, so it's a very safe
complex," Lynn said.
The team's proposal also includes a 1,620-foot
*Glenn Corbett, a professor of fire science at
John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said that any tall building
at the trade center site will need "cutting-edge" fire-safety
technology including sturdier construction and elevators that can
be used in a fire if stairs take too long.
But if you build it, will they come?
Last August, a New York Times/CBS poll found that
53 percent of New Yorkers would not work in an upper floor of any
new building at the trade center site. Fifty-nine percent said
that whatever is built at the site should not be as tall as it
But fears could fade in the decade it will take to
"By that time I believe all of the safety concerns
will have been addressed," said Meyer Feig, who heads the World
Trade Center Tenants Association.
Feig, who ran a headhunting firm in the south
tower, said his group consists of about 130 smaller tenants from
the towers. Most of that group who responded to a recent survey
want to see at least a 110-story building on the site.
"It makes the statement that we may have been
attacked, but we'll rebuild and come back stronger than ever,"
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© Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.
*Prof. Corbett, a licensed Fire Protection Engineer , sits on the Professional Advisory Panel of the Skyscraper Safety Campaign.