Sunday, September 11, 2011

Awesome Architecture: World Trade Center Proposals

"The city, for the first time in its long history, is destructible. A single flight of planes no bigger than a wedge of geese can quickly end this island fantasy, burn the towers, crumble the bridges, turn the underground passages into lethal chambers, cremate the millions. The intimation of mortality is part of New York now; in the sounds of jets overhead, in the black headlines of the latest editions.
All dwellers in cities must live with the stubborn fact of annihilation; in New York the fact is somewhat more concentrated because of the concentration of the city itself, and because, of all targets, New York has a certain clear priority. In the mind of whatever perverted dreamer might loose the lightning, New York must hold a steady, irresistible charm."

“Here is New York”, E.B. White, written in 1948

As some of you may have heard on the internet today, this is the tenth anniversary of the destruction of the World Trade Center.

There is still no new World Trade Center, but it isn't because a lack of vision by architects. In honor of these visionaries, here is some links to the amazing designs and proposals for the site and New York.

Thanks to,, and

The Original Six

The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation released six concept plans for the WTC site on July 16, 2002.

These proposals were met with such a negative response, they inspired a backlash. The New York Times called them "dreary, leaden proposals that fall far short of what New York City - and the world - expect to see rise at ground zero." In retrospect, maybe these designs weren't so bad, but even at their worst they did motivate some great designs in response.

The New York Times World Trade Center Master Plan

On the Sunday edition of the NY Times preceding the 9-11 anniversary (9-8-2) the paper presented this modest proposal for the site. It included a Mass Transit Interchange and designs for office towers on West Street.

The New York Magazine World Trade Center Proposal

The day after the NY Times pieces, New York magazine released its September 16th issue that featured the visions of its own group of architects. It included seven different proposals from prominent architects.

The Final Nine

The LMDC presented a second group of plans for the WTC site on December 18, 2002. They came from seven different architectural teams, including three by the Think design team. The groups were:

Foster and Partners

Meier, Eisenman, Gwathmey Siegel and Steven Holl

Peterson/Littenberg Architecture and Urban Design

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

Studio Daniel Libeskind

THINK Design

United Architects

THINK Design ended up the runner-up with Daniel Libeskind getting the winning design, but certainly all designs were worthy of recognition.

Finally, here is the 2006 New York Mag vision of NYC in the year 2016:

Here's the opening excerpt:

"We are a city of 8 million people, give or take a few hundred thousand. But we are building a city for 9 million. Literally. Right now. That will be New York City’s total population just a couple of decades hence, and politicians, bureaucrats, developers, architects, and engineers are, as you read these words, figuring out how to fit another million people onto the collection of islands and peninsulas we call home. We can’t just bulldoze and slap up some towers—we’ve learned some lessons from the sixties—and it isn’t just half a million new homes that we need. Those million need offices, factories, labs to work in. They need subways, buses (and ferries and trams) to commute in. They need places to park and places to play, plus the power to light their homes. All in a city that can’t sprawl.

This is Tomorrowland — a new city, a city larger than San Francisco, built on top of the city we know. In ten years, New York City will be transformed in ways we can only guess at. But in the pages that follow, you will explore our best guess, based on the plans, the dreams, the cornerstones, and the rising steel in nine city neighborhoods, spread over all five boroughs. In 2016, we won’t be able to be so parochial anymore—one Times Square isn’t going to be enough to fulfill the entertainment needs of that bigger, younger, more diverse population, and you’ll be talking about the lights on 125th Street. Fresh Kills will be three times the size of Central Park. If you imagine the city as a play — every neighborhood has a role — a lot of understudies are finally going to be called onstage."

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