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Two Design Teams to Compete for WTC Site Project - 2003-02-05

Two of the world's most innovative design teams have won the right to compete in what is possibly the most high profile design project in history, the site of New York's destroyed World Trade Center.

Neither choice is a surprise to close observers. The international architectural firm known as THINK, and Berlin-based architect Daniel Libeskind received the most attention in mid-December when the worldwide competition was narrowed to nine designs from among more than 400 submissions. Both designs call for structures that would be the tallest in the world.

New York-based architects Rafael Vinoly and Frederick Schwartz lead the THINK team, which proposes a World Cultural Center with two latticework towers of steel. The complex they suggest includes a concert hall, a library and a museum about the events of September 11, 2001. Mr. Schwartz says the the memory of the attack on the trade center was always on the team's mind as they put together their design.

"We remember every day what we lost so we can envision something great for the future," he said.

The Libeskind design focuses on five stark, geometric buildings clustered around the foundations of a fallen tower. An elevated platform curves around a proposed memorial to the victims of September 11. Mr. Libeskind says the design must honor the past but look forward with hope.

"This project has to combine both the essence of the tragedy that happened, the lives that were lost, but also show the world that life is victorious, that life is good, and that in the face of these attacks there is a vitality, and in the aftermath of these tragedies their is an optimism in the development, not only New York but of the world," he said.

Officials of the agency overseeing the redevelopment of the site say they will choose the final plan from the two after another month of review. But both designs will require modification to accommodate infrastructure requirements and a memorial site.

Both designs honor the public's desire to see ample space set aside for a memorial. A decision about the design for a memorial is expected in September after a separate international competition.