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Dispute Resolved Over World's Tallest Tower to Replace Destroyed NYC Twin Towers - 2003-07-16

The architect chosen in a worldwide competition to design New York's World Trade Center site and the property's developer agreed Wednesday to compromise on plans for the world's tallest tower.

The location and size of the building that will dominate the site of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks has been the focus of controversy.

Daniel Libeskind's design, a spiral of five towers, including one 541-meter spire surrounding the empty ground where the twin towers once stood, was chosen over hundreds of proposals in an international competition.

But developer Larry Silverstein has expressed concerns over the commercial viability of the proposal. Mr. Silverstein obtained the lease for the World Trade Center site barely two months before the September 11 attack.

City officials brought the two sides together to persuade Mr. Libeskind to work with David Childs, Mr. Silverstein's hand-picked architect. Childs will assume the lead role on developing the Freedom Tower, the centerpiece of Mr. Libeskind's design.

"We saw a tremendous amount of cooperation between both Daniel Libeskind and David Childs, and a real willingness to work together in a collaborative fashion," said Kevin Rampe, president of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, the group charged with overseeing the project. "I think the people of New York and the world are very fortunate to have both of these great architects agreeing to work together on the world's tallest building."

A planner for the new development, Tom Wright, says many New Yorkers want to make sure Mr. Libeskind's vision is carried through. "While nobody expected Libeskind to actually design all the buildings and do all the details, it's very important that several of the major characteristics in his plan get preserved through this process," said Mr. Wright, executive director of the Regional Plan Association, a non-profit urban planning group that sponsored numerous public forums on the redevelopment of the World Trade Center site. "Mr. Silverstein has already publicly stated that he'd like to add another tower to it [the design]. These are the kinds of changes that cross a line from being refinements of the plan to actually weakening the dramatic statement of that plan, which is really focusing on the event of September 11, 2001 and turning it into a more conventional commercial office development."

New York Governor George Pataki has set a summer 2004 deadline for construction on the site to begin.