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New WTC Designs Unveiled - 2002-12-19

Seven teams, including several of the world's most influential architects, unveiled nine designs Wednesday for rebuilding the site of New York's 110-story World Trade Center, destroyed in last year's terrorist attacks.

The architects were asked to incorporate some of the priorities expressed by the public on how to redevelop lower Manhattan, such as restoring the New York City skyline and preserving the footprints of the World Trade Center.

John Whitehead, who chairs the statewide government agency overseeing the rebuilding effort, also describes the proposals as bold and innovative, aiming to speak to future generations. "The reborn World Trade Center must transcend the present to speak to our children and our children's children about our society and its spirit," he says. "It will be an immortal message to future generations about who we are about what we stand for."

Four of the designs call for the world's tallest and safest structures on the 6.5 hectare plot, now known as ground zero, where nearly 3,000 people perished. The architects offered a mix of elaborate models and computer and video generated presentations.

New Yorkers dismissed six original designs as dull and uninspiring in a public forum last July. Consequently, the competition was thrown open worldwide and more than 4,000 submissions were received from across the globe.

Architect Rafael Vinoli's international team, called "Think," proposes three designs, including the transformation of the area into a giant, multi-use public park in the sky and a model for a world cultural center.

Like many of the architects, Britain's Norman Foster creates a variation of the World Trade Center structure. His design of a so-called "Crystalline Tower" based on a triangular structure incorporates safety and environmental considerations while symbolizing strength, resolve and freedom. "It is also the setting for an emblematic tower," he says. "In actual fact, it is two towers which kiss and touch and become one. It is the tallest, the greenest, the strongest and the safest."

Although another international competition will be held at a later date to choose an appropriate memorial, the designs include plans to pay tribute to the victims of the September 11 attacks.

In the model presented by architects at the firm Meier and Partners, several illuminated reflecting pools extend in all directions from a memorial square. And architect Daniel Libeskind, proposes a memorial that leads deep into the ground of the footprints of the World Trade Center. "We have to be able to enter this hallowed and sacred ground while creating a quiet meditative and spiritual space," he says. "A procession with deliberation into the deep and indelible footprints of Tower One and Tower Two."

The final plan may incorporate aspects from several of the designs and are expected to be made by January 31, after the public has an opportunity to express its views.