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Tuesday, September 11, 2001. Just minutes into a brand-new workday in Lower Manhattan. Morning coffee, shop talk. The no-nonsense stride of hurried commuters rushing to and fro... Fast-forward to 8:45 a.m., EDT time. Suddenly, New York's famous skyline is forever changed. The Twin Towers may no longer exist in their once tactile, majestic splendor, but the spirit of global community and economic optimism--their very essence--has been reborn in the hearts of thousands of resilient New Yorkers holding high expectations for what will be rebuilt in their place. And now, as the arrival of the one-year anniversary of the attacks incites reflection, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC) and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) seek renewal with an ambitious rebuilding project, titled Renew New York (www.renewnyc.com), that will strive to unite the ideas of the people with the experience and skill of renowned architects who must put compassion before profession in reclaiming a landscape they know can never be the same. Phase I: Gathering In-Site Information "...A Very Great Honor, and a Very Great Responsibility" The first challenge awaiting the LMDC and the PANYNJ in rebuilding on the former World Trade Center site was determining an urban design and transportation plan that would revitalize New York city and its inhabitants--and reposition Lower Manhattan as a major tourist destination--without compromising the sensibilities of local residents and families of September 11 victims. To achieve all of the above, the LMDC and the PANYNJ assembled a "dream team" of architects, planners, designers and other building professionals to conduct a study for the site and its adjacent ground and transportation areas. They also dispatched the LMDC Family Advisory Council to conceptualize plans for an adjoining memorial. Led by Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners LLP, which lists Grand Central Terminal, Governor's Island, Ellis Island and other notables on its sterling, 30-year resume, the team also includes assisting firm Parsons Brinckeroff--a 100 year-old firm with an equally estimable reputation--as well as eleven sub-consultants specializing in all areas of public transportation. Acknowledging the monumental level of accountability that comes with being selected to essentially serve as the collective voice for untold New Yorkers--and moreover, the nation--John H. Beyer, in a statement jointly released by Beyer Blinder Belle and Parsons Brinckeroff, considered the assignment a "very great honor, and a very great responsibility," adding that the team anticipated "working closely with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, with all the many professionals who are part of the planning team, and above all, with the community." Team Beyer Blinder Belle was chosen after the LMDC and the PANYNJ organized an official Request for Proposals, which garnered responses from groups representing over ninety architectural, planning and engineering teams. In addition to the proposals, candidates were judged on experience and qualifications, work time estimates, intended technical approach to the project, and assessed consultation costs. The teams submitting the top six proposals were then invited to advance to the oral presentation stage. Two leading teams emerged in a close finish, with Team Beyer Blinder Belle/Parsons Brinckeroff eventually winning an approximately $3 million contract after a review of its submission, in which they committed to meet the LMDC and the PANYNJ's objectives "with the right touch of respect and invention." Phase II: Dividing Nineteen Thousand Into Six With their topnotch consulting team now firmly in place, the LMDC and the PANYNJ set out to gauge the public's mindset nearly one year removed from September 11. Realizing that New York City's approximate population of 8,008,278 provided its pulse, the Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS) was appointed in March to poll citizens for a sampling of ideas, comments and suggestions that could be integrated into six initial design plans that would eventually be released in July by the LMDC and the PANYNJ. An overwhelming influx of responses--ranging from civilian sketches to professional renderings--laid the foundation for Imagine New York (www.imagineny.org), a vigorous, multilingual outreach program consisting of 230 workshops, a summit and an interactive Web site. The findings were also published in an extensive summary report and are currently featured in Imagine New York: An Exhibition of Ideas, which opened in July and coincided with the reveal of the design plans. As the LMDC and the PANYNJ move forward with the rebuilding project, Linda G. Miller, Director of Communications and Marketing for the MAS, is hopeful that Imagine New York will continue to be a viable factor in the design process. "We are very pleased with (the people's) visions," Miller says, enthusiastically, adding that the MAS "heard from such a diverse and wide group of people with true needs...and hopes that the decision makers take a lot of these (needs) into account." Meanwhile, at the LMDC, it appears that from the rebuilding project's inception, the needs of the people have been the focal point around which every major design decision has revolved. Officials assert that they will collaborate with the public to create a final plan that will memorialize the victims, as well as reflect the city's optimism and perseverance. "We vowed to incorporate public input into the planning process," LMDC President and Executive Director Louis R. Tomson said in a statement. "The invaluable public input we received is helping to shape the future of downtown." PANYNJ Executive Director Director Joseph J. Seymour added, "The input from family members of September 11 heroes (and) residents has been extremely valuable...we have been listening carefully. The time has come to incorporate what we have heard into the planning process." True to the their word, the LMDC and the PANYNJ are already using public input to shape a major design study, set to begin in September, that will be conducted by five teams handpicked by the LMDC in cooperation with New York New Visions, an advisory coalition of 21 organizations specializing in design, architecture, engineering, planning and landscape architecture. Phase III: Manhattan In the Springtime The most profound aspect of the rebuilding project is that while two mighty towers were lowered, six original design concepts have been raised in their place, sending a resounding "Bronx Cheer"--pun intended--to the iconoclasts who thought they could bring New Yorkers to their knees. In the spring of 2003, the six concepts, each boasting multiple sky-grazing towers--take that, extremists!--and at least one signature antenna or sculptural-topped 1,500 element, will be shaped by public and professional input to form final blueprints for Lower Manhattan's higher profile. The public is encouraged to view the plans at www.renewnyc.com and post comments and/or suggestions. Concept 1: Memorial Plaza Specifics: The Memorial Plaza plan features a sprawling, 8-acre plaza with a memorial/cultural building on the western edge. New public space, measuring 18.1 total acres, is reserved for parks, streets, sidewalks, and a grand promenade. To accommodate transportation, Greenwich Street is extended throughout, with partial extensions at Cortlandt Street and Fulton Street, the latter becoming a pedestrian path. Cultural endeavors are achieved with a museum and adjacent open area encompassing 100 feet of West Street. The plan also calls for an express traffic tunnel at West Street connecting Battery Park to Vesey Street, and a reduced surface boulevard for local traffic, plus a 1,500 foot high skyline element and five towers, one soaring 79 stories, two reaching 67 stories, and two more scaling 62 stories. In addition, the design allows for residential development south of Liberty Street, as well as five acres of new property created on the proposed grand promenade located over the express tunnel. The grand promenade links to Battery Park, and is accessible via ferry, Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. Concept 2: Memorial Square Specifics: This plan inspires cultural fellowship by design. Gardens link to a walkway overlooking activity revolving within a 10-acre square occupying a memorial/cultural building on the western edge. Replete with a multilevel public arcade, parks, streets, sidewalks and a grand promenade set on 24.1 total acres of public space, the area is augmented by 13 acres of new and acquired property showcasing a new cultural district south of the site. A green corridor joins Broadway to the waterfront at Liberty Street, and Greenwich Street is extended throughout. Connecting Battery Park to Chambers Street is a local surface traffic tunnel at West Street. Four towers consisting of one 80-story skyline-marking element, plus two 70-story and one 56-story skyscrapers. Similar to the Memorial Plaza design, the grand promenade links to Battery Park, and is accessible via ferry, Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. Concept 3: Memorial Triangle Specifics: Greenwich Street is extended throughout this triangular-shaped, pedestrian-friendly site, which is set on five acres of open space. In total, 13.2 acres are reserved for memorial, commercial and cultural facilities, as well as a pavilion with streets, sidewalks, and public arcades. An elevated pedestrian deck reaches the upper level of the Winter Garden and leads to the waterfront. The LMDC and the PANYNJ have acknowledged the public's increasing demand for expanded residential space. The Memorial Triangle plan is designed to provide space for possible residential development south of Liberty Street. Maintaining the aesthetic element, the design includes 6 towers, one marking the skyline at 85 stories, plus one peaking at 61 stories, and four reaching 59 stories. Concept 4: Memorial Garden Specifics: For the Memorial Garden design, four acres of open space create an expanse between Greenwich Street and West Street, with the southwest portion reserved for memorial or cultural facilities. Streets, sidewalks and public arcades stretch across 6.8 acres of new space, with a partial extension of Fulton Street from Church and Greenwich Streets, and an extension further east capped by a multi-level pedestrian concourse bridging West Street to an upper-level Winter Garden. An 80-story tower, the tallest of five ranging from 66 stories to 50 stories, is marked by an antenna or sculptural top. Concept 5: Memorial Park Specifics: The design plan for Memorial Park includes the Deutsche Bank building and the parking lot at Cedar and West Streets, and calls for six acres partially situated on a deck overlooking West Street, with 14.4 acres of new space set aside for new streets, two museum/cultural facilities, arcades, a new public square and a galleria. Fulton, Cortlandt, and Liberty Streets lie perpendicular to West Street, with south of Liberty reserved for residential development. A major corridor with a pedestrian arcade on Fulton connects Greenwich Street to the World Financial Center. For regional traffic, a West Street tunnel under the deck. Two towers measuring 72 stories prelude three 45-story towers, and are characterized by antennae or sculptural tops. Concept 6: Memorial Promenade Specifics: The two antenna or sculptural-topped 63-story towers featured in this plan adjoin four smaller ones (each scaling 32 stories) and appear to come the closest in recreating the original world famous profile. The Memorial Promenade plan offers new streets, public squares, arcades, and an enclosed galleria, plus new public squares, memorial sites, a museum, important low-rise cultural buildings, and potential residential development south of Liberty Street. Approximately 19.4 acres of public space contained within 27.7 acres will contain a large oval park on a deck above West Street, plus a grand promenade lined with commemorative trees or plants extending south along West Street to Battery Park. To symbolize the connection of spaces between the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and the World Trade Center site, the grand promenade joins museum/cultural facilities on the site to Battery Park, and is accessible via ferry, Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. A Time to Heal At press time, two announcements were made: one, that an on-site viewing wall bearing the names of victims would be unveiled on September 11, 2003; and two, that by the one-year anniversary, three cameras would be added to three others deployed in May by a group of businessmen planning to record daily images of the site. The resulting footage is being used to produce a time-lapse film spanning seven years of actual on-site rebuilding, at a cost of $900,000. Aon Corp., which lost 176 employees in the attacks, has donated $400,000 towards the filming project, further indication that the process of rebuilding is synonymous with healing, and is just as important as the process of completion. The stages of rebuilding on the former WTC site, in themselves, follow a pattern similar to that of the grieving process. The final design plan will please most, but not all, and will be met with denial and even anger from some. And although unveiling the new skyline will be an exciting, eagerly anticipated event, it will also invoke feelings of sadness for what used to be. But over time, there will be an eventual acceptance. And all good things come with time.

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