Questions Still Largely Unasked—and Unanswered

We have some questions that didn’t get asked at the December 18 presentation and still haven’t been fully addressed. These are questions that should be asked, that must be asked, if the World Trade Center site is to benefit Lower Manhattan and prove what good urban planning can do.

1. Who will want to work in an office “above the clouds” directly overlooking the site where the Twin Towers collapsed?

2. In “repairing the skyline,” are we creating another target for a new generation of terrorists?

3. Even if the new buildings are phased in, how long will it take to rent ten million square feet of office space?

4. Aren’t we just repeating the mistakes of the original World Trade Center?

5. The original World Trade Center contained 400,000 square feet of retail and was essentially a self-contained mall. How do you add an additional 400,000 to 600,000 square feet and not produce another mall?

6. Yes or No: Is a beautiful version of a mall still a mall?

7. In an age of limited resources, how much energy should be expended to build mega-structures that could stand empty for years?

8. Mega-structures were planning fiascoes in the ’60s and ’70s; what makes us think they’ll work in, say, 2008?

9. Why are contemporary architects afraid of traditional urban planning?

10. When will we get a realistic and informed plan from the LMDC that serves the needs of the neighborhood, the people of New York, and the region—not just the leaseholders?

11. Are square foot estimates the only definition of “program”? And why were these crucial estimates so rarely talked about during the December 18 presentation?

11. The architects present all talked about animating street life. How exactly does one million square feet of retail space confined to the 16-acre site animate street life for the rest of Lower Manhattan?

12. How can such diverse design ideas as those presented on December 18 be “mixed and matched” into a coherent final plan?

13. Who has the ultimate say over master planning for the site: the Port Authority or the LMDC?

14. How binding is that final master plan?

15. Why is the current planning work by planners/engineers Parsons Brinckerhoff and architects Ehrenkrantz Eckstut and Kuhn not subject to public scrutiny?

16. Why was Peterson/Littenberg Architecture & Urban Design, hired by the LMDC in May 2002 to serve as in-house architects, retained for round two outside of the “design study”?

17. How can the LMDC and the Port Authority solicit public comment while simultaneously rushing to meet their self-imposed January 31st deadline?

18. Why were these plans released so close to the Christmas holidays?

Categories: Cities