Thinking Big - A Plan for Ground Zero and Beyond
September 9, 2002 9:02 PM   Subscribe

Thinking Big - A Plan for Ground Zero and Beyond - from this past Sundays NY Times Magazine. Some months ago, when the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation made public their plans, Metafilterians were, for the most part, underwhelmed. This new plan, from an impressive set of architects, goes far beyond the LMDC plans and really redevelops much of the surrounding region as well. There's certainly no lack of bold or controversial designs. I for one, think this is the best set of suggestions that I've seen so far. Delightfully bold.
posted by warhol (16 comments total)
I don't much care for the twisty-towers, but I really can't put my finger on just why.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 9:10 PM on September 9, 2002

Funny. I just now finished reading the piece. I like Muschamp, a lot, but I like him a lot better when he writing criticism. Here he swallows whole hog statements like "critique of the Cartesian grid." Maybe one reason why, at least in the US, we have less patience with high-art architects like Koolhaas and Co. is that, while they build nice buildings, they also talk about their buildings too much, and with a critical-theory vocabulary that's never really been accepted in the States outside the academy. On the other hand, I appreciate the Times' effort greatly, if only because, as Muschamp rightly points out, it's a pleasing counterweight to the design-by-bureaucracy that put out the original plans. Nevertheless, it's not hard to guess which one the final results will most resemble.
posted by risenc at 9:17 PM on September 9, 2002

Delightfully bold indeed. I like many of the ideas they have, and even the new towers, even though they remind me of bowling pins. But, their plan for the broadcast tower (that's supposed to be the tallest structure in the world) is downright boring. Unfortunately, risenc is probably right, the chances of anything like this actually being built are small.
posted by epimorph at 10:09 PM on September 9, 2002

I would have preferred phillips head skyscrapers.
posted by Stan Chin at 10:18 PM on September 9, 2002

Then again, maybe they should just get it over with and build Frank Lloyd Wright's Mile-High Building on the site.
posted by epimorph at 10:27 PM on September 9, 2002

Mile-High Building? That is so phallic.
posted by gsteff at 11:17 PM on September 9, 2002

Mile-High Building? That is so phallic.

How incredibly perceptive! I see...anything LONG and NOT as WIDE is a penis! Wait...let me write this down...groundbreaking stuff here!
posted by HTuttle at 11:33 PM on September 9, 2002

er.......i cant see no pitchas
posted by sgt.serenity at 4:38 AM on September 10, 2002

There are some terrific ideas in the package, even if it's fairly obvious the plan as a whole would have no real chance of being realized. In particular, I liked Maya Lin's approach to memorializing the site, the event and those lost - a path cut from Ground Zero out to the west through the surrounding buildings, leading you away from destruction and terminating in a garden floating in the middle of a flowing river, under an open sky. It's more of the simple, powerful poetics she's built a reputation on and I for one would love to see it constructed, even if nothing else from the plan is built.
posted by JollyWanker at 5:27 AM on September 10, 2002

i propose a giant finger pointing at the moon.
posted by sgt.serenity at 6:04 AM on September 10, 2002

Finally--the TImes put together the kind of architectural muscle necessary for this focal point of America and the world. While I don't especially like some of the individual designs (purposely crumpled skyscrapers seem just plain kitschy, even sick) the heart of the work seems exactly right. I liked the new 110 story towers, with a twist. I really like the Wall Street trading center, even if it is a bit Star Treky. I also especially like the decision to look at the problems of the entire area, moving some streets, improving the central transport hub, and so forth.

And I heartily approve of the Maya Lin design for the memorial: ponds, shaped like the footprints of the Towers, the connecting pathway, and the floating garden. Beautiful. Moving. Healing. She is a genius.

The other designs from the LMDC were so "blah" that they felt insulting. Really, nothing about them seemed to fit the scale of this place, the importance of the Towers, the vitality of the center of American commerce.

I want to see something tall and massive and American back in this space again.

Protected by lots of anti-aircraft gun implacements, of course.
posted by mooncrow at 6:17 AM on September 10, 2002

they should disguise whatever they decide to build as giant trees.
posted by tolkhan at 6:24 AM on September 10, 2002

I would give my eyeteeth to see them build all of this. Get the rich and the Port Authority and the Rockefellers to spend some damn money again. Give New Yorkers jobs. Sink that hideous West Street mess underground. Do something radical that we can fight about and enjoy and hate -- particularly the very sensible yet dramatic Maya Lin plans.

New York's gotten so damn tepid, from the former Mayor and the Governor refusing to write new speeches for the 11th to the ugly and dull proposed designs for the WTC. It's very sad.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 6:24 AM on September 10, 2002

I once opined that really great architecture has to be controversial by its very nature.

I think that's true with the proposed ideas - they generally invoke strong reactions from people one way or the other. As long as there's not universal derision, there's something of merit there.

I love that it addresses the whole region as a whole rather than as a single piece of the jigsaw puzzle of Manhattan.
posted by warhol at 8:25 AM on September 10, 2002

Guys, can I go so far as to call the crushed buildings of Eisenman insane? How can you complain that great visionary things don't get built when they don't appear to be serious. I think walking by one of those "melting" buildings would be a pyschological assault. And lots of people wouldn't want to go into them. (More than wouldn't want to go into any new WTC buildings.)
posted by Wood at 8:49 AM on September 10, 2002

What Muschamp & his Crew did was a little risky - their works, just like the uninspired plans from BBL (the official firm) are schematic proposals - what we're supposed to be concentrating on is the Plan... and isn't it freaking AWESOME? We don't have ANYthing like this ANYwhere in this country - oh, maybe the mall, but that's more like a campus than an emerald necklace. Chicago's got the Burnham plan, but that was a 19th C. Parisian imposition on an otherwise severe grid.

This plan is a joy, a tonic, a marvel. As Muschamp rightly points out, it solves several problems at once - how to "decongest" the memorial area, how to re-stitch Downtown with Midtown, it occupies the "promenade" that BBL suggested with meaningful, functional places, or ideas for places. Yes, Muschamp was at his dorkiest when he described Peteys' warpy junk as "critques of the Cartesian grid." But he hit the nail on the head when he spelled out how we have lost the idea of architecture - and the ideas of architecture - in building and development. This project is just too damn important internationally to let it slide again.

And since everyone's weighing in on their faves: Koolhaus's upside-down towers are profoundly strange, pretty, and functional. How can you say the Broadcast Tower is ugly? It's lacy, sculptural, and tasteful - and it would be the biggest structure on earth! Vinoly's transit hub is not getting the attention it deserves, either.
posted by DenOfSizer at 9:18 AM on September 10, 2002

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