WTC: The Final Masterplan

Mason White

SEPT. 2006

JUNE. 2005

FEB. 2003

Sep 7, 06 12:15 pm

This is the best we can do? Talk about watered down.

Sep 7, 06 12:20 pm

looks like an "ordinary" unoriginal developers wet dream...just what amerika deserves....yeah!

Sep 7, 06 12:25 pm
Mason White
Sep 7, 06 12:33 pm


I can't wait for the CCTV to put these losers to shame.

Sep 7, 06 12:34 pm

They look awfully alike hundreds of other skyscrapers around the globe.

Sep 7, 06 12:36 pm

what has happened to this scheme? I thought it had some issues in the lebiskind schematic phase, but THIS is absolutely unnacceptable.

How do these people sleep at night? More people than just a few archinecters are going to be outraged at how banal and uninspired this design is. There is absolutely nothing but the overall size and empty footprints that distinguish this project from any other highrise development with a mediocre budget/location.... are we satisfied with this?

I rarely speak up on these boards but I am so dissapointed with what ARCHITECTS and civic leaders have allowed to happen to perhaps the most INSPIRING, high profile potential project to be presented to the richest country in the world EVER.

truly a tragedy of design potential... what a waste... lets hope many more changes occur to this crap-- I'd much rather have the original libeskind scheme, which seems to say SOMETHING, than this typical crap.

Sep 7, 06 12:45 pm

my apologies if i spelled libeskind wrong-- i can never spell his name

Sep 7, 06 12:46 pm

perhaps the most dissapointing thing is that we once again a shown that capatalism trumps any sense of civic responsability

Sep 7, 06 12:49 pm

ksArcher, I agree. i thought the original libeskind design was one of the most uninteresting (pandering) competition entries, but this stuff is just plain uninspired.

Sep 7, 06 12:53 pm

potsdamer platz the sequel?

Sep 7, 06 1:01 pm
Rim Joist's that again there, lletdown?

Sep 7, 06 1:02 pm
the silent observer

This is really a sorry conclusion to a protracted process...disheartening, to me, to imagine that this will be the final architectural solution...I know people argue about architecture/iconography/symbolism and whatnot, but surely, there could have been something better than this....ks, you're right on...if the architecture felt worth the process, it might have become one of those great mythologies...but, for something so mundane, it feels completely pointless....Five years later, we get this?

Sep 7, 06 1:04 pm

if the developers ruled the world would it look like this...oh wait developers do rule the world and it does look like this!

Sep 7, 06 1:05 pm

Remember the original proposals from Beyer Blinder and Belle and resulting outrage? Looks like we all just made a big circle. Should have just hired them and saved 4 years on the schedule.

Sep 7, 06 1:42 pm

i actually think donald trump's makes more sense

Sep 7, 06 1:45 pm

...just clad it in copper

Sep 7, 06 1:46 pm

those crazy developers . . . they're so funny. seriously, though, where are the real renderings?

Sep 7, 06 1:46 pm

i wrote something and then deleted it...but i guess this is what i was going to say.

did it really have a chance to be something great anyway? how bout in our community's eyes?

besides, its ny...

Sep 7, 06 1:49 pm


Don't get mad. This scheme give me/you the confident that I/u can be a big name architect too in 5 years.

I guess the main idea to expose the new master plan now is to show the conflict between all buildings. Later on, the commitee will ask each architects/design group to revise their schemes based on some new ordinance.

Here is what I posted in another thread:
Man. Look at the several other towers surrounding the freedom tower, I have a word "chaos". But think again, this is realistic urban planning in a modern city. We can't make every building look similar and get a echo and comfort feeling. Each building have its own owners/tenants and should have its own identity. Otherwise, the whole area will looks very arbitrary for the people.

What is the solution?

HOW about adopt some general guidances like axis, similar set back profile? I think COBB's "Tour EDF at La Défense" set a good example for this type of thing.

Your opinions are welcome

Sep 7, 06 2:11 pm

yeah, it had a chance, but then again, I guess politicians are far worse than greedy developers. It would have taken some vision from someone with power.

This will be one for the books, though. SOM will go down as a pushy, greedy firm that kicked out the visionary (although I agree danny's first scheme sucked), Childs will go down as the architect that blew the biggest opportunity, Silverstein will go down as a greedy developer.

I personally think it's a shame Childs did this. As far as I know, he's not done anything worth noting, but SOM has. A shame, really.

I do wonder how they can sleep at night. Surely everyone involved is aware of how badly this is being received.

BBB's scheme(s) look good compared to this.

This will also be a horrific blow to architecture in this country. A competition that was approved by the public was scrapped in one big conspiracy (we all remember when SOM dropped out and there were rumors they were working a deal behind the scenes, right? All too true).

Sep 7, 06 2:13 pm

Let's not try to make any sophisticated judgements and follow our senses and say:

It's horrible.

Sep 7, 06 3:28 pm
Workshop B

Did anyone question why the SOM building has to have 12 or whatever floors of solid "blast proof" walls but the other three buildings seem to have glass all the way down to the street level...?
And can we please stop it calling it the freedom tower, I know it evokes emotion and images of grandeur and resilience but lets be should just be called tower 1. I get more emotion out of an episode of laguna beach then looking at that crap.

Sep 7, 06 5:00 pm

"I get more emotion out of an episode of laguna beach then looking at that crap."


Sep 7, 06 5:57 pm


perhaps the most accurate name for the project should be tower 1/2.

Sep 7, 06 6:37 pm
Carl Douglas (agfa8x)

This was never going to be anything special. Too much money, too many committees, too many fingers in pies, too many cooks in the kitchen.

I'm surprised anyone's surprised.

In the long run, the competition entries will have a bigger effect on architecture than the buildings themselves.

Sep 7, 06 7:01 pm
Mulholland Drive

I am not surprised...David Childs is an true embarrassment to American architecture. A stale, boring man doing stale, boring designs and leading a stale, boring of army of corporate worker bees. For all the resources that SOM has and the influence it COULD provide to make architecture relevant, it would rather be a compliant wet-nurse to corporate greed.

Architecture in this country has no chance until these goons die off. Hopefully the next generation of American architects is smart enough not to follow down the same path of uninspired dreck and bold enough to demand for and politically provide an architecture and urbanism that responds to the very dire needs of American society.

The WTC site is a illustration of just how lost and uninspired this country has become. Outside of architecture, where is the outcry to demand something better? Should we just fall on our sword now and bow to Asia?

Sep 7, 06 7:04 pm

I actually like it!

Sep 7, 06 7:24 pm

Now here's what I think, wait for it...

Yes that's right, I think the newest masterplan is fantastic!
Of course though because I'm not an architect and only an "enthusiast" I have no opinion on these forums ;-).

The thing is with the WTC, no matter what anyone proposes, someone will whinge. That's the reason why it has been delayed for 5 years, as agfa8x said, too many fingers in the pie, everyone wants their piece and they won't stop until they get it.
Well, this masterplan does its best to give something to everyone. To the people who want their skyline rebuilt it has definitely gotten rebuilt. The spiral effect really works to create a nice peak in downtown rather than 2 big blocks and then the rest of the towers half the size. To the people who wanted a memorial they've got a memorial, to who wanted the twins back they have one tower as tall and a 2nd almost as tall. Silverstein also has his office space back.
For those that wanted a park on the whole site and nothing but a park there's no way that would happen, this is prime land in downtown NYC.

I have to say well done Foster and Rogers, towers 2 and 3 look great and will definitely be iconic, especially tower 2. Tower 4 is nothing special but I don't think that's bad. Having different architects working on a project like this means that they can all end up designing their towers so that they compete for attention and sometimes it can be too much. It seems Maki decided to take a step back and leave the spotlight to the others.

Now that these 3 towers have been released I really think the freedom tower itsself needs a redesign. The other towers might well become the real icons now since with their far superior designs they'll steal the show.

They definitely look better I think if you see the larger renderings.

(I know I'm going to get blasted for saying this but what the hell...)

To all the naysayers, what would your proposals for this site have been. Keeping in mind the number of people with different opinions you'd have to please I'd like to see you come up with a better solution.

Sep 7, 06 9:42 pm

Le sigh. I think what the US needs is Europe's balls. Sure a lot of people hate Foster's dildo in London but they had the balls to be different. Appart from the footprints which is the only somewhat interesting thing in the proposal (but not the really interesting one it could've been) this is all as generic as they come.

As a guy living in Chicago now I must say, from this NYC dosen't look like the hub of desing some people here make it out to be.

Sep 7, 06 10:18 pm

I'll take Foster's first proposal. At least it was unique and clear in its distinction.

Sep 8, 06 12:07 am

How will these new towers respond to security issues? Are they going to become walls of huge concrete bunkers at the street level?

Sep 8, 06 12:25 am

im with albob. I like the direction. I really did not want the site to be type casted to a specific architectural firm all along. I believe if SOM does it, no one will really remember them for their work but remember it for the reserved space of what once was. It is the developers land, it is their right to choose their direction and the river view looks pretty NY to me. and that's all that matters, it is NY.

Sep 8, 06 1:14 am

It's funny that nobody has talked about one of the biggest changes from old WTC to new WTC: the path terminal underground. In terms of importance to the city as a functioning whole (not to mention dollar value) the towers, museums, and memorial are really just a carpet covering the PATH/LIRR/subway terminal-- one of the most important interchanges in NYC. What's being done there is just as retrograde as what's above-- you have to meander through an endless subterranean stripmall to get to your final destination. It's not unlike the Les Halles competition in Paris -- a historically charged, multilayered site gets burdened with a boring solution that gives all deference to retail and expedience, sacrificing the end user.

Also, last time i checked the towers were going to have the same concrete bunker feel on the ground, except where the bottom few stories bumped out to make retail space--kind of a buy-me blast zone. But it looks okay on seven world trade, so cross your fingers.

Sep 8, 06 1:36 am


Sep 8, 06 2:09 am
Carl Douglas (agfa8x)

...returning to the idea that this was always going to happen:

The WTC is as close to an architecture of pure capitalism as I can imagine. That's one of the reasons it was targeted: as a monumental representation of democratic capitalism.

In a moment of strong national and community feeling, the idea arose that the towers were communal property, and that their replacement was a civic matter. The thought momentarily reverberated that there would be a single powerful communal architectural gesture. This is what the high-profile competition responded to, and what Libeskind tapped into. It was nice, a therapeutic idea for New Yorkers, and as I suggested, it gave rise to a collection of significant paper projects by major architects.

Of course this was delusional, for the simple reason that the site is private property. Essentially, the way that capitalism works is that the community doesn't get to say what is done with private property... So, what you get is a few public gestures: the wedge of light, a symbolic spire, the footprint monument.

I'm not saying this is a good thing, necessarily. It has given rise, IMHO to a collection of conventional glass towers that are individually mediocre and stand together awkwardly. It's just a condition of twentieth-century urbanism. It's what Koolhaas identified in Delirious New York and with the City of the Captive Globe

Sep 8, 06 2:33 am

If the community got to say what should be done there nothing would get done. You think compromise between between a few people killed the WTC design? Think of the compromise between 15 million of our fellow citizens. If we had the government take over the site and build there, what do you think would happen? Who is responsible for the worst architecture in New York City in recent memory? It's own government, with it's high rise public housing projects. I'm sorry but the best architecture has been and always will be an individual quest, a tale of lone megalomaniacs that scream "I" at the heart of the world. Sometimes, you get the right people in the mix and greatness can happen like the Segram Building, sometimes you get people like Silverstein, Childs and Libeskind, throw in PATHNYNJ, the New York government, the City government, the victim's families, and the countless other parties involved in this messy affarir, and what do you arrive at? Compormise. Foster, Maki, and Rogers could have done better at this site, but they didn't. Why do you think that is? They aren't bad architects, but they put mediocre design out there because that's what the parties involved want and won't argue over, no controversy and their projects can get built. I'll agree with you that this is definately architecture for the market, but what would you rather have? Architecture for the government? We can't have architecture for the people because the people don't know what they want, the people have to be told WHAT they want by us ego-maniacal architects and our Midas developer buddies. You ask fifteen million people what they want, and all your gonna hear is noise. This was a project that was killed by a commitee. All you can go on is the individual, sometimes, you get the right person in the right place. This project probably would have come out better if it was just SOM and Silverstein at the wheel, but it would still look pretty damn bad no matter what.

Sep 8, 06 10:29 am
Rim Joist

Aside from almost everyone's lambasting of "greedy developers" and awful design, I think there is a wider perspective to all this, and I think Agfa8x is starting to chisel into it a bit. Perhaps the larger picture takes in another tragedy, really, of the excruciatingly long design process wherein the supposed symbol of capitalism, and, therefore, of the United States of America, gets co-opted by the force of government.

This represents a stunning irony. And, the general apathetic compliance to this co-opting -- even from Siverstein, really -- is remarkable. But not a word.

Perhaps the government -- at whatever controlling level -- could have better served the public by first assessing the desire of the taxpayers to build a monumental structure in response to 9-11, along with their corresponding willingness to pay for it with public monies, i.e. tax money. If the proposed effort actually represented the will of the people, then the governement should have purchased the property at market value and built a public structure from a design from an actual free-for-all design competition -- chosen by the taxpayers.

Sep 8, 06 11:05 am
Rim Joist

Politics, sorry.

Sep 8, 06 11:15 am

It's horrible.. Is that Architecture?!

Sep 8, 06 11:42 am
Mulholland Drive

This was a project that was "killed by a committee", as Apurimac very accurately described.

However, I strongly feel that the architectural community, as a professional entity, was a complete non-factor in the entire process. As a profession, we flake out on the responsibilities that we have as a social contributor, not in terms of just providing design, but in terms of being players in the political process.

Sep 8, 06 12:59 pm
Living in Gin

Actually, the site is public property, owned by the Port Authority of New York and New Jesery. But it's leased to and managed by Silverstein.

Sep 8, 06 1:50 pm
Rim Joist

KnNot the site, Gin.
Talk is aobut the project and the process of the project.
Also see Agfa8x.

Sep 8, 06 1:57 pm
Rim Joist

Not the site, Gin.
Talk is about the project and the process of the project.
Also see Agfa8x.

Sep 8, 06 1:58 pm
Rim Joist

Spelling is hard.

Sep 8, 06 1:58 pm
Living in Gin

My point is that the original WTC project was, above all else, a government project, built and owned by the Port Authority -- the same quasi-governmental entity that owns and operates JFK Airport, LaGuardia Airport, Newark Airport, the PATH system, and the shipping facilities around New York Harbor. (BTW, this is how they were able to exempt the project from NYC building codes, a fact that became painfully illustrated after the first attack in 1993.)

The fact that Silverstein signed a long-term lease on the project just a few weeks before 9/11 doesn't change that. And given the fact that the government (i.e., the people) ulitmately owns the property, and because of the sheer scale of the project, I don't think it's unreasonble to expect that the general public have a significant voice on the project via their elected representatives.

The problem is that, as mentioned above, there have been too many fingers in the pie. The PA understandably wants their say in the project, but so does the city government of New York (which includes NYPD and FDNY), and the state government in Albany... So now we've got three governmental entities that need to be satisfied, each of which traditionally holding the other two in distrust and contempt... Not to mention Silverstein, the victims' familes, and legions of armchair critics such as us.

IMO, the project was doomed before the fires even stopped burning.

Sep 8, 06 2:16 pm
Rim Joist

Wha? Gin, you've convinced yourself that it IS a public project. It's not. Part of the "controversy" was also that Silverstein collected insurance to the tune of 860 million on an orignal investment of 360 million, for a profit of 500 million. Couldn't have done that on a public building. Leased site, sure. He's a private party, bought the building property rights, and is still being told what the building will look like. That's a big problem, IMO --

Sep 8, 06 2:46 pm
Rim Joist

I just think it should have been EITHER government, OR private, not a mix. But I always think that about everything. You may not agree. But it's Friday. Beers all around.

Sep 8, 06 2:47 pm

beer!!! this thread finally got interesting.

Sep 8, 06 2:56 pm
Rim Joist

I agree, Steven, I was even boring myself shitless.

Set 'em up!

Sep 8, 06 2:58 pm
Living in Gin

The fact that Silverstein made a $500M profit from the deaths of 3000 people doesn't change the fact this project has a significant public component, if only because of the sheer size and prominence of the project, and because of its position in the public consciousness.

In NYC, even purely "private" developments of modest size have to go through an extensive period of public comment.

IMO, I think this process can often be overly cumbersome and has killed a number of worthy projects in the city, but much of it is in reaction to Robert Moses bulldozing entire neighborhoods during the 50's and 60's for freeways and housing projects, with little or no public input. But despite its excesses, I think it's far preferable than some libertarian free-for-all a la Houston.

Sep 8, 06 3:17 pm

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