A new plan for the World Trade Center site should aspire to restore some or all of the former street system, to create mixed-use development, to bury the West Side Highway, to establish a memorial to honor those who died on September 11th, to rebuild an improved PATH station, and to strengthen mass transit in the area. These are all laudable goals, but just wishing for them won’t make them happen. The very complexity of the planning problems, the difficult structural and design issues, and the overlapping and sometimes competing institutional jurisdictions, make it difficult to achieve many of these objectives.

There are many "stakeholders" in the future of the site. Most are now well known; they include relatives of the victims, civic groups, and a wide range of city and state agencies. The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, which owns the World Trade Center site, has over time also entered into long-term agreements with a host of different leaseholders. The leaseholders, and Port Authority bondholders, also have an important stake in the site’s future. Resolution of the competing demands between new streets, a memorial and public open space and the income-generating uses needed to support them will be another test of a successful plan. This study analyzes some of these hard choices.

   

Street grid pre-World Trade Center.
 

TRANSIT, TRANSPORTATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE

A return to the street grid (in some form) would create smaller blocks congruent with the network of small blocks, which characterize much of the rest of Lower Manhattan. Smaller blocks also create a more intimate pedestrian scale . . . . How many small blocks is a function of the plan.

     

proposed 10-car PATH station at Chirch Street.
 

A NEW PATH STATION

An early decision on the location of a rebuilt PATH station is critical to developing a plan for the site, and will affect any future street system. Realistically, the station can be constructed on any of three sites within the original World Trade Center complex. Each presents difficult choices.

     

Lower Manhattan cross-island transit link with potential stops.
 

LOWER MANHATTAN TRANSIT LINKS

Because one of the project goals has been to encourage more tourists to Lower Manhattan we think that the scope, or purposes, of the transit connection might be expanded, and its capacity and appeal to tourists made greater. A moving sidewalk will not provide this service.

   

Section through proposed West Side Highway looking North.
 

WEST SIDE HIGHWAY

An at-grade road will reinforce the psychological and physical gap between Battery Park City and the rest of Lower Manhattan.

The other choice is to depress and cover the road in some fashion.

     
Note the size comparison between World Trade Center site and the Rockefeller Center Plaza.  

THE MEMORIAL AND ITS CONTEXT

Much of the discussion of the memorial has focussed on the amount of acreage to be dedicated to it. However, the question of context is just as important an issue as the ones of size and design.

   
Seven World Trade Center, study.  

THE LOWER MANHATTAN SKYLINE

A new skyline created on public land should be the subject of public discourse.

     
World Trade Center site with mixed-use development.  

COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENT

Many groups concerned about Lower Manhattan have cited the need for additional shopping. It is worth remembering that until recently there had been virtually no at-grade retail in the World Trade Center complex. Many critics cite the absence of stores as one of the major reasons there was so little activity around the site or on the enormous plaza.

     

World Trade Center site redevelopment, an alternative.
 

AN ALTERNATIVE FOR THE WORLD TRADE CENTER SITE

There can be many alternatives for reconstructing the World Trade Center site. We have developed only one, not as a preferred alternative, but as an example of how the foregoing hard choices will shape the site.

       
   
Plus, read an interview  with Craig Whitaker by Kevin Lerner.
 
   

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Posted 10/02