May 24, 2005
New York Governor George Pataki, Mayor
Michael Bloomberg, and the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation,
which oversees construction at the World Trade Center, unveiled
a schematic design for the first of two cultural buildings
at the Trade Center site on May 19. The "Cultural Center"
building, designed by Norwegian firm Snøhetta, will
house The Drawing Center and a new museum called the International
Freedom Center. Frank Gehry's performing performing arts building
will be unveiled at a later date.
Snøhetta's building, which will sit on the northeast
corner of the memorial plaza, was designed to minimize interference
with the memorial itself. In contrast to the planned 1776-foot
Freedom Tower, the Cultural Center would be a low, horizontal
building, with clear sightlines from Greenwich Street, on
the east, to the World Trade Center Memorial on the west.
Stefan Pryor, the president of the LMDC, said that "Because
[the Cultural Center] is suspended in midair, it offers unimpeded
visual and physical access to the World Trade Center Memorial
Craig Dykers, one of the two Snøhetta designers on
hand, said that the architects worked with both clients in
biweekly workshops over a 90-day period. His partner, Kjetil
Thorsen, explained the "tabletop design" for the
structure. Snøhetta worked with the New York office
of Buro Happold engineers to design the system, whereby the
bulk of the building would be hung from a supporting structure
at its roof. That structure, in turn, would be supported at
its corners. A processional ramp would lead visitors up from
ground level to the exhibition and auditorium spaces above.
Mayor Bloomberg attempted to preempt criticism from the families
of September 11th victims by complimenting "a design
that integrates the memorial, and is respectful of the buildings
Governor Pataki, who has been under fire for delays at the
World Trade Center site, announced a timeline for various
projects on the site. He said Snøhettas cultural
center would break ground in 2007, and that new plans for
the Freedom Tower, which is being redesigned to address safety
concerns, would be presented in June. This summer, construction
will begin on the Santiago Calatravadesigned PATH terminal.
Crews would break ground to build the memorial plaza itself
in 2006, and the cultural center would break ground in 2007.