Santiago Calatrava joins Daniel Libeskind on World Trade Center project

British artists Andy Goldsworthy and Anish Kapoor are to design memorials

Officials overseeing the rebuilding of the World Trade Center have said that architect Daniel Libeskind’s plan for the 16-acre site will be followed virtually unchanged. The announcement follows debate as to whether Mr Libeskind’s scheme, which calls for the building of an arc of high-rise office buildings to rise around a submerged memorial, would be modified to suit the demands of Larry A. Silverstein, the developer who controls the commercial space at the site.

Daniel Libeskind will not design the entire complex. His brief was to create an overall plan, parts of which are to be designed by other architects and artists. He has never built a skyscraper, so the developer insisted that the Freedom Tower—the main feature of Mr Libeskind’s plan (its 1,776-foot height recalling the date of American independence) should be designed by David Childs of Skidmore Owings and Merrill, a practised tower builder. The train terminal, described as a Grand Central Station for Lower Manhattan, will be designed by the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, who has won acclaim for his bridges, train stations, airports, and the extension to the Milwaukee Art Museum. He was chosen by the Port Authority, which owns the land at the site, and will receive federal money to build it. In both cases, Mr Libeskind will have a secondary role.

The third, and perhaps most sensitive component, is the memorial itself. The design competition for this attracted 5,200 proposals from 62 nations. The 4.7-acre memorial site is 30 feet below street level. Its western border is the surviving subterranean retaining wall from the World Trade Center. The ambitious programme calls for a memorial that will “recognise each individual who was a victim of the attacks” in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania and “acknowledge all those who aided in rescue, recovery and healing.” It should not only incorporate unidentified remains of victims, but “evoke the historical significance and worldwide impact of September 11, 2001” and somehow “evolve over time.”

The jurors include artists Maya Lin and Martin Puryear, Studio Museum director Lowery Sims, and various scholars and city officials. They will announce a winner before the end of the year.

The site plan also sets aside 600,000 square-feet for an interpretive museum that will tell the story of the 1993 and 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, and there will be a performing arts center and other buildings for cultural projects.

The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC), the State agency managing the rebuilding, is expected to spend $200 million to $300 million on these projects. The competition is open until 15 September, after which a selection process will begin with final decisions this autumn. There have been reports that an opera company is a frontrunner for one of the main spots, but the submissions are not being made public until the competition closes.

Meanwhile several other memorials, are being built downtown, a short distance from Ground Zero. Fritz Koenig’s 25-foot-high fountain sculpture “Sphere”, which survived in its place on the Trade Center plaza, has been moved to nearby Battery Park and reinstalled with an eternal flame.

The Museum of Jewish Heritage, also on the waterfront, is inaugurating a new wing with a rooftop Holocaust Memorial Garden designed by Andy Goldsworthy, to consist of 18 boulders, hollowed out and filled with soil, out of which saplings will grow, their trunks widening and fusing with the stone.

At Hanover Square just south of Wall Street, a British Memorial Garden is to be created, with yew hedges, topiaries and formal flowerbeds laid out by landscape architects to the British royal family, Julian and Isabel Bannerman, as a gift to the City of New York by the British community in the city. The British Consulate-General and the St George’s Society of New York are raising $3.5 million for “a place of remembrance, not only for the British subjects who lost their lives in the attack on the World Trade Center, but also for the many thousands of British servicemen and others who have given their lives alongside their American comrades in war.”

The plans call for the Union Flag to fly alongside the Stars and Stripes, and for a sculpture by a British artist to “represent the bond between the British and American people.” Anish Kapoor is said to be the frontrunner in the competition. For further details of the scheme, expected to be finished by summer 2004, visit

The New York Public Library has received an archive of photographs of the events of 11 September. The 3,000 images and texts by more than 700 amateur and professional contributors from 40 countries, were assembled in a SoHo gallery in the aftermath of the attacks, and subsequently toured the nation, with additions made in each venue. Now they will be preserved in the Library’s Division of Art, Prints and Photographs. An exhibition of the “September 11 Photo Project” remains on view until 20 September.

Appeared in The Art Newspaper Archive, 139 September 2003