Rebuilding the World Trade Center

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There is not an employee on the face of the earth who would agree to work at a company that established offices on the upper floors of a re-built 110-story World Trade Center. The idea of building four 55-story buildings instead is a good one, but does not go far enough.

I propose creating four octogonal buildings, which would be linked by frequent ramps. All four buildings would also be surrounded by an octogonal glass structure linked by ramps, as well, which would contain shops, gallery and exhibition space, food courts and so on.

Elevator banks (not shown) would be located in the center of each building. Automated ramps (people movers, as used in some airports) would be used instead of escalators or stairs, so that handicapped people could use them (and, in a panic, people could run without tripping). Each building would be raked with staging levels (not shown), so that it would be impossible to jump without safely being stopped at a lower floor. The roofs of the four buildings would have heliports for regular and emergency evacuation uses.

The ramps and skeletal outer structure would never be used for moving heavy equipment or materials, only for moving people, so as to minimize the load that they would have to bear. The ramps would be fire-resistant, and vented in such a way that it would be impossible for smoke to accumulate in them.

The water tower would act like an umbrella for all-weather plaza events. The plaza would contain two long, rectangular blocks, 2.5 feet high (not shown), upon which were engraved the names of all missing or dead, in order by floor. These would either cross like a V, or run parallel to each other, and would end in a large square base which contained the names of all of the emergency workers and others lost at ground level. Smoke would rise from an eternal flame at the center of the square base.

From above, the design evokes the symbol of the Red Cross. From the side, it will blend well with the World Financial Center buildings to the west. If antennas are appropriate, then redundant antennas should be located on more than one building.

The design evokes strength, stability, security and safety. Its linked structures speak to the many things that link the varied people of our city and country together.

Barry Drogin
First posted November 10, 2001

New thoughts posted on March 26, 2002

I am more and more sympathetic to the idea that the World Trade Center should not be rebuilt in any way, that there be no commercial development on the site. I think the idea of a second Central Park, a large memorial site, perhaps combined with cemetery space, with lots of greenery pumping oxygen into the air, would be wonderful. I don't know why we have to view everything as "prime real estate". Could Central Park have been built today?

Comments on the "Principles and Preliminary Blueprint" sent to RenewNYC@empire.state.ny.us on May 23, 2002

I disagree with principle 9, and believe it violates everything else related to the "sacred ground" concept. What no one is mentioning is that New York City as a whole is now completely devoid of cemetery space, and that what is needed is not a memorial but a cemetery.

I will tell you a story. I visited Israel a decade ago (what is called "making aliyah" for a Jew), and my schedule allowed me to make a visit to the Western Wall (Wailing Wall) of Jerusalem on Shabbas morning to pray at the holiest site in all of Judaism. There are two ways to get there, one through a sparsely populated side gate, and one through the center of the old city, with its narrow winding streets. On Shabbas, a day of no work, the main route was lined with vendors hawking their wares to the Jews making their way to the Western Wall. There is a turn-off to the Wall - if you continue straight, you end up at the entrance to the Dome of the Rock; if you turn, you go to the Western Wall. The vendors sharply fall off on the route to the Dome of the Rock - they are not allowed on the route to the Western Wall. The feeling I had of this most holy of pilgrimages was of running a gauntlet of hustlers. Is this what we want for the "Freedom Park"? Concession stands, official 9/11 postcards, museum shops, mementoes to bring home? Is this truly "sacred ground" where relatives of the deceased can go to grieve, or is it a theme park for tourists? Are there concession stands in a cemetery?

I propose that a large portion of the former World Trade Center site be designated an active cemetery. Room for at least 2800 graves be allocated - these would all be symbolic "double graves". For those whose remains have never been found and who otherwise have no other plot in another cemetery, their relatives - primarily their spouses - would be given the first option of reserving a funeral plot with a double headstone, one for the 9/11 victim, one reserved for the spouse or other relative who would be buried on the site. For families that did not choose to use the plot, other WTC survivors would be allowed to apply to a lottery to use the plot. For those whose remains were found and have been buried elsewhere, or who otherwise have been cremated or given symbolic plots elsewhere, double headstone memorial plots "in memory" of the victim would be used, again, at the first option to the victim's family, as a second option to a lottery. This would create two separate cemeteries, one for those whose remains were never found, and one for those whose remains were found but are buried elsewhere - the "buried here" section and the "in memory of" section.

As a second option, I would agree with those who want the footprints of the two towers to be preserved as non-commercial memorial space. I think a large body of water is inappropriate - something sound buffered from the city noise, that allows for perception of the enormity of the space, for quiet contemplation (not tour bus walking tours!).

As a third option, if we must build new office space, I agree with the four 50 story tower concept, and feel it should be supplemented with an external skeleton of egress/gallery/restaurant/shopping space.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on your plans.

Link back to My Personal September 11 Page.

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Last Updated: September 12, 2007