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NEW YORK CITY-Nearly a year after the World Trade Center was destroyed by terrorist bombs, the agency charged with coordinating the redevelopment of Lower Manhattan has scrapped its operational plan and is going back to the drawing board, literally. The Lower Manhattan Development Corp. will host a global competition to select five new design teams and will set forth revised guidelines recommending less office space, more residential uses, a greater emphasis on cultural institutions and a lot more pizzazz.

Under its former development plan, the LMDC chose a single team–architecture firms Beyer Blinder Belle and Peterson Littenberg–to deliver a three-phased Downtown land-use proposal by December. The first phase, which included six design models, was savaged by the public and panned in the press.

At a press conference held yesterday to announce the new course of action, LMDC board member and the lead owner of Chelsea Piers, Roland Betts, noted today that critics of the plans called them “mundane, boring, and pedestrian. They lacked spunk. We are looking for excitement and creativity.” (GlobeSt.com reported the LMDC’s plan yesterday. See: LMDC Launches WTC Design Competition; Revises Guidelines.)

To that end, the LMDC will run ads in newspapers worldwide inviting architects and planners to participate in the new design study. A request for qualifications will be issued on Monday and responses are due by Sept. 16. Up to five teams will selected by Sept. 30 and final presentations–including drawings, computer-generated images and site models–must be completed by the end of November. Each team will receive a $40,000 stipend for its work on the study.

Beyer Blinder Belle and Peterson Littenberg will work with the selected firms. All submissions will be ready for public review by the end of 2002.

Betts said discussions are ongoing with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, owner of the WTC site, to formulate a plan that would move some of the 10 million sf of office space and half million sf of retail out of Ground Zero. While there was no mention of talks with Larry Silverstein, who holds a 99-year lease on the twin towers site, the developer has repeatedly stated that he is willing to discuss any development scenario that is formally presented to him.Guidelines for firms competing to land one of the five spots will include:

  • Inclusion of a tall structure to recreate the majestic skyline of Lower Manhattan
  • Exclusion of commercial development from the twin tower footprints
  • Incorporation of residential housing elements both on and off site
  • A mixture of commercial and retail space to be determined by the Port Authority and the LMDC
  • Construction of a Grand Promenade on West Street that would connect the memorial site with the Battery Park ferries
  • Restoration of the street grid to accommodate a combination of vehicular and pedestrian traffic
  • Designation of cultural elements, either on dedicated footprints or within other structures
  • Sequential design of open spaces in addition to the main memorial space.

    New York New Visions, a coalition of 21 architecture, engineering, planning, landscape architecture and design organizations, will advise LMDC in choosing the five teams.

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