Round 1

After September 11, 2001, George Pataki and Rudolph Giuliani created the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation ( to handle the redevelopment of the fallen World Trade Center site, as well as the economic revitalization of Manhattan south of Houston Street. At first, the shock of the 9/11 attacks led Giuliani, as well as many New Yorkers and Americans in general, to believe that rebuilding the WTC would be an affront to the memory of those who died there. However, as the preceding writeups indicate, this sentiment was not very long-lived. Several plans were proposed to the LMDC in July 2002 for a new World Trade Center. They looked like this:
  1. Memorial Plaza: One 79-story tower, with four smaller towers on the eastern edge of the WTC lot. 18 acres of park space would be left in the center, with the footprints of the twin towers as a memorial.
  2. Memorial Square: One cylindrical 80-story tower at the northeast corner. The property is ringed by an elevated plaza: the lowered middle is a 24-acre park with the footprints of the twin towers left intact. Three smaller office buildings would be placed at the other corners.
  3. Memorial Triangle: (see a pattern developing here?) One 85-story stepped building, again flanked by five smaller towers. 13 acres of park in the middle, with the footprints intact.
  4. Memorial Garden: One 86-story John Hancock Building. Smaller buildings, 6.8 acres of park space, and the obligatory footprints.
  5. Memorial Park: No footprints in this one: instead, an obelisk marks the site of the original towers, and five buildings are built on the eastern edge of the property.
  6. Memorial Promenade: Two 63-story towers flanked by four 32-story towers. This was generally regarded as the best of the original six plans, and won by a large margin in a New York Post readers' poll, mostly because it was the only plan that involved building another Twin Towers, and restoring the skyline of Manhattan to something resembling its pre-2001 state.
All of these plans shared common traits. They were unambitious, uninteresting, and didn't live up to the reputation of the original World Trade Center. So the LMDC ended up throwing them out and inviting another competition.

Round 2

In August, LMDC called for new design submissions for the WTC site. They received 406 submissions from six continents, and ended up giving $40,000 contracts to seven architectural firms for detailed proposals. The firms were instructed to design a context for a future memorial, not to attempt to design the memorial itself. They were told that their designs had to be inspiring, tall, and powerful, with the capability to be deeply interconnected with the transportation and commercial networks of lower Manhattan. Of course, there was also an unwritten rule: the buildings had to be incredibly safe, capable of being evacuated in a matter of minutes, and definitely impervious to a collision with a widebody airliner.

The seven resulting proposals are:

  1. Studio Libeskind, Berlin: The centerpiece of the Libeskind proposal is a 1,776-foot angular steel spire, more than 400 feet higher than the original WTC, surrounded by several smaller angular towers. 6 acres would be left for memorial space.
  2. Foster and Partners, London: A single 1,765-foot tower would be built, using triangular panels that intersect with each other to give the building the impression of twin towers. It would be constructed to the east of the WTC's footprints.
  3. Meier Eisenman Gwathmey Holl, New York: Five 1,111-foot buildings. They are arranged in a set of two and a set of three at right angles to each other: the towers in each set are connected by aerial walkways to give them a grid-like appearance. Pools of water would stand at the towers' footprints, with their old shadows marked on the ground.
  4. THINK Team, international: THINK has put forward three proposals. The most ambitious of these is a World Cultural Center, which would have two 2,100-foot cage-like towers surrounding shorter buildings connected by an aerial walkway. Another proposal is the Great Room, a white glass house built over the WTC site, with the footprints of the twin towers cut out. In essence, it would be a negative of the original World Trade Center. The Sky Park, their third proposal, would feature three 1,700-foot towers.
  5. United Architects, international: Perhaps the most unorthodox proposal of all involves five towers, which eventually bend and fuse into each other to finish in a single tower at 1,620 feet and 112 stories. If you've ever played SimCity 2000 and remember what a Darco looks like... well, that's what UA's proposal looks like.
  6. Stephen Peterson and Barbara Littenberg, New York: This couple is the dark horse of the competition, two small-time architects with a totally unambitious plan. Their concept features twin towers 1,400 feet tall, in an early industrial style remniscient of the Empire State Building. Between the two towers would be a large promenade, opening up on a massive green space memorial: the old South Tower would become a pool, while the North Tower would become an amphitheater with 2,792 seats, one for each victim of the attack.
  7. Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, New York: The last firm competing has the most impressive resume, having designed the Sears Tower and the headquarters of AOL Time Warner. Their plan, the Vertical City, calls for nine 1,000-foot, 80-story buildings on the WTC site, connected at several points. Half of the site would be used as a reflecting pool.
The plans were presented on December 19, 2002, and the LMDC expects to make a decision by February on the future of the World Trade Center site.