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Winning the WTC Competition: Penn Architects

The winning design for rebuilding
Ground Zero

The plan chosen for the World Trade Center (WTC) site, was designed by Penn architects Daniel Libeskind, the Paul Philippe Cret Professor of Architecture and principal architect of Studio Daniel Libeskind, and Dr. Gary Hack, dean and Paley Professor, GSFA and chairman of the Philadelphia City Planning Commission. Professor Libeskind is perhaps best known for the Jewish Museum in Berlin where he based the building's design on a fractured Star of David, which symbolizes the Holocaust and Jewish life in Germany.

The Libeskind design for New York City was chosen over the Think team's design, led by architect Rafael Viñoly, designer of the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia.

The Studio Daniel Libeskind design called "Memory Foundations," is a group of five shard-like glass buildings containing a 1,776-foot spire. The selection is the culmination of a process that began last spring. The design was chosen from a group of seven proposals submitted to the international competition in early December. In mid-December the field was narrowed to two finalists and the winner was announced last Thursday at a news conference at the World Financial Center's Winter Garden adjacent to Ground Zero, by a committee with representatives of the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, New York Governor George E. Pataki, and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The design of five buildings will surround two deep pits that are all that remain of the original twin towers. A memorial will be erected on this part of the site, some 30 feet below ground level. The spire will contain "Gardens of the World" at the top. The 1,776 foot spire will make the building the tallest in the world surpassing the Petronas Towers in Malaysia by 293 feet. A separate competition will be held in this spring for the design of the memorial.

Memory Foundations arranges the buildings so that on September 11 of each year, a ray of sunlight will illuminate the site from 8:46 a.m. until 10:28 a.m. as a remembrance of when the original towers were attacked on September 11, 2001.

The project is expected to take 10-12 years to complete and the flexible design will provide for about 8.5 million square feet of office space. Current project cost estimates are $330 million.

More photos of the winning design


  Almanac, Vol. 49, No. 24, March 4, 2003