Today the LMDC released its

Today the LMDC released its six concepts for rebuilding the World Trade Center. Visit the LMDC concepts website for details. One thing that strikes me immediately is how they’re all titled “Memorial _____” (fill in the blank with Square, Promenade, Plaza, Garden Triangle, or Park). You could say this forefronts the memorial as a priority of the rebuilding efforts, but it also seems like a way to avert criticism of the process and its preliminary results. By innoculating every concept with the name “Memorial,” it takes the memorial off the table, regardless of how the memorial actually plays out in a concept. (There’s no Memorial Mall concept, even though I’m sure those Australians would happily build it in a second if they could. Maybe one of the concepts should be renamed Memorial Station or something? We’ll see.)
I am inclined to read this cynically because of my general disapproval of the process to date: the highly politicized nature of the LMDC itself (and its ultimate status as a Port Authority organ), the fundamental mediocrity of the (urban and architectural) talents brought to bear so far, and the artificial-seeming public participation in early decision-making. Ultimately, I have little confidence that the LMDC (as evidenced in its stated mission and in its aborted RFP process) can create/facilitate the type of resilient, rallying vision I think is critical to actually rebuilding our city, both physically and psychically. (One of the most extensively described requirements of the RFP is for a bus-idling station. Not exactly the stuff of soaring spirits, unless you’re the Port Authority.)
It’s a few minutes later. Don’t expect a phoenix; that’s a pigeon set to rise from the ashes. The near interchangeability of the six “concepts” is staggering. I am sure that the Port Authority’s fixation on recreating the WTC site’s previous program is the single biggest mistake they can make. Not an entirely blank slate, not a dealbreaker. But for the PA’s own political/fiefdom/leasing income priorities to so overpower all the rest of the concerns, THAT MUST CHANGE.
In any case, the concepts are on display at the Federal Hall National Memorial, on the corner of Wall and Broad Streets (across from my gym, oddly enough).