Australian Mall out, Architecture Mall in at WTC Site

A couple of weeks ago, the Port Authority bought out Westfield America’s lease for the retail areas of the WTC site, temporarily emptying one chair at the master plan negotiating table. The square peg mall developers from Australia just couldn’t accept that South Street Seaport, SoHo, Times Square, Rockefeller Center, and Lincoln Center were all the mall Manhattan needs right now, thanks.
But as the Observer reports, yesterday uber-leaseholder Larry Silverstein announced deals with three of the biggest brand names in the architecture business to “collaborate” in designing the office towers envisioned in Daniel Libeskind’s master plan. Norman Lord Foster, Fumihiko Maki, and Jean Nouvel will each design an office building, which will sit alongside Santiago Calatrava’s train station and the David Childs/Libeskind Freedom Tower, creating a veritable archipalooza of classy-ness. Larry’s bubba‘d be so proud.
There’s been alot of anxious hyperbole about what the WTC site will eventually look and feel like, how the process is going, and the supposed failures associated with Libeskind “losing control” over his “vision.” More and more, this process–and the proposed greatest hits list of architectural statements–reminds me of the master plan for Berlin’s historic hub, Potsdamer Platz.
Renzo Piano created the master plan, which was divided, charmingly, into the Sony Center and the Daimler Center (which Piano also designed). Related: An exhibit, “Planning Potsdamer Platz,” was at the National Building Museum (among other places) in 1999. And The Potsdamer Platz: Urban Architectures for a New Millennium, a book by Yamin von Rauch.