According to Herbert Muschamp, he has discovered the way to “liberate the site from the clutches of politicians, architects, their publicists and other unqualified figures who have presumed to speak in history’s name. And it could slow the breakneck redevelopment timetable imposed by Gov. George E. Pataki.” That, or he’s completely lost it.
On the day when the LMDC Jury is set to announce the “winning” Memorial design, Muschamp waxes poetic–without any actual facts or reporting to back up his excitement–over what’s called a Section 106 Review, a federally mandated evaluation of the WTC site’s historical significance. Part of the National Historic Preservation Act, the review must be completed before federal money can be spent on the site. Muschamp sees this as a saving act: “Architectural preservationists are coming to the rescue one more time,” he says. [Q: Are you counting the Main St USA-style streetlamps on the West Side Highway as the first time, Herb?”]
Here are some Section 106 facts, from the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, which administers the law:
1. There was already at least one WTC-related Section 106 review, which dealt with a damaged landmark 1905 office building by Cass Gilbert. The ACHP case study praises the way in which the Sec. 106 process was adapted and “streamlined” so as to not get in the way of other activities on the site.
2. When Section 106 was invoked to preserve the 18th c. Negro burial ground discovered during the construction of the Foley federal courthouse in lower Manhattan, GSA listened politely, then ignored ACHP as it built. It then declared itself in compliance with Sec. 106.
3. I’m sure it means nothing, but the two presidential appointees of the ACHP are from Houston–and Albany.
If the Times were the 1/9 train, Muschamp would be the guy who gets on at 103rd, whose jabberings scare the passengers boarding downstream into other cars.