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    Introduction   Conceptual designs   Competing offices       Mayors words           The United Architects design                               Conclusion      
 
There are a few types of projects which in the world of architecture are generally considered as difficult. Most of these concern cooperation between different architects, a high number of involved parties, politically highly sensitive projects and planning projects which are so big that its hard to see the overall picture. Take all these, add murdering competition from the biggest and most famous architecture offices in the world and you will end up with something that looks like the design competition for Ground zero: rebuilding the September 11 WTC site.

United architects handed in one of the seven designs. This exhibit gives a brief overview of the project.
 
Six general conceptual designs to study the spatial layout of the site, their urban impact and placement of facilities were presented to the public. The link below shows these six concepts. They were developed by the planning commission to be used by all architects designing for the WTC site. Seven designs were handed in by different studio's all over the world. From these designs two were chosen as finalists and finally the design of Studio Libeskind was elected as the design to be executed.
 
The seven offices that presented a project were (click for official presentation):

Foster & Partners
Cooperation of 42 architects
Studio Daniel Libeskind
Richard Meier & Partners
Eisenman, Gwathmey Siegel & Associates, Steven Holl, Arup Services
Peterson/Littenberger
Steven Peterson, Barbara Littenberg
SOM, et. al.
SANAA, Kazuyo Sejima, Ryue Nishizawa, Inigo Manglano-Ovalle, Rita McBride
 
THINK Design
Frederic Schwartz, Rafael Vinoly, Shigery Ban & Dean Maltz, Ken smith,
Rockwell group, ARUP, Buro Happold, Schlaich Bergermann
United Architects
More than 60 architects, Foreign Office, Greg Lynn FORM, Imaginary Forces,
Kevin Kennon, Reiser + Umemmoto, UN Studio (view complete list)
  Major Bloomberg of New York had the following to say about the plans for rebuilding the WTC site:

"Lower Manhattan has always been where ideas were first tried… opinions first expressed… news first spread. Our first president was inaugurated here. Our harbor was the port for the first steam-powered ferry. When Thomas Edison first turned on streetlights, he did it in Lower Manhattan. New York's first subway began directly under City Hall. The original Great White Way was Downtown. And at a long-gone buttonwood tree on Wall Street, the first American stock was traded.
 

It was no accident that the Statue of Liberty was placed off the Battery. And it was no accident that Lower Manhattan witnessed the construction of the world's tallest building -- nine times -- culminating in the World Trade Center itself." (source)

This exhibit zooms in on a project that was not chosen to be executed. United Architects presented a project that was conceived by the work of six large architecture offices comprising of more than sixty architects in total. The offices' cultural backgrounds and portfolio's are highly diverse yet they managed to reach an unanimous voice in their project.

  Meetings were held weekly as the offices focused on different part of the design. The end result being a project that manages to cover almost the entire spectrum of what architecture can achieve. From the history of Manhattan to modern day traffic flow characteristics, daily and hourly shifts in pedestrial intensity not only on the site but ranging throughout manhattan, to the delicacy of presenting a memorial to the tragedy of September 11 and all that helped to try to recover from it.   The following text was part of the official press release of UA explaining the general idea of the project:

The Entire Site is a Memorial
United Architects has proposed a scheme that is, in itself, a memorial, consisting of an interconnected series of five buildings that creates a cathedral-like enclosure. A vast public plaza and park is formed around the connected footprints by a protective ring of towers. The inspiration for the United Architects design was to create a living memorial that develops over time, with the entire World Trade Center site – from the earth to the sky – becoming both a monument to the past and a vision for the future.
  Preserving the footprints of the World Trade Center, the memorial experience entails descending 75 feet below ground along a spiral walkway where one then looks up through the footprints to the sky and the majestic new towers that create an urban sanctuary. Rather than looking down into the earth, the memorial proposes looking upward in remembrance. A Sky Memorial, a public space at the top of one of the towers, will allow visitors to complete the memorial pilgrimage by looking down over the hallowed ground.   United Towers
In this sacred space of the memorial, immense arches tower over the plaza and expansive public spaces are designed to optimize the flow of people and create an inviting sense of openness. The result is radically new shapes combined with an integrated strategy of development, serving commuters, nearby residents and tourists alike and reflecting the rich urban fabric that has evolved in Lower Manhattan over the past 30 years. United Towers encompasses over 10.5 million square feet in a single contiguous building to be built in five phases. The highest tower measures 1620 feet, approximately 112 floors, and would be the tallest building in the world.
  City of Tomorrow
The interconnection of the five towers provides for unique commercial and public space. For example, at 800 feet in the air – approximately the 60th floor – an immense 200,000 square-foot “City in the Sky” connects the towers with gardens, shopping, cafes, a sports center, and a conference center. Restaurants, theaters, cultural facilities, an observation deck and lounges will be located in various levels of the building, including one million square feet of retail space. The possibility of very large connected floor spaces invites new public functions at unprecedented heights and also large functional floor spaces that can attract businesses back from the
  suburbs into Lower Manhattan. Throughout the complex, vertical sky gardens are arranged every five floors to enhance the working environment and allow a maximum amount of sunlight into the floors, saving energy and improving the views from within. The safety of the building is a fundamental element of the design. Each of the sloping towers contains its own dependent stairway; in total, 29 separate stairways are connected by 43 areas of safety. From any point in every building there are multiple ways for people to exit, with the option of going down or moving horizontally into an adjacent building.   Reconnecting the City Grid
The United Architects design creatively addresses the issues posed by the project including the natural and artificial geography of the site, dominated by the proximity of the Hudson River and a massive transportation infrastructure, safety and access concerns, relationship to the adjacent neighborhoods, pedestrians and planned mixed use. The proposed underground train station is designed to promote the flow of pedestrians, avoid bottlenecks and provide a wide range of intuitive connections to the streets, the plaza and the memorial. A major five-story civic space dedicated to the multi-modal connections of MTA, PATH and

  Air trains is located at the same subterranean level as the base of the memorial competition site, allowing a connected experience of monumental public infrastructure and the memorial. The site surface is returned to grade where pedestrians can walk across the site freely in all directions. Greenwich Street connects Tribeca with Lower Manhattan through the site and from Liberty, Cortlandt, Dey and Fulton Streets vast view corridors framed by 60 story archways between the United Towers connect the city to the river.   United Architects
United Architects has convened a global team of top architecture firms that will continue to work together as a group following this project. Each firm has a proven track record of work in the United States and abroad, as well as a long history of collaboration and exchange. The team – representing a new generation of architects – has been recognized internationally in publications, competitions and exhibitions as having forged an innovative design philosophy that includes a common quest for new urban models, influencing both older and younger generations of architects. As a whole, the team is inherently interdisciplinary, engaging in urban, transportation infrastructure, mixed-use, residential, cultural and commercial design.
  UA's design has not been chosen to be built on ground zero. We can only guess the amount of factors that accounted for this decision, and most of them have probably not been design factors. The official documents dealing with this issue do not reveal a lot of information. However, the design of UA shows how a collaboration between an enormous amount of architects can still lead to a strong design with a definite character. Its combination between respect to the site and usability for the future has been extremely well thought out and offers a much more realistic view of the future than a design such as that of THINK. It is also much more than an aesthetic statement, however the very strong emphasis on symbolic meaning in the design of Liebeskind might just be that edge that gave Liebeskind the lead.   The fruits of the effort of all these architects can only be vaguely reflected on this page, but one very important theme seems to be clear from the grand total, which is that the birth of United Architects through this project is a landmark in modern architecture history, as well as the unpreceded degree of cooperation.

The presentation of the project might leave something to wish for. It is hard to gauge the complex investigations that have gone into the site, traffic and future expansions which gives the entire presentation somewhat of an empty feel. The attempt to charm the American audience by means of a commercial-like video might not have worked as well as expected. This video however is certainly worth the watch if only for the smile it'll bring to the face of the critical non-american viewer.
 
United Architects -
Design for World Trade Center
                                   
View the flash movie of United
Architects' Ground Zero design:
 
The 6 preliminary concepts:
 
UA's Design Programme Animation:
     
View from the memorial upwards:
 
Cityscape:
 
Skyline:
 
View down the towers into the memorial:
 
Site & building Plan:
 
Views from the city:
 
View from one of the towers to the park:
 
Model photographs:
 
Model photographs:
 
Looking up:
 
Promotional Video 'City in the Sky':
  Tom Bosschaert
EMACA Curator
 
575 Eight Avenue
19th Floor, New york, NY1006
tel: (212) 564.3463
fax: (212) 967.0701
http://www.unitedarch.com
View Flash movie
   

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  United Architects -
Design for World Trade Center
http://www.unitedarch.com