The site before it was cleared.
A permanent memorial will be part of the site.
Six land-use plans, created under Port Authority guidelines, were released in July 2002 to great scorn. The guidelines demanded that all commercial space destroyed had to be replaced even while streets were opened through the site, greatly limiting the possible designs. However one of the most popular options, rebuilding the Twin Towers, was ignored by authorities at the insistence of WTC leaseholder Larry Silverstein. He is not comfortable with new office buildings taller than 70 floors and dreads the short-to-medium term vacancy risk of rebuilding the giant Twin Towers. The designs met with near-universal disapproval, forcing the government to restart the design process nearly from scratch.
A popular element from the designs was an open parkway connecting the site to the South Port ferry, creating a sightline to the Statue of Liberty.
Seven new designs were presented and winnowed to two candidates, one from Studio Daniel Libeskind, and one from the Think architectural group, led by Rafael Viñoly, Shigeru Ban, Frederic Schwartz, and Ken Smith.
While Libeskind's proposal was not accepted by the public, Michael Bloomberg and George Pataki preferred both the design and Libeskind's approach to dealing with the necessities of the project to the Think group. The Think proposal was championed by The New York Times architecture critic Herbert Muschamp. A public poll sponsored by the official planners saw the choice of "Neither" win comfortably over the THINK plan, with the Libeskind plan last.
On February 26, 2003, Studio Daniel Libeskind's design was announced as the winning design. The design includes office buildings and a Wedge of Light which he claimed would honor the victims of the terrorist attacks by allowing sunlight into the footprint of the towers between 8:46AM and 10:28AM EST every September 11....shadow analysis has cast great doubt on this. Also the footprint of the towers will be largely preserved amid a huge sunken pit. Planning review continues, with many citizen groups of many angles strongly opposed to proceeding with this plan for various reaons.
The Libeskind proposal includes a 541 m - 1776-foot high tower. The chosen height in feet is a reference to 1776, the year that the United States Declaration of Independence was signed. In July, Larry Silverstein, whose real estate company was given the lease to the WTC two months before the September 11 attacks, convinced Libeskind to hire David Childs of Skidmore Owings & Merrill as a co-architect of the proposed 1,776-foot tower, which Governor Pataki calls the 'Freedom Tower'. A draft design for the tower released December 19, 2003 has already encountered stiff criticism.
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