Ever since he saw tragedy unfold on Sept. 11, 2001, Fred Schwartz has been looking for a way to encourage healing and renewal in lower Manhattan. Schwartz, an architect who once taught at Yale, is a member of the Think team, whose design is now one of two finalists for the World Trade Center site.
The team’s plan, called the World Cultural Center, most prominently includes two latticework towers near the original location of the World Trade Center footprints. The towers themselves would include memorial spaces, a performing arts center, and a museum. Surrounding land would be available for several office buildings and a hotel.
“The World Cultural Center is the only project of all the designs that restores the skyline, that provides a place for the memorial, a place for education, for creativity, for understanding and for memory in the first phase,” Schwartz said.
While Schwartz said he does not find excitement or joy in the competition itself, he sees a moral obligation to rebuild ground zero and make the memory of the victims an inspiration for the future.
“Fred really cares about the city and he also is the kind of person who really wants to help when somebody’s in trouble. He really wants to help address this terrible thing that happened in New York,” said Linda Pollak, a landscape architect in Manhattan who has been an active participant in the discussion surrounding the World Trade Center site.
The Think team is composed of Schwartz and fellow architects Shigeru Ban, Ken Smith, and Rafael Vinoly. Schwartz said this collaboration has been one of the most rewarding parts of the design competition.
“I think the team is very important to Fred,” Pollak said. “They have a very good working relationship.”
In addition to cooperation with other architects, Pollak said Schwartz has shown great interest in the concerns of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, or LMDC, and the families of the victims.
“This is not about the architect,” Schwartz said. “This is about the people, the community. It’s about a city that was a target, and it’s about the families and their children and all the people who’ve lost loved ones.”
The Think team’s design for the two towers is reminiscent of the Eiffel tower and will not have a commercial focus.
“I think the most striking part of the design is that it recreates a skyline without it necessarily having to be office buildings,” said Alberto Capsouto ’77, a member of the LMDC Advisory Council and community board officer. “I think that’s something that he’s contributed to the design concepts–you can recreate a skyline without necessarily having to worry about filling it up with office space.”
The winner of the design competition will be selected at the end of the month. If the Think team’s project is chosen, Schwartz said the World Cultural Center towers will take about eight months to design and another two years to build. He said the surrounding office buildings will be designed and constructed over several years.
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