of those killed consider Ground Zero a gravesite. Architects and city planners
regard it as a beacon of future development. And in this
election season, politicians are mentioning the tragedy that happened there
more and more often. "My fellow Americans, for as long as our country stands,
people will look to the resurrection of New York City and they will say: Here
buildings fell, here a nation rose," President George W. Bush told a rousing
Republican National Convention in New York last week.
Three years after the tragedy, plans are underway to erect new buildings,
and yet the dust has hardly settled on a public dispute between two chief designers:
David Childs, an architect hired by the lease-holder of the World Trade Center,
wants to rebuild the site as a commercial hub; and Daniel Libeskind, the Polish-born
designer whose plan for an elaborate skyscraper, garden and memorial area won
an intense international competition.
Mr. Libeskind says his design is filled with symbolism.
After Mr. Libeskind's design was chosen, Mr. Childs was named head architect
of Mr. Libeskind's Freedom Tower. The modified skyscraper with more than 60
floors and a towering spire reaches 541 meters high, making it the tallest
building in the world.
Now, more architects are involved in a web of projects from transportation
hubs to cultural centers, and the details keep changing. Mr. Libeskind says
the adjustments are mostly minor and inevitable, and his overall vision has
"To anyone's eye, comparing the two schemes - the scheme in the competition
and the scheme that is being built - I think only certain small details have
been changed, and of course that is natural because the competition was not
about designing every building and every window and every doorway," Mr. Libeskind
says. "You can't do that for 10 million square feet of density, for public
spaces of the memorial which will have five million people visiting them
A memorial design was decided on last year, to honor the close to 3,000 people
who lost their lives in New York City on September 11th. It includes a memorial
wall that will list the names of the dead in random order.
That has angered some families of 9/11 victims. New York City Fire Department
Lieutenant Jimmy McCaffrey lost his brother-in-law, Fire Chief Orio Palmer.
Tape recordings revealed that Chief Palmer had climbed to the 78th floor of
the south tower before it collapsed. His body was never found. Mr. McCaffrey
says the ultimate recognition of sacrifice should come from respecting the
dead, especially those who were never recovered, by not building on the footprints
of the towers.
"To have it overshadowed just because of economic and political machinations
is just wrong," Mr. McCaffrey says. "Many people feel that's where their
loved ones died, that's their grave, that's where they're going to be buried,
not going to have another place to bury somebody because they haven't found
any remains, they haven't identified any remains of more than half the victims
of that day. That in essence is their grave. And you wouldn't do that in
a graveyard. You wouldn't do that on anyone's grave, build something or trample
on it, if you will."
Mr. McCaffrey is now the co-chair of Advocates for 9/11 Fallen Heroes, a
group that is lobbying for the victims of the terror attack to be identified
more fully on the memorial wall. His group wants the rescue workers to be identified
by firehouse company number or police precinct, and the civilians to be identified
by their place of work, such as Cantor Fitzgerald, a firm that lost close to
600 employees. That way, Mr. McCaffrey says, he hopes future generations will
not forget the people who perished in the terror attacks.