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Engaging Lower Manhattan, Memorials and Involved Organizations

Imaging New York: Engaging Lower Manhattan and Tribute in Light – In its leadership of projects like Imagine New York and the Tribute in Light that have touched millions, the Municipal Art Society has been actively involved in Lower Manhattan redevelopment. A better, more livable Lower Manhattan depends on public involvement in planning; as a result, the Society has sponsored — and continues to sponsor — free programs, such as Imagine New York and Engaging Lower Manhattan, to engage the public. The Society also believes that the past must be preserved and honored, leading to its role in the creation and continued work of the Lower Manhattan Emergency Preservation Fund and the Tribute in Light.


World Trade Center Site Memorial – Following an open design competition with 5,201 submissions, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation’s 13-member jury selected on January 6, 2004, Michael Arad’s Reflecting Absence to be the World Trade Center site memorial design. On January 14, Arad and Peter Walker presented a refined version. A schematic design was presented on December 16, 2004, and is currently touring the state. Design and programming of the memorial and the associated museum is ongoing, with construction expected to begin in 2006 and end in time to open in September 2009. It is expected to cost $350 million. All 5,201 entries in the competition are viewable online here.

Gov. Pataki announced on November 22 that Davis Brody Bond and Snøhetta would finish the design for the memorial center by May 2005, with Howard+Revis Design Services curating. The directors of the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation, in charge of raising funds for the memorial and cultural centers, were announced on December 1. Gretchen Dykstra was named the foundation’s president on April 7.

For more general information about the memorial, click here.

Freedom Tower – This skyscraper was designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill architect David Childs and Daniel Libeskind of Studio Daniel Libeskind. The cornerstone was laid July 4, 2004. The building was planned to twist as it rose to a height of 1,776 feet (the final 276 as a spire), making it the tallest structure in the world. It was intended to consist of 72 floors and provide 2.6 million square feet of office space. There were to be windmills above the occupied portion to generate power. Governor Pataki announced in a speech on November 22 that excavation for the tower’s foundation would commence in February 2005, with construction to begin by April.

In April 2005, the New York City Police Department forced the design to be reworked after raising security concerns. The updated design, by David Childs, is expected in mid-summer 2005. The building would open in 2009 or 2010 at the earliest.

Lower Manhattan Streetscapes – Two public-private partnership projects aim at making downtown streets and sidewalks more attractive and welcoming. The Downtown Alliance, the group that manages the Business Improvement District stretching from river to river, from the Battery to City Hall, has a $20 million program concentrating on Broadway, while a consortium of governmental agencies and business groups, led by the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, the NYC Department of City Planning, and the NYC Department of Transportation, have budgeted $10 million for work around the New York Stock Exchange. The programs plan to create a more pleasant streetscape by, among other things, improving signs and maps, repaving streets and sidewalks, and installing permanent, more decorative security barriers. The architectural firm Cooper, Robertson & Partners is working on the Broadway streetscape, and Rogers Marvel Architects is doing the New York Stock Exchange area.

Designers and Architects

Business Improvement Districts and Community Groups

Civic Groups


Engaging Lower Manhattan Events

Are you wondering what’s happening in Lower Manhattan? Are you curious about the status of rebuilding efforts? If so, join us for the Municipal Art Society’s Engaging Lower Manhattan, an ongoing series of public briefings aimed at increasing the public’s understanding of and ability to participate in the planning for Lower Manhattan.

The fourth Engaging Lower Manhattan briefing, Remembrance and Interpretation, took place May 5 at St. John’s University’s Lower Manhattan campus. The event focused on the many efforts under way to memorialize and interpret the events and losses of 9/11. While the recovery from 9/11 has spurred great interest in and discussion of issues of land use, transit and infrastructure, at its core, people’s connection to 9/11 is profoundly emotional, and the need for appropriate memorial exceptionally important.

The briefing involved a discussion by organizations representing three different types of projects: temporary or interim memorials and projects, such as the Tribute in Light and the September 11th Families Association’s Tribute Visitors’ Center; permanent memorials, like the World Trade Center site memorial; and preservation of artifacts of the event, like the survivors’ staircase. The speakers were other organizations and individuals shared their perspectives in the questions and answer period following the formal presentations. The evening was moderated by Kimberly Miller, the Municipal Art Society’s Director of Planning Issues.

The third Engaging Lower Manhattan briefing, a debate about the proposed Lower Manhattan-JFK/LIRR Rail Link, took place on December 2. About 75 people attended the briefing to hear the differing perspectives about the proposed rail link. William Wheeler and Chris Bastian of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority gave a presentation on the proposed rail link. Carl Weisbrod of the Alliance for Downtown New York, Andrew Albert of the NYC Transit Riders Council, Mitch Pally of the Long Island Association, and Stefan Pryor of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation then discussed their organizations’ thoughts about the proposal. Following all the presentations, Kimberly Miller, the Municipal Art Society’s director of planning issues and the briefing’s moderator, opened the floor to questions.

The second Engaging Lower Manhattan briefing, focusing on post-9/11 rebuilding efforts in Chinatown, took place on July 21. Over 90 people attended the briefing to learn about proposals for Chinatown from experts in both the private and public sectors. John Shapiro, from Phillips Preiss Shapiro Associates, presented America’s Chinatown: A Community Plan on behalf of the Rebuild Chinatown Initiative. Holly Leicht, the director of off-site planning for the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, presented the LMDC’s Chinatown Access and Circulation Study, a planning study that focuses on 12 initiatives aimed at remedying access and circulation issues in Chinatown. After the presentations, Kimberly Miller, the Municipal Art Society’s director of planning issues, asked Michael Samuelian, of the Department of City Planning, several questions about DCP’s role in the planning for Chinatown.

Engaging Lower Manhattan kicked off with a briefing about the Fulton Street Transit Center on April 28. William Wheeler, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s director of special project development and planning, presented an overview of the MTA’s Fulton Street Transit Center, a $750 million project aimed at improving access to and connections among 12 subway lines in Lower Manhattan. More than 60 people attended the briefing.