Saturday, January 19, 2002
New York From interlocking, tubular towers to a building with holes already built into it, about 50 architects and artists displayed their visions for the rebuilding of the decimated World Trade Center site at an exhibition in a Chelsea art gallery.
"A New World Trade Center: Design Proposals" opened Thursday at the Max Protetch Gallery. It includes everything from two-dimensional sketches to video installations and an interactive console.
"They're visions for what lower Manhattan should or could look like," said Protetch, who has made displaying architectural design part of the mission of his gallery.
Some of the designs were more conceptual than others ï¿½ twiglike towers in different colors narrowing to points at the top; buildings in the shape of an upside-down U.
Other designs focused on regular building-shaped structures, but incorporated different technologies, such as using color-changing material for the outside skin.
And some aimed at being realistic and doable. From New York-based SITE came a plan to restore all the streets that had been cut off when the twin towers were first built, and to fill the area with mixed-use buildings of medium height.
"When they built the World Trade Center, it was out of scale to downtown," said Denise McLee, one of the designers of the proposal.
That plan also called for trees to be planted near the base of the towers as a memorial, along with a subterranean moat where the walls would be inscribed with the victims' names.
Winka Dubbeldam, of Archi-Tectonics in SoHo, created an interactive display where people could pick from various parameters that would then create one of 81 potential city designs, with residential and office buildings of various heights, and varying amounts of green space. But none of those possibilities results in anything similar to what had existed on Sept. 10.
"In no way should it resemble what was there," she said.
Protetch said the idea for the show came to him in the days after the Sept. 11 attacks, which turned the 110-story twin towers into piles of rubble. Looking for a way he could help, he hit on the idea of showing reconstruction possibilities.
"This is what I do, this is what I could do to help," he said.
With the help of Architectural Record and Architecture magazines, invitations were issued to select architects around the world to contribute. After a month at the gallery, the show is expected to travel, Protetch said.
While many designs have memorial aspects, only a few actually called for the entire 16-acre site to be made into a memorial, of which Protetch said he approved.
"I think the greatest memorial we can do is a really functional building," Protetch said.
The exhibit is strictly a private affair, with no official connection to the city agencies that would oversee whatever reconstruction is done at the site. But Protetch said he hoped city officials would come to see it.
"Part of the reason to do this," he said, "was to hopefully try to expand the process to include architects who otherwise might not be considered."