Post 9/11 High-Rise Planning for the Freedom Tower

WORLD TRADE CENTER, 9-11-01 Tragedy and our Design Response.

As an Architect and Architectural Designer, I’ve been very interested in what may develop at the World Trade Center Site. Upon review of the 6 alternatives in the July 11th issue of the New York Times, it is very clear to me just who the Architectural firm was who created the schemes were catering to the Developers of the site.

Their loyalty, and resulting priorities, are expressed in the very schemes they presented:


First: accommodate the square footage’s previously represented on the site (or greater);
Second: shortened the towers to appease any fears people may have of high-rises. Result: each schemes’ resulting masses are very dense which would ultimately result in each building feeling claustrophobic and uninviting, inside and out;
Third: moved these masses and square footages around an open space (the memorial space) to create 6 alternatives for the public to review. In reality, the memorial space that would be part memorial and part plaza for tenants.

The loyality of the commercial interest of this or any Architect is a fundamental conflict of interest with respect to the public and potentially the memorial at this site, at this stage. In developing a Master Plan for the WTC, one needs to understand the hierarchical relationships between the differing requirements by acknowledging what issues are truly and honestly the most important, under these circumstances and convey those priorities in a Master Plan. As I see it the priorities are as follows:

  • First, the creation of a public space devoted only to the memorial and not directly defined by the surrounding buildings or used by them;
  • Second, the location of the memorial public space should be appropriate (where the towers stood);
  • Third, this separate memorial place should be defined (around its’ perimeter) with neutral elements like streets, pedestrian walkways, trees, walls, fences, water features, lights or other non-building element;
  • Fourth, the commercial, retail and office components should relate to this memorial in a respectful way without loosing their own identity for commercial success, that is, low buildings (humanistic scale) near the memorial rising up to a new icon for New York City;
  • Fifth, creation of general-use public open spaces to fulfill the requirements of any new proposed buildings and to strengthen the economic success of the area;
  • Sixth, the integration of infrastructure issues relating to transportation and circulation;
  • Seventh, calculation of the attainable square footage that can possibly be made available through this set of priorities and establishing its’ viability;
  • Eighth, development of a new set of priorities for the ‘Super High Rise Buildings of the Future’ now, which will increase the successful egress of all tenants safely in cases of fire. Deal with issues of smoke evacuation, fire suppression, the role of the fire fighter, redundant structural issues, increased weight loads, structural partitioning, egress systems, personal protective measures, structural protective systems, fire control center systems and capabilities, etc.

Once a Master Plan is established, then the specific requirements of the WTC Memorial & Museum, Office, Retail, Open Spaces, and Transporatation’s systems can be effectively established.

Only this positive approach will ensure that the memorial space and its’ neighboring development will be independent of one another, yet relate respectfully, and will address the differing concerns of those people impacted by the event of September 11th, 2001 now and into the future.
I sincerely hope that only the greatest Architects, Engineers and Designers are brought into the development of this site and that they are up to the task which will not let us down.

Respectfully, Nicholas Buccalo, Architect
Brooklyn, NY

There is a language to Architecture and it can tell people what priorities the Architect is conveying. Let us make sure that this special site speaks to us all in a positive way which will inspire all to live life in the same way.


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