Published  06/11/2006

Towers have ground settlement

Richard Rogers and Norman Foster have managed to conceive two towers, one designed by each, close to each other on the contentious Ground Zero site. The towers are also considered by all to be complementary to each other. This must be a unique saga ending for the run of Britain's two architectural stars who were actually in partnership together at the start of their glittering careers. The Freedom Tower itself has had a very hazardous course of development since Daniel Libeskind won the competition in 2002. The combination of Skidmore Owens Merrill's David Childs, a corporate architect of no mean reputation within SOM, and the dynamic Daniel Libeskind carrying out the intended will of the developer, Larry Silverstein, was fraught with problems, Childs being Silverstein's chosen architect, and now the principal architect at Ground Zero as a result. Libeskind was elbowed out gradually to a more peripheral role, in danger of becoming cosmetic. In Childs' view Libeskind had actually won the competition to plan the whole site. But he unveiled his plan with maximum effect shrewdly promoting as the linchpin his Freedom Tower, designed to be 1,776 feet tall in respect of the year of the Declaration of American Independence. The building, with its distinctive summit, will be there as planned. But Childs is in most respects the architect, certainly for what amounts to be the third and final design. The memorial at Ground Zero level was also the subject of a competition, won by leading US Landscape Architect Peter Walker and Michael Arad. Libeskind remains the designer of the landscape plan itself, at least for now. Construction has begun on the Freedom Tower, due for completion in 2011. Childs claims that overall, 'the whole project has got better and better. The whole thing, not just our tower. And I was delighted that Libeskind said he preferred tower number three'. There are even reports that Childs and Libeskind have been seen hugging in the street. Wow.

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