Produced by Nick Rosen
Directed by Kevin Sim
ANNOUNCER: On July 4th 2004, almost three years
after 9/11, the cornerstone of the Freedom Tower was laid at Ground Zero.
GEORGE PATAKI (R), New York: We place here today the foundation of a
new tower, a tower that will reclaim our glorious skyline, a tower that will
honor the heroes we lost on this sacred ground.
ANNOUNCER: But behind the public ceremony lies a
bitter story of politics, money and architectural egos.
LIBESKIND, Architect: These will be dwarfed, and you can
imagine what an--
CHILDS, Architect, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill:
This project is not about Daniel Libeskind.
LIBESKIND, Studio Daniel Libeskind: David Childs is not capable of great
GOLDBERGER, Architecture Critic, The New Yorker:
Childs and Libeskind have fundamentally different ideas of what a
skyscraper should be.
ANNOUNCER: It became a struggle between idealism
BETTS, Chairman, Site Planning Cmte.: Neither of them really wants to give an
ANNOUNCER: --a battle that turned a public
collaboration into a private WAR.
LIBESKIND: I've never worked with so many people
ANNOUNCER: Tonight on FRONTLINE, inside the battle for Sacred
HARTZ: John was just a pure and utter
gentleman. I think that would be
the word that most people would use to describe him. He was a very kind gentleman. He was on the 6:30 in the morning train, and then he would
get home at 6:30 every night. He
was an early bird.
HUIE: Susan, she was the one who was always
buying the groceries or making sure the laundry is done, and make sure Dad has
dinner when he comes home. Sis had
a meeting at the World Trade Center.
HARTZ: Thirteen years he'd worked for
Fiduciary, and they'd always been in the World Trade Center.
HUIE: She just happened to be at the computer
meeting on the 106th floor.
HARTZ: They were on the 90th, 94th to the 97th
floor. He was in the South Tower.
NARRATOR: Ground Zero. The day before, this had been 16 acres of commercial real
estate. Now it was sacred ground,
sacred for the people who were killed here, sacred for what had been attacked
here. Nearly 3,000 people had died
because they went to work in an American icon, an icon that suddenly had become
GOLDBERGER, Architecture Critic, The New Yorker: We've never had the experience of an
iconic modern building disappearing, as the World Trade Center did.
NARRATOR: Paul Goldberger is the architecture
critic for The New Yorker.
GOLDBERGER: There is nothing in our way of dealing
with cities and symbols that prepares us for the challenge of what to do. It's a matter of filling a void. It's a matter of helping heal the wound
by healing in the sky, as well as healing on the ground. We need some kind of great symbol, some
icon, perhaps a tower.
OF VICTIM: We need a skyline that does justice to
the wonderful people we lost!
We would like to see them do an international competition.
BETTS, Chairman, Site Planning Committee: It is
incumbent upon us at this time in the history of this city to do something
OFFICIAL: We're launching a worldwide design
NARRATOR: Nearly 500 designs came in from all
over the world. New Yorkers wanted
a building that would lay their ghosts to rest and restore their pride. They
wanted to bring back their skyline.
They wanted something extraordinary. And then an architect emerged who not only showed a tower,
he told a story.
LIBESKIND, Architect: I arrived by ship to New York as a
teenager, an immigrant, and like millions of others before me, my first sight
was that of the Statue of Liberty and the amazing skyline of Manhattan.
NARRATOR: Daniel Libeskind was born among the
ruins of war-torn Poland, the son of Holocaust survivors who'd escaped the
Nazis by fleeing to the Soviet Union.
After the war, his family came back to find their world had disappeared
forever. When Daniel was 13, they
emigrated to America.
LIBESKIND: I cannot tell you what Manhattan looks
like to someone who's an immigrant and who was coming with all the anxieties
and all the hopes that every person who has ever come to this country has. We saw the Statue of Liberty coming out
of the mist.
NARRATOR: He grew up in the Bronx and studied in
Manhattan. He became an architect
whose buildings told stories. His
Jewish Museum in Berlin retold the story of his own people. Now Daniel Libeskind promised to tell
the story of America in an iconic tower.
LIBESKIND: The sky will become home again to a
towering spire, creating an icon that speaks to our vitality in the face of
danger and our optimism in the aftermath of tragedy.
NARRATOR: Libeskind created a master plan for
Ground Zero. Around the memorial,
the slurry walls that had withstood the terrorist attacks would remain exposed,
a symbol of the resilience of democracy.
And the tallest building in the world would rise from Ground Zero, a
symbolic 1,776 feet high.
story leaked to The New York Times revealed that the jury had voted for
Libeskind's rival. "We do not
expect to be overruled," one juror told The Times. But in this competition, one vote
counted for more than all the rest, George Pataki's, the governor of New York.
GEORGE PATAKI (R), New York: I
remember reading on the front page of The New York Times that that was the
decision and thinking, "Well, maybe it's not yet the decision."
NARRATOR: The governor had gone for Libeskind's
design and his story.
GEORGE PATAKI: Daniel came here, sailed past the Statue
of Liberty. Daniel's emotional
feel for the site reflects our own experiences, a soaring Freedom Tower, 1,776
feet high, mimicking the Statue of Liberty with a torch, as a sign that we're
WHITEHEAD, Chmn, Lower Manhattan Dev. Corp.: Daniel
Libeskind himself embodies the ethos and story of America. His plan evokes the values that define
LIBESKIND: He said, "Mr. Libeskind, you've
Review all the design proposals]
GOLDBERGER: Libeskind is brilliant at getting the
job. Libeskind won the right to be
the master planner for Ground Zero.
How much that actually means still remains to be seen.
HAYES, Libeskind's Lawyer: New York is a
very rough place. It's hard to get
on this island, it's hard to get off this island. I think I've been around most of the New York battles for
the last 35 years. It's a rough
NARRATOR: Ed Hayes. He was Andy Warhol's lawyer, and Tom Wolfe's. Now, he had a new client.
HAYES: I'm getting paid to represent
Libeskind, so if I get paid, I'm going to work. He's my third genius.
The first thing he wants me to do is lead him through the jungles of New
York without getting ambushed and eaten alive. And so far, we've kept him from being somebody's lunch.
really are people that reach positions of power, and as far as they're
concerned, we're just players on a chessboard. And if we have to get run over, they run us right over. American history, that's it. They'll run you down in the street like
a dog. And I think I can protect
him. And I can protect him.
LIBESKIND: I have a guidebook to Manhattan printed
at almost the turn of the century, which says, "If you come to Manhattan,
go to the highest point, go to the steeple of Trinity church, you'll see New
York like no one has ever seen it."
I mean it, it's hard to believe that this was the highest point in
Manhattan for such a long time, and then this whole city's just sprouted up.
think New York, in some senses, is the quintessential city of spires, so
that if you took all cathedrals,
all aspirations to the sky, and put them together in a very, very small area,
and had a kind of competition of spires-- of course, there are different ways of
expressing those spires. You see
pyramids. You see these very sharp
points. You see, of course, the
Empire State Building, of course, the Chrysler Building. It's a city that is carved out,
completely, as a composition. And
perhaps that's what was so moving about New York, is that it's not about the
solitary buildings. It's about the
composition of the whole city, almost like an organic work of art that is
NARRATOR: Architecture, argues Libeskind, should
not just be for people with power and money. But at Ground Zero, just a block from Wall Street, power and
money were never going to be far away.
The original World Trade Center had been publicly owned by the Port
Authority of New York and New Jersey.
But just weeks before 9/11, they leased it out.
SILVERSTEIN, Developer: I paid $3.2
billion for a 99-year lease.
NARRATOR: Governor Pataki watched as developer
Larry Silverstein took out a 99-year lease on the biggest buildings in New
SILVERSTEIN: Seven million square feet were occupied
by the investment-grade tenants, who occupied large blocks of space, and in
many instances, were paying rents that I felt were significantly below
market. We saw an opportunity to
significantly enhance the value of the properties. It was really the culminating transaction of my business
INTERVIEWER: Did you ever consider Libeskind as the
actual main architect for the tower?
SILVERSTEIN: No, I did not.
NARRATOR: As the leaseholder, Silverstein now had
the responsibility to rebuild the World Trade Center. While Daniel Libeskind was winning the competition,
Silverstein's architect had been privately drawing up plans of his own. David Childs was a leading architect at
Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, one of the largest corporate architectural firms
in the world.
GOLDBERGER: Childs and Libeskind have fundamentally
different ideas of what a skyscraper should be. David Childs believes in the skyscraper as a rational
object. The structural idea should
come first. Architecture should
reflect the structural reality.
Libeskind tends to begin with an idea and figure that it's the role of
the engineer to make the idea of the architect possible.
CHILDS, Architect, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill: It's not necessarily such a difference
between Libeskind and myself, it's the difference between the body of work that
we've worked on, the scale and the complexity and the nature of the projects
that we've been given to do. The
tall office building will have a series of forces that Libeskind, in his
experience, has never yet had the opportunity of dealing with.
LIBESKIND: They are almost half the size. I mean these-- these buildings which now
tower over, they will be dwarfed by the Freedom Tower and by the other towers. These will be dwarfed. And you can imagine what an important
anchor this tower is in this site and how important it is for orienting the
site actually in the sky.
CHILDS: Libeskind's work has largely been in
relatively low-scale matters that house things like museums. It's relatively easy to take a green
site and a small building and all the money in the world and a very forgiving
client and sort of do a sculptural piece.
But in building a city, which is the most complicated piece of architecture
of all, one has to take so many different aspects together. And that's been much of my career in
trying to figure out.
LIBESKIND: A man or a woman doesn't live by
function alone. There has to be
something that rises our hearts and eyes above all the prosaic daily needs that
architecture, of course, has to address.
It's the spirit of the site.
It's full of its own forces.
The site will always resist bad things to be done to it. It's that poetry of buildings.
More on the architects' philosophies]
GOLDBERGER: Silverstein was very clever. He'd never said anything specifically
about Libeskind's design for the tower, he just said it's the best site
plan. What Silverstein was trying
to do was protect the right to get the building designed by David Childs.
SILVERSTEIN: It's my absolute right to choose the
architects. I signed the ground
lease. I have the obligation to
pay the grounds. I have the
obligation to rebuild. I have the
obligation to collect the insurance, policy proceeds for purposes of rebuilding. Who's going to make the decisions? I've got to make them. No one else is equipped to make them. No one else can.
HAYES: Silverstein is a traditional New York
real estate operator. They don't
want to give you snow in a blizzard.
They don't want to give you anything. I told everybody that from the beginning. I said, "This guy will tell you
anything, agree to anything, and then just not do it." He wants to pretend he wants the master
plan, but in fact, he doesn't want the master plan. He wants unilateral changes
grossly unsuited to the master plan.
And short of putting a knife to their throat, there has to be some way
of making sure that everybody will comply and play by the rules.
NARRATOR: There were people whom Governor Pataki
had appointed to make sure the rules were enforced. Roland Betts, New York developer and friend of President
Bush. His job for the Lower
Manhattan Development Corporation was chairman of the Ground Zero Site
BETTS, Chairman, Site Planning Committee:
There's a lot of ego.
Neither of them really wants to give an inch, and neither really wants
to share. At one point, Larry
Silverstein wanted to move the tall tower. That idea had to be defeated. Silverstein wanted to put another tower on top of the train
station. Why? He could make more money, more rentable
square feet. Well, that's not the
plan we adopted, so we stuffed that.
not sympathetic to Silverstein. I
just said, "Look, you see this as your property. We see this as belonging to the citizens of New York and of
the world." And the process
we're running is trying to engage all of those voices, and one individual
developer is not going to trump that effort.
NARRATOR: By the spring of 2003, the master plan
was under pressure. Two very
different architects were designing two very different towers.
HAYES: They didn't want Libeskind's
involvement at all. They didn't
want to listen to the master plan at all.
NARRATOR: The project was slipping behind
schedule. The governor ordered
Libeskind and Childs to find some way of cooperating. His aides called a crisis meeting.
HAYES: Working behind the scenes, we would go
back and forth from room to room, trying to make this deal. The position from the beginning was,
"Look, we're not going to pay any attention to you."
NARRATOR: Neither side was budging. Eight hours passed with no agreement.
HAYES: Finally, Childs and Libeskind went into
a room and more or less got together with something that we could all live
NARRATOR: The architects finally worked out a
deal. David Childs would design
the Freedom Tower with the collaboration of Daniel Libeskind. The balance of power split 51 percent
to Childs, 49 percent to
HAYES: The governor, the Lower Manhattan
Development Corporation, forced it down Silverstein's throat.
CHILDS: If body language says anything, this is
the picture. If we all are working
LIBESKIND: It's going to be a collaboration. It's going to be something really
dramatic. And it's going to
restore the skyline of New York in a dramatic architectural and urbanistic way.
Arranged marriages-- sometimes they work and sometimes they don't. In my experience, they work when the
alternative is sudden death. If
you walk away from an arranged marriage, you're going to have a genuinely bad
[9/11 memorial service, September 11, 2003]
--James Gregory Smith, Jeffrey R. Smith, Joyce Patricia Smith, Karl T.
Smith, Keisha Smith, Kevin Joseph Smith, Moira Ann Smith, Rosemary A.
Smith. Leon Smith, Jr., Bonnie
Jean Smithwick, Rochelle Monique Snell, Dianne Bullis Snyder--
GEORGE PATAKI: I think continually of those who are
truly great, who from the womb remember the soul's history through corridors
RUDOLPH GIULIANI (R), New York City: Winston Churchill said, "We shall
not fail or falter. We shall not
weaken or tire. Repair the waste. Rebuild the ruins. Let us go forward together."
HUIE: We were born and raised here in
Chinatown. I grew up playing in
the World Trade Center. For them
to build something to cover it, or even build a commercial structure over it, I
feel great pain. I don't know how
one voice can actually influence our politicians or anything like that. As I look at people now and as I walk
the streets, I see people going back to business as usual.
NARRATOR: It had taken Nina Libeskind, Daniel's
wife and business partner, 10 years to steer his Jewish Museum through the
tricky politics of Berlin. But
nothing had prepared her for New York.
LIBESKIND, Studio Daniel Libeskind: [on the phone]
HAYES: Hi, it's Ed Hayes. Hi. So how's your-- how's everything going down there? Any problems or anything?
LIBESKIND: It's tough. They're just liars.
I mean, it's just incredible.
HAYES: There's just going to be a lot of
conflict all the time.
LIBESKIND: They don't ever mean what they say, and
they don't ever say what they mean.
So they'll talk about it, and they'll make it-- you know, who knows what
they're going to do? Do you know
how many people that work for SOM in the city? It's scary. You
meet thousands of them. It's a
HAYES: You know, it's a big city. Welcome to the United States.
NARRATOR: The honeymoon with New York was
over. Libeskind's collaboration
with Childs was collapsing, and each side had its own story to tell.
LIBESKIND: I have to tell you that when Daniel
walked into that first meeting, I've never seen anyone so shocked when he
walked out. He had no idea that
this was going to happen. He
thought that David was a pretty reasonable person. And when he walked into that first meeting, David said,
"I have no intention of working with you. I have no intention of doing your building. I have no intention of doing the
Freedom Tower. I couldn't care
less about the Statue of Liberty.
I couldn't care less about how you feel about that site. It's nothing to do with what I'm going
to do." So Daniel said,
"Well, then what are we collaborating on?" And he said, "We're not."
CHILDS: Well, we're the architects. We're-- we're painting the picture. And so-- and that was what was agreed
to, so he can't be disappointed in that.
LIBESKIND: And he said, "Well, my tower is
already perfect. It doesn't need
any help from you, Mr. Libeskind.
It-- you have some great ideas here, but my tower is perfect." So I said, "Well, what is the
collaboration?" He said,
"You can comment on it."
CHILDS: Collaborators -- you think of a man and
a wife -- are two people that are equal, two hands working together. You know, there were two equals. There wasn't. There would be a design architect, that's a very different,
and that was to be me. "There
could be 10 outstanding items, and I may vote my 51 percent opposite to your 49
on all 10 of them. You understand
that, Danny?" That's-- and he
said, "Absolutely, I understand." And we again shook each other's hand, looked each other in
what was decided. That was what
was written down. That was what
was signed. And that was what was
verbalized. He even signed the
piece of paper where it was described exactly in those terms.
HAYES: The agreement that they signed says,
"The expertise of Studio Daniel Libeskind will be integral to the
team. The building will be based
on the master plan site, which are being developed by Studio Daniel
Libeskind." I don't know, how
could it be more clear? I mean--
NARRATOR: Part of the problem was Childs already
had another collaborator. The
structural engineer, Guy Nordenson, had been working on an idea for a
tower. The footprint of Ground
Zero was irregular. These torqued
towers offered a solution. Childs
and SOM were interested.
NORDENSON, Structural Engineer: The
mother of the project was the Statue of Liberty, and that that had had some
impact on the appeal of this form, the appeal of the figural qualities,
abstract figural qualities of this form.
NARRATOR: If the twisted tower mirrored the
forward movement of the Statue of Liberty, it meant that Libeskind's was not
the only tower to draw inspiration from this national icon.
NORDENSON: Childs and his team really liked it.
INTERVIEWER: Well, David must have thought it was
Christmas, really, because you resolved his problem with the shape of the site,
and you also gave him a great rhetorical device with which to attack his rival.
NORDENSON: Well, it was Christmas for all of us.
LIBESKIND: Look, if you were to put this here,
there is no longer any-- now, just from the point of view of a neighborhood,
there's no more, no longer any connection between Ground Zero, as they're
integrated. There's just a
stick-alone tower. Nice in
Singapore and Shanghai, somewhere else, in Chicago, with lots of space
around. Fine. Beautiful. Great idea.
Formal exercise. But it's
not part of a neighborhood. It's
not part of the ascending spiral.
And that's very, very important.
It's also not part of the composition because it does not define the
slurry wall. It's very important
for people to be orientated.
not part of the master plan. It
doesn't acknowledge the Statue of Liberty in any way. Well, it's twisting, but it doesn't acknowledge what the
Statue of Liberty is doing, what it's moving forward with that flame. So the flame, the meaning of space, the
meaning of things which are not metaphorical, but are actually palpable in
every person's imagination, are absent in this particular exercise/. And that's why the collaboration has to
really embrace how can we transform this area? How can we-- you know, how can we meet somewhere where Mr.
Childs's ideas of a twisting tower, and everything that he has with it, is
adequately inscribed into a composition which is not just about stand-alone
CHILDS: This, I think, very powerful, unique --
there's no other tall tower like this in the world -- shape can be iconic, can
be sculptural, can be asymmetrical, can have a symbolic relationship to the
Statue of Liberty, and do all of those things, but-- and yet not be some bad
copy of an outline of a building's shape that was done as a mater plan in a
series of a couple of months.
then that shape, if it continued, would go up and catch the wind. And it was at that point we suddenly
thought, "Catch the wind."
This is one of the valleys in the world that has the most constant
year-in, year-out directional, high-velocity wind coming down through
here. If we could do that and make
not just a pilot study about how we would respond to the environment, but use
it so that we could develop up to 40 percent of the energy of this building in
a technology that was 5,000 years old, the windmill, wouldn't that be
GOLDBERGER: Libeskind could push only so far,
Childs could push only so far.
Nobody fully controlled it.
Well, the governor couldn't get rid of either Childs or Libeskind. He couldn't afford to make either of
them go away. The governor had
really believed that Daniel's tower could simply be built as he envisioned
it. The governor had himself
proclaimed his intention to build that building. He couldn't make Childs disappear because Childs had the
endorsement of Larry Silverstein, the man who was going to build the building,
and because of the insurance, who had the money. It's a total mess.
Read Paul Goldberger's interview]
GEORGE PATAKI: There are so many people with so many
interests looking for their way to achieve their goal, but it can't be an
individual's goal. It has to be
our goal. Otherwise, you could
easily have what has happened so much in the past, particularly in New York,
when you have all these different elements, and that's competing interests
battling each other to the point where very little gets done. That's not happening here, and it's no
going to happen here.
NARRATOR: Pataki knew the arguments between the
architects were threatening the project.
At the end of October, he turned up the heat.
GEORGE PATAKI: Michelangelo and Pope Julius II made
the Sistine Chapel. Just think
what Libeskind and Childs are going to come up with for the Freedom Tower! Today, I'm pleased to announce we're
going to know the answer to that question by December 15th. That's the deadline I've set for the
design. I know everyone in this
room wishes you the best of luck.
HARTZ: I keep wrestling with it every day,
trying to make sense out of it, and I can't. Some people, they're not ready for it at all. It takes time. John spent many years going in and out
of that station-- 30, to be exact.
They put up a very nice little memorial for all those people who
commuted from there every day.
There's just a little plaque there, saying, "In memory of our
friends who left and never came home." And they're named.
That makes me happy.
takes a long time. Intellectually,
you can-- OK, OK, this has happened.
I get that. OK. This is what I have to do. But emotionally, to take all that in is
just a very long process. And it's
astounded me at how long it takes, or is taking.
NARRATOR: With Pataki's deadline, the race to
design the Freedom Tower telescoped into just a few weeks. At Studio Libeskind, the battle was on
to incorporate iconic elements of Daniel's vision within the structure of
HAYES: [on the phone]
How're you doing? So we're
going to pursue that?
NARRATOR: At SOM, Childs and his colleagues
forged ahead in their own direction.
Their tower was getting taller.
HAYES: Yeah, OK. I'm getting the stuff from the guy now.
NARRATOR: Parallel projects were racing towards a
deadline, but there was no progress towards a common design. By the end of November, Nordenson and
Childs were planning to build their tower as high as possible.
NORDENSON: I suggested this thing be 2,000 feet
because I knew that the higher it could be, the better it was in terms of
broadcasting, and that the whole purpose of having something this tall was to
create this platform for the antennas.
NARRATOR: But for Libeskind, a 2,000-foot tower
would have completely overwhelmed his master plan.
LIBESKIND: [on the phone]
Hello? I'm in a
meeting. I'll have to call you
back. You can't imagine how tense
things are. I promise you, it's--
it's beyond your imagination. I
will. All right, thanks. 'Bye.
saying is that the press, the whole world is waiting for December 15th. So we have three
alternatives. One is that we agree
to disagree, which is another stalemate.
One is that you go show your buildings to the governor. If he decides he doesn't like what
you're doing, then you'll have to do it again. And the third alternative is that they walk away.
HAYES: Pataki has invested his place in
history in that master plan, and I just don't see him backing off that.
LIBESKIND: They are not taking their building off
HAYES: All right, all we care is-- we get-- you
did a master plan. Everybody loves
the master plan. They don't like
it. Too bad. Not our problem, right? If I-- you're my client. If you say, "Ed, you do
LIBESKIND: OK, at some point, Ed, either Daniel,
directly or through others, has to make it clear to the governor that there
will be no image on December the 15th.
That's the point I'm trying to make. They are already making models.
HAYES: Right. Tomorrow--
LIBESKIND: They don't seem worried. They seem relatively relaxed, that
they're-- that they're winning this.
So I don't get it.
HAYES: I'd rather--
LIBESKIND: This one is tough. I think I've never worked in a
situation with so many people who lie.
And they stare you straight in the eye and they lie. That's very disconcerting.
HAYES: We'll see what we can do. If we have to, there's a lot of guys in
this that are not exactly the good fairy, we'll find a solution.
LIBESKIND: Yeah, right!
NARRATOR: A week before the governor's deadline
expired, New Yorkers woke up to news of more trouble at Ground Zero. That day, there was a ceremony at
another Silverstein building.
WORKER: Mr. Silverstein, how are you, sir?
SILVERSTEIN: We're good. We're good. And
we're even better because you guys are here.
WORKERS: Thank you very much. Thank you.
NARRATOR: The governor tried desperately to
downplay the dispute.
GOV. PATAKI: David? David?
David! David, come on in
here. David? David, get in here. David, get in here!
These two gentlemen to your left haven't been speaking since Monday
about the Freedom Tower. What is--
what's going to happen to them?
GEORGE PATAKI: I have enormous confidence in both of
them. Daniel Libeskind has
outlined an incredible vision for the master site of the Lower Manhattan, and
David Childs, as you see today with 7 World Trade Center, has a record of
achieving just incredible success with important buildings in New York. And I'm confident they'll be able to
work this through.
In the past, you've said that the building must look like the building
GEORGE PATAKI: I think it's important that the
symbolism that Daniel designed into the building be an important part of
it. It's a symbol. And it's a symbol of-- and David
agrees. And Daniel, of course,
agrees. And I-- and Larry agrees.
SILVERSTEIN: These two creative geniuses will get
together, will give us what it is that we are all expecting from them.
Mr. Childs, do you agree?
CHILDS: We've been focused on getting the most--
the best building in the world, that is strong and safe and beautiful and
symbolic, leading the way to the future, just as the governor said, since the
middle of July. We're working hard
on that, we're working together and we're going to achieve it.
But will you-- will you-- can you live with what's there or no? Can you live with what he says now?
LIBESKIND: Well, we're working on it. No, we're-- because design is not a
static process. We're developing
it. We have one more week, as the
CHILDS: And we're focusing on finalizing that
now together, so we're intending of getting this done in short order.
LIBESKIND: I know nothing. I know nothing because I've not been in
direct communication with David Childs or with SOM. I don't know what they're doing now. We've been kind of expelled from their
offices. And still the word
"collaboration" was used today, and it will be in all the newspapers,
in the speech of the governor. But
I think the powers that are, know what's happening.
BETTS, Chairman, Site Planning Committee:
I mean, you have to understand that Childs's building was 50 percent-- as
a week ago, was 50 percent taller than the old World Trade Center.
INTERVIEWER: But we're talking-- a week ago is just a
few days before the governor approves--
BETTS: I know. That's why we've got to get it right.
INTERVIEWER: The description of events that you're
telling us now suggests that you've actually been betrayed, or at least very
seriously misled. Is that how it
LIBESKIND: Yes. Yes. But I
don't intend to sell my soul. I
don't intend to just stand there and say, "Yeah, I've been betrayed,"
and I just shake my head and smile and shake hands and be there for the photo
opportunity, for that moment, because this tower's impact will be there
INTERVIEWER: I spent this morning talking to one of
the family members. They are a bit
bemused but also kind of a but upset because all they see is two gigantic
dinosaur egos fighting, and they thought it was going to be sort of slightly
more decorous than that, the process.
BETTS: Well, I'd love to tell you that they're
completely wrong, but they're not.
LIBESKIND: Why would a big firm and a big
developer have a unitary voice on developing Ground Zero, after all the public
process? Why would they once again
have the full control of their private egos on a site which belongs to
everyone? Why would their tower
put into shadow the memorial and all the public spaces? Why would it do that, both literally
and metaphorically? The
"business as usual" pressure is on. The memory of 9/11, of course, is there, but the pressure to
dissolve that moment and to proceed in a kind of brutal way, to redevelop the
city with developers and money and power and ego, is there.
[December 14, 2003]
Saddam Hussein has been captured.
He was taken into custody after a joint operation by troops--
NARRATOR: With the battle for Ground Zero still
deadlocked, Governor Pataki had extended the deadline by four days.
INTERVIEWER: Do you think that this increases our
chances to catch bin Laden or not?
I don't think it has any connection whatsoever with bin Laden--
NARRATOR: A senior official with the Development
Corporation said they were now in a difficult position because it was clear
that the architects at SOM never intended to change their designs. The official concluded that there was
not one element in the current design that Daniel Libeskind had a hand in
creating, that his involvement had not made one bit of difference.
BETTS: When I saw Childs's tallest iteration,
it was 2,100 feet. It looked
ridiculous. And I know who holds
the cards here, so I immediately called Pataki and said, "Look, I just saw
this thing, and you've got to get-- somebody's got to get in there and bring the
hammer down because you can't stand up in front of a crowded room of reporters
-- you, who's been the big champion of the Daniel Libeskind plan -- and say,
'Here's the Childs Freedom Tower, and it's- I think it fits beautifully,'
because it doesn't. And you'll
look like a jerk."
LIBESKIND: It ain't over til it's over. You bet we're still fighting. And we'll fight the day that they-- if
they don't reduce it by 200 feet, Daniel will not be standing there, and he
will have to call his own press conference or deliver a press release, and that'll
be it. We are not giving up. And I said we might fail, but we're not
giving up. It ain't over til it's
NARRATOR: This is where the Libeskinds would make
their stand: The tower must be 1,776 feet tall and be crowned by a spire that
echoed the torch on the Statue of Liberty. With just three days to go, one final meeting with all the
Players had been called.
LIBESKIND: We've got six minutes.
LIBESKIND: OK, take this one away for a
second. That works. OK, so what does it-- how big is the
LIBESKIND: The most important thing to me, as a
lay person, would be the expression of--
STAFFER: Yes, yes. Just because you put a pole on the corner of the building,
it does not make it eccentric.
LIBESKIND: This is the
idea of the Statue of Liberty.
LIBESKIND: Like this.
STAFFER: So should we work it like this?
LIBESKIND: This is the new vision of the Statue of
NARRATOR: The latest word from the Childs camp
was that they had agreed to add a spire to their building.
LIBESKIND: [on the phone]
This building makes some real concessions, which are pretty ugly and
pretty stupidly done, but from their point of view, is inspired. There are some parts of this building
which we won't accept, like the spire.
OK, he's there. Hang
on. Hang on.
LIBESKIND: [on the phone] Hi, Ed. Well,
you'll see it. It's just a thin
antenna, off-center in the building.
It has nothing to do with the Statue of Liberty, OK, as if the head of
the Statue of Liberty withered to one, you know, artery. So it's-- it's-- it needs more work, to
say the least. OK. Great. I'll call her and tell her. Yes. Yes. Thank you. OK, perfect.
think for a second. You know, Ed
had a good point. If they end the
building at 1,060, right, then they have to have an antenna which is more
LIBESKIND: I believe they have signed off.
LIBESKIND: They did what?
LIBESKIND: I believe they have signed off on it.
LIBESKIND: Who has?
LIBESKIND: Excuse me? The bullies up north.
The governor wants a building.
He's pushed him as hard as he can get. All I would work for--
LIBESKIND: Who has? I would prefer--
LIBESKIND: David Childs--
LIBESKIND: Who has?You know something?
LIBESKIND: --is blocking the governor. What do you think he's going to do with
DANIEL LIBESKIND: He's blocking the governor?
NINA LIBESKIND: That's right. So let's-- let's talk about what we can achieve today.
Omar, my dear, you're a brilliant model maker,
but you have to hurry it up.
DANIEL LIBESKIND: So let's take this model, as well, OK,
to show them. Are we taking
anything else? Anything of our
No. We're not.
DANIEL LIBESKIND: We've got nothing.
LIBESKIND: Let's go!
NARRATOR: And so less than 10 months after Daniel
Libeskind won the competition to design the World Trade Center site, his team
carried the last remnants of their vision away to the climactic meeting. The senior official at the Development
Corporation said that everyone needed to step back and ask, "Is this the
best we can do?" And he
warned that if they got it wrong, then the governor would be blamed for the failure.
Hayes was at the meeting.
HAYES: I said, "Look, you know, you
agreed this building was going to fit within the master plan. Now you say you don't want to do that. Call the governor's office and tell
him. Get him on the phone. Don't tell me, tell them." They said they didn't want to do
it. I said, "Well, look, I'm
going to do it.
NARRATOR: Twenty-four hours later, the governor
phoned David Childs.
NORDENSON: In a phone call between the governor
and David Childs, the governor said, "I agreed to go along with your idea
for this twisted shape," which had been presented on several occasions to
the governor. But he was
uncomfortable with the height. He
wanted to cut it down to 1,500 feet and then add a spire that was offset, that
recalled the Statue of Liberty. To
make such a radical change so quickly was very upsetting.
INTERVIEWER: So you resigned?
INTERVIEWER: Such radical changes were made to the
CHILDS: Well, in fact, the-- I wouldn't-- well, I
don't know what radical changes you're referring to. There was a lowering of this piece, but the basic building
shape, and so forth, was an evolutionary piece that had happened. People are allowed to change their
INTERVIEWER: Would it be fair to say there's been
quite a lot of arm twisting in the final days?
BETTS: Yes. Very fair. A
lot of arms are aching.
SILVERSTEIN: I-- the plan was always to have it 1,776
feet in height. That's what it
is. That hasn't changed.
LIBESKIND: You can take a horse to water, you
can't make him drink. You can beat
him, you can't make him drink. The
only thing you can do is to, you know, make him so thirsty that he finally
drinks. And I think we pushed it
just to that point.
BETTS: I thought people would behave better,
too. They've behaved like
[expletive], OK? I wish I had
stayed in there and been a referee in the active sense of chairing the
meetings, and basically saying to David Childs, "Stop it. Grow up." But I didn't.
feel bad for Daniel. The truth is,
he came in with all his little outfits and his glasses and his black cowboy
boots and his black clothes and all, I thought, ''This guy could turn out to be
a real pain to work with," but he's not. He's a sweet guy.
He just hasn't been treated very nicely by the powers that be.
GOLDBERGER: I think it was well-meaning to try to
get these two architects to collaborate, but ultimately, it was very
unrealistic. Do you ask Matisse
and Dali to collaborate on painting a picture together? No.
[December 19, 2003]
GEORGE PATAKI: When Daniel Libeskind revealed his
master site plan, the idea was to create a building, the tallest building in
the world, yes, but symbolically 1,776 feet tall. And the critical element was a spire that would replicate
the torch of the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor. That Freedom Tower will be built, it
will have that Libeskind spire, will soar 1,776 feet high.
But mostly, today is a celebration of the
successful collaboration of two brilliant architects who understand that this
is not just a building, this is a symbol of New York, this is a symbol of
America, this is a symbol of freedom.
So to Daniel Libeskind and to David Childs, congratulations. And to Larry Silverstein, for your
assistance, for your commitment to making sure that the Freedom Tower will be
built, thank you, as well.
GOLDBERGER: In the end, the Freedom Tower is a sad
compromise. It is not as good as
Daniel Libeskind's original vision.
Neither is it as strong as David Childs's first vision. It really is like that old cliche about
a camel being a horse designed by a committee. We now have the camel of skyscrapers.
GEORGE PATAKI: Great job. Great job.
CHILDS: I hope I did right by you.
HUIE: Every Sunday, when I'd drive Susan down
to church, I would sit on Madison Street and Susan would go get our coffee and
tea. Since the bombing, I try to
keep the same routine going.
CHILDS: It is the world's tallest, and there are
many innovative features to it.
LIBESKIND: --powerfully and meaningful way, yes, to
the master plan.
HUIE: I buy the tea and everything, and I sit
there on Madison Street.
LIBESKIND: It rises to reflect the Statue of
Liberty spiral, the dynamics--
CHILDS: This is a very strong concept of how to
make something structurally sound.
The building itself has a tremendous amount of--
LIBESKIND: That's what Mr. Childs has done.
LIBESKIND ANIMATION - ERIC SCHULDENFREI
NEW YORK TIMES
October Films Production in association with Vivum
Intelligent Media for
WGBH/Boston and Channel Four
2004 WGBH Educational Foundation
ANNOUNCER: There's more to explore at FRONTLINE's Web site, including
pictures and an overview of the worldwide design competition that ended in
Daniel Libeskind's master plan, profiles of Libeskind, David Childs, their
previous work and philosophies, more on the story of the symbolic Freedom Tower
and the views of architecture critics, plus a chronology of the political and
architectural battles over rebuilding Ground Zero, and more at pbs.org.
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