View Full Version : NYC Memorial begins construction

11th Mar 2006, 10:09
Not trying to be maudlin - I just wanted to share this bit of news.

Construction About to Start on Ground Zero Memorial

March 11, 2006

Without the fanfare attending previous milestones at ground zero, construction of the World Trade Center memorial and museum will begin on Monday.

"No one wanted to see the actual construction delayed to build in a ceremony, because it is more than a symbolic day," Gov. George E. Pataki said yesterday in a telephone interview. "It's a day when the actual construction of the memorial itself will begin."

He said there would be a public ceremony "at the appropriate time," within a few weeks, when progress is more visible.

Stefan Pryor, president of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, said the low-key launching was not dictated by objections to the memorial from victims' families and preservationists. "We're not focused on fanfare," he said, "we are focused on moving forward the mandate given to us by the city and the nation."

The work will be managed by Bovis Lend Lease, already a powerhouse at ground zero since it holds a $75 million contract to dismantle the former Deutsche Bank building and, with three other firms, has a contract for more than $1 billion to build the new World Trade Center PATH terminal and transportation hub.

The initial agreement with the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation, signed last Thursday, could ultimately exceed $360 million.

Four and a half years after the terrorist attack, the $330 million memorial and the $160 million underground museum face a rising chorus of criticism from some victims' relatives over safety and appropriateness, and from preservation organizations, including the National Trust for Historic Preservation, over the impact of construction on historic remnants of the twin tower.

"I think it's important for the public to know that we're moving ahead," said Gretchen Dykstra, the president and chief executive of the memorial foundation. "Temporary memorials have popped up all over the world, and now is the time to build the permanent memorial."

Though no public celebration is planned, the event is to be marked Monday night by a private gathering of 75 major donors and foundation board members in the first new office tower overlooking the site, 7 World Trade Center.

At 8 a.m. Monday, 10 construction workers will arrive at ground zero to begin the nearly imperceptible, but crucial, work of site preparation. The initial labor eight weeks of site preparation will include debris removal, surveying, inspection of the original trade center column remnants and concrete slab, and other unglamorous work, according to William H. Goldstein, the foundation's executive vice president for construction.

In May or June, Bovis will begin to install about 125 footings for the memorial's structural columns.

Some groups of family members of trade center victims have objected to the construction, and the Coalition of 9/11 Families filed a petition in court yesterday seeking to halt it. In asking for a temporary restraining order, they argued that disturbing the twin towers' perimeter columns would run afoul of state statutes on historic preservation.

Current plans to locate exhibition and visitor areas and mechanical and electrical equipment in the void of the footprints have also been criticized by some family members. They say that the vast perimeters of the trade center, if unobstructed, would movingly suggest the enormity of the loss. A protest rally at ground zero is planned for Monday by some family groups. The memorial foundation "wants their construction workers to get in there and destroy the historic remnants to make the preservation argument moot," said Anthony Gardner, executive director of the World Trade Center United Family Group.

But Mr. Pryor, of the development corporation, said the initial work at the site "will be to preserve the precious columns, authentic remnants of the original structure," with the installation of ground-secured protective plywood sheathing over the steel perimeter columns defining the trade center's footprints.

"There is always a balancing act between the purity of preservation and the practicality of engineering," Ms. Dykstra said.

She said the memorial foundation was gearing up to begin a national fund-raising campaign.

In addition, she said, the foundation will offer donors the chance to pay for more than 400,000 cobblestones and paving stones at the site, as well as 92 benches representing the home countries of trade center victims. Ms. Dykstra said that it would be unseemly to affix names to those fixtures in return for contributions, but that the stones and benches could be numbered to permit donors to locate the ones they financed.