Princeton architects reimagine World Trade Center site

How do you build a future from a horrific past? This question is occupying the minds of five faculty members and two alumni of the School of Architecture currently developing plans for the World Trade Center site.

The architects are on three of the six teams selected by the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. to conceptualize a new beginning for a significant portion of Lower Manhattan, extending from the pit of Ground Zero. The teams have just six to eight weeks from the Oct. 11 start date to submit their proposals.

The Princeton-associated architects were included in this second round of design after the initial six proposals from the first group of planners met with criticism from the public. For this second round, the architects are being given more freedom to reimagine the 16-acre site and to incorporate a broader range of options, such as space for cultural programming, according to Dean of the School of Architecture Stan Allen. Each team will receive a stipend of $40,000 to create plans.

"The first proposals were almost exclusively about office space," said Allen, who is on one of the design teams. "They did not rethink the city innovatively."

Allen ventured four explanations for the high representation of Princeton faculty and alumni in the project. "The first is that the school is committed to innovation," he said. "The second is that we have a close connection to New York City, and many of our faculty practice there. Third, our school focuses on questions of urbanism. The project requires people to think about the future of the city and how it might change. A fourth reason is that our faculty and students understand architecture as above all a public art," he said. "The initiative speaks to what we are."

Among those involved in the project with associations to Princeton's School of Architecture are faculty members Peter Eisenman, Ben van Berkel, Caroline Bos and Jesse Reiser; alumni Kevin Kennon and Greg Lynn; and Dean Stan Allen.

More background on these architectural teams is available in the Weekly Bulletin.

Contact: Lauren Robinson-Brown (609) 258-3601