Governor George E. Pataki and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today joined with the International Freedom Center and The Drawing Center to reveal the design of the World Trade Center Cultural Center in a presentation by Craig Dykers and Kjetil Thorsen of the Norwegian architectural firm Snøhetta. The Cultural Center will house the site-wide visitor’s center, the International Freedom Center, and The Drawing Center. In addition to their own programming, the institutions will host other events and organizations such as the Tribeca Film Festival and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and will make the center available for community and cultural uses.
Governor George E. Pataki said, “This Cultural Center will be a fitting celebration of the humanity which triumphed in the face of evil on September 11th. I want to congratulate Snøhetta on creating an inspiring design for the building which will welcome visitors to the site and house The Drawing Center and the International Freedom Center. Constructing a moving Memorial continues to be the centerpiece of our rebuilding efforts and this building will be a part of a lasting tribute to freedom.” Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said, “This wonderful preliminary design takes us another important step toward achieving the goal of producing a cultural center at the World Trade Center site that will be of enormous significance and value to our entire city. It will be a fitting companion to the marvelous new World Trade Center Transportation Hub that Santiago Calatrava has designed, the groundbreaking for which will take place this summer, and it promises to be another shining star in the dazzling design constellation that is making this one of the great eras for architecture in New York's history.”
Secretary to the Governor John P. Cahill said, “The completion of the schematic design for the Cultural Center is another milestone in the rebirth of Lower Manhattan. Snøhetta has offered an innovative design solution which will allow the Calatrava Transportation Hub and the Cultural Center to be built simultaneously, ensuring that we remain on schedule for completion of both important projects.”
LMDC Chairman John C. Whitehead said, “Snøhetta’s inspiring design for the Cultural Center that will house the International Freedom Center and The Drawing Center is an architectural treasure for New York and the world. The Cultural Center and the Performing Arts Center will frame and protect the sacred memorial setting, providing for the celebration of life as we remember those we lost. The inclusion of cultural facilities on the World Trade Center site will infuse vitality, contribute to the downtown economy, and provide a foundation for a truly active, diverse, and mixed-use neighborhood.”
LMDC President Stefan Pryor said, “The new Cultural Center is both appropriately respectful of its special setting and mindful of its potent role in our revitalized Lower Manhattan. The Cultural Center will serve as a hub of creativity and life – with a magnificent new public garden, extraordinary quality of light, incomparable views, and immediate proximity to what will be a major new transit hub for New York and the region. It will stand as a fitting response to the devastation of September 11th, a vessel of light and hope for our city’s continuing vitality, and source of artistic and intellectual expression.”
Port Authority Executive Director Kenneth J. Ringler Jr. said, “The unveiling of this spectacular design is a clear indication that the memorial and cultural elements remain the spiritual center of the site and that this work remains on schedule. Together with Santiago Calatrava's transportation hub and the redesigned Freedom Tower, we reaffirm our commitment to architectural excellence that respects the heroes of September 11, 2001.”
Tom A. Bernstein, co-founder and Chairman of the International Freedom Center, said, "The International Freedom Center team is both inspired by and delighted with the Snøhetta design of our new home. The building captures the spirit of freedom. It is a work of optimism, uplift and hope." Catherine de Zegher, Executive Director, and George Negroponte, President, of The Drawing Center said, “Snøhetta’s inviting and accessible building will connect the site to the living fabric of the downtown community and create a welcoming presence for our visitors. Snøhetta’s visionary design is a perfect complement to The Drawing Center’s innovative programs highlighting drawing as a universal art form.”
Craig Dykers and Kjetil Thorsen, founding partners of Snøhetta said, “We at Snøhetta have found the World Trade Center site to be a place that will forever be sublime and poignant. In our efforts, we have endeavored to first and foremost respect the setting, designing our building as a direct extension of the context, while honoring it by bringing a lively and internationally respected architectural character to these two important institutions, the International Freedom Center and The Drawing Center. The new Cultural Center will be both a gateway to the Memorial and a window forward to a bright future.” The current schematic design allows for an up to 250,000 square-foot building. The International Freedom Center, The Drawing Center, and the LMDC will be determining the optimal size of the building as they work through the final design phase and finalize programming needs. Design Development will be complete by the end of the year and the groundbreaking for the Cultural Center is expected in 2007 with completion in 2009 along with other key elements of the site.
Design Process: Snøhetta was selected to design the Cultural Center from a pool of 34 applicants. The short-list selection was made by a panel containing representatives from the International Freedom Center, The Drawing Center, LMDC staff, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, New York State Council on the Arts, Charles Shorter, Trustee of the Studio Museum in Harlem, and Agnes Gund, Philanthropist and President Emerita of The Museum of Modern Art. The institutions made the ultimate selection.
Snøhetta held bi-weekly design workshops over the course of several months with staff and board members from the International Freedom Center and The Drawing Center as well as LMDC staff. The workshops explored the missions of the institutions and how they related to the physical aspirations of the building.
Design Overview:The schematic design of the Cultural Center lifts the main interior portions of the building above the ground, allowing visitors unimpeded access to the Memorial and a view corridor into the Memorial Plaza from Greenwich Street. The building will also create a unique horizontal outdoor space for September 11th Place. The open and inviting space draws visitors to a gently ramped procession into the building where the visitor can move to enter either the International Freedom Center or The Drawing Center. The Drawing Center can also be accessed on the northern edge of the building along Fulton Street, directly across the street from the Performing Arts Center, anchoring the composition and connecting the building to the living fabric of the downtown community. The design currently calls for five double-height floors with a landscaped rooftop public space that overlooks the Memorial Plaza.
By raising the building off the ground, the design creates a horizontally oriented urban public space in stark contrast to the primarily vertical spaces often found in New York City. The lifting of the building also allows the Memorial Plaza to continue uninterrupted to Greenwich and Fulton Streets.