THE WEEPING TOWERS
At times of horrific and outrageous disasters, great cities have not only rebuilt their collapsed structures, but also have become laboratories and testing grounds for the development of new architecture and urbanism.
Due to the digital technology and electronic communication, financial industries no longer need to be situated on top of one another and have been diversifying away from downtown for over a decade. As a result, most of the office space lost on September 11th is no longer needed. Therefore, we believe the 16-acre site of the World Trade Center should be a creative mixed-use complex with interlocking residential, commercial, and cultural activities, both planned and improvised.
We propose an evolving structure; composed of 11 towers approximately 80-100 stories high. These towers symbolically represent the heroic scale of the Twin Towers but only serve as vertical circulation, mechanical, electrical and digital cores for the floors and programs to come. These 11 cores will act as an infrastructure where the new occupants will bring their prefabricated buildings and structures via ships and trucks, plugging into the structural scaffold. The exterior of the towers will be wrapped in smart skins where information and data can be displayed both to the occupants inside and the visitors on the outside. The skin would also be equipped with a sprinkler system and a device detecting potentially objects approaching the building.
In contrast to the orthogonal towers, there will be a number of free-form buildings, blurring the boundaries of architectural building types. These structures would be very large, reaching between the towers and housing programs like theaters, a world-cultural museum, sky plazas, sport facilities, etc. We envision the new state-of-the-art New York Stock Exchange to be housed at one of these buildings at the heart of the complex to signify, in a way visible to the entire city, the strength of the world's financial capital.
As a memorial we reject a sentimental physical memorial ground with plaques of people's names, benches, site-specific artifacts, etc. Instead we propose an annual "September 11-Event" of global gathering, a day when people come together actually and virtually at the site to mourn, exchange ideas, communicate, exhibit, perform and simply be with one another. On this day the 11 towers would weep by transmitting a mist from their skins (sprinkler system). This memorial as an event not only would heal the souls it would offer a much deeper ceremony, intensely personal and emotionally powerful. Every year this event will allow for possibilities through the dynamic relationships between people, which will provoke active engagement. Strangers become friends, differences will be celebrated and ideas would be debated.
And as years go by, and even if people stop showing up, New York as a city can easily absorb a surreal day, once a year, when eleven towers weep and no passer-by knows why.