Plan May Be Too Much of a Good Thing
By DAVID W. DUNLAP
The question is whether any architect will risk a prospective commission by challenging the current planning orthodoxy which requires that the museum complex be located within the memorial precinct.
The museum complex is intended to go on the block bounded by Fulton, Greenwich, Liberty and West Streets. That is where the twin towers stood and where the memorial is planned, marking the towers' absence with voids and pools in a landscaped plaza.
As architects prepare to submit their credentials to design the cultural buildings, it is a good time to ask what might happen if the museum were moved off the corner of Fulton and Greenwich Streets.
Such a move would not be officially sanctioned. In fact, it would be resisted. But some of the most engaging and positive planning efforts to date at ground zero have occurred when designers have broken - or at least bent - the rules.
Daniel Libeskind, the site's master planner, placed the museum complex where he did to further enliven an intersection that he conceives as the public heart of the new trade center, to complement the nearby performing arts complex, to act as a buffer between the memorial and the surrounding office towers, and to serve as a gateway to the memorial.
Kevin M. Rampe, the president of the development corporation, calls the intersection of Fulton and Greenwich Streets the "100 percent corner," with good reason. The museum would share it with the performing arts center, the permanent PATH terminal and transportation hub, and an office tower, stores and hotel.
And the museum would be big. It might occupy an area almost an acre in extent, roughly the size of one of the twin tower footprints, with up to 275,000 square feet of space - almost seven times as much as the former Gallery of Modern Art at 2 Columbus Circle - divided between the larger International Freedom Center and the smaller Drawing Center.