Ground Zero plans are a ‘missed opportunity’

Listen to this article

00:00
00:00

Rafael Vinoly, the architect whose radical and popular designs for Ground Zero were vetoed by New York State Governor George Pataki, thinks that the plans for the site unveiled last week are a failure.

The end result he says, is a “missed opportunity”, “not that brilliant” and does not live up to the expectations of an iconic memorial for the world’s most closely watched building project.

Mr Vinoly proposal for rebuilding the space where the World Trade Center once stood would have seen two giant towers laced with museums, theatres and concert halls. His ideas were in a head to head battle with Daniel Libeskind’s more conservative designs, but after seeing off seven competitors and receiving the support of the body set up to oversee rebuilding on the site, they were rejected out of hand by New York State Governor, George Pataki.

But while Mr Vinoly praises his friends Lord Norman Foster, Lord Richard Rogers and Fumihiko Maki, who produced the new designs for three towers, he criticises the lack of coherent plan for the development. The final product is not an adequate monument, he says.

“They are three wonderful, individual buildings. It is wonderful that [Foster, Rogers and Fumihiko] are here, and that they have done this job,” he says.

“But if you ask me if I am satisfied that we have an image that lives up to the incredible drama and expectations of the reconstruction of Ground Zero - we absolutely have not.”

“It’s a little bit of a missed opportunity.”

Instead he says, the plan will deliver three separate buildings, unrelated to each other, fitting too comfortably into the style of the rest of New York.

“If you say ‘is the grand gesture of the masterplan of Ground Zero being physically represented today?’ I think not.”

“The big super tower [the tallest of the three buildings] is the worst of them all because it really could have been something.”

It is also clear from Mr Nivoly who to blame for this state of affairs - Governor Pataki. “The governor mishandled the situation for political reasons. He had a lack of basic culture if you ask me,” he says.

“My friends did a great job. The ones that are not my friends did a horrible job.”

He puts some of this down to inevitable effect of this being a private sector project with a profit motive. “If you want to make a statement, you have to make a statement from the public sector and not from the private sector perspective,” he says. “Unless you are Mr Rockefeller [the billionaire philanthropist and patron of the arts], and you can make a statement because you own 50 per cent of the country or something.”

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved. You may share using our article tools. Please don't copy articles from FT.com and redistribute by email or post to the web.