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Video: Santiago Calatrava On His Design For Ground Zero's Only Non-Secular Building

In a film for the BBC Magazine, Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava talks through his designs for the new St. Nicholas Church - the only non-secular building on the 9/11 Memorial site. The building, which broke ground last year, has been described by Calatrava as a "tiny jewel" for lower Manhattan, comprising of a white Vermont marble shrine sat beneath a translucent central cupola that is illuminated from within. The new church, of Greek Orthodox denomination, replaces a church of the same name which was destroyed during the attacks of . It is sited close to its original location on 130 Liberty Street, overlooking the National September 11 Memorial park and museum. With the building set to open in early 2016, Calatrava discusses the key conceptual ideas and references behind its unique, controversial design.

New York’s $4 Billion Train Station Takes Shape

Santiago Calatrava’s head-turning World Trade Center Transportation Hub has assumed its full form, nearly a decade after its design was revealed. In light of this, the New York Times has taken a critical look at just how the winged station’s budget soared. “Its colossal avian presence may yet guarantee the hub a place in the pantheon of civic design in New York. But it cannot escape another, more ignominious distinction as one of the most expensive and most delayed train stations ever built.” The complete report, here

Kimmelman Reviews the One WTC: An Emblem of New York’s “Upside-Down Priorities”

Nearly a month since the official (and somewhat mundane) opening of New York’s One World Trade Center, New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman has published a scathing review of the SOM-designed tower, claiming it to be a “flawed” emblem of the city’s “upside-down priorities.”

Video: A Conversation with the Architects of the 9/11 Memorial Museum

"Typically, museums are icons that contain exhibits. This is the inverse: the exhibit is the icon." 

Video: Snøhetta on Designing the 9/11 Memorial Museum Pavilion

"So in some ways I think that this tragedy gave a sense of purpose to people that was very positive, and we tried to translate that feeling into this building." In this video from the Louisiana Channel, Craig Dykers of Snøhetta describes how his own experience with the events of 9/11 and the positivity of the spirit of people around him helped inspire the design process of the 9/11 Memorial Museum Pavilion.

He speaks of the journey of healing and understanding as central to the design and experience of the building itself. "As you move through these cycles, you realize one day that you are alive, and you that have to present the strength of being alive to those around you, and this building is meant to be a part of that cycle…to allow you to see yourself, at a moment in time."

Watch the video above to learn more about the challenges of designing a memorial museum fully integrated within an essentially nonexistent site. 

Santiago Calatrava Breaks Ground on Church at 9/11 Memorial Site

Construction has begun on Santiago Calatrava’s Saint Nicholas National Shrine on the World Trade Center site in New York. A “tiny jewel” for lower Manhattan, as referred by Calatrava, the white Vermont marble shrine will be based around a translucent central Cupola that illuminates from within. 

More images and an updated construction image of Calatrava's neighboring transportation hub, after the break.

Critical Round-Up: The September 11 Memorial Museum

Set to open to the public on Wednesday after a highly controversial and contested journey from idea to reality, the September 11 Memorial Museum has inevitably been a talking point among critics this week. The museum by Davis Brody Bond occupies the space between the Memorial Plaza at ground level and the bedrock below, with an angular glass pavilion by Snøhetta providing an entrance from above. A long ramp, designed to recall the access ramp with which tons of twisted metal was excavated from the site, descends to the exhibits which sit within the perimeter boundaries of the twin towers' foundations, underneath the suspended volumes of Michael Arad's memorial fountains.

The content of the museum is obviously fraught with painful memories, and the entrance pavilion occupies a privileged position as the only surface level structure ground zero, in opposition to the great voids of the memorial itself. The discussion at the opening of the museum was therefore always going to center on whether the design of the museum - both its built form and the exhibitions contained - were sensitive and appropriate enough for this challenging brief. Read the critics' takes on the results after the break.

Davis Brody Bond Releases New Details of the 9/11 Memorial Museum

With completion in sight (May 2014), Davis Brody Bond has released detailed information on the design of the subterranean 9/11 Memorial Museum in Manhattan. Located beneath the sculptural voids that form the 9/11 Memorial, the new museum has transformed a fixed set of geometric constraints into an emotional journey that gently descends visitors 70 feet below the ground level to the original foundations of the World Trade Center towers. 

Calatrava Reveals Design for Church on 9/11 Memorial Site

The site of 9/11 has seen significant change in the last decade, from the addition of David Childs’s redesign of the One World Trade Center to Santiago Calatrava’s PATH station. It looks like the site’s transformation is set to continue - Calatrava recently revealed images of the new St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, to be rebuilt across Liberty Street from Handel Architects’ September 11 Memorial. The images, showing a distinctly Orthodox Christian design, have already begun to attract criticism in the debate over placing religious institutions around the World Trade Center.

Courtesy of Tribeca Citizen Courtesy of Tribeca Citizen Courtesy of Tribeca Citizen Courtesy of Tribeca Citizen

Time-Lapse: One World Trade Center

On the twelfth anniversary of September 11th, we would like to share with you this incredible time-lapse capturing the progress of the One World Trade Center between October 2004 and September 2013. The 1,776 foot tall skyscraper, which is expected to be the tallest in Western Hemisphere, topped out earlier this year and is slated for completion in 2014.

Time-Lapse: One World Trade Center

On the twelfth anniversary of September 11th, we would like to share with you this incredible time-lapse capturing the progress of the One World Trade Center between 2004 and 2013. The 1,776 foot tall skyscraper, which is expected to be the tallest in Western Hemisphere, topped out earlier this year and is slated for completion in 2014. 

I Wept But About What I Cannot Say: Martin Filler's Moving Tribute to Michael Arad's 9/11 Memorial

North Pool looking Southeast. Image © Joe Woolhead
North Pool looking Southeast. Image © Joe Woolhead

Beginning with Charles McKim, William Mead, and Stamford White and concluding with Michael Arad, Makers of Modern Architecture, Volume II examines the people behind the work at the forefront of 20th and early 21st century architecture. Critic Martin Filler masterfully integrates each person’s unique biography and distinctive character into the architectural discussion. Here is his revealing profile of Michael Arad, the young architect whose design for the National September 11 Memorial at Ground Zero brought him into the national spotlight. It was originally published on Metropolis Mag's Point of View Blog.

I wept but about what precisely I cannot say. When I first visited Michael Arad’s newly completed National September 11 Memorial of 2003–2011 at Ground Zero, which was dedicated on the tenth anniversary of the disaster—the ubiquitous maudlin press coverage of which I had done everything possible to ignore—it impressed me at once as a sobering, disturbing, heartbreaking, and overwhelming masterpiece. Arad’s inexorably powerful, enigmatically abstract pair of abyss-like pools, which demarcate the foundations of the lost Twin Towers, came as an immense surprise to those of us who doubted that the chaotic and desultory reconstruction of the World Trade Center site could yield anything of lasting value.

Yet against all odds and despite tremendous opposition from all quarters, the design by the Israeli-American Arad—an obscure thirty-four-year-old architect working for a New York City municipal agency when his starkly Minimalist proposal, Reflecting Absence, was chosen as the winner from among the 5,201 entries to the Ground Zero competition—became the most powerful example of commemorative architecture since Maya Lin’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial of 1981–1982 in Washington, D.C.

Calatrava to Build World's Most Expensive Transportation Hub

WTC © Joe Woolhead
WTC © Joe Woolhead

The World Trade Center Complex in Lower Manhattan is slowly progressing, now more than a decade after 9/11.  The Memorial was unveiled on the ten-year anniversary of 9/11, while the Freedom Tower is well on its way to completion, proudly displaying the spire that was mounted just a few weeks ago.  The site still is - and will be for many years to come - a maddening array of construction equipment, scaffolding and cranes that are working busily at the various components of WTC's rebuilding.  Yet while all this development is moving forward, the cost of the construction is ballooning.  

According to an article in The Observer, the site now boasts one of the most expensive office buildings in the world - the Freedom Tower - and one of the most expensive parking garages in history - the Vehicle Security Center.  And to add to this grandiose display of New York City's perseverance over tragedy, Santiago Calatrava's Transit Hub - Port Authority's PATH station to New Jersey - has become an exceedingly controversial point of contention for its skyrocketing budget, now reported at $3.47 billion still two years away from completion.  This may be one of the most expensive transportation hubs in the world, considering that its passenger volume does not justify this expense as much as its location might.  

Join us after the break for more.

dbox wins Emmy for "Rising: Rebuilding Ground Zero"

The New York-based branding and creative agency dbox has won an Emmy for its CGI and Branding work on the Discovery Channel’s six part mini-series Rising: Rebuilding Ground Zero. From executive producer by Steven Spielberg, the series chronicles the activity of the Ground Zero site and the personal stories of the construction workers, engineers and architects who have made the rebuilding vision a reality.

Ground Zero Master Plan / Studio Daniel Libeskind

With last year’s opening of the 9/11 Memorial at Ground Zero and the near-completion of the World Trade Center One, Daniel Libeskind’s vision for the World Trade Center site is close to presenting the future of NYC’s downtown financial center, 11 years after the attacks. Studio Daniel Libeskind was selected to develop the master plan for the site in 2003, and since has been coordinating with NYC’s numerous agencies and individual architects to rebuild the site. The project, in Libeskind’s words, is a “healing of New York”, a “site of memory” and “a space to witness the resilience of America”. Follow us after the break for more on the elements and progress of the master plan.

The Shard: A Skyscraper For Our Post-9/11 World?

The Shard, by Renzo Piano, towers over the London skyline.
The Shard, by Renzo Piano, towers over the London skyline.

When the Twin Towers came down 11 years ago (almost to the day), the world was struck numb. Even New Yorkers, who felt the trauma rumble through their veins, couldn’t get past the initial disbelief: how can this be happening? How can something so big, so invincible, actually be so vulnerable? Hundreds of comments have been hurled at Renzo Piano’s “Shard,” the massive, reflective skyscraper that hulks over the London skyline – it’s big, no, huge; it’s out of the context of its Victorian neighborhood; its exclusive price tag could only be footed by Qatar royalty (as it is) – but few, beyond writing off the tower as a symbol of arrogance or hubris, have stopped to consider its impetus. For that, we must look at the Shard in the context of 9/11. Only then can the Shard be understood for what it is: the amplification and perfection of the glass tower Piano began in post-9/11 New York, a utopian vision that stands defiantly in defense of the city itself.

Flight 93 National Memorial / Paul Murdoch Architects

Flight 93 National Memorial / Paul Murdoch Architects © Eric Staudenmaier
Flight 93 National Memorial / Paul Murdoch Architects © Eric Staudenmaier

United Airlines Flight 93 was one of the four planes hijacked during the September 11, 2001, attacks in the United States. It was on this flight that 40 passengers and crew members courageously gave their lives to thwart a planned attack on the Nation’s Capital. Tragically, the plane crashed in Western Pennsylvania with no survivors. To honor these heroes, Congress passed the Flight 93 National Memorial Act in 2002 and launched a two-stage, international design competition in 2005. A Jury of planners, landscape architects, architects, designers, government representatives, family members and community representatives chose Paul and Milena Murdoch’s proposal, which treated the 2,200 acre former coalmine as a memorialized national park where visitors embark on a sequence of experiences that leads them towards the crash site of Flight 93.

National September 11 Memorial Museum / Davis Brody Bond

WTC Memorial & Museum © Joe Woolhead
WTC Memorial & Museum © Joe Woolhead

To honor the memory of those who tragically lost their lives in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, New York-based Davis Brody Bond has been commissioned to design the National September 11 Memorial Museum at the heart of the former World Trade Center site in New York. Serving as a complement to the National September 11 Memorial, the museum will tell the story of 9/11 through multimedia displays, archives, narratives and a collection of monumental artifacts, while commemorating the life of every victim of the 2001 and 1993 terrorists attacks. Continue after the break to learn more.