Jonathan Foster Architect
Mr. Foster has been active in the world of the redesign of lower Manhattan. The first week after Sept. 11th he helped Fr. Lyndon Harris organize St.. Paul's Chapel for the work it would be doing for the next 6 months. At that time, last September/October, he competed in the competition, sponsored by "Build Boston", to 'redesign the World Trade Center, which his firm won. This 6 week intense design exercise gave him a base of knowledge of the limits and strengths of the 16 acre site and the PA program. Since October 2001, he has been on the growth strategies and the Sustainability committees of New York New Visions, active in developing criteria for a sustainable future for lower Manhattan. He is the Sustainability representative to critique the 6 Port Authority proposals in July 2002.
In order to understand and evaluate what issues are being discussed in rebuilding lower Manhattan, one must have a vision of what could be, what should be, in downtown Manhattan in ten years and for the next century. Our job, as a creative designer is to investigate, create and explain this vision so that it is understood. This part of town is already the 3rd largest commercial city in the nation. (all of New York being the first). It needs to maintain that prominence for the economic strength of the city as well as the nation. The 16 acre WTC site has had added to it a great deal of social and spiritual requirements which are in conflict with the Port Authority requirements and goals. We have the potential to create another 16 acres of buildable land above a sunken West Street. This land, owned by the City or the State, could be traded for some land in the 16 acres, acre for acre. This will allow political control of Memorial sites and other cultural functions, but more importantly really opens the doors for a full integration of the site, rethinking lower Manhattan make this 17th Century city a fully vital 21st Century city as well.
I see a city where people come from all parts of the world on a pilgrimage to the memorial site, on a business trip or just to visit. Once there, they are in the greatest walking city in the world. It takes only a few minutes to walk from the Ferry terminal to South Street Seaport, and over to the Wintergarden. Within that walk are Wall street, Fraunces Tavern, Battery Park, St.. Paul's Chapel, and a new St.. Nicholas Church. Lower Manhattan has real history, and lots of it. And with new cultural institutions, such as an Opera House, a September 11th Museum, and others augmenting its rich heritage, it could become a formidable destination.
This memorial site should be a place of contemplation, capable of engendering in those new pilgrims, thoughts and feelings about those who died, as well as why they died. The Memorial should be able to be used by those who mourn and by those who work and live here. The actual site needs to be large enough, 3-4 acres minimum, to accept many people, with many moods, and still be quiet, and respectful. It should be traffic free, so that those who arrive to morn and to visit will have the freedom to walk unimpeded. The proximity of St.. Paul's and St. Nicholas (as well as their very real involvement with September 11th) make them a key asset to be considered in any viable scheme.
This new lower Manhattan will have less need for cars and trucks. We will arrive via public transport and filter up through a transportation hub under an airy glass shell . A "Crystal Palace" full of shops and restaurants that would be the connecting point for all public transport, the subways, trains, buses, and connections to the ferries via light rail as well as a locus for downtown. The three airports, Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark, connected by train with connections at the downtown terminal make it an easy ride from the airport. The Path , which is the same gauge as the 4,5, and 6 lines could run up the east side of Manhattan. The many ferries connecting lower Manhattan with Brooklyn, long island city, new jersey, and uptown provide an easy and enjoyable way to get around. Manhattan, the island. Its wonderful harbor will be accessible to all.
Lower Manhattan does need to be knit together. The many areas of downtown that were cut up or de mapped for garages or access routes need to be rebuilt, remaping the street grid so that it can be walked, not just driven. West street needs to be buried between Battery Park City and the rest of town. This will provide 16 acres for new construction of new residential and commercial buildings and green space which will fit into the street grid connecting these new areas with the historic old areas as well as the WTC site with its memorial. We need to have a new WTC. An icon to the world, showing that we believed in Yamasaki's vision that it be a symbol of world peace through communication and trade. And this needs the substance of this new world idea not just the image, these buildings need to be given the advantage of unlimited New York State green building tax credits, so that outside power requirements are minimal, the air is clean and they are excellent places to work in, and to live in. They will be the destination for future peacemakers through trade from around the world.