‘Hope, Resiliency, and Strength:’ Lasting Message of WTC Site 20 Years after 9/11
By Joe Connolly and Neil A. Carousso
NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — The World Trade Center site is a living, breathing memorial of the people lost in the September 11 terrorist attacks, a bustling business district and architectural wonder that stands tall as a sign of freedom and New York’s resilience in recovering from the fateful tragedy.
“I think there is a responsibility that whatever sadness and tragedy has befallen a place, at the end, there needs to be a message of hope, resilience and strength,” said architect Daniel Libeskind on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight, sponsored by Dime Community Bank.
The tear-jerking reflecting pools, the breathtaking Freedom Tower, and the awe-inspiring Oculus Transportation Hub were all part of Libeskind’s master plan to revitalize the site after 9/11.
“That’s what the spirit of humanity is. It’s not just to give in to the irretrievable and irreversible past. It’s to show that we can overcome it; we will not forget it,” he said.
Libeskind is a world-famous architect whose designs include the Jewish Museum Berlin and hundreds of modern buildings enjoyed by millions around the world from the United States to Europe and beyond. He was born and raised in Poland to Holocaust survivors and was among the last to immigrate to New York by boat into Ellis Island.
“You have to be a lucky man to be living in New York to be able to take the subway or walk somewhere into a corner of New York that is maybe 10 blocks away from you but it’s a different New York,” he said, continuing, “That’s the beauty of New York. You move a few blocks and you’re in a different neighborhood. New York is really a kaleidoscope of diversity.”
Libeskind told Joe Connolly and Neil A. Carousso that exploring and experiencing the city is a quintessential act for himself as an architect, but said it can be inspiring for anyone. Attracted to the energy of New York City, he is confident the offices at the World Trade Center will be at full capacity again after the COVID-19 pandemic, because while working from home is convenient, he believes the collaborative and creative work that can be achieved in the social space of the office is unmatched.
“There’s no doubt that offices will continue to play a key role and I really know it from my own office, which is in Lower Manhattan, that it’s so inspiring to have people back in the office, seeing each other, working together. It’s irreplaceable. You can never do it from your home that way,” Libeskind said.
He noted many offices are being reconstructed to meet the new pandemic demands of distance and ventilation and supports converting empty offices into residential buildings.
“When we were building Ground Zero, many of the great office buildings, which were already modern office buildings, were being converted to residential buildings and that has brought a lot of life to Lower Manhattan,” said Libeskind, hopeful that doing so now will improve the city’s affordability.
He told WCBS 880 he has been working on designing modern New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) buildings for elderly residents in Brooklyn and Long Island City and believes introducing quality architecture and greater living space will attract new, talented people to live and work in New York.
Watch Joe Connolly and Neil A. Carousso’s conversation with world-famous architect Daniel Libeskind for a reflection on the World Trade Center revitalization and discussion about New York City’s post-pandemic future on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight video above.