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The Sidney Morning Herald

Trump calls for return of the Twin Towers

By Mark Coultan

May 20, 2005

Donald Trump talks at a news conference after presenting a proposal to rebuild the World Trade Centre. The Freedom Tower project is stalled but Donald Trump now wants it to be scrapped.

If Donald Trump had his way, he would say "you're fired" to the architects of the World Trade Centre's Freedom Tower.

Mr Trump has nothing to do with the stalled project but that did not stop him advocating a completely different design from the one arrived at following years of debate and consultation.

The television star and property developer gave his backing to a plan that would rebuild the towers as they were - except one storey higher. The buildings would be moved slightly, so the footprints of the originals would remain as a memorial.

Mr Trump hates the Freedom Tower's present design, a 541-metre (1776-foot) structure topped by a framework meant to echo the upstretched arm of the Statue of Liberty.

"It's the worst pile of crap architecture I've ever seen in my life, and I don't think we have to live with it," he said. "If something happened to the Statue of Liberty, you wouldn't rebuild it as something other than the Statue of Liberty.

"Hundreds of years will go by when we can look at something that will be emblematic of strength and character and freedom, or we can look at the skeleton rising in the sky that's going to be emblematic of a disaster and failure."

The Freedom Tower, being built by developer Larry Silverstein, will be 1776 feet tall for a reason. The number was chosen because 1776 is the year the American Declaration of Independence was signed.

The Trump plan would move the towers within the site. On the original footprints of the buildings, the first five storeys of the original twin towers would be rebuilt as a memorial.

Reaction to Mr Trump's intervention was along the lines of whether his program, which co-incidentally has its American television finale this week, should be called The Apprentice or The Opportunist. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg politely dismissed it, but the authority charged with developing the site, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, said he was entitled to his opinion, adding "like the millions of people who actually involved themselves in the actual planning process".

It (the Freedom Tower) is the worst pile of crap architecture I've ever seen in my life."
Donald TrumpThat process has been in a state of flux, since New York Governor George Pataki announced that the replacement for the World Trade Centre would have to be redesigned.

When Mr Pataki announced the postponement of the project to allow for its redesign, he expressed his determination to get it built. He said: "Let me be clear. For me, this is personal." But the truth is that for Mr Pataki, it is political. For the thousands of families of victims, it is personal. Many see the site's importance, not as a memorial to the dead, but as a cemetery.

The redesign - the police demanded it be moved because of concerns that it was too close to a busy freeway and vulnerable to a truck bomb attack - suggests that the plans will move further from the master plan of Daniel Libeskind, giving the architect of the tower, David Childs, more room to put his stamp on it.

While egos, ambition and sorrow continue to swirl, capitalism has moved on. Manhattan exists as the centre of world capitalism but many companies are moving part or all of their operations out of Manhattan, partly because it's cheaper and partly because of the terrorist risk.

Morgan Stanley, the biggest tenant in the World Trade Centre, has diversified its operations to other parts of Manhattan, Brooklyn and New Jersey.

A survey by Tenantwise.com, an online real estate firm, estimated about 23,000 of 135,000 employees who worked in buildings destroyed or damaged on September 11 are now working outside New York.

Copyright © 2005. The Sydney Morning Herald

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