Volume 18 • Issue 47 | April 7 - 13, 2006

Downtown Express photos by Jefferson Siegel

Workers planted trees in the plaza outside 7 World Trade Center, the day after the building’s design received a Municipal Art Society award. Ken Smith, bottom left, the plaza’s landscape architect, also received an award for the plaza he co-designed at 55 Water St.

7 W.T.C. architect David Childs chats with Madelyn Wils, board member of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, as he stands near the building’s owner, Larry Silverstein.

W.T.C. fight buried briefly as society awards Downtown projects

By Josh Rogers

The Municipal Art Society of New York gave three of it’s five awards to Lower Manhattan projects at a ceremony Tuesday night held inside one of the winners: 7 World Trade Center.

The society gave its MASterwork award for best new building to 7 W.T.C., its best residential restoration award to Historic Front Street in the Seaport and best privately-owned public space honor to the elevated plaza at 55 Water St. in the Financial District.

Developer Larry Silverstein accepted the M.A.S. award for 7 W.T.C. across the street from ground zero and optimistically said work on the Freedom Tower will begin this month.

“That is ready to go,” Silverstein said at the society event in his building. Silverstein has been negotiating with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey over the W.T.C. site. The Port has agreed to take over responsibility for the least valuable sites, the Freedom Tower and Tower 5, and let Silverstein retain his rights to develop three offices on Church St., but the sides remain divided on how much Silverstein’s lease to the Port should be reduced and how much insurance money he will turn over to the bi-state authority.

The Port has reportedly agreed to let Silverstein develop the Freedom Tower even if they take on control of the building. Regardless of who develops the tower, officials are planning to stick with the design of Silverstein’s architect, David Childs, who was also honored Tuesday night for his design of 7 W.T.C.

Although ceremony attendees had a close view of the sunken W.T.C. site, there was little evidence of the tension that has been brewing for months over the project. Silverstein praised Gov. George Pataki, even though last month the governor said Silverstein’s firm “betrayed the public’s trust,” and Pataki’s economic development president, Charles Gargano, called the developer “greedy.”

Landscape architect Ken Smith, who received an award for 55 Water St. got to see the new plaza he designed which is being built outside 7 W.T.C. The fences surrounding the plaza were take down this week and the fountain was also turned on. The next day 20 sweet gum trees were planted and the plaza is expected to open next month. About 40 more trees are expected.

The other winners for 55 Water included Rogers Marvel Architects, which has also teamed up with Smith on the new design for the Lower Manhattan section of the East River waterfront, and the building’s owner, New Water Street Corporation.

Cook + Fox Architects and developer Yarrow L.L.C. accepted the award for Front St. Yarrow bought the 14 sites from the city, restored decaying 19th century buildings into new homes and built a modern building that was approved by both the Landmarks Preservation Commission and Community Board 1.

The other two projects awarded were the Gun Hill Road subway station in the Bronx for the best neighborhood catalyst (designed by di Domenico + Partners, developed by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority), and Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center for outstanding commrcial restoration project (designed by Gabellini Sheppard Associates, developed by Tishman Speyer Properties).


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