Volume 19, Number 2 | May 26 - June 1, 2006


Pausing to celebrate 7 W.T.C.

With so much lethargy to be frustrated about in Lower Manhattan, it is easy to overlook an uplifting moment. The last office tower to be destroyed Sept. 11, 2001 – 7 W.T.C. – is now the first to be rebuilt and open. If we’re “lucky,” it’ll be a few years before we see another day like this, so developer Larry Silverstein was right to stage a full-scale celebration Tuesday. We thank and congratulate him and his team and we share his wish to get the building fully occupied quickly.

Architect David Childs has given us a new sight in the sky that we think will look even better with time when the glass reflects adjacent buildings, including a new Fiterman Hall. The “extension” of Greenwich St. past the building didn’t turn out as it was billed because it will not allow for traffic to go through, but changing the building’s footprint did create enough room for a refreshing new plaza designed by Ken Smith. The new art in the plaza and the installation visible inside the building is good evidence that Silverstein, despite some misguided positions, is working to make Downtown better.

We will continue to disagree with him on some World Trade Center issues, but we have always known that the blame for construction delays goes to Gov. Pataki, the Port Authority and to a lesser extent, Mayor Bloomberg, who took too passive a role in his first term.

It is good news too that three of the world’s great architects, Richard Rogers, Fumihiko Maki and Norman Foster will be on the 25th floor of 7 W.T.C. designing three W.T.C. towers and retail spaces for Church St.

Silverstein has opened the building to school and community groups this year and we hope to see that good neighbor policy continue as long as space permits. Now that he has moved his firm’s office back Downtown in 7 W.T.C., he is after all, our neighbor again.

Welcome back Larry.

Absurd cell phone policy

Many of our readers will never forget the panic they felt on that September day five years ago when they heard the news in offices all over the city while their children were in classrooms a few blocks from the Twin Towers. Cell phone and land line service was spotty Downtown that day, but for some, the cell did work at times when the land line didn’t. The recent decision by Mayor Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein to strictly enforce a preexisting rule that bans cell phone use in the schools is the equivalent of shooting a mosquito with a cannon.

The administration’s defense of the new policy amounts to a false admission they have hired incompetent principals and teachers who have lost complete control. Any classroom where many students are spending a lot of time text-massaging and talking on cells has a teacher who will not be able to teach much under any set of rules. We think the mayor and chancellor are doing a better job running the schools than they apparently do. There are different ways to cut out disruptive communication without denying parents and children access to each other and Klein should pick one that works for families.


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