Volume 19 | Issue 25 | November 3 - 9, 2006
progress report/memorial foundation
Raising the money while we build the memorial
By Joe Daniels
In recent months, tremendous progress has been made on the World Trade Center Memorial. The World Trade Center Memorial Foundation, an independent not-for-profit organization, was established to raise the money and to build, program, and operate the memorial and memorial museum at the World Trade Center site. Since beginning operations in May 2005, the foundation has raised $145 million, almost half of its total private commitment, and heavy construction has begun. This past July, the foundation entered into an agreement with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the State and City of New York that allowed the foundation to move forward with renewed momentum. We recently elected a new chairman, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose leadership and philanthropic experience will ensure that the foundation quickly reaches its fundraising goal. Because of this positive progress, the memorial project now has a solid definition of roles and responsibilities, finality of cost and clarity of design.
This fall has been a period of positive transition as the foundation assumed design responsibilities from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation and implemented a building agreement with the Port Authority. As owner of the memorial and museum, the foundation is responsible for capital and annual fundraising, finalizing and maintaining the integrity of project design, programming of the memorial and museum, and ongoing operations. We inherited a powerful design from the L.M.D.C. and are pleased to have some of the talented staff members from the L.M.D.C. who have been working on the memorial project join the foundation to see it through. The Port Authority, as the foundation's builder, is assuming responsibility for construction of both the facilities and necessary site infrastructure. As the Port Authority is already building the new PATH station adjacent to the memorial, this arrangement provides the project with greatly improved logistics and efficiencies of scale.
Thanks to the July agreement, a solid public-private partnership has been established to ensure the funding of the entire memorial project. The foundation is responsible for raising $300 million in private funds: $260 million for the capital construction and $40 million for foundation pre-opening operations, which include museum programming and planning. The L.M.D.C. is committing $250 million towards building the memorial and museum while additional funds for the project are being made possible by the State of New York and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Revisions to the memorial design that were agreed to this summer not only reduced project costs, but also will enhance the visitor experience to the memorial and museum by simplifying the design. By eliminating underground portions of the memorial, and consolidating the queuing, ticketing and entry to the museum, we anticipate a smoother and more unified experience for visitors and easier pedestrian flow around the plaza.
This summer we began to take these plans from design to actual construction. On Aug. 17, workers began excavating the southwest corner of the site in order to construct the 142 footings that will hold up the structures of the memorial, museum, and plaza. Once the footings are complete, which is scheduled for spring 2007, we will begin preparation for steel erection. Beginning the following year, Downtown residents, workers, and visitors to the site will see the structure of the memorial taking shape as the memorial pools start to form.
As we proceed with building the memorial, we recognize the importance of engaging the downtown community in our efforts. From continuing to analyze pedestrian flow on the plaza to planning the programming for the museum, the Foundation will collaborate with the residents of this community as we move forward. We are currently speaking with the Community Board to determine the best possible method for community input. In the meantime, I encourage you to visit the Foundation online at www.buildthememorial.org or contact our office with any questions and concerns at 212-312-8800. We welcome your comments and encourage your participation. Construction is underway and we have reached almost half of our private fundraising goal. Now it is time for everyone to participate in building this memorial.
The memorial will accommodate mourning and remembrance. The museum will encourage learning and engagement. And the six-acre Memorial Plaza will offer vibrancy and greenery in the center of a revitalizing urban community.
Ground Zero needs a moral center, a permanent place of reckoning amid downtown's revival. The Memorial and Memorial Museum will provide this. As they are built, they will provide a powerful impetus to other downtown redevelopment efforts. We want that to happen - for the sake of the victims and for the sake of the community that survives them.
Joe Daniels is the president and C.E.O. of the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation.