A Letter to Mayor Bloomberg and Anyone Else at City Hall Who May Read It

By Louis Epstein
R.D. 2,Carmel,New York 10512
Founder & Director,World Trade Center Restoration Movement

What is built on the World Trade Center site must before all else emphasize the strength of our recovery above the severity of our wounds, to show that the city,the nation,and the free world prevailed despite the horrible slaughter of that infamous day.

You defend a process that has been rigged from the beginning to only consider plans that send the opposite message,ostentatiously showcasing the killers' success in diminishing New York and America forever.

The attacks of September 11th 2001 were aimed at destroying the Twin Towers,and any redevelopment that amounts to the towers staying gone shows those whom the terrorists killed to have been on a losing side,not honors them.

We honor the dead by denying their killers the outcome they dreamed of, and allowing the dreams of the victims to be reclaimed by a new generation free to live,work,and visit every bit as high in the skies of which the terrorists would make us afraid.We honor the killers if we give their kind a place on the map to point to and say,"there used to be giant towers there,but we put an end to that...they never dared rebuild." And the message this sends may well inspire future attacks on other American landmarks...a mistake not made in the Pentagon rebuilding, where the memorial wisely does not "come first" but instead stands in the critical historical context of the murderous act of destruction being comprehensively,visibly reversed.

No one is fooled by the claim that resilience is shown by the construction of smaller buildings not even on the same block as where the destroyed Towers were...what is built on one side of a street in no way expresses rebuilding of something that was destroyed on the other side.

The official planning process committed from the beginning to misguided priorities that required plans to be bad,grounded in the self-centered impulse to reconsider and rethink what needed to be reaffirmed as strongly and unambiguously as possible.Once sufficiently-bad plans were in hand, there was a blinkered determination to promote them,regardless of the continuous expression of public dissatisfaction.And the fact that time has been wasted doing the wrong thing is claimed to mean there is no time to discard the plans and do the right thing when it only makes this more urgent.

The Libeskind site plan,which was designed to meet the misguided official program requirements,finished last in the official public poll of the planning process,where "Neither" handily defeated both of the two proposed plans so bad that they were "finalists".

To blindly stay on this course honors no one worthy of honor but rather disgraces the entire free world and creates a trophy for the triumph of terror.

Blandly dismissive of the overwhelming evidence that rebuilding in a way that restores what was taken from us has always been more popular than any of the products of the travesty of an official planning process,you pay attention to public opinion only where it suits your preconceptions even when this places the lives of future City employees at risk.

I urgently commend to you the words of architect Eli Attia:
"As an architect who has devoted his life to designing tall buildings, I can state without reservation that any 100-story building is in every respect safer than any 50-story building."

This is necessarily true because of the realities of physics and engineering...the taller a building is the stronger it must be built to even stand up,and the strength to which a super-tall building must be built is only made economical by the building's heroic size.

And yet you propose to duck and run...catering to the "nobody would work up there" crowd (and my organization has regularly exhausted supplies of "YES I'd Work on the 110th Floor!" stickers at our petition drives and rallies) by wanting city offices in the 58-story "Tower 4" of the current plan,most of whose offices will have views straight into the windows of larger nearby buildings,which will be much less safe than new,state of the art,full-sized new Towers would have to be.

Thousands of good people did not die in order to give those who prefer a Jane Jacobs city to a Le Corbusier city a convenient chance to flip the finger at their opponents...and this redevelopment process must not effectively create a coalition between the violent and non-violent critics of the urban design principles that gave us the beloved Twin Towers by giving us plans that follow through on,rather than confront, the destruction of world-renowned icons.No matter what one's tastes in city planning or feelings about real estate economics,this is not the time or place to indulge them.

Governor Pataki is in his last year in office,you are in your last term in office.Do not imagine that you will leave a well-regarded legacy in the strength of your determination to see to it that the wrong thing was done.

You claim that there is no time to scrap the wretched products of the official process and open the site to plans that do not make a series of required mistakes (which if they were really good ideas would have been able to defeat plans that did not make them in a fair competition). In fact there is no time to do anything else.

The starting point for what we build must be new Towers of no lesser scale than the old,engineering marvels that will awe the world and bury forever the implication that the terrorists "taught us a lesson" and "cut us down to size",in a site plan that does not make the lost WTC out to be a mistake of which we repented once Uncle Osama gave us a chance.

Don't commit to throwing good money after bad in order to ensure we do no better than a plan for which the next ten mayors may hate you. The skyline of the city must emulate the motto of the state... "Excelsior"...ever upward!

May 31,2006