Louis Epstein's Speech for February 18th 2004 Hearing

With every step it has taken,the official planning process for the rebuilding of the World Trade Center has demonstrated its incompetence and the increasing need to discard the inadequate designs it has made a specific priority of requiring.

Even as environmental reviews of other projects drag on for years, today is supposed to be the final public hearing on the Daniel Libeskind site plan that finished last in the official public poll of the process. So let us get on with building what finished first in that poll...namely "neither" of the two plans selected for meeting the inappropriate official program requirements.

In the document before us today,this is best embodied by the "Restoration Alternative",the rebuilding of Twin Towers reincarnating the spirit of those that were destroyed with the technology of the new century.But of course the statement we review today desperately tries to avoid the clear preferability of this course of action to the official proposal.

Chapter ten lauds the neighborhood character created by the old World Trade Center...but the Proposed Action works hand in glove with the murderers of thousands to ensure that that neighborhood character is never restored.

Opponents of the basic urban design principles of the old Center have drooled with delight at the opportunity created by the terrorists to implement their preferences,rather than having the decency to see that this is neither the time nor the place to do so.And with nothing but opinion does the Statement make any adverse judgement against the Restoration Alternative,opinion far outweighed by the horrific symbolism of capitalizing on the slaughter to show America humbled as the killers desired.

The Restoration Alternative is dismissed in three ill-supported paragraphs of the 72-page Executive Summary,yet in subhead after subhead of the full report's Chapter 23 it is admitted that the Restoration Alternative is not worse than the Proposed Action.

Avoided,however,are the many ways in with the Proposed Action is worse than the Restoration Alternative.It is complained that the Restoration Alternative would need truck checkpoints to be on the site;but only in the Proposed Action does truck traffic rumble unchecked through the site, on either side of every building.

Above-ground retail space,found all over the city,is extolled and the underground retail space a distinguishing feature of the World Trade Center is denigrated.Yet the site has lost its retail operator because the plans called for too much of the retail space to be above ground when shoppers prefer it underground,certainly on a cold day like today!

The Restoration Alternative's skyline impact is denigrated compared to the Freedom Tower,with its roof hundreds of feet lower and dozens fewer office floors.The space not accounted for in the envisioned towers is accused of making the project denser.Yet it would be wholly in the spirit of this Alternative to consolidate these functions into the new Towers to make them even taller,and the density less than the Proposed Action.

The placement of new Twin Towers is said to be constrained by "the public's expressed desire for some meaningful recognition of" the footprints of the old Towers.Before Governor Pataki aggressively intervened to pre-empt public debate,polls showed New Yorkers evenly divided on building on the old footprints,and meaningful recognition does NOT have to be total emptiness.

The safety technologies seen as advantages of the proposed buildings would of course be scaled up for new Twin Towers with more effectiveness than for smaller buildings.

And finally,most disgracefully,the fear of working on top floors that some have always had,and the terrorists sought to strengthen,is invoked as a reason not to proceed with the Restoration Alternative.It is defiance of those who would constrain us by this fear that is the reason that only the Restoration Alternative ought to be considered,and the entire planning process refocussed on how best to execute it.

No memorial can honor those who died unless it is in the historic and urban context created only by repudiation of the act that killed them, not of the buildings in which they were slaughtered or the purposes to which and for which they gave their lives.