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Jewish World Review Feb. 19, 2003 / 17 Adar I 5763

Deroy Murdock

Deroy Murdock
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"Standing Tall" plan lets Twin Towers soar again | NEW YORK The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation on February 4 chose Studio Daniel Libeskind and THINK Designs as semi-finalists in its quest for a new World Trade Center. With its pointed, sharp angles, Libeskind's project is a high-rise knife attack. I hereby christen it Switchblade Park. Though less threatening, THINK's lattice-work structures filled with cultural institutions eerily resemble skeletal remains of the deceased skyscrapers.

Alas, both ideas shrink beside that of Northwestern University's Justin Berzon. He has created the seemingly impossible: a concrete plan to revive the Twin Towers in a way that should please the various constituencies jockeying over the future of Ground Zero.

Berzon practically suspended his studies at the Medill School of Journalism and buried himself in architectural maps and satellite photos of the WTC's 16 acres. He then crafted an incredibly elegant and simple solution to the rebuilding challenge.

Berzon's "Standing Tall" proposal (online at moves the Towers from the WTC site's west and southwest portions to its northeast corner. That simple shift makes way for nearly everything that various groups ask of the site: untouched footprints of both Towers, a reopened Greenwich Street, memorial and museum space, a transportation hub and room, Berzon says, for some 90 percent of the real estate that al-Qaeda demolished.

Interestingly enough, "Standing Tall" both asks something of and offers something to almost everyone involved in the WTC's renaissance. They should be able to embrace this compromise enthusiastically.

  • Restoration purists will have to relinquish our position that the World Trade Center return exactly as it was, as if the FBI had prevented the 9-11 attack. In exchange for vacant footprints, we will revel as the Twin Towers soar to their former glory.

  • Families of 9-11 victims will have to accept new Towers. For some, this will recall the worst day of their lives. Conversely, they will be relieved to see the footprints preserved as a memorial to their loved ones.

  • Grid enthusiasts will see Greenwich Street dog-leg slightly to the west past the new Tower One. In turn, they will applaud the reconnection of this north-south artery.

  • The Port Authority receives a transit facility, although most likely a subterranean one rather than an above-ground landmark.

  • Developer Larry Silverstein leased the World Trade Center when Rudy Giuliani privatized it in July 2001. He will see his Towers resurrected, although above the 65- to 70-story limit beyond which he has safety concerns. Meanwhile, he would recover nearly all of his commercial floor space.

Berzon, a native Manhattanite who last year lived near Ground Zero, speaks passionately about the WTC.

"Even though we have photos and footage of the Twin Towers, how will future generations understand the true scale of what was lost on September 11?" he asks. "The only true salve that might heal this hurting city requires 200,000 tons of steel and concrete. We must rebuild the Twins."

Berzon challenges the Towers' critics. "Ask yourself this: 'Would you, right now, give anything to have them back if someone said they could be back tomorrow?' There's your answer."

Americans who want the Twins to rise again should speak up for "Standing Tall," Justin Berzon's serious, practical vision to reinstate the Twin Towers and satisfy the myriad voices concerned with what emerges from Ground Zero.

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JWR contributor Deroy Murdock is a columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service and a Media Fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University. Send your comments by clicking here.


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© 2003, Deroy Murdock. An extended version of this column appears on National Review Online.