Architect, developer squabbling over new WTC design

Plans for reconstruction of the World Trade Center are already off to a rocky start, with battle lines drawn between the architect of the winning design, Daniel Libeskind, and the developer, Larry A. Silverstein. Libeskind, Silverstein’s senior aides and officials from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey met Tuesday to attempt to make an agreement on the final plan.

Libeskind’s design includes a 1,776-foot glass spire and an empty, ground-area memorial on the site where the twin towers stood. But Silverstein wants a more compact site that contains all the office space the original towers once held. He claims other arrangements could hurt the project commercially.

Because the Port Authority owns the site, it has the final say in the design of the project. After being pressured by Silverstein, the Port Authority recently asked Libeskind to study the effect of moving the signature 1,776-foot tower to the eastern portion of the site, where a new transit hub is planned. The Authority also asked him to consider adding an office tower on top of that train station.

Libeskind responded by hiring Edward W. Hayes, a Manhattan lawyer who went to Columbia Law School with New York Gov. George E. Pataki. Libeskind says his design should remain intact and unchanged.

Silverstein, who says the details of the commercial development are up to him, rebutted by hiring architect David M. Childs, a rival of Libeskind’s in the design competition, to help with plans.

Although Gov. Pataki set a summer 2004 deadline for construction to begin, financial problems and the battle over plans may delay the project. Both parties agreed that for construction to begin in a year, the architects will soon have to begin producing detailed blueprints of the commercial parts of the site. The erection of the spire’s steel frame and some of the surrounding towers is to be completed by the end of 2006.