The port authority and LMDC are "equally committed to ensuring that Libeskind's vision is realized," said Kevin Rampe, who became LMDC's president last month when Lou Thomson retired. Rampe had been LMDC's executive vice president and general counsel. "LMDC and the port authority are reaffirming the historic partnership we entered into last year," he said. "That partnership brought us to a single plan. It will now transform the plan into a reality."

Over the next several months LMDC will focus on four principal areas: WTC site planning and the creation of a memorial; coordinating creation of a "21st Century" transportation infrastructure; developing initiatives to revitalize lower Manhattan beyond the WTC; and allocating the remainder of the federal aid in support of the effort.

The agencies selected Libeskind's Memory Foundations site plan on Feb. 26, as the winner of the two finalists selected from seven announced late last year. In addition to a 1,776-ft-tall broadcast tower alongside a 70-story office building, his plan includes a "Wedge of Light" piazza around an intersection of two streets that will be restored within the 16-acre site. It also includes a 4.7-acre memorial garden, 30 ft below grade that encompasses both footprints of the twin 110-story towers destroyed by terrorists on Sept. 11, 2001. A section of the slurry wall foundation that boxes in about half of the site would be exposed down to 30 of its 70-ft height. The memorial itself would be at bedrock, 70 ft below grade. The plan includes 280,000 to 380,000 sq ft of cultural space. Options for commercial space include 10 million sq ft on site in five towers, ranging from 50 to 70 stories, or 8.4 million sq ft on site and 1.7 million off site, also in five buildings with the same story height range.

Libeskind's team includes Gary Hack, urban planner; Hargreaves Associates, landscape architect; Jeff Zupan, traffic engineer; Arup, consulting engineer; Irwin Cantor, slurry wall consultant; and Colin Williams, RWDI, for input on wind loads.

The agencies are currently working out details of the agreement with Libeskind. Generally, the architect will be directly involved with all aspects of planning for the site, with each agency taking the lead on specific issues.

LMDC will take the lead on the memorial and cultural district, on the public outreach process. Work is already under way to prepare the international competition, which will be launched this spring, to design the memorial. Details of the structure of the competition itself and the process of design selection will be announced within the "next few weeks," said Rampe.

The port authority is taking the lead for onsite transportation facilities and infrastructure planning. The port authority is currently negotiating with Studio Daniel Libeskind as master architect to do design for the permanent PATH station and the concourse to other area transportation facilities and the neighboring World Financial Center, said Joseph J. Seymour, the Port Authority's executive director. "We're ready to roll," he added, expecting to complete contracts in 60 days for some of the elements.

Transportation improvements in lower Manhattan are being funded by $4.5 billion in federal aid. Projects include a new station at the WTC site, "akin" to Grand Central Terminal, said Rampe. It would link to a new Metropolitan Transportation Authority Fulton Transit Center several blocks to the east. This would link 13 subway lines into a "seamless system," he said. The plan, supported by New York Gov. George Pataki (R), also envisions direct airport access over the next six months. LMDC, in partnership with the city and state transportation agencies, will release a transportation report for the area in the near future, said Rampe.

Officials indicated that the price gap between the city and the Port Authority regarding a land swap–the WTC site for airports–is narrowing, though Seymour doesn't want to be too optimistic.

Seymour says the temporary PATH subway station in Ground Zero should be completed by December. The Exchange Place Station across the Hudson River in New Jersey, which feeds the PATH station, should be ready by June or July to send trains to uptown Manhattan stations. "The temporary WTC PATH station will use the same alignments as before," said Seymour, but it won't be heated or air-conditioned.

The two agencies will work jointly with Libeskind on the commercial redevelopment of the site. Working in partnership with the leaseholders, the agencies are developing "binding" commercial design guidelines, to ensure "we adhere to the highest standards of safety and excellence," said Rampe, stressing that Libeskind's "hand will guide the way."

To better accomplish this, Libeskind will relocate from Berlin to New York City. "We will live near the site," he said, asking for help finding an apartment in lower Manhattan place. "Our offices will be here."

Libeskind says his plan purposely limits occupied buildings to 70 stories in height so that people feel safe and secure. The broadcast tower, which would be connected to a 70-story office high-rise, continues to 1,776 ft as a symbol of democracy and optimism. It is important to "work and live in a way that won't let the terrorists win," while making people safe, he said. He added that the 70-story building uses conventional circulation and conventional evacuation systems that have been proven effective.

Referring to the overall WTC plan, "The ethical, architectural and urbanistic integrity of the design will be maintained" as the plan evolves, he said. "Every New Yorker is the client."

t a Downtown-Lower Manhattan Association Inc. breakfast March 20, the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. and the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey announced an agreement to jointly hire Studio Daniel Libeskind as master design architect for the World Trade Center site. The agencies also said they would be developing commercial design guidelines that would rule at Ground Zero over the next six months.