Larry Silverstein, leaseholder of the World Trade Center, has asked three world class architects who have “world class egos” to leave those egos at the door and collaborate on the designs he has commissioned for 6.2 million sq ft of space in three new buildings at the trade center site.

Silverstein reviewed progress on those designs June 14 and 15 and spoke about the work at the ENR Top Leaders Forum in New York City. “I have extraordinarily talented architects—Richard Rogers, Norman Foster and Fumihiko Maki,” Silverstein said. The program he gave them was that the three new buildings should be “as different as they can and should be,” but also make sense “when put all together.” He said the work he had reviewed so far showed “diversity as well as respect.”

Silverstein cited an early September deadline for conceptual designs for these buildings among challenges he faces in site redevelopment, but he added that the three architects are “working prodigiously and collaboratively.”

Representatives from Phoenix Constructors, the joint venture managing construction of the trade center transportation hub also spoke at the conference about the challenges of “coopetition,” a term coined when firms collaborate with companies they may also be competing with on other work. 

Robert Prieto, senior vice president of Fluor Corp. didn’t like the term but related to the phenomenon: “Teams form to share risks and resources, and because members have special skills.” Prieto watched subtle changes as the Phoenix team came together. Initially, for example, business cards said Fluor Corp., Slattery Skanska, Granite Construction Northeast or Bovis Lend Lease, but that evolved to Phoenix Constructors cards. “The lessons learned are about how to accelerate the process using internal partnering sessions and frank discussion about corporate culture,” he added.


The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey awarded the unusual $1.1-billion construction management-general contractor contract to the joint venture on Jan. 26 for the transportation center (ENR 2/6 p. 15). Steve Plate, director of Priority Capital Programs for PANYNJ  said, “These huge companies who are competitors are now forged into a team that has to share risk.” There is a tendency to push risk onto the contractors, he added. The issue is “who is most directly responsible? Who is in control?”

James Abadie, senior vice president in the New York office of Bovis, said three traits make or break an alliance. “There’s always pride because you think you could do it alone, and some jealousy keeps you on top of your game. But you have to keep pride and jealousy in the right place,” and let fairness prevail, he said.