On the Mark

The editorial "A 9/11 Memorial Without Public Input Will Have No Soul" must be engraved in the minds of all Americans, as well as the granite of the new World Trade Center structures, creating a continuous memory of what the process should have been (ENR 12/1 p. 68). But yet, what has been achieved in good faith resulted in architectural excellence, and the site planning works.

The editorial was to the point of what should have happened. Anyone who felt the loss will agree and mourn. Still, some direction has already been made, and for the sake of going on, let’s hold hands and proceed. But this editorial must be engraved in the new structures in the event the question is asked of those who will remember the twin towers as one of the wonders of the world, as well as the towers that torched their lives forever.

Steven P. Papadatos
Papadatos Partnership LLP
New York, N.Y

Clarifying Costs

Engineering News-Record ran an interesting article, "Seattle’s Eccentric ‘Book Behemoth’ Shatters Stereotypes," about the Seattle "Book Bag" library currently under construction (ENR 11/3 p. 20). The usual computer game design, the usual $8.5-million delay dispute and the pictures were well done, but the dollars and quotes were either deliberately skewed to hide the eventual real cost to the taxpayer (a norm in public work), or the copywriter didn’t have sufficient time to check the supposed information.

The opening line indicated that the building is 412,000 sq ft and it continues to mention the $154-million price tag, which is just a shade under $374 per sq ft and probably includes all the books.

On the next page, the general contractor relates a dispute for added delay compensation to his $121.4-million contract, or just a shade under $295 per sq ft.

All reasonable assumptions so far, but then we skip to the last page about a tight budget and the library’s reported cost is under $275 per sq ft.

In the editorial, the owner is quoted as saying the building is "well funded per sq ft" and that the construction was contracted for "a relatively ordinary price." Maybe in Seattle, with the luxury of dot-com fortunes, $374 per sq ft is relatively normal for this exceptionally high-maintenance signature building, but is that the price?