A somewhat scaled-down design for the Sept. 11 memorial that retains the central elements of the original — including reflecting pools and the inscribed names of the victims — was unveiled Tuesday after the project was sent back to the drawing board because the cost was pushing $1 billion.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Gov. George Pataki signed off on the more modest proposal, more than a month after asking developer Frank Sciame to find ways to reduce the cost to $500 million.
Sciame managed to cut the cost by more than $285 million by shrinking the size of the memorial museum, removing portions of the galleries around the pools where the names were to be listed, and consolidating all entrances into a visitors center. The new design will also raise the victims’ names to street level.
Other reductions came from recalculating previous cost estimates. Separately, Sciame slashed $11 million in annual operating expenses.
The reflecting pools and waterfalls envisioned by architects Michael Arad and Peter Walker for the site where the World Trade Center stood were retained. Arad called some of the cuts “painful” but said in a statement he was pleased many original elements survived.
Relatives of the dead who had lobbied to raise the names to the plaza said they were pleased their concerns were heard. Still, a number of families, plus fire and police unions, want the list organized so that fire battalions or co-workers are grouped together.
“While this is definitely a giant step in the right direction, we really need for them to once and for all resolve outstanding issues like how the names will be displayed,” said Anthony Gardner, who lost his brother in the attack.
Others were upset that the museum and other elements will stay below ground, which they find disrespectful and even unsafe if large crowds had to be evacuated.
‘Thoughtful and thorough process’
Tuesday’s announcement marked the beginning of a seven-day public comment period. The Lower Manhattan Development Corp., which oversees the rebuilding of the site, will adopt a final design by the end of the month, officials said.
The memorial is set to open by the eighth anniversary of the attacks, in 2009.
The governor praised Sciame for conducting a “thoughtful and thorough process” He said the redesigned landmark “honors our heroes’ lives, mourns their passing, provides solace to their loved ones and tells their story to the world.”