In an interview scheduled to air on "Hardball with Chris Matthews" Thursday, Donald Trump tells Chris Matthews that the proposed Freedom Tower was designed by "an egghead architect" who "really doesn't have a lot of experience designing something like this."
Following is a transcript of interview.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, 'HARDBALL' HOST: Donald Trump, thank you for joining us in amidst of this controversy over the World Trade Towers.
Speaking into now the counter, every time I fly over Manhattan I see basically an amputated Battery area. The bottom of the island looks amputated. I see the missing towers. Is that a better monument than the Freedom Towers, just not having anything? Or would you rather have the World Trade Towers back?
DONALD TRUMP: I'd rather have nothing than what they're building, Chris. It's a terrible design. It was designed by an egghead architect who really doesn't have a lot of experience of designing something like this. And it's just a terrible design.
It's wrong angles. I mean, the worst of all, it's a skeletal building. And you know, if you look at it, what is it really? It's a 60-story building with a skeleton on top of it because you've got 40 or 50 stories with nothing in between.
And it's a disgusting design that we're going to have to live with for many, many years in New York, and actually in the world, because New York City is so international. And it doesn't represent what we want to have represented.
What I want to see built is the World Trade Centers stronger and maybe a story taller. And that's what everybody wants. “The New York Post” came out today strongly. “The Wall Street Journal” yesterday in their editorial came out strongly for that.
That's what people want. I don't want to be stuck with five or six buildings that were designed by a guy that shouldn't be designing buildings, in my opinion. And it's just terrible what's happened in New York.
And they're trying to push this thing through, and I don't know why. We should have the World Trade Center bigger and better.
MATTHEWS: Is the problem the architect, Libeskind, or is it the commission? Did someone tell him to combine a grave marker with an office building, and that's the problem?
TRUMP: Well, I don't even blame the architect. I mean... the architects get together and they come up with the best design. And they had five or six firms competing. And they chose this design.
So who can blame them? I mean, he came up with this design. He was probably shocked when he got it. But it's a terrible design. And not only the Freedom Tower, the buildings around it. It looks like a junkyard. And it shouldn't be built. And instead of not being built, they're pushing forward to get it built faster. And I mean, frankly, I'd rather see nothing than see that pile of junk.
MATTHEWS: What role are you going to take? I mean, you're not a sidewalk superintendent. You're Donald Trump. I mean, what role—will you lead a coalition to stop Governor Pataki from his strong support for the Freedom Tower?
TRUMP: Well, there's not much of a role I can take. It all started when the “New York Post” called me and asked my opinion.
It's really a shame. We have a great opportunity. And, you know the terrorists win. If we build this job the way it is, the terrorists win. If we rebuild the World Trade Center, but a story taller and stronger, then we win.
I mean, I don't want to have the terrorists win, Chris. And that's what's going to happen if we build this pile of junk.
MATTHEWS: Well, this “pile of junk,” apparently, is going to be built, according to the governor, except he's going to move it back a few feet from the Westside Highway. He's apparently named his chief of staff to oversee it. He's brought in a counterterrorist expert to make sure it's secure.
You believe none of these efforts are going to make the building what you want it to be?
TRUMP: Well, I just think it's a terrible design. By the way, it's not me. It's everybody. Everybody's unhappy. They do polls; they do studies; they do everything. Everybody's unhappy with it.
The governor is a friend of mine—I really like the governor—but for some reason, somebody is just misleading him down this path where we're going. Look, we're going to suffer with these buildings for hundreds of years in New York City. And it just is the wrong thing to do. It's the wrong statement to make. The right statement to make is to rebuild the World Trade Center.
MATTHEWS: Well, the guys who really suffered, and the women, were the ones who had to jump off a hundred-floor building to their death rather than fry to death. Do you think people won't go up in those towers or take the elevator to the 100th floor of a new World Trade Center knowing there are still terrorists in the world? In fact, there will be more terrorists by the time we have the building done.
TRUMP: I'm not sure. To be honest with you, I think it's economically a very, very tough deal because whether you build a World Trade Center or build Freedom Tower, a lot of people aren't going to go in. I mean, Larry Silverstein is having a hard time getting tenants for a building that's a block away, and it's sitting there empty almost complete. And a lot of people aren't going to want to go in.
Whether you build the World Trade Center, or the Freedom Tower, or anything on that site, I think personally it's going to be a very hard rent. So I'm very happy to have my building at 40 Wall Street.
MATTHEWS: Well, if that's the case, maybe you are for that third option of just leaving that amputation site down there, which makes a clear statement to the world, "We were hit hard and heard it. People died. That's our memorial."
TRUMP: Well, look, the market conditions are going to be tough for anything you build on that site. So the case could be made to build a great monumental park and call it "Monumental Park," and that's what it would be. So that case has certainly been made.
I know Rudy Giuliani at one point wanted that, or substantially wanted that. And other people like that idea. I like that much better than what I'm seeing architecturally.
I think whatever you build on that site, Chris, is going to be very tough to rent for obvious reasons.
MATTHEWS: So an order of what you desire -- and you're the number-one developed in New York -- is you'd like to see a World Trade Center rebuilt with an extra floor. If you can't have that, leave the site for a memorial plot. And the third alternative, and only third, would be this Freedom Tower?
TRUMP: Well, I think the third alternative is not acceptable. I would certainly say the second alternative would be acceptable, doing a great park-- just something magnificent. I mean, we have Central Park in New York. We have Riverside Park in New York. Make this a great waterfront park. And you know, do something special. But don't build Freedom Tower. Freedom Tower, I mean, it's a wonderful name, but it's a horrible building.
MATTHEWS: Donald Trump, thanks for coming on HARDBALL on this big day for you.
TRUMP: Thank you very much.