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Libeskind, WTC Designer, Says Buildings to be Done in 4 Years

By Katia Hetter

The architect named to redesign the World Trade Center site hopes a memorial, transit station and cultural buildings will be built within four years, although officials Thursday said it could take longer.

Architect Daniel Libeskind’s winning design, announced Thursday, preserves a portion of the Ground Zero pit for a memorial and features a 70-story building with a 1,776-foot-high spire and indoor gardens.

Officials praised Libeskind’s design for beautifully bringing together office, retail, cultural and memorial spaces, including an innovative use of building location and sunlight that creates a memorial each Sept. 11.

“This morning we make a solemn vow to future generations of New Yorkers: We will not be defined by the hatred of a single day, but by the spirit of strength and unity that followed,” said Gov. George Pataki.

It may not move as quickly as Pataki or Libeskind would like. While officials laud the plans, some already are starting to voice concerns. Libeskind’s vision will be refined and adapted -- but some family members worry it will be diluted and diminished. And unanswered questions abound.

“Who’s the client? Who signs the contract with Libeskind? Those are the questions that are material,” and the governor and mayor must answer them, said Roland Betts, chair of the Lower Manhattan Development Corp.’s site planning committee.

It’s not clear which agency will hire Libeskind or pay the $300 million pricetag for the public spaces. Private developers will pay for office and retail space according to market demand.

And while construction union officials eagerly await the jobs that will come from development, Port Authority official Anthony Cracchiolo called a four-year timeline “a bit optimistic,” predicting it could take five or six years.