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Ground Zero

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McCain and Obama Visit Ground Zero

The presidential candidates were ‘cordial but somber’ during their joint visit to the World Trade Center site.

By Jessica Pressler

Daniel Libeskind Still Accepts Consensus As an Ideology

Daniel Libeskind
Daniel Libeskind is still optimistic about ground zero. Or, you know, not entirely bitter. "That site will come back to life in a way that is not banal," he explained during a House & Garden panel discussion at Hunter College last week. It will have "as much public space as I could have possibly put in it," he added. The topic of the H&G panel was "The Future Face of New York" and focused mostly on sustainable building and expansion. "It doesn't happen by miracle, it happens by enlightened social policy," Libeskind explained. It seems like he learned at least one thing about his ground-zero experience: "Democracy is about garnering consensus," he mused. That's helpful — but is it a real solution to the fact that there will be a million more people in New York in 2030? We're not sure. Then again, we read H&G for the pictures of rich people's window treatments. —Darrell Hartman Related: The Liberation of Daniel Libeskind [NYM]

Two More Hurt at Deutsche Bank

• Things keep getting worse at the Deutsche Bank building: Yesterday a worker for the sinister John Galt Corporation "lost control" of a forklift on the 23rd floor, from which it tumbled 200 feet to the ground, crashing through the roof of a shed and sending two more firefighters to the hospital. [NYT]

Ground Zero Claims Two More

• Two firefighters died Saturday in a blaze in the abandoned Deutsche Bank building adjacent to ground zero. The pair "walked into a horror show," as Spitzer put it, when they met a maze of protective polyurethane sheets that may have made the fire harder to fight. [amNY]

Take a Look at the Freedom Tower Lobby

Some day — one hopes sooner rather than later — the Freedom Tower will be an actual building, not just an idea to argue about, and that building will have a lobby. Daily Intel got the first look at renderings of the planned lobby, designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. A 60-foot-high expanse of prismatic glass looks out on the memorial pool. "The lobby sheds light into the memorial pool," explained SOM's TJ Gottesdiener. "And the front door is celebrated." Where the old Twin Towers sealed themselves from the street, the new lobby echoes the old bustle of downtown — true to the notion that Daniel Libeskind laid out before he lost control of the building's design. "The greatest thing about Danny's master plan is that it lets streets flow," Gottesdiener said. Got that? Even more impressive than the renderings, SOM just said something nice about Libeskind. —Alec Appelbaum

No Congestion Pricing, But...

• So Mayor Mike struck out on his congestion-pricing deal as Albany ended the legislative session. But while that plan got all the attention, Bloomberg got a slew of other projects passed: a child-care tax credit, a corporate tax slash, and more state funds for public housing. Huh. [NYP] • Dozens of pissed-off New Yorkers are being bussed to D.C. for a congressional hearing about the Feds’ performance monitoring air quality at ground zero. Jerry Nadler will be the congressman first to grill ex–EPA head Christine Todd Whitman. [amNY] • What Sunday’s pride parade may have lacked in middle-aged, middle-class gays, it more than made up for in a newly prominent demographic: religious groups. Jews, Roman Catholics, Buddhists, and others came dangerously close, in the words of a reveler, to “hijacking the parade.” [WCBS] • The weekend brought a mass gang arrest in Bushwick — 32 kids, the youngest 13 years old, collared on their way to attend a murdered friend’s wake. The gang is supposedly an offshoot of the Bloods, colorfully dubbed the Pretty Boy Family. [NYT] • And now that Fred Thompson seems to be a viable presidential candidate, let’s get all our political advice from Law & Order cast members. Sam Waterston — a.k.a. A.D.A. Jack McCoy — is also the face of the libertarian-flavored online movement Unity08, and he's ready to vote Bloomberg. [NYDN]

A Bad Day for Daniel Goldstein*

• The key lawsuit seeking to block Atlantic Yards has been dismissed on a technicality. A group of tenants facing eminent-domain relocation failed to convince a judge they weren't offered comparable housing. [NYP] • Mark Green, the new president and one of the marquee voices of Air America, interviewed Michael Bloomberg for the network's big relaunch next week; the ex-rivals were reportedly quite chummy, trading bad puns and agreeing on most of Bloomberg's mayoral policies. [NYT] • This is exactly what the torturously slow dismantling of the Deutsche Bank building was supposed to prevent: A fifteen-foot-long pipe fell 35 stories from the half-stripped skyscraper, plunging into a neighboring firehouse and sending two firefighters to the hospital. [NYDN] • Bail for the domestic-enslaving Long Island couple was set at $2.5 million for the wife and $1 million for the husband; meanwhile, a raid on the mansion is said to have uncovered the instruments of torture, which include knives and a rolling pin. [Newsday] • And, a bomb scare shook up an elementary school in the Putnam County town of Kent after a suspicious and fragrant package was delivered to the building. But not to fear: After a Hazmat team and bomb squad got involved, an X-ray revealed it was twelve pounds of marijuana. [WNBC] * Or maybe not a bad day at all. As explained here, we totally misread this news.

What Daniel Libeskind Does When Not Rebuilding Ground Zero

Royal Ontario Museum
The sneering was involuntary when we read that Daniel Libeskind, whose idealistic World Trade Center scheme became the cudgel that George Pataki used to freeze ground zero, would keynote a weeklong conference of brand managers at Chelsea Piers. But then the effervescent architect started guiding a half-full ballroom through his recent work, and we realized this guy's had a lot of output while we've bickered over a memorial. Libeskind's new projects under construction include a jagged apartment tower facing downtown Cincinnati and a wing of the Royal Ontario Museum that suggests a giddy urban campsite. Libeskind, as ever, refused to carp. On the World Trade Center, he told us: "You see the slurry wall being repaired — you see something optimistic there." Well, at least he does. —Alec Appelbaum

Expensive Habits

20070417heds.jpg • The Times comes out with some shocking numbers about "frequent fliers" — the addicts that keep entering and quitting rehab. The state spends $50 million a year treating just 500 of these patients, some of whom spend 100 nights a year in detox. [NYT] • There's a changing of the guard at ground zero: Governor Spitzer has named two new leaders of the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. One is, somewhat fittingly, David Emil, the former owner of Windows on the World. [amNY] • Yes, we're all kinda thinking it, and someone had to be the first, but … Dear Daily News, it might be just a tad — maybe a day or so — early for a cackling op-ed titled "Do you still love those precious guns now, Virginia?" [NYDN] • The three-day nor'easter is going down in weather history. Eight inches of rain fell here in NYC — four times the record for the date; some New Jerseyites had to be evacuated by boat after the Raritan River flooded. [NYP] • And, that silly old couple that traveled to Arizona by yellow cab with their cats, and whose cutesy made-for-TV story we stoically resisted so far, arrived in Sedona. And now they're out of our jurisdiction, so that's that. [Gateway to Sedona]

War, at Ground Zero

The initial plan for the Glassbead Collective's multimedia antiwar protest at ground zero last night was to project images of war on the still-not-dismantled Deutsche Bank building just south of ground zero. But the building is black, there's a reason projection screens are usually white, and even with the amazingly bright, 100,000-lumen projector, it seemed another canvas was in order. So the van holding the projector moved from its initial spot Washington and Vesey Streets to someplace on the West Side Highway, projecting north, then U-turned to project the images downtown, onto a building at the southwest corner of the Trade Center site. After about 45 minutes, police finally determined exactly which laws the group was breaking by its overtly public display of protest art: The van was now parked against traffic. The projector was shut down; tickets were written. Then it turned out the van's driver had a suspended license. He went to the precinct; the others went to a bar. —Everett Bogue

Still With the Names?

Of all the delays, scuffles, and tantrums besetting the ground-zero reconstruction effort, none is as fundamentally embarrassing as the general inability to settle on the order of names for the 9/11 memorial. Last we checked, the families of first responders demanded that the cops and firefighters be separated from the "regular" victims, and the original random placement gave way to a bizarre system wherein civilians would be grouped by employer, without naming the employer. Mayor Bloomberg, who chairs the WTC Memorial Foundation, has long been saying he considers the matter closed; that's why a recent Spitzer remark suggesting "future discussions" threatened to start the whole ordeal anew. But today some good news: The governor and the mayor had a nice long talk yesterday, and they got their positions in sync. Spitzer now says he subscribes to the foundation's plan. One would think that would be the last hurdle, but no. Some "family and firefighter groups" are still lobbying for the inclusion of victims' ages and ranks. Yes, let's introduce rank into this equation, shall we? Mayor Says Spitzer Now Agrees With Him on Listing of 9/11 Names [NYT] Earlier: 9/11 Name Fight Drags On

Now Calatrava's Transit Hub, Too, Isn't Quite Working Out as Planned

We've always been partial to Santiago Calatrava's World Trade Center transit hub; the building, a kind of spiny origami piece with movable wings, is the most genuinely exciting structure on the site. It's also the only one that, for a long time, seemed to be getting anywhere. So it's with a heavy heart that we report the following: The damn thing is suddenly a billion dollars over budget. The projected cost for the hub is now a jaw-dropping $3.4 billion. (And that's the kind of money, as we learned today, that will buy you about 120 apartment towers in Brooklyn.) The contractors are embarking on a "major value engineering effort" to steer the project back to its original $2.2 billion price-tag. We think we know what that means — dumbed-down form and Plan-B materials — although the builders swear the "overall integrity of the design" will be intact. Screw integrity. Give us the movable wings. $3.4B For WTC Hub a Rail Shock [NYP]

Public Life Means Having to Say You're Sorry

Inspired by Italy's Veronica Lario — who in a front-page letter printed in yesterday's La Repubblica requested a public apology from her husband, former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, for flirting with and ogling various comely young women and then, even more remarkably, received one — we'd like to see if we, too, can elicit a public apology or two.
To everyone involved in ground-zero reconstruction:
It's been five freaking years, and this is all that's been accomplished? You should be ashamed of yourselves, all of you. (And, yes, at this point that includes you, too, sainted widows and family members.) We think you owe us — all of us, all New Yorkers — an apology.
Sincerely, Daily Intel

The Freedom Tower Exists for Anyone Who Truly Believes in It

How starved is the city for any tangible progress at ground zero? Well, consider this bit from today's Times:
Stand on Vesey Street, between Greenwich and Washington Streets. Look through the chain-link fences and over the Jersey barriers. The tops of six columns of the tower’s south perimeter are now visible, sprouting from the depths of ground zero. A seventh column, standing alone nearby, is where the Freedom Tower’s east plaza will be … They are visible from the sidewalk now because a second tier of steel has been added to each column, bringing them up to about 8 feet below street level.
That's right, reporter David Dunlap gives you step-by-step instructions on where to stand, which way to face, and how hard to squint to see the thicket of steel that will eventually become the foundation for the Freedom Tower. Imagine the corks that will pop when the construction actually reaches sidewalk level. What a View to Behold, and It's Really Something [NYT]

39 More at Ground Zero

• The most recent search for human remains at Ground Zero has yielded 39 more bones — as well as computer parts and other World Trade Center debris. Most were hidden under a service road that was hastily constructed in 2002 after the original cleanup. [amNY] • Two girls were stabbed — one in the back — in the course of a teenage rumble at Landmark High School, a block away from Carnegie Hall. According to the police, the girls, with their boyfriends, were settling a beef. Both are in stable condition; the stabbers remain at large. [NYP] • Add this to the bizarre scrapbook of factoids from the Freak Winter of 2007: Dolphins have been splashing around in Sag Harbor. It has happened before — but, you know, in the summer. [Newsday] • Two people — a moving contractor and his mother-in-law — are under arrest for stealing two Picassos from a late collector's house they were hired to clean out. Ironically, the collector in question was the infamous William Kingsland, most of whose art was "hot" in the first place. [NYT] • And a theft at once far more and far less impressive: someone swiped 500,000 pounds of concrete and brick from the future Ikea site in Red Hook. The stuff is valued at about $2,000. Cheap and hard to assemble — it's like we have an Ikea already. [NYDN]

Freedom Tower Construction Finally Begins, Boringly

You see all that excitement? Let the historical record reflect that Saturday, November 18, was the start of construction on Freedom Tower. A mere five years after the Twin Towers were destroyed, and a mere two and a third years after the Freedom Tower cornerstone was laid, the concrete foundation was poured for the 1,776-foot office building. Of course, you still won't see anything above street level till 2008. Exciting! A Towering Start [NYDN]

Small Victories

• Holy crap, could this be …? It is! There is actual construction afoot at ground zero — and on the Freedom Tower, no less. The steel cage defines the areas where elevators and stairwells will go; the pouring of concrete starts tomorrow. And if we'd seen this, oh, let's see, four and a half years ago, we'd probably burst with pride. [NYT] • In case you want to relive the glory of last Tuesday: A Democratic congressional candidate in Connecticut WON! WON! WON! the recount against his GOP opponent, a three-term incumbent. "Landslide Joe" (hey, he nicknamed himself) Courtney's sweeping mandate is now officially based on a 91-vote advantage. [NYT] • NYC's Board of Health might take things slower with the trans-fat ban. It may also give it a form other than a piece of City Council legislation, lest the city be hit with a ton of lawsuits. McDonald's, by the way, says it will totally comply (even as it's hiring new high-profile lawyers). [Crain's] • A fired media executive is in deep trouble for being a good Samaritan, of sorts. Stevan Hoffacker was allegedly monitoring the company's e-mail traffic from his home PC in Queens and sending colleagues heads-up messages if they were about to get canned as well. The bosses at SourceMedia must have been puzzled by all the prescient "You can't fire me, I quit" storm-offs. [NYDN] • And alleged phone-thrower Naomi Campbell is looking for a plea deal but won't take anything that will require her to do cleanup duty (the court-mandated humiliation du jour for errant celebrities). "It's not that she's squeamish," her lawyer is quoted saying — and trailing off directly afterward. [NYP]

Seek and Ye Just Might Find

It's only two days since Mayor Bloomberg vowed — for the second time — to devote more attention, time, and manpower to sweeping lower Manhattan for 9/11 debris, including human remains. And today brings a brutal reminder that more than mere conscience-cleaning formality is at stake: Three more victims were identified from remains found at ground zero. The city released the names of two; one of them, miraculously, turned out to be Karen Martin, a flight attendant on American 11 stabbed by the hijackers for putting up resistance. The other, Douglas Stone, was a passenger on that same flight. Their families had submitted DNA samples back in 2001 but hadn't heard anything in years; their reactions, as told to the Daily News, betray mostly surprise. "This is really nice," said one relative. "This comes out of the blue," said another. So why isn't the Bloomberg administration trumpeting this news as a major forensic success and a large step toward closure — all thanks to our managerial mayor? Because the city appears to have had all the pieces of the puzzle in place for quite some time -- the remains and the families' DNA samples -- without bothering to do anything about it. Oh, wait. The Bloombergians are trumpeting it anyway. We'll spare you the unseemly chest-beating, but read the last paragraph of the News article if you just can't help yourself. More 9/11 Vics ID'd [NYDN] Earlier: Bloomie Promises a Thorough Search, Again