Concept sketch, Singapore
Tsipi: Can you combine affordable apartments with higher income apartments in the same buildings?
Daniel: Of course…I think this idea that poor people should live in poor architecture and rich people should live in good architecture is a completely fallacious idea. I think ethically and socially we have to consider that everybody needs to have a very good home because without it you don’t have a good city.
And, and I think in that sense the idea of affordable housing should apply to everybody; the fact that housing is not affordable to a great majority of people is a sickness of the environment. It’s not something good.
Tsipi: Ok so lets now turn to something else; to something negative, the drastic changes to the eventual design for the Freedom Tower that were made at the World Trade Center, that many people including me hate…
Daniel: Ok but I wanna say this; you know I’m the master planner; some people expected those original building designs to be built. However, I knew from the beginning there would be diverse architects, different investors, different politicians and different visions.
My core mission, despite the fact that many people think otherwise, was not to create a space that is built exactly according to my master plan, which is as you know was very contested. Some people wanted big buildings; some people wanted no memorial, or only a very small memorial; some people wanted a very small public space, some people wanted you wanted only impressive office towers.
But that was not my idea; my idea was really how is this going to work for people, and how do you combine the elements to make it all work together.
Tsipi: How did it change?
Daniel: Very little from my master plan actually – in my master plan about half of the space, 8 acres, out of the whole 16 acre site was to be public space and it still is.
Which is incredible because you have still 10 million square feet of new office space, you have five or six million square feet of infrastructure, you’ve got retail you’ve got all these things.
How do you organize it in such a way that it is not just more of the same, but has the resonance of memory? It is a beautiful place and it will be even more beautiful after all the buildings are finished.
Tsipi: Nina, anything you wanted to add?
Nina: I was just going to say that the top floors of the Freedom Tower also have, as Daniel had mandated in the master plan public spaces as well – where the old restaurant was at the top of the World Trade Center, Windows of the World.
Tsipi: Now, how has working in different countries influenced your ideas or influenced the design of the building in that country. It works both ways for you? You pick up from something you designed in Singapore because it was needed in Singapore to be in a certain way, and then it comes away with you?
Daniel: Yes, well every building is new. Every building has something new; every place is different. Each time is different, so I think it’s a creative quest, it’s not just pulling something already made and putting it onto the site; It’s… really… a search, a discovery, an adventure – a creative adventure.
Nina: On the tenth anniversary, when we were at Ground Zero, and I say this is in apropos of your question, we were there and it was really meant for the families. It was not meant… there were some politicians … but it was meant for the families. It was not even meant for the workers, it was meant for the families. It was the tenth anniversary, they were the ones being allowed into the site which is absolutely the way it should be.
Tsipi: And you were invited inspite of the fact that the project isn’t entirely in your hands anymore ?
Nina: And we were invited of course, and some of the politicians, many of the politicians… and Daniel. And I said Ok let’s go in because for the first time we were able too…Daniel goes in all the time …but for the first time we’ll see it with people, not just with construction workers so it’s a different ambience and it’s a different feeling.
So we went in; there were really thousands of people there…family members, and I thought we’d be in and out in ten minutes. You know, you go in and people very kindly recognized Daniel… and then many wanted to say something to him.
Family after family; grandchildren, uncles, aunts, grandfathers, husbands, wives came over to him. Firemen, policemen, emergency workers, first responders, you know all the families of those who perished came over and all of them had in their own way the same message. That message was: you didn’t let us down Mr. Libeskind, you promised and you delivered on your promise. Now I think that’s what a building can do and what a site can do.