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At ground zero, a gray area

The winning architect modifies -- but doesn't back away from -- his claim that his new plaza will have no shadows.

May 02, 2003|Mike Boehm | Times Staff Writer

Architect Daniel Libeskind tried Thursday to remove a shadow of doubt cast on the shadow-free plaza, known as the "Wedge of Light," that is one of the most compelling features of his design for the World Trade Center site.

In his winning proposal for rebuilding at ground zero, Libeskind promised: "Each year on Sept. 11 between the hours of 8:46 a.m., when the first airplane hit, and 10:28 a.m., when the second tower collapsed, the sun will shine without shadow, in perpetual tribute to altruism and courage."

On Thursday, the New York Times reported a contradictory study by Eli Attia, an architect and critic of Libeskind who has a Web site touting his own design for the site and castigating what he calls "the nine lies of Daniel Libeskind." Attia contends that 40% to 99% of the plaza will be in shadow during the time that Libeskind says a memorializing brightness will prevail.

"Total nonsense," Libeskind said from his home in Germany, dismissing Attia as an unsuccessful competitor for the job who "has been a sore loser."

But Libeskind did concede that "there might be diffuse shadows" cast by other tall buildings in the area. Still, he insisted that his promise stands: The buildings he is designing at ground zero will cast no shadows onto the plaza, and beholders will witness a brilliant, unmistakable "event in light" during the specified time.

Matthew Higgins, spokesman for the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., which is coordinating the rebuilding of ground zero, said the declaration that "the sun will shine without shadow" was a "shorthand" description that might need "clarification," but "we stand by the concept. We're confident Daniel has produced an inspiring vision for the site."

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