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Grand Opening Of Plaza At Wtc BY OWEN MORITZ Sunday, June 20, 1999 Sprawling Au

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Author Topic: Grand Opening Of Plaza At Wtc BY OWEN MORITZ Sunday, June 20, 1999 Sprawling Au  (Read 101 times)
Michelle Jahn
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« on: February 21, 2012, 10:30:15 pm »

Grand Opening Of Plaza At Wtc
Sunday, June 20, 1999

Sprawling Austin J. Tobin Plaza, the place de resistance of the World Trade Center, formally reopens tonight after a $12 million reconstruction project to correct a mistake made 30 years ago.

The mistake: The way it was designed and built.

The 5-acre public plaza larger than St. Peter's Square in Rome serves the 40,000 workers of the seven-building World Trade Center complex, plus thousands of residents.

It has been retrofitted with a granite surface, new food kiosks, planters and benches. Last night, the first of 72 public performances was held, ushering in a summer-long festival of jazz, blues, cabaret and dance.

According to the Port Authority, the plaza originally was designed as "contemplative" space, an oasis within a city. This was shortly before the 110-story twin towers, the centerpieces of the Trade Center, opened in 1972.

Once it opened, the vast plaza suffered from lack of use. It was isolated and deserted; people found the surroundings sterile.

Even more than the design, the plaza suffered from poor workmanship, the agency said.

More than 40,000 cream marble pavers covering 233,000 square feet crumbled unsuited to the city's climate. The place leaked. It was dimly lit at night.

The marble has been replaced by 40,000 durable pink granite stones from Canada and Texas.

"When designing the World Trade Center more than 30 years ago, the architects conceived of the plaza and the entire complex as a city within a city, quite separate from its surroundings," conceded Alan Reiss, the agency's director of the World Trade Center.

But now, Reiss adds, "We're providing a beautiful public space."

The agency notes that downtown also has changed. It's a 24-hour community with 30,000 full-time residents.

"Today," says an agency spokesman, "the World Trade Center is the hub of downtown."

Tonight's free festivities the first of a series called Evening Stars Onstage! At the Twin Towers begin at 7, featuring soloists from the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, American Ballet Theater and Limon Dance Company. The series will continue through July 2 and will present attractions ranging from Philip Glass to the Boys Choir of Harlem and cabaret from the Williamstown Theater to the Trinity Irish Dance Company and Le Grand Orchestre du Bal. On closing night, the Orchestra of St. Luke's and three vocalists will offer an all-Gershwin program.
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