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August 22, 2002

Bebuild NYC with A Purpose

This op-ed in the NY Times raises the point that too much ink has been spilled on the physical look of what should be rebuilt on the World Trade Center site and not enough on its revitalized purpose. The WTC originally represented the global economic might of New York City, a somewhat phantom reality for a building that couldn't keep a full roster of business clients and increasingly rented out to government clients as financial firms began to migrate to midtown. So the question is what grand purpose should be embodied on that site, since that will be remembered as much as any architecture.

Argues Paul Spencer Byard in the Times:

Two troubled agencies of postwar global economics, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, in fact were supposed to be in New York City, beyond the influence of Washington politics. We should invite them back from Washington warts, demonstrations, leadership and all and give them a home and put them to work in the context of a cosmopolitan city wired differently into the globe. We might even think further ahead, to some larger forum or think tank intended to keep capitalism truly productive and responsible, like the nascent initiatives of the World Social Forum or the global justice movement. They, too, could find a home at ground zero.
There is something attractive about replacing the ground zero of terrorist nihilism with a new ground zero of robust and New York-crazy debate on the future of solutions to the problems of global inequality and governance. Bin Laden and his immediate cohorts were not motivated by response to global inequality, but there is little question that his broader sympathizers are driven to anger at the US by it. Rebuilding the physical architecture of the site is one act of defiance to the terrorists; rebuilding with a purpose to respond to the real needs of those in global despair is an even more humanistic response to the tragedy.

Posted by Nathan at August 22, 2002 11:02 AM

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