The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC) has shortlisted Foster and Partners, Studio Daniel Libeskind, New York-based Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, together with three collaborative teams to design the replacement for the World Trade Center.
British practice Foreign Office Architects - recently lauded for its Yokohama Ferry Terminal in Japan (AJ 12.9.02) - is part of one of these teams, and UK-based engineering giant Buro Happold is collaborating in another.
The LMDC also named seven losing 'semi-finalists' that made a major impression, including Santiago Calatrava, Bernard Tschumi and British practice Ian Simpson Architects - cited for its work in Manchester following the 1996 bombing.
'Their experience in working with the complex intersections of urban planning, local and central government and the lives of ordinary citizens devastated by tragedy make them especially apt candidates, ' the judging panel said.
The six finalists - who will each receive a $40,000 honorarium - were whittled down from more than 400 practices that originally expressed interest in the scheme (AJ 26.9.02). Among the disappointed Brits are Zaha Hadid Architects, Nicholas Grimshaw & Partners, Marks Barfield Architects, John McAslan & Partners and Future Systems.
The judges praised Foster and Partners for its outstanding reputation in building design, urban design and transportation projects. It highlighted the practice's track record in producing 'projects all around the globe that are sensitive to the culture and climate of their locations'.
'Rebuilding the WTC is a major challenge, ' the practice said. 'It goes far beyond questions of architectural style. We have to try and reconstruct, heal the scars and to celebrate the life of a great city, while at the same time commemorate the tragic events that unfolded there.'
Meanwhile, Daniel Libeskind, famed for Berlin's Jewish Museum and Manchester's Imperial War Museum North, also came in for high praise. 'His ability to inspire profound discourse through the use of complex and layered sets of references will provide an original and responsive approach to the design, ' the panel said.
The other shortlisted candidates are an alliance called United Architects, which includes Foreign Office Architects, a collaboration of four practices calling itself TEAM - Peter Eisenman, Richard Meier, Charles Gwathmey and Steven Holl - and the international group THINK, which includes Rafael Viñoly, Shigeru Ban and Bath-based Buro Happold.
Each of the shortlisted practices now has two months to develop different concepts for the site.
The final design could incorporate ideas from several of the concepts, however.