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Libeskind's Ground Zero sidelining a 'disgrace' claims angry Eisenman


Peter Eisenman, one of America's architectural figureheads, has launched a searing attack on the handling of the World Trade Center site in New York.

The winner of this year's RIBA Jencks Award also condemned the US architectural community for its 'silence' over the sidelining of Daniel Libeskind in favour of SOM's David Childs.

Eisenman - who was shortlisted for the original competition with Richard Meier under the banner of TEAM (AJ 3.10.02) - described the decision of landowner Larry Silverstein to hand control to Childs as a 'disgrace'.

'We lost, and we respect and understand that Libeskind won, ' he told the AJ. 'But I consider what has happened since to be very sad for architecture in the US. There is very little left of the competition-winning design - it has been emasculated.' Libeskind won the competition in late 2002 with his plans for the Freedom Tower and a surrounding masterplan. However, in the following year it became apparent that Silverstein's choice of architect was taking control.

While the project's two practices have attempted to maintain a public face of goodwill, it has become clear that a schism has opened up between the firms over the future of the designs.

'Libeskind should have said 'bugger this - I'm off', ' Eisenman said. 'If he had had any pride, that is what he would have done.

'This seems to have happened because the rush to build is so high, and Childs is a commercial architect who builds profitable buildings. The same would have happened if we had won.' But Eisenman said he was most frustrated by the reaction of the architectural community. 'The American Institute of Architects' and professional practitioners' silence reflects very poorly on the profession in the US, ' he added.

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