Port Authority Executive Director Chris Ward, who oversees New York City’s Ground Zero rebuilding project, is working toward a 9/11 memorial site where family members can remember loved ones they lost — while shopping and resting on park benches.
Ward wants the landmark to be a city within a city. It’s already more than 10 years in the making, and there’s still work to complete.
The multi-billion dollar project has seen its share of delays, but Ward says significant progress is finally being made.
“For the first time we acknowledged the delays, and spoke to New Yorkers and said, ‘these are now realistic dates and budgets,’” Ward said in a press conference at the National Press Club Tuesday. “In a rush to fill the void, we sought to do more — we sought to really rebuild that city — we rushed into that void and, candidly, I think we stumbled.”
The 9/11 Memorial is on track to be completed before its targeted completion date. For the first time since the fateful attacks on New York soil, the American public will be invited to step onto that hallowed ground on September 12, just one day after the monumental terror attack’s tenth anniversary.
The complex will eventually house a subway system, retail offices and a park, along with the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. But when visitors come, they shouldn’t expect to see what Ward calls “political messages.”
“We stopped trying to answer all those larger social complex and political problems surrounding the World Trade Center,” he said.
Specifically, Ward addressed the decision to change the rebuilt center’s name from “Freedom Center” to “1 World Trade Center.”
“America didn’t lose its freedom on 9/11. New York City needed a building — infrastructure — it didn’t need a political message,” Ward said.
The memorial will list the names of all 2,982 victims of 9/11 in New York City, but it won’t include references to the terror attacks themselves.
“I think this remains one of the most difficult curatorial museums in terms of what goes into that. It’s a lot of very difficult questions,” Ward said. “There was a choice to keep it focused on the people who were lost and what happened to the city on that day.”