The Phoenix Declaration sign now

The Phoenix Declaration

Since the morning of September 11, 2001, the 16 acres of lower Manhattan known as Ground Zero have been a site of national and historic significance demanding a visionary architectural and urban response.

But for more than a year, since December 2001, planning officials at the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey have squandered the good money and good faith of the American people in pursuit of a carefully scripted program of stakeholder management and political control. Desecrating the memory of the nearly 2,800 lost and the courage of those who persevere, they have turned Ground Zero into a field of dreams for ordinary New York real estate speculation, with the memorial as a much ballyhooed but diversionary afterthought. After two rounds of site plans, in July and December 2002, and despite the participation of celebrated architects from around the world, the powers that be have failed to produce an urban design that speaks with clarion truth to the void that calls it forth.

Not surprising. For their fall 2002 "study" it was not a competition -- the LMDC and Port Authority imposed such arbitrary, myopic, and irrelevant design constraints that only a relative handful of architects bothered to apply for the commission of a lifetime. And they did so knowing that the "innovative ideas" of the selected teams were destined to become putty in the hands of the LMDC and Port Authority house architects, the same political appointees who oversaw the July 2002 failures and neither of whom is architecturally qualified or experienced to design such a monumental site.

Indeed, the LMDC doesnt appear to grasp the sites monumental imperative at all. Even as many observe that both the memorial and its built environment must resonate together with memory and hope one critic wrote that "the whole thing is a memorial" the LMDC persists with running the memorial on one track and everything else on another.

But broken thinking and a broken process can yield only a broken vision as the December 2002 designs make painfully clear.

There is a better way, and the path is well marked. Open competitions, held for hundreds of years, have resulted in many of the most memorable symbolic structures and spaces in the world: the Eiffel Tower, the Sydney Opera House, the Centre Pompidou, the White House, the U.S. Capitol, the Washington Monument.

Ground Zero deserves no less. We must seek and not stop until we find the design that best answers the16-acre question: Where to after September 11th? To that end, an open architectural design competition to design an integrated solution for Ground Zero the memorial, buildings, open spaces, and infrastructure is the only means for ensuring that both the process and the product of rebuilding express the singular vision of democracy and freedom that must surely reassert itself at the site.

Placing more trust in vogue than vision, planning officials have presumed to dictate from whence the best design will come. But as the December 2002 designs show, the "right" resumŠ¹ never guarantees the right result. In fact, most of the worlds successful and prominent architects, including some in the current selection, were, like Maya Lin, unknowns before leaping into prominence by winning an open competition.

From June 2002 to January 2003, nearly 11,000 people more than twice the number that attended the LMDCs much heralded public forum in July 2002 signed our petition at calling for an open competition to design Ground Zero in its entirety.

An open competition, free of needless design constraints, will harness thousands of architectural minds in addition to the current impressive group. The sheer number of architects working in an atmosphere of unfettered creativity will infinitely expand the possible design scenarios for Ground Zero.

An open competition can be organized and completed easily, inexpensively, and quickly, with a specific agenda for the entire process laid out in a matter of days. If necessary, the winning design architect(s) can be paired with a leading production architect(s) to execute the design, ensuring that we have not only the best design but also its most effective implementation.

Despite the democratic, historic, architectural, and visionary mandate for an open competition to design Ground Zero, the LMDC seems increasingly unlikely to hold one. So, we the people must.

Why? Because the singular vision that rises from the ashes of Ground Zero must become the eighth wonder of the world an urban talisman of pilgrimage, memory, regeneration, and hope. Even now, that wonder is lodged in an architects soul.

We must see that we set it free.

13 January 2003

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Latest Signatures

  • 25 December 2015200. Hr M
    I support this petition
  • 23 December 2015199. George V
    I support this petition
  • 20 December 2015198. Alexander Mb
    Build a WTC at least as tall and grand as our beloved Twin Towers! Address; Zip Code Hamburg, Germany Occupation Student of business administration, specialization in real estate management
  • 29 November 2015197. Tom A
    The general public itsself can come up with better designs than the LMDC teams, just as long as they know how to plan the site.
  • 10 November 2015196. Carol D
    A broader submission of design is essential! Address; Zip Code 8 Cambridge Ct. , Toms River, NJ 08757 Occupation Corporate Training Specialist
  • 15 October 2015195. Benjamin O
    I have said from the start of the "rebuild" talks that the approach the LMDC was taking was totally wrong. The memorial should come first, the memorial should define the site not the real estate. Occupation Landscape Architecture Student
  • 03 September 2015194. Michael R
    BUILD IT Address; Zip Code 03049
  • 25 August 2015193. Art B
    You only get one chance to get it stunningly right. Address; Zip Code 05401 Occupation filmmaker
  • 04 August 2015192. Philip Lemboalan
    The entire site should be designed as an integrated entity, not as is being done now, with the memorial being treated as a sideshow. The entire project should be centered on the idea of the memorial. An open world wide competion would give us the opportun
  • 03 August 2015191. H Ruckerkeisteriiia
    Look at what we are attempting to commemorate. Address; Zip Code 656 Elm Ave., S.W. Roanoke, VA 24016 Occupation Architect
  • 02 August 2015190. Martin D
    I support this petition
  • 01 July 2015189. Peter W
    I support this petition
  • 13 May 2015188. Jeffrey Wp
    I am in 100% agreement with the Phoenix Declaration and am proud to add my signature. This effort is symbolic not only for it's goal of properly honoring and rebuilding the space, but of also our democracy, whose flaws had, in no small way, some responsib
  • 24 March 2015187. Alisha L
    I support this petition
  • 03 March 2015186. Lauren C
    I support this petition
  • 26 February 2015185. Bill Hg
    This is the land of the FREE and the home of the BRAVE; open the GROUND ZERO designs to every thought and idea available, and let the one that best describes and subscribes to the situation win...there is strength in numbers, open the competition to the p
  • 08 January 2015184. Ronald Srennertp
    In enlightenment we trust. Address; Zip Code Three Old Gate Lane, Newtown, CT 06470-2222 Occupation Consulting Structural Engineer
  • 05 January 2015183. Carl J
    I support this petition
  • 22 December 2014182. Charis W
    I support this petition
  • 07 December 2014181. Jeff S
    I support this petition
  • 01 December 2014180. Harry W
    I support this petition
  • 09 November 2014179. Katherine Rg
    I support this petition
  • 23 October 2014178. David H
    I support this petition
  • 15 October 2014177. Frank Lang
    Rebuild the twin towers, but with a third and much taller tower in the middle of the other two, and have it face towards the middle-east.
  • 12 October 2014176. Micah M
    I support this petition
  • 28 September 2014175. Katrina G
    Open the competition and the results will speak for everyone!
  • 20 September 2014174. Doris Dm
    I support this petition

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Dale LoweryBy:
Culture and SocietyIn:
Petition target:
World Citizens


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