Holding Back the Hudson – 5/6/19


>>JAN SEIDLER RAMIREZ:
I’ll introduce them. Just point…
point to who each is, having heard a bit about them. (clears throat) Okay. Okay, without further ado, we have Harriet Senie,
at the end, and Ken Lustbader,
and Peter Rinaldi, and Lisa Conte, who will
be running the conversation, so…>>CONTE: Hi, everybody,
thank you again. (applause) I want to thank everybody
for coming tonight. I know that there are
a lot of friends in the audience who the slurry wall
also means a lot to, and it’s taken on
new meaning for me through this project. And I also just want
to single out my colleague Joe Graham-Felsen for his participation,
contributions, and unending support
throughout this project, so thank you. And we’ll turn now
to a conversation, learn a little bit more
than we already have during the course
of the past 20 minutes about the slurry wall and the
work of Harriet, Ken, and Peter. And then we’ll be
very interested to learn a little bit more
about what you find to be curious
about this really special wall and other aspects
of its preservation and history. So, we are going to go
back in time a little bit here from the slurry wall
and the video to learn a little bit more
about our panelists. And I was going to start
with Ken, so that we can maybe
set the scene for historic preservation. And you have a long history
in historic preservation, and kind of in thinking about, why do we preserve buildings
and places? And I was hoping that
you could talk a little bit about your experience working on the preservation
of sacred sites prior to 9/11, and how that work
informed your thinking about the Trade Center
as a site of significance.>>LUSTBADER: Sure, thank you. Thanks for having me here. And I just want to acknowledge,
the film was wonderful, so I just want
to give a round of applause.>>SENIE: Absolutely.
(applause)>>CONTE: I should
have thanked all of the people who are not on stage that participated
in that project, as well. So thank you for acknowledging
that, as well.>>LUSTBADER: Sure.>>CONTE: So applause
to all of them, too. Yeah.
>>LUSTBADER: It was great. (applause) So I worked as a, for a not-for-profit
organization, in charge of their religious
properties program. And I think when I got involved with the preservation
of Ground Zero– I should say preservation
of Lower Manhattan– with the five preservation
groups that banded together to have a single voice, they hired me
because I was the person that could sort of facilitate
multiple groups. But our focus was initially
off of Ground Zero, looking at sites in Lower
Manhattan for grant-making, that if they were affected
by the collapse, such as providing grants
for repainting a building or fixing masonry. And it wasn’t really
until Anthony called me that the a-ha moment happened,
and I was, like, “Wow, this is big.”
>>CONTE: Right.>>LUSTBADER: So I think
what I was enabled, able to do, based on my experience
with religious properties, was at least bring to the table
a sensitivity of, A, that this was
a site potent with emotion– and raw emotion–
and that level of sensitivity, understanding it was
a place of significance and sensitivity of memory,
of people’s sacred feelings, and emotions
about their own loss. And having multiple parties
involved was also something that was very familiar with me from working
with religious properties in the city and state.>>CONTE: Certainly. In thinking about
sites of significance in another way, Harriet, I was hoping that you could
maybe talk a little bit about how your research
became focused on monuments and memorials,
what brought you to that. And, also,
from your perspective, what is the purpose and function
of a memorial today, in terms of their importance
to our communities.>>SENIE: Sure. Well, I had just
pretty much finished a book on the “Tilted Arc” controversy, Richard Serra’s sculpture
in Lower Manhattan. Just for my own curiosity,
how many of you remember the “Tilted Arc” controversy? I ask that because
the last time I taught a course at the Grad Center, somebody raised their hand
and said, “I was three.” And so now I don’t assume
that it’s common knowledge. (laughter) So that was
a very toxic atmosphere around a work of public art, and I needed to get away
from that. And I went down to see
the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, because Maya Lin had studied
with Richard Serra at Yale, and has acknowledged
that he was an influence on the Vietnam Veterans
Memorial. So I was really struck by, well, here’s Richard Serra’s sculpture
that’s an object kind of hate, and here’s Maya Lin’s memorial
that has become such an iconic memorial
that everybody seems to love. And when I was standing there,
I was very much moved by the fact that I realized
it was a pilgrimage site. My officemate at the time
had just translated “The Pilgrim’s Guide
to Santiago de Compostela,” and I said the Vietnam Veterans
is a pilgrimage site. And she said, “Oh, no.” And I said, “Well, tell me,
what’s a pilgrimage site?” I mean, yes, of course, it is. So I kind of took that away,
and then I think after 9/11, everybody felt the need
to do something. And what I do is teach. So I began to teach courses
in memorials at the Graduate Center,
and then subsequently, at City. And then one thing
led to another. The second part of your question
is much more difficult. (chuckles): What do I think
is the purpose and function of a memorial today? Obviously,
it’s to help us remember. I also feel
that certain memorials have an obligation
to contextualize. The thing
that I most wrestle with is whether they also should have
a function to console. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial,
it’s been pointed out, was our first memorial
that had that function. And I’m not sure, in terms
of how that’s translated and come down to us, where we should be
with it today.>>CONTE: Thank you, Harriet. Peter, we are going to turn to some more practical concerns
here for your question. And I was hoping
that you could share with all of your friends
from the Port Authority in the audience a little more about your history
at the World Trade Center.>>RINALDI:
I see many colleagues here.>>CONTE: And how you got
involved with the slurry wall.>>RINALDI: Well, I first
started at the Port Authority as a young engineer, and the World Trade Center
was still under construction. The main towers were up,
but the… And the slurry wall
was in place, but the rest of the buildings
and the plaza were still under construction, and I was part of a team
that was able to design some, engineer some of the foundations and actually design
some of the foundations for the World Trade Center. So it was
a very interesting time. Like I said, the slurry wall
was in place. But in 1993,
it was the first time we really had a first issue
with the slurry wall after there was a bombing, the first attempt to destroy
the World Trade Center. You may not have known that
at the time, but there was a concern
about the slurry wall moving and partially collapsing because the bomb
that the terrorists had planted had blown out quite a few of
the floors and basement floors. No one saw that. That was something
we were working on below-grade. But there was a concern that the slurry wall
would be compromised. It’s actually
in the area of the slurry wall that’s on display now
in the museum. It was that section
of slurry wall and the new wall on each side that we started
to monitor and measure to see if it would move. And it didn’t. But, so, we got very–
that was the first time that I really got involved
intimately with the slurry wall. Then later on, of course,
I mentioned before, I was assigned
to the emergency response team here at the site, and was very much involved
in recovery efforts and the stabilization
of the slurry wall all the way through.>>CONTE: Thank you, Peter. You mentioned right now
about 1993, and that makes me think about, when you’re in the museum today
and you are looking at the wall, are there… are we looking
at the original wall as it was in the 1960s, or were there interventions
post-’93, and after 2001, that transformed
its physical appearance?>>RINALDI: Probably in…
not ’93. The wall was pretty much intact. But if you look
at the wall today, it went
through quite a bit of trauma during the collapse
of the buildings, as well as the actual
stabilization process. Parts of the face of the wall
were chipped off. When we put in the tiebacks, we had to remove part of
the concrete to get those in. And so when you
look at the wall today, if you look at it back in–
after the recovery and part during, just
before the rebuilding process, I had a layer of concrete
put over the entire wall to protect the exposed steel. If you saw that cage
that Charlie talked about, that was beginning
to rust because it was exposed. And at that time, I was concerned that the wall
would actually start to corrode. We didn’t know how long
the rebuilding process was going to do– go. So a layer of concrete,
a thin layer, was spread over
to protect that steel. And that’s what you see today
in the exposed wall. But if you look at the wall, you can see
the original contour. It’s a very thin layer of
concrete that was put over it. And if you look at the wall,
it’s not a smooth wall, because as was explained
when it was excavated, it actually followed
a little bit of the contours of the earth
as it went down. So it’s bumpy and dimply-looking
all the way around, and that is the natural wall
that you see today.>>CONTE: So it retains
some of its natural history, which is wonderful.
>>RINALDI: It remains its shape,
its original shape. The tiebacks
that you see were new and added as part of
the stabilization process.>>CONTE:
So this isn’t a question that’s directed
at any one person, but if anyone would like
to answer it, I welcome that. So just hearing from Peter, knowing that the wall
has somewhat– I guess we could say
dramatically– changed over time, in the film,
we heard Charlie say that he thought
of the slurry wall as a living object. And does anyone want
to comment on that in terms of either material
or conceptual terms? Do you agree with the artifact
as a living thing? Harriet.
(laughs)>>SENIE: Well,
I’ve been thinking about its symbolic significance. I’m not sure I think
it’s a living thing, although I understand
why people would say that. But I think it’s both
a witness and a survivor. And those two things
are really essential in terms of containing memory. And I think when we respond
to it in the visceral way that– I think that is true,
we do respond to it in a visceral way– that’s what we’re responding to,
both of those things going on. And that’s– that becomes,
then, a container of memory. Whether that makes it
a living thing, I think we attribute
that quality to it.>>CONTE: Yeah.>>LUSTBADER:
And I think it provides, as it was said in the film, why is it so powerful? Why do people have
such an emotional response? It’s scale. When you come down there,
you see the scale of it. And you’re not–
you can’t look up anymore. I remember looking up
from the Trade Center, the two buildings
when I was by the sphere, you could see
the enormous scale of it. Now you can only
get a sense of that scale by looking at the slurry wall
in some ways or the box columns.
>>CONTE: Yeah.>>LUSTBADER:
So it provides that context.>>CONTE: Absolutely. Ken, since you’re just speaking about the original site, you spoke a little bit
in the film about your involvement
in the efforts to preserve the archaeological remnants
of the site. But can you, again, maybe
elaborate a little bit more on your participation
in the Section 106 process, and with that,
maybe speak a little bit about the various parties
that were involved, and, you know,
their roles in that. Because it was very complicated.>>LUSTBADER: Right. So, so first I want
to acknowledge Anthony again, Anthony Gardner
and Bob Kornfeld, who are the ones
that really identified these as issues
on the Trade Center site. Otherwise, I could possibly say
there may not be anything other than a vanilla box where
the museum would be right now. Because without
the Section 106 process, there was no motivation,
in some ways, to possibly have those revealed and part of the interpretation
of the museum.>>CONTE: Right.>>LUSTBADER:
So it served a purpose to get people at the table
to discuss those issues. And the Section 106 process, without going
into all the jargon, the site was made eligible for listing
on the National Register, which is the first step
to acknowledge something on a federal registry. There are 93,500 sites
on the National Register. This one is eligible
for listing, which then means you have to
identify what specific elements are within the Trade Center site
that are significant, and why they are significant. So the slurry wall was one. The box columns
that I mentioned, the survivors’ staircase
is another, and I can go on and on and on. But all of those get then
part of a mitigation process when federal funds are used. And you have consulting parties. So I was one of many–
I think 70 consulting parties, which is insane, really. (laughter) Normally, it’s a building,
an architectural building, and then you’re looking at it
and going, “Oh, no, you can’t add that
to the building as a renovation because you’re
destroying integrity,” so you mitigate it
by discussing, “Well, no,
don’t do the window that way.” Here, you have the
most important 20th-century– 21st-century attack on soil, and we’re arguing about, how
do you preserve what’s there? And how do you rebuild it? And that was
the conundrum and dialogue between the Port Authority,
the LMDC, the preservation consulting
parties, and the stakeholders.>>CONTE: Exactly. And, actually, Peter was the
Port Authority’s representative during the Section 106 process. So, maybe, Peter, kind of
coming off of Ken’s response, how did you feel about the elements from
the Trade Center being saved? And, you know, there are
obviously multiple perspectives. We heard from some in the film,
and as Ken is alluding to now, there are 70 other voices that participated
in this process. And, you know, kind of
within your own community and family
at the Port Authority, were people on the same page
about the way to move forward?>>RINALDI: Well, let’s start
during the recovery, because, actually,
many of the artifacts that are here and displayed
in the museum were actually gathered
during the recovery process. So there was a feeling
and a thought back after
the building’s collapse about preserving artifacts. And I give Bob Davidson, who was the chief architect
at the time at the Port Authority, the foresight
to put a small team together to start looking at that
during the recovery. And many of the items
that are on display here were recovered
during that process. So we were,
we were sensitive to that. Myself, also,
I identified and recovered some of the large artifacts
you have displayed here. But in the Section 106 process– so we, it wasn’t new to us. I think the,
not the issue so much as much as preserving it, but how to preserve
those artifacts that were going to be in situ,
or displayed in a way that also would allow the plans
for the memorial itself and the rebuilding on the site to go forward. And as Ken says, that became
a little bit of a discussion. But we were sensitive to that
at the Port Authority. We actually, before some of these artifacts
were really identified, started protecting some of them with the idea that they might
be historical significance, including the footprints. We put protection over them. And Andrew got involved
in identifying them, you know, as a preservation. But we actually started
to protect them early on for a number of reasons. So the process was interesting. And I think it, you know, when you get a group of people
together, usually the best ideas
start to come out after… It took a little bit of time, but it did actually
work through. And you can see
the fruits of that right here in this wonderful edifice
and museum today.>>CONTE: Absolutely. Harriet, you spoke
a little bit earlier about why public commemoration has become so important
in our culture. And I was hoping that you might
be able to reflect a little on, as an object of history, maybe what we can learn
from the slurry wall.>>SENIE: I think what we can–
I’m going to back into that one.>>CONTE: That’s fine.>>SENIE: I think what we can
learn from the slurry wall is that the power
of secular relics cannot be overestimated. They function very much in the
same way as religious relics, and I think we can all
relate to that without my having to explicate. I think from my experience
as an art historian, memorials were largely ignored. Um, you know, they weren’t art. A modern artist didn’t do them. But around
the turn of the century, there was sort of a little bit of a beginning
of, you know, concern that we were losing our place
in space, or our place
in the past century. So that was one moment that
I noticed some more interest. The other was, I would say,
in the ’70s and ’80s, when identity politics
became more important and more of an object
of interest, that there began to be different
claims on the public landscape and different claims,
rightly so, for different kinds
of representation, although it didn’t focus
on the memorials. And then I think everything
changed after Charlottesville.>>CONTE: Yeah.>>SENIE: That just brought
an avalanche of attention onto memorials, and certainly
from my own experience, that’s been rather overwhelming. So for me, those were
the three points where I think historically
we could see, you know… In the 19th century, of course,
they were super-important.>>CONTE:
Yeah, thank you, Harriet. So thinking about
the slurry wall as a significant object, as an engineering marvel, Peter, and then the symbolic
significance that it took on during the recovery period
that we’ve been talking about… As you mentioned in the film,
the rescue and recovery effort depended upon the stabilization
of the wall. And during that effort, I was
wondering if you might be able to talk a little bit
about the energy on the site and the way that you were able
to balance all the relationships between the various people
and organizations involved.>>RINALDI: Uh…
(laughter) Well, I have to say, I mean,
it was a tragic event, and everyone was there
under an emergency response, under pretty dire circumstances. But I will tell you,
from the perspective of the people involved
at the site during that time, and the energy
and the feeling that went on, everyone felt affronted by this
and wanted to do something, from the people
working the equipment to, obviously, the police
and fire searching for people to try and find them, to us trying to figure out
how we could do all of this and make it safe for everyone,
everything that was going on. And the volunteers
from the Salvation Army, and the Red Cross,
they came down, and the people that were there. It was just incredible
work ethic, if you will, in terms of what was going on. You know,
in the construction industry, there’s always talk
about unions, and unions have these
little fiefdoms of what you do and you have the rules
that you have to follow. All of that went away. Everyone became one big focus on what had to be done
and to do it. And that part was exhilarating
in the middle of this tragedy. So people worked–
I mean, I actually lived in a temporary quarters there
around the clock. We put our lives on hold,
many of us. We were there seven days a week. The site never shut down,
by the way. It was one of those things that if you went away
for a couple of days, it was like a,
I said, a week there was like a month anywhere else
because of what was going on. And that was a testament to–
people didn’t want to go home. They had people
sleeping on floors, in schools and stuff around. So as a result of that,
things moved much quickly, quicker than anyone thought
in terms of the recovery and the search
and the removing the material. And it was because of that drive
and that work ethic. And it was
a purely American thing. And it was purely a New York
thing, too, by the way. (laughter) I say that because at one point,
I’ll share this with you, at one point,
the federal government, with the Army
Corps of Engineers, was thinking about coming in and taking over
the whole recovery process. And they came and
watched what we were doing. They came
to my slurry wall meetings, and finally they decided, “Okay, these guys
know what they’re doing. “It’s going along fine. Let’s back off
and leave this alone.” So that’s why we always said,
it was that camaraderie and everything that went on
there during the site, made things work.
>>CONTE: Yeah. Well, as the slurry wall,
as, you know, a witness to this history
and a container of memory, and thinking about this site, Harriet, I’m going
to turn back to you, and think about
what role site plays in relation to memorialization, and how do memorials, for example, that occupy
generic public spaces, how do they differ
from those like this, that are on the authentic site
of an event?>>SENIE: I really like to say
that the site frames the content if it doesn’t determine it. And I think, if you think
of any number of memorials that you know, and even public art
that you know, if you move them somewhere else,
they mean something differently, because they’re framed
by whatever their site is. And the authenticity
of the 9/11 site is an essential part
of its content. I can’t possibly imagine you could have put it
somewhere else. And that’s been true
of a number– Oklahoma City, say. They want to be
where this thing happened. And we can feel the difference. Now, just in general, and I’ve
been thinking about this a lot, and I’m curious, maybe somebody
later can contribute to this, why do we care if
George Washington slept here? (laughter) What difference does that make,
really? But we do, right? I mean, we visit places, not
only actual historical sites, but sites that feature
in fiction. “Bridges of Madison County.” People go there…
(laughter) No, seriously,
because I’ve looked at some of these
pilgrimage places, and I don’t really get it. (laughter)
I don’t. That’s why, probably,
I’m still looking at them. But, I think,
when it comes to memorials, there can be no question.>>CONTE: Thank you, Harriet. Ken, just kind of
expanding maybe a bit on what Harriet’s talking about
in terms of site and thinking about the museum and the remnants within it
as ruins, why are sites of archaeology
like this important? What can they teach us
about the past? And what kind of memory
do you think they generate?>>LUSTBADER:
I should preface this by saying I’m not
an archaeologist. However, since working
on this project, I was working
with a lot of archaeologists in Greece and Turkey, which sort of reinformed
or re-educated me on sort of my innate interest in connection to this project, just because sites of
archaeology are… tell stories. And you’re deciphering
what that story is. And in this case,
it’s contextualized, because you’re
in the actual vessel that is the bathtub
that, you know, this building has been
built around and rebuilt. So I think that it provides
an emotional connection, a visceral connection, in a really powerful way that you could not tell
the story of the museum, or the events
and the rebuilding, without being here. And I think the film
also is another way to show how those remnants
and artifacts– which are two different things– and, you know,
the in situ element, could tell engineering stories. Like a history of engineering,
which you would never think of, that is going to be coming out of the memorialization
of the slurry wall. But here today,
we, everybody’s going to walk away understanding
how powerful that was as part of the 9…
you know, of the, the story of
the World Trade Center site, and I think that’s
really important, too, as another narrative
that comes out of this.>>CONTE: Absolutely. And I actually… One thing
that is seemingly an aside, but I just want to say, we want to thank
1950s Italian engineering for the slurry wall. I don’t think
we’ve said that yet today.>>RINALDI: Those Italians! (laughter)>>CONTE: So that is maybe
the one detail that we do not include
in the film. But the technique was developed
in Milan in the 1950s, and made its– I believe– and made its way here
for the first time for the World Trade Center
in the ’60s. Did I get that right?>>RINALDI: Yes.
>>CONTE: Okay. (laughing): But kind of…
>>RINALDI: Actually, one of the originators
of that process, and who actually came up,
partially came up with the idea, is sitting in the audience. Arnold Aronowitz is the original design engineer
for the slurry wall. (applause) (inaudible)>>RINALDI: Arnold was my mentor when I first started working
at the Port Authority and he’s traveled in. I just saw him for the first
time in years here today, but…>>CONTE (laughing):
Well, I hope we can meet.>>RINALDI: Welcome, Arnold.>>CONTE: But kind
of continuing on that, in that line of thought,
you know, I’ve been thinking about,
you know, so was the slurry wall venerated
even prior to 9/11 in that way by the engineering community in it being this kind of
marvel and feat, ingenuity of kind of, you know,
human building and people? We were, you know,
certainly a building community
in the 1960s. And so, also, I was hoping that
you could maybe touch on that. And then a question I’m not sure
that you’re going to like, but I like to ask.
>>RINALDI: Uh-oh.>>CONTE: From a materials
and engineering standpoint– and for the other engineers
in the room, I hope you will speak up
at the end and give your feedback
on this question– do you think the slurry wall has a life span?
>>RINALDI: Oh, here we go. That’s a question always
engineers get asked, “How long will it last?”,
kind of thing. Let’s go back
to the first question. In the 1960s,
when this technology, which had been used, actually, for construction
of the subway system in Milan by the Italians. That’s where they first came up with some deep
construction problems. There was a conundrum here
in that, you know, this was, in Lower Manhattan,
it was a very congested site where they were going to build
the World Trade Center. If you look back at the streets
there in the 1960s, it was called Radio Row. And as I mentioned before, it was also on the bed
of the former Hudson River. And so the foundations
for the buildings– at that time, these were the largest
and heaviest buildings that were ever going
to be built– had to find a way to get down
to bedrock to support them. Not only that, but the Hudson and Manhattan
Railroad at the time ran right through the middle
of the site. You know it as PATH now. So you had a railroad running right through the middle
of the site, and all of this. And the idea of using
the slurry wall was floated, and Arnold, who I mentioned, was part of that team
that came up with this. And it was a bold move, because no one had gone
that deep before in a congested metropolitan area on such a large scale. And the site is 16 acres,
but the slurry wall takes up about ten acres of that,
you know. It’s tremendous. So when it was…
when it was going forward– and there was
a lot of trepidation about whether it would work and the issues,
because of what was going on, and there was a real danger
of getting flooding, and you had a railroad
right in the middle of this… But it worked. And since then, it’s been used. Right after that, when
the Big Dig went on in Boston, they used this technology. They were able to build
that whole Boston Artery project because of the technology
that was demonstrated here. So to that extent, there was… And it set the tone to be able
to use that technology, which made
that type of construction safe around the country. As to life span, everything
has a life span, all right? We all have a life span. Manmade materials, especially,
have a life span, you know. Materials made by God or nature
have much longer life span, I think, when you look
at nature. But when we make something,
it has a certain life span. And the world, too,
has a certain life span. I mean, you can see it now. I mean, you talk
about the weeping of the wall. What’s happening there
is actually, there’s tremendous water
still behind the wall that seeps through. And some of those stains you see are the rusting
of the reinforcing steel that I mentioned
that I covered. So over time, eventually,
that’s… it has a finite life. How long is that? Look, it was there for the–
no one envisioned that the buildings
were to collapse. We thought those buildings
would last hundreds of years, and the wall was going to last
hundreds of years along with it. But then they collapsed. We exposed it. We traumatized it. It moved, so now it will lift. The thing you should know is that the wall piece
that’s exposed, there’s another wall behind it,
okay? There’s a permanent wall
that’s been put there. So the engineering,
structural part of that wall has been taken away, and it’s done by a new wall
that’s behind it that you can’t see, and the new walls
that are on each side. So I think as a… It’ll last as long
as the memorial will last. That’s my opinion. (laughter)>>CONTE: Since you were
just talking about, you know, the wall,
you know, being traumatized…>>RINALDI: Yeah.>>CONTE: I am going to turn
to Harriet and talk about how… which you’ve elaborated on
already, so this maybe takes some of
that thinking one step further, in that, how does
a traumatic event, how it changes the meaning of
utilitarian remnant artifacts, like the slurry wall
or the survivors’ stairs, which survived
the destruction of 9/11. It changes their meaning,
we’ve established that. So, if you could
talk a little bit about what role they play
in public memory. And do you think they serve as
surrogates of national identity?>>SENIE: I think
that was one of the things that really astonished me
in post-9/11, dealing
with these various relics, was the ceremony
when they removed the last standing beam, which had been signed
by all kinds of people and it was very moving. They wrapped it
in an American flag and took it away
on a flatbed truck. And I thought, if that doesn’t
conflate a secular relic with national identity, I don’t know what does. And some of the other “relics”– the survivor cross, of course,
went on to have another life, if you will, when it was placed next to… Was it St. Paul’s,
or one of the churches…>>LUSTBADER: St. Peter’s.
>>SENIE: St. Peter’s, sorry. So each of them kind of
were taken out of that context and used in a way that made,
I guess, a spiritual sense
to the people involved. Certainly, nobody ever thinks
about a staircase, right? I mean, do you think about
any staircase you walk on? I certainly don’t. You know, unless there’s
something wrong with it. So that’s a really good example, how when something
becomes a secular relic, we treat it with
a certain amount of respect, and we try to save it because it
does carry this meaning.>>CONTE: Yeah. So I have another hard question
for Ken, about, maybe, life span. So, something
that I’ve been curious about, and hopefully
you can elaborate on it, so the wall
and other things were placed as eligible for listing
on the National Register. Once they’re there,
are they there in perpetuity?>>LUSTBADER: That’s a good
question right now, since everything is up for grabs
in the Department of Interior, in some ways.>>CONTE: Uh-huh.
(laughter)>>RINALDI: I wonder
how that happened. (laughter)
>>CONTE: Another talk.>>LUSTBADER: Yeah. And the issues related
to the National Register are actually being… Questions were closed,
I think it was on Friday, for changes
on the National Register. It is, it is deemed eligible for listing
on the National Register, but theoretically, yes,
in perpetuity, it is federally recognized
as significant for the reasons
that are outlined in the statement
of significance. I think Peg Breen
in the documentary alluded to this. Without getting too wonky.
this criteria G, which is… The event has
to be so extraordinary to make it listed
on the National Register within 50 years of the event. And, clearly, this
was put on the register, eligible within, you know,
two to three, three years, which is really unheard-of.
>>CONTE: Mm-hmm.>>LUSTBADER: So the
exceptional significance of it, I don’t think will ever sort of threaten
its continuation that way.>>CONTE: Sure, sure. I mean, it’s something
that I’ve been, I’ve been thinking more about just in terms of,
you know, time. So I am going to ask
one or two more questions, and then we are going
to open it up to, I’m sure, all of those
that are in the audience that can hardly wait to
ask questions of our panelists. And I would like to also, again, maybe address life span
with Harriet, since I’ve asked a similar
question of Peter and Ken. And do you think that public monuments
and memorials have– of course, they have a lifespan,
maybe, in a material way, but in terms of their relevance
to communities, maybe you could talk
a little bit about that.>>SENIE: Sure. One of the things
I think about memorials that’s really important is, their meaning
is determined by ongoing use. If nobody goes there,
nothing happens there… You know, a tree falls
in the wilderness, et cetera. That said, there were
a number of public hearings that I went to when
I was on the mayor’s commission, just to find out how people felt about these controversial
memorials. And there was one in the Bronx where a local guy got up
and said, “That was then, this is now.” And I thought
that really encapsulated the kind of thinking that’s
important to bring to memorials. What happens in the future,
when “now” becomes “then”? How do we update
the significance of those memorials? And that’s a huge question to which nobody I’ve spoken to
has any answers, myself included. But I think
when we build memorials, it’s important to think that the meaning
we fix to them now is going to shift over time.>>CONTE: Absolutely. And so with that,
I think I’m going to conclude with this question
for the group, anyone who would like
to answer it. And I think we’ve
really addressed some of this during our conversation
over the past 45 minutes or so. But from early on,
you know, many people have talked about this, this place and site
as sacred ground. And why do you think so many
people come to this site and make pilgrimages, as Harriet
used that word earlier, to sites like these?>>SENIE: My sense of it is–
and that’s a really, that’s a question I’ve been
thinking about for a long time, “Why are they here?” I think it’s a way
of being part of history. It’s a way to participate. And it’s a way
to feel a stronger connection to our time and place.>>RINALDI: You know,
it’s interesting, I volunteer as a tour leader
sometimes here at the memorial–
at the site. Not with the museum,
but with the Tribute Center. And I always ask the group
where they’re from. And it’s interesting. I never get anyone that’s
from New York or from the area.>>SENIE: Yeah, that’s right.>>RINALDI: And very few people
from the States, even, you know? Just a few. Everyone from all over the world
comes here. So I think, you know,
this was an international event.>>SENIE: Yes.>>RINALDI: And so that’s why
I think, just from my exposure,
I ask people, and that’s it. They’re all interested. They all saw this. It’s all part of this affront
that I mentioned that we here on the site felt. I think people
all over the world shared that.>>LUSTBADER: And I think
it’s a place of loss, where people
are going to the memorial to actually make that connection of what that tragic event,
events were here. And I think,
from a preservation perspective, it is a form of time traveling. That, you know,
the authenticity of the spot, that this is where it
took place, so you are… As Harriet was saying, you’re
connected to it, but in a… Like other sites
that are preserved, you’re time traveling
back in time, where Mount Vernon, where
George Washington did sleep…>>SENIE: Right, right.
>>LUSTBADER: But, you know…>>SENIE: And lived, right.>>CONTE: Well, I think
that I have to thank Harriet, Ken, and Peter for helping us all
to understand today a little bit more about
this site as a sacred site, as a site of significance, and the slurry wall
as a really important object in our history
and understanding of 9/11, but also of, you know,
engineering history. And there’s a lot more
that we could say about it. But let’s continue
the conversation with the audience. And I, and I thank you all
so much for coming. And I’d like
to thank Steve again for recording this story,
the filmmaker, in perpetuity about the slurry wall. So thank you all. And please,
if there are questions… (applause) Well, there are questions. And there will be microphones
going around, So, in the front of the room.
>>AUDIENCE MEMBER: Sure, so…>>CONTE:
There’s just a microphone. Yes, thank you.>>AUDIENCE MEMBER:
For you, Peter. I don’t know the difference between landfill
and a bathtub. So is there a bathtub
around Battery Park City? And why didn’t that–
would that have collapsed if the slurry wall would have…
>>RINALDI: Part of… That’s interesting, the construction
of Battery Park City is done in a couple of ways. Actually, the original,
the fill that was excavated out of the World Trade Center is the lower third
of Battery Park City, and that’s contained
in a series of cofferdams– that’s an engineering thing– that hold the fill in place, and then the buildings
were built on that. The center is a slurry wall,
the center section. And then the other section
is on fill and deep foundation. So there isn’t a slurry wall around the whole
of Battery Park. The other thing
that was a concern is that there’s still, the old bulkhead
from Lower Manhattan is still in place there. And there are, you know,
some buried connections there that do get to the river. As a matter of fact,
there was a… The outfalls
from the World Trade Center, from the cooling system, there was a flume that went
across the West Side Highway and then connected to the river, and part of that flume
is still there in place and was in place on 9/11. So there were those concerns in terms of the connection
to the river that gave us angst. So much angst, by the way,
I didn’t mention, that we actually plugged,
put concrete plugs in the PATH tunnels there,
right in September. Because we were so concerned that that would flood
across to New Jersey. And there was a PATH up to… The tunnels in New Jersey go up and across
to Christopher Street, and then they come around
and go Uptown to 33rd, but around 14th Street, they intersect the,
New York City’s I.R.T. system. And you would have had
a catastrophic flooding system. So that was the issue
that went on.>>CONTE: Over there? Yep.>>AUDIENCE MEMBER:
Hi, just a technical question. When you built the slurry wall, why did you only
cover the western 11 acres instead of all the 16 acres
of the site?>>RINALDI: Good question. The difference was
that the tall buildings with the heavy foundations were being built on
the western portion of the site. On the eastern portion
of the site, we were able to use
conventional foundations– piles and caissons and stuff. Now, what happened
in the rebuilding was the reverse, okay? The memorial now takes up
basically most of, most of the bathtub, except where the
One World Trade Center is. And now that area
on the east side of the site that wasn’t, didn’t
have a slurry wall excavated now has a slurry wall
and was excavated down to rock for the tall buildings
that you see there. So it was kind of
carried forward.>>CONTE: And, Peter,
could you maybe just, also, elaborate on, so the original bathtub
had 154 panels. But what streets were
deconstructed of those panels after 9/11? Because it was…
>>RINALDI: Oh, okay, the original slurry wall was,
think of it as a rectangle, kind of, okay,
with West Street on one side, Greenwich Street and Liberty
and Vesey Streets, for those of you who are
familiar with the streets here. That’s the box
of the original slurry wall. Right now,
the only existing portions of the original slurry wall
that are left are the West Street wall
and the Vesey Street wall. So, basically, half
of the original slurry wall was removed as part
of the rebuilding process. But the slurry wall
was extended now onto the east side of the site,
and to the south of the site. So there’s still
a new slurry wall that perimeters the entire site,
et cetera.>>CONTE: And in the museum,
it’s West Street, correct?>>RINALDI: West Street
is still there.>>CONTE: Right.>>RINALDI: And that’s the part
of the wall we have exposed.>>CONTE: Great. Over here. Yep.>>RINALDI: Uh-oh, this is
going to be a tough question. (laughter) This guy’s dangerous here.>>AUDIENCE MEMBER:
No, this is not a question, but it’s an answer
to this gentleman on the end. I started working on this
in 1960, and we had 13 schemes
of what to build here. And so the question
really comes up, why a slurry wall at all? And why was it that size? Actually, our group, which,
Peter was part of our group, determined what happened. At that time,
parking was required for any structure
that was going to be built. And our group were caught… We had to determine how to build
underneath the building to put parking. And what happened was,
the water was very high. And either we had to put
a very heavy weight of concrete to hold the building down,
the parking lot down, or anchors. So what we decided to do was to excavate
all the way down to rock and– because we knew that
the rock was very impermeable– and this way, we went
all the way down to rock, and we created a space
70 feet below rock. We didn’t need that much
for the parking. At this point, the PATH people
came around and said, “Do you think we could
move PATH into this area? Could we use the same concept?” So the geometry of the area
was determined by PATH and the turning radius
of the cars. That’s how we came up. So we think of engineers
as technocrats, but I like to say that engineers
are really artists. (laughter) And innovators.
>>CONTE: I’ll second that.>>AUDIENCE MEMBER
Because the outgrowth of this really came out
as an engineering design in order to solve
a very practical problem.>>RINALDI: For some of you
that might not be familiar with the original Trade Center, that space which is now occupied
by the memorial and where you see the 70-foot… there was actually
what we called… almost– there were seven levels
from the concourse level down to basement level. So there was
a whole underground complex. It was one of the largest
underground complexes in the world when it was built. And it included a train station. It included parking. It included
office storage space. It included a large cooling
plant and heating plant for the World Trade Center. That was all part of
this underground infrastructure, if you will. And a lot of that has been
recreated on the other side of the site
for the buildings. You don’t see that now,
but there’s a whole network that my colleagues still
working at the Port Authority have been building
and putting in place that resembles much of
what was there in the ’60s. You don’t see it, but there’s
a whole underground world there on the other side
of the site, much like it was in the 60s,
where the memorial is now.>>CONTE: In the back.>>AUDIENCE MEMBER: Has
the construction of slurry walls significantly changed
because of the experience with this one here? And its durability or how it
lasted for now, moving forward?>>RINALDI: Well, we put in
a new slurry wall in 2007, ‘8, and ‘9 on the other side of the site, and the technology
is basically, we, the same. What we did learn is,
we could make the walls stronger and not as thick, actually, and that’s only thing that– because of the change
in materials, technology, with concrete, so forth,
and steel. But basically,
it’s almost identical. It was the
same construction techniques. A little more modern equipment. But it was– that’s
how they’re done even now, 30, 40 years later.>>CONTE: So the composition
of the concrete has changed?>>RINALDI: It’s…
you know, you could… We’ve, in material sciences,
advanced where we’ve, we’ve had very,
very strong concrete. To give you a for instance,
One World Trade Center, the center core of the building, was designed
with the strongest concrete ever used in New York City,
okay? It’s, like, four times stronger than what was
in the original buildings, so… And that was done with a reason, because of what happened
in the attack.>>CONTE: Over here.>>AUDIENCE MEMBER: Hi. This is not exactly a question,
but I want to bring up a subject and just see who would like
to discuss it. But one of the things
with this redevelopment was the pressure of time and
just how it happened so quickly after an event that was
so kind of deeply emotional and traumatic for the country. So, for example, one issue with the determination
of eligibility, which is what,
you know, made the… determined the site as historic. That has a component that’s the, like the period of significance, which in the very first draft that we got
as consulting parties was just 9/11 itself. And some of us lobbied
very strongly to have that expanded
to include the recovery, because we felt that it wasn’t
just the disaster itself, that what was really meaningful
for the country was also the response and, you know,
people searching for their, for their loved ones. And, you know, people stood
outside the gates of the site and cheered when, you know, workers were
coming off the site. So, you know, that was something that there’s not really
a lot of time to discuss. You know,
there was a lot of pressure because of the pressure
to rebuild. And another another issue
having to do, I guess, with having a a museum built
on the site itself… (clearing throat):
Was that… Sorry, I kind of
lost my train of thought. But, you know, building… Oh, that there was a sense
in the community of, like, such a sort of trauma
and loss in the community, and people felt that their… They had sort of taken a hit,
you know, in their own, like, sort of
backyard. And, you know, they didn’t, they didn’t want
to have to sit there as… you know, while the world,
you know, sort of created
a pilgrimage site and sort of lose
their own neighborhood. And, you know,
I think we felt strongly as consulting parties then, that if you look at it with a perspective
of 20 years or 50 years, this is all
going to look different. You know, people didn’t want
to see anything that reminded them
of the disaster. And how do you make a memorial
when you’re trying to make it so it doesn’t remind people
of the thing? It’s sort of the opposite
of a memorial. I mean, I was saying
a lot of people wanted it to, really, to be an oblivial, so they wouldn’t have
to think about 9/11. And I felt at that time that, sort of like when you have
a relative that dies, and when you see
their photograph, it kind of shocks you at first, and you almost, you know,
want to turn it around so you don’t have
to be reminded. But, you know,
after ten years or 20 years, you know, you feel good
when you see their photo. And I just felt that, you know,
with the pressure to redevelop, it was very difficult to have a rational approach
to the redevelopment.>>CONTE: Thank you. In the front.>>AUDIENCE MEMBER: Hello,
and thank you very much. I really felt it very deeply. And I’d like to comment. I had forgotten about this,
but I just re-remembered. On the night that 9/11 happened,
I was doing tele… I don’t know,
research or telemarketing for a major television station. And part of it was
to call around the country and get people’s reaction
to 9/11. They did not care. I just couldn’t,
couldn’t believe it. You know,
I kept calling and calling. And that was the major reaction. It was only until, let’s say,
the next day, where they were told
how to feel, that they began to feel. That’s just,
that was my experience.>>CONTE: Thank you
for sharing that. In the back,
with the black shirt. And we have
about five more minutes, and then we can all
chat afterwards, if you’d like.>>AUDIENCE MEMBER: The original
Memory Foundations concept by Daniel Libeskind had proposed
to leave the bathtub open with the people
down at bedrock as a sort of memorial plaza, and the slurry wall
as major feature. I recall that that created
a certain amount of anxiety among some
of the structural engineers in terms of how that
would actually be executed. And, ultimately,
a different design is what’s been realized
here at the site. So I was just wondering, Peter,
if you could talk through a little bit about what some
of the concerns were with that and how the ultimate design
addresses those concerns.>>RINALDI: Yeah. It’s funny you mention that. I was with Daniel–
I took him down into the site for that first time
that he mentioned when he talked
about being down there and looking at the slurry wall. He was part
of putting together…>>CONTE: He was the engineer. (laughter)
>>RINALDI: I was the engineer he talked about there
and there and there, explaining to him what it was
he was looking at. And then he was, like, “Oh!” You know, he wanted
to preserve the whole thing. You know, if you sort of
understood what was involved in just trying to preserve
the small section of slurry wall that’s exposed right now, what the memorial… the museum had to go through
to do that, I won’t get into the details. It was daunting. It was very challenging. That slurry wall
and that basement was never meant to be left open. You know, when it was built, that floor system
I described to you is what actually gave
the support, the lateral support that George was talking about
in the film that you saw, to hold everything up. To just leave it as, you know, an empty space
with the wall standing over… expected useful life
of eternity, let’s say now, you know, was just almost impractical
to do. And besides that,
you still had… you know, a railroad
that had to go through there, and a station, and you still needed to put,
you know, something above, you know. You were trying to do
a memorial at that time. And, remember, the memorial… not displaced, but it took up
most of the office space that existed on the site, so the balance here
was not only to build a memorial
with meaning, but also to restore
some of the economic activity that we… that was here
in the downtown. And the balance was, put the office buildings
on one side of the site and put everything else,
you know, and the memorial on the other side, except for the train station
and a few other things. And that became
kind of the balance of doing it. But it would have been
a daunting challenge to try and just leave
that whole hole open. And I think, personally,
you talked about visually, I think that what,
what happened, I think, is really nice here now. I think leaving
a big open gaping wound was just not the way to go, from my own personal
perspective, being involved, and from a technical
perspective, it would have been
a daunting challenge.>>LUSTBADER: You know,
that just touches on the Section 106 process, and what Bob was talking about
in terms of saving what’s there as in situ parts of the museum. It it was costly, expensive,
and competing against, “Let’s rebuild this,” with so many different
emotional feelings and practical feelings
of people who were living in
the neighborhood and so forth. So it was probably one of the most satisfying
preservation exercises I’ve ever and will ever be
involved in, but certainly
the most unprecedented.>>RINALDI: And Dan came around. He was happy
to have a section of wall. His concept was–
it did come forward. It just didn’t
come forward to the extent. But what he saw
and what he wanted to do you actually see in the museum. It is, it did come to fruition,
just on a little smaller scale.>>CONTE: But thinking
about archaeology again, you know, I think it was
extraordinarily challenging, because you are in the present
looking at something, and trying to also imagine
its significance in the future, you know, as a… in terms of
its significance to history. So that was certainly something
in that present moment, when you needed
to make decisions very quickly, you know, it’s very easy
to kind of reflect on and digest why artifacts
maybe have significance, you know, once we’ve
ascribed that to them. But in that moment, kind of
working through all of that was tremendously complicated. And I applaud everybody who was
involved in that process, so… One more question, right here. Yep.>>AUDIENCE MEMBER:
Good evening. So the slurry wall could be
considered a ring of concrete. What prevents the water
from seeping underneath and coming up in the bottom? Because this is not truly
a bathtub.>>RINALDI: Okay.>>AUDIENCE MEMBER:
There was no slurry or concrete at the bottom to prevent water from rising up.>>RINALDI: Okay, here’s
a little secret for you all. (laughter) Rock seeps water, even though… It’s almost impermeable,
it’s not totally. And there was
a series of drains built in when Arnie’s team designed it. There was
a whole series of drains to let the natural water seep. And it was pumped out
of the World Trade Center. There were sump pumps,
so water did come in. And that became an issue
even during the recovery, when we got down to rock,
we had water seeping in. And we had pumps going. So, and to this day,
there’s still water that seeps. It’s not a large amount
of water, but it is water. You get water in your basement. It seeps in through the floor,
if you think about it. That’s a big basement. So that’s what happens there.>>CONTE: Well, on that note, I thank everyone
who came tonight. (laughter and applause) Go home
and check your basements.

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