Academic Work : Practice LLC

This project proposes the re-use of the World Trade Center Site as a location for the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court. The empty ‘bathtub’ that used to house the foundations for the buildings of the World Trade Center, becomes the initial gesture and site for the Courts. The void acts as an inversion of the traditional block-extrusion of Manhattan, separating the site from the surrounding urban fabric while locating it within the same language. The procession and descent from the ground of the city to the ground of the courts, from Manhattan to Ground Zero, then becomes the dominant direction of movement on the site. Two large staircases, one for each court, are carved into the ground, leading to the exposed bedrock at the bottom of the bathtub, the ground of Ground Zero. The eastern wall of the bathtub is removed, and the adjacent land is excavated, mirroring the descent of the stairs. This land is deposited in the adjacent Hudson River, allowing for commercial development to occur outside of the site of the court, replacing the office and retail space lost in the destruction. This separation of land from site relieves the pressures for development from the site, allowing the courts to truly ‘occupy a void.’

The courts are now situated in the terraced and truncated landscape that now connects Ground Zero and Manhattan. Instead of a unified mass, a coherent entity, the buildings are striated and dissected along their programmatic utilities. These striations are re-assembled and re-accumulated on the terraced ground. This density of formal moves “defines” the un-definable edges of the main staircases, which remain the void. The various accumulations are attracted by the gravity of the void, yet unable to occupy it.

Project completed in 2003 at Rice University.

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