Donald Trump's 2005 Solution to the WTC

01
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Donald Trump Presents His Plan for Ground Zero

Donald Trump stands next to his 2005 proposed design for the rebuilding of the World Trade Center
Donald Trump stands next to his 2005 proposed design for the rebuilding of the World Trade Center. Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images News Collection/Getty Images

Real estate entrepreneur Donald Trump is no stranger to Lower Manhattan. In 1995 he purchased the largely vacant 40 Wall Street, a 1930 historic landmark that Trump restored and brought back to commercial life. What Trump did for the Manhattan Building after 1995, he sought to do with the Twin Towers in 2005.

A Crucial Year:

By 2005 it looked like everything at Ground Zero had stalled. The reconstruction timeline was in disarray. The public was outraged at the lack of progress. Daniel Libeskind's Master Plan was considered ambitious, including his design for Freedom Tower, which seemed beyond the comprehension of many stakeholders. Too many people were involved—public commissions, real estate businessmen, lawyers, an international array of high-powered architects, politicians, and the families of those killed in the attacks.

Enter Donald Trump to the rescue. In May 2005 Trump's solution was to simply rebuild the Twin Towers, but make them bigger. "If something happened to the Statue of Liberty, you wouldn't rebuild it as something other than the Statue of Liberty," CNN reported Trump saying.

"The Donald" had a press conference to reveal the unsolicited Trump Master Plan.

Sources: 40 Wall Street Is Sold to Trump by Bloomberg Business News, The New York Times, December 7, 1995; Trump pushes own Ground Zero plan by Phil Hirschkorn and Lauren Rivera, CNN.com, May 19, 2005 [accessed August 4, 2015]

02
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A Simple 2005 Plan for Ground Zero

A WTC model presented by real estate developer Donald Trump on May 18, 2005
A WTC model presented by real estate developer Donald Trump on May 18, 2005. Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images News Collection/Getty Images

Donald Trump and Structural Engineer Ken Gardner of Gardner Group Architectural Models presented their design for Ground Zero in May 2005. It was a simple, flexible plan, with these elements:

  • Rebuild the Twin Towers, WTC-1 and WTC-2, much as they used to be. Make them look similar to the Minoru Yamasaki design, but instead of 110 stories, the new super skyscrapers would be 111 stories, or maybe 115 stories. The skyline would be reborn as the new towers would be located only  300 feet east and 40 feet south of the original footprints.
  • Two memorials within the spaces of the original Twin Tower footprints.  The North and South Memorials would be constructed with pieces and wall sections of the destroyed buildings. Granite walls with the names of the deceased would honor the victims of each building.

All other onsite space use was optional and up for grabs.

Trump wanted the Towers to be multiple-use, modeled after the AOL / Time-Warner Center towers—commercial space on the lower floors, residential space on the upper floors, and hotel rooms in the middle. As a real estate developer, Trump believed that a building with disparate tenants would be easier to fill.

He may have been right.

Sources: Site Plan Comparisons and Memorial Proposals [accessed August 4, 2015]

03
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The Story Behind Trump's 2005 Master Plan

Donald Trump's 2005 design for Ground Zero
Donald Trump's 2005 design for Ground Zero. Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images News Collection/Getty Images

Donald Trump presented a Ground Zero site plan at his May 2005 press conference. Two new towers, similar to the original Twin Towers, would rise behind the main footprint memorials. A hotel is in the foreground near West Side Highway in this model, but the plan was flexible. In other models, the hotel is replaced with a memorial plaza, a curved wall designed by a family member architect to honor the rescue workers who lost their lives. At one point, a 12 story tower of meditation was part of the memorial plaza.

The Back-Story:

Trump never owned or leased the WTC. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) developed the 1960s-era Twin Towers area and still owns and manages the 16-acre site. By the summer of 2001, real estate mogul Larry Silverstein won the bid from PANYNJ to manage many of the properties.

Less than two months after Silverstein signed the lease, terrorists attacked the World Trade Center Twin Towers on September 11, 2001. The ensuing years were filled with lawsuits, insurance claims, and design competitions for rebuilding.

Trump was not enamored with the designs being presented at the time. "You take a look at a the roofs of those buildings, they're all at different angles, different shapes," CNN reported Trump saying. "It is the worst pile of crap architecture I have ever seen in my life."

"I'd rather have nothing than what they're building," he told Chris Matthews of NBC News. "It's a terrible design. It was designed by an egghead architect who really doesn't have a lot of experience of designing something like this....And not only the Freedom Tower, the buildings around it. It looks like a junkyard. And it shouldn't be built."

Sources: Site Plan Comparisons and Memorial Proposals; Trump pushes own Ground Zero plan by Phil Hirschkorn and Lauren Rivera, CNN.com, May 19, 2005; Transcript, Hardball with Chris Matthews, NBC News, May 13, 2005 [accessed August 4, 2015]

04
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What Happened to Donald Trump's Plan?

In 2005 real estate developer Donald Trump proposed rebuilding the Twin Towers taller than before
In 2005 real estate developer Donald Trump proposed rebuilding the Twin Towers taller than before. Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images News Collection/Getty Images

One month after Donald Trump's news blitz, in June 2005, David Childs presented his new design for 1WTC, and Trump's plan was quickly forgotten.

"It was clearly a coincidence that Mr. Trump held his news conference a day before the season finale of his network reality show, 'The Apprentice'," reported The New York Times.

And Trump's website? MakeNYNYagain.com.

Source: Trump Proposes Putting Up 2 Towers at Trade Center Site by Jennifer Steinhauermay, The New York Times, May 19, 2005 [accessed August 4, 2015]

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Craven, Jackie. "Donald Trump's 2005 Solution to the WTC." ThoughtCo, Nov. 3, 2016, thoughtco.com/trumps-world-trade-center-solution-178533. Craven, Jackie. (2016, November 3). Donald Trump's 2005 Solution to the WTC. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/trumps-world-trade-center-solution-178533 Craven, Jackie. "Donald Trump's 2005 Solution to the WTC." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/trumps-world-trade-center-solution-178533 (accessed November 19, 2017).