The rebuilding of ground zero is one of the most architecturally, politically, and emotionally complex urban renewal projects in American history. From the beginning, the effort has been fraught with controversy, delays and politics. The struggle has encompassed eleven years, nineteen government agencies, a dozen projects and over $20 billion.
Aside from the staggering engineering challenges of the site itself, a major complicating factor in the rebuilding of the World Trade Center is the sheer number of interested parties. Politicians, developers, architects, insurance companies, local residents, and relatives of 9/11 victims all profess a claim to the site and are often in conflict with one another. According to The New York Times, “Where some saw lucrative real estate, others saw a graveyard. Where some saw Rockefeller Center or Lincoln Center or Grand Central Terminal, others saw Gettysburg.”
What was once ground zero is now a frenzied construction site. Three thousand workers are building four of the tallest skyscrapers in America, an iconic – and complicated – train station, a performing arts center and a sacred memorial and museum. What will emerge in downtown Manhattan over the next few years will redefine the city – and the country – for generations.
16 Acres is the story of how and why this historic project got built. At the heart of the story is the dramatic tension between noblest intentions, the desire of everyone involved to “get it right,” and the politics, hubris, ego and ideology that is the bedrock of New York City. What does it say about us as New Yorkers, as Americans?
As with all great urban projects, from the Pyramids to Rome’s Colosseum to Rockefeller Center, a small group of powerful people will dictate the outcome. With inside access to the project and these key players, 16 Acres tells the story behind the headlines. Who are these men and women? What motivates them? How will their personalities shape the project? And, ultimately, will it succeed? The film also follows the dramatic rush to complete the memorial in time, and the key players as they prepare to converge on the site for the10th anniversary.
Produced by Richard Hankin.