Libeskind's designs for the new World Trade Centre are highly symbolic. The 30ft high slurry walls of the excavated site are to be retained as a giant memorial to the 2800 people who died on September 11, 2001. The foundations of the two towers will also be marked on the site and a 1776ft spire soaring over the angular glass buildings represents the year of America's independence.
The architect is determined to keep his vision in tact. He told Building this week that he would be willing to compromise on the design but not on the scheme's fundamentals. Libeskind claims that the designs will work commercially as they stand and do not need to be watered down to accommodate the required offices, retail and transport infrastructure.
Libeskind knew he had to come up with a viable scheme because the site's owners - the city's Port Authority - and World Trade Centre leaseholder Larry Silverstein are under no obligation to hire him. The competition winning entry was only ever meant to serve as a guide for the final design.
Silverstein has already expressed doubts about some aspects of the design, and he has publicly questioned whether tenants would want to rent office space in a living memorial. Silverstein will also be making use of his own architect Skidmore, Owings and Merrill: if Libeskind wants to remain on board he will have to be a careful negotiator and an astute politician.
Silverstein is likely to retain core elements of the scheme, as the designs are popular with New Yorkers and the developer won't want to lose their goodwill. Libeskind's track record suggests that his creations will see the light of day. His stunning designs for the Jewish Museum in Berlin and Imperial War North in Manchester both involved compromise but both ended up being built with the most important design ideas in tact.