Concept Model
December 10, 2001

@Ground Zero
S p e r a n o v a

• November 11 and 17 Notes • Deployment Options
• Project Development Documentation
• The site

D e s c r i p t i o n

The original Ground Zero plot is replaced with new structures. The footprints of the two towers are clearly delineated in a terraced, landscaped open plaza. In one stands a large sculpture of the ruins in the center of which is a simple memorial to those who died and those they left behind. These ruins lead downward into and experiential museum of the tragedy. In the other footprint, rises a crystal shaped cathedral dedicated to all faiths and all philosophies of humankind. This facility is a contemplation of the beliefs of mankind - a place to honor them and seek a greater resolution than has been achieved in the past.


In the center of the Plaza is a single large structure. It is a 26 story sphere suspended within an 70 story tensegrity structure. The tensegrity structure reaches to the site perimeter in three places. Around it, on three and a half sides, are a number of interconnected landscaped terraces and buildings reaching over 80 stories at the high point. Beneath the sphere and plaza are a number of facilities that underpin the function of the entire site: research facilities, September 11 experiential museum, Navigation Center. The Plaza has places for quite siting, gathering, music and other public functions. A variety of shops, offices and businesses ring the plaza on the lower levels of the of the perimeter buildings. These express a multicultural world.

The suspended Sphere shows Planet Earth in high resolution lights - slowly rotating with the ebb and flow of goods, information and the migrations of humans, animals and plants simulated on it’s surface. The metabolism of GAIA. The consequences of weather, human ideas and actions will be shown. By standing under the Sphere, the reality of an emerging world can be perceived. Wireless electronic devices will allow individuals to interact with the Sphere in various ways - all this is but an invitation to the activities that take place within the Sphere and below it.


How a community of people - or a nation - responds to a crises is more significant to their future than the crises itself.


To be viable - and sustainable - the response must be appropriate to the people’s past, present and future. Timidity and conventionality - or defensive retreat - can be as harmful as thoughtless reaction, overblown posturing and reckless action.


It takes time - and thought - for a community to recover from a blow and develop a legitimate model of their post-crises future. In a crises, special tools are required. So is art.


The ART of architecture expresses, in concrete terms, the values, aspirations and spirit of a culture. It EMBODIES idea. At best, it can lead into the future.


What existed at the World Trade Center failed. This is not to criticize it. It does not matter that the Center was destroyed by a deliberate act. It does not matter that the buildings performed extraordinarily well - beyond expectation given the circumstances - allowing many to escape. This Center - the symbol and tool of the industrial economy - was taken out by a distributed network organization that did not recognize it’s legitimacy. It became a target because of it’s vulnerbility and the nature of it’s centralized utility. It failed as a system - not in it’s parts. It will not do to put back what was there only different or stronger. It will not do to dishonor what was, either. The APPROPRIATE RESPONSE will be to rebuild the FUNCTION in the form required by where we as a society are going - not where we have been.


On September 11, the power of a nacent global economy was used against itself. An appropriate response will be to build something that will only be made stronger in any circumstance attempting it’s future destruction. This means that the function must be both distributed and replaceable. It also means that it has to practice reciprocal transparency (David Brin) on all levels of it’s operation. It has to be judged more valuable and less dangerous intact than destroyed. This strategy of “defense” must be built in to it’s core design.


What was at The World Trade Center symbolized the last economy - the economy that is in the beginning of transformation. It stood for all that was great and excessive about that economy. It displayed what is intrinsically vulnerable about it’s very economic architecture. Some want to rebuild what was there. Some want to dedicate the site as a mass grave and keep it sacred. Others, to build towers of light. These are worthy perspectives. My view is that they all fall short. To be appropriate, we must respond with vigor and in a way that challenges us to reach beyond ourselves. We must extent every frontier and remake the state-of-the-art in every realm. AND, we must produce an integrated symbol and operating system of our best aspirations for a future global humanity.

The solution and challenge that is offered here is designed to FOCUS the energies of our society. This concept is a solution to a geopolitical event. It creates a problem of which the experience of solving it is as important as the end result itself. At first glance, the demands of this project go off the scale in every realm of human expertise: group process, materials engineering, financial models, knowledge management, technology integration, building methods, safety - on and on. This is true. It is also true that the knowledge and capability to solve all these problems exists. This project is DESIGNED to act as an integrator of the vast research and development that is taking place today and SHOW that it can all be integrated into a great work of social art that is an essential operating artifact of the emerging new economy.


N a m e

Ken Clements Came up with the name Speranova which is Latin for “New Hopes.” This may be just the right name for the project. New hope. Hope, interestingly enough was the theme of the opening session of the World economic Forum in New York. There must be more than traditional “hope.” The must be new hope PRACTICED. Speranova is about practicing and new way of working, a new way of collaborating and new way of forging a global economy.


P r o g r a m

There are two aspects of the Speranova PROGRAM : One relates to the purpose of this project in the larger social-economic-political context. The second relates to the program elements that reflect the direct on-site functions and their intended operations. These two elements are mutually supporting and one does not make sense without reference to the other. However, in terms of design and long term development, they are best explained as distinct. In reality, both aspects of the Program make up the soul of this project.

In the social-economic-political sense, Speranova has to clearly express and demonstrate certain values: openness, grandeur, inclusiveness, forward leading, sacredness.

In terms of on-site functionality, Speranove has a wide range of Programmatic demands. It is a sacred place. It is a monument. It is an information and economic engine. It is a destination. It is a work of art. It is a machine.


D e s i g n
S t r a t e g i e s



This structure has to have the strength the weight and load bearing characteristics of an airplane. This means that it’s performance must be vehicle-like - able to withstand stresses far in excess of a traditional building. In the case of structural failure, it must be “programmed” to respond in a dynamic way not a brittle and catastrophic way.

Graceful Failure

Emory Lovins talks about the engineering concept of “graceful failure.” Since any structure or system will fail, under the appropriate circumstances, the idea is to design it to fail “well.” As example, fire destroys structure causing collapse. One of the better strategies for damping out fire is to deny it air. Unfortunately, most ways to do this also kill people. A “graceful” solution might be people fitting oxygen masks that deploy in the necessary circumstances allowing the general air to be suppressed. Buildings are designed NOT to fail. They resist but “die” abruptly. If they are design to “fail” progressively, with people protection strategies built in to the equation, better results may be accomplished.

Energy Self Sufficiency

If Speranova is to be a symbol of and example of a sustainable 21st Century, it must break new ground in the energy realm. The challenge to make a building of this scale and density of use energy self sufficient will driven innovation in two directions: aggressive conservation and on site generation and storage.

Solar “Sails”

The compression members of the tensegrity structure will be large on a structure of this scale. They, themselves will be geodesic in their configuration. Also, they will house many functions. Among these, will be solar shades that will deploy to shield the plaza and the sphere at certain times of the day. This is to control heat gain and to make it possible for viewers from outside to see better detail of what is being displayed on the sphere. These shades will also be covered with solar cells providing electricity for turning water into hydrogen. These sails will also provide a visual “mass” to give visual substance to an otherwise gossamer structure.

Earth Shelter

The stepped terraces provide a site of almost total park and at the same time abundant building area for shops, offices and public spaces. The taller building surrounding three quarters of the parameter will also be set back and landscaped. The entire setting for the suspended dome will be “green.”


L i n k s

Up from the Ashes
Towers of Light
Sheldon Silver
Architecture: Boring Buildings

U p d a t e s

February 19, 2007:

Here we are five and a half years later and it seems the architectural wars are progressing about the same as the so called “war on terror.” At least it is beginning to be seen that the “rebuilding” designs, to date, are mostly looking backward and not to any future worthy of us and that the dual aspect of the “Attraction” of the building, under construction, to be attacked again is only exceeded by its defensive nature. Here is an intelligent assessment to what is going on: Nicolai Ouroussoff has written a piece in the New Your times called A Tower That Sends a Message of Anxiety, Not Ambition link: a tower that sends a message of anxiety]. Bravo. The piece also rightly identifies that it is money making that is driving the process - not what the rhetoric might have lead people to think. There is so much wrong with this project that it is almost impossible to untangle it. Wrong paradigm; wrong process; wrong economics; wrong design/build/use model. Wrong. Have we learned nothing from this tragedy? Will we take no responsibility for what happened? What an opportunity lost to show the true spirit of our Nation. Instead we build a monument to State Capitalism in the name of freedom like an old tired bully who is convinced he can kick ass one more time.


John Poparad posted these links on the Weak Signal Research site today:

Center Of World Power Shifting To Asia
Facing Western Supremacy

Read them and see if any of this relates to the attitude we display and the position we take and the symbol we erect as we proceed with this project as it it design in its total architecture, social, economic, political and physical.

Matt Taylor
December 13, 2001
Palo Alto, California


SolutionBox voice of this document:


posted December 13, 2001

revised February 10, 2002
• • 200112 •
• •
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(note: this document is about 25% finished)

Cpoyright© Matt Taylor 2001, 2002, 2007

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