Sciame Plan Set Free

You thought no one could build a memorial in this town for less than half a billion dollars? Oh, yeah?

You thought no one could build a memorial in this town for less than half a billion dollars? Oh, yeah? Well, the much-anticipated report by builder Frank Sciame just went up on the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation’s website. It suggests that embarrassingly simple changes can shave off $285.1 million in construction costs for the World Trade Center Memorial, like combining the entrance to the memorial with the one for the Snohetta-designed visitor’s center. The waterfalls will stay, as will “vast museum space below-grade,” and the names of victims will move upstairs. It seems like he is proposing no big slashes and burns but we will wait to study the details to say that for sure.

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Press release after jump.

Matthew Schuerman

Detail Next Steps

Governor George E. Pataki and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today announced the release of the Sciame report on the World Trade Center Memorial and Memorial Museum for bringing the World Trade Center Memorial in line with the established $500 million budget. The analysis is the result of a month long process spearheaded by Builder Frank Sciame, CEO of FJ Sciame Construction Company and Sciame Development and informed by victims’ families, the Lower Manhattan business and residential communities, members of the memorial jury, architects and others. The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC) will begin accepting public comment immediately and the public comment period will run for seven days. Upon consideration of public input, the LMDC Board of Directors is expected to consider and adopt a final design by the end of the June. Construction on the footings and foundations can then commence as early as next month, and the memorial remains on schedule to open on September 11, 2009. Preliminary work on the memorial began March 13, 2006.

“Frank Sciame has conducted a thoughtful and thorough process that brings the Reflecting Absence vision in line with the $500 million budget and will ensure that the memorial to our nearly 3,000 lost heroes remains on schedule,” Governor Pataki said. “He has done great work and we are extremely grateful. On behalf of all New Yorkers, I thank Frank Sciame for stepping up and leading this effort to ensure the creation of a fitting memorial that honors our lost heroes’ lives, mourns their passing, provides solace to their loved ones, and tells their story to the world.”

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said, “We are grateful to Frank Sciame for contributing his time and talent to this important project. His work allows us to retain the essential design of the memorial and memorial museum, while identifying significant cost savings. While we need to be mindful moving forward that resources are limited, Frank’s work puts us on the path toward the successful completion of a memorial that will honor the memories of those we lost that terrible day in September 2001.”


Builder Frank Sciame, CEO of FJ Sciame Construction Company and Sciame Development said, “It has been a privilege to work with a world-class team of architects, designers, and construction experts. I can’t say enough about the assistance that the City and State have afforded us in this project. I am pleased that the month long process brought us to a point where we have identified a viable option and are in a position to move forward on schedule and on budget.”

The draft analysis examines options that most closely achieved the three guiding principles of: adherence to the vision of Reflecting Absence and the Master Site Plan; maintaining the established $500 million budget, considering security implications, construction and operation costs; and opening the memorial by September 11, 2009. The draft recommended option was determined to have met all of the principles.

The option allows for preservation of signature elements of the design and master plan: a landscaped memorial plaza, the waterfalls–the sound of which will help to drown out the city noise, twin pools, all 2,979 names displayed around the two pools, a descent below-grade, and a contemplative space below-grade for families and visitors to gather. In addition, the design provides for exhibition space and a visitor’s center above grade in the Snohetta-designed Visitor Orientation and Education Center (VOEC) and vast museum space below-grade with views of the slurry wall and access to bedrock and both footprints’ cut-off box beam columns.

The option consolidates the entrances to the below-ground elements, which provides for a coherent visitor experience by combining the museum entry pavilion and the VOEC. All visitors would enter the below-grade memorial elements and the museum through the VOEC. After a descent, visitors come to Memorial Hall, a space to gather and reflect where the cascading waterfalls and views of both tower pools can be seen. Visitors can then travel further to the memorial museum. The option removes portions of the below-grade galleries but preserves some of the waterfall views. It also removes intermediate levels of the museum by consolidating exhibits at bedrock. It is anticipated that the option will have no impact on the schedule to open the memorial by September 11, 2009, and that work on the footing and foundation package could begin as early as next month.

The recommended option results in significant capital and operating cost savings. Approximately $285.1 million in construction and infrastructure cost savings will be realized through such steps as: eliminating the entry pavilion, portions of the below-grade galleries, the cost of relocating the river water line; modifying the bedrock museum; refining the approach to preserving the slurry wall; and value engineering. The option will result in an estimated $11.6 million annual operating cost savings due to reduced facilities and administrative expenses. With this expected reduction in operating expenses, it is anticipated that the previously anticipated annual operating deficit for the World Trade Center Memorial and Memorial Museum will be substantially reduced and, perhaps, eliminated.

As a result of the analysis, Sciame also suggested that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey assume responsibility for the building of the memorial, with the WTC Memorial Foundation ensuring the integrity of the design and contracting for the build-out and finish work.
The Port Authority assuming responsibility provides a single point of accountability, consolidation of management, consultant and contractor staff, eliminates project redundancies and enhances project efficiencies and productivity gains resulting in significant savings of costs and expedition of schedule.


Sciame also suggested that the LMDC continue to work to minimize to the extent feasible Memorial-related mechanical equipment now located within the footprints at bedrock. The WTC Memorial Foundation, in concert with the LMDC and the architects, should make decisions as exhibits and their location at bedrock as well as decisions concerning the locations of the Contemplation Room, Family Room and their contents, and unidentified remains.

Frank Sciame, in partnership with the LMDC, WTC Memorial Foundation, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the Memorial and Master Plan designers, conducted a thorough analysis focused on the three guiding principles. Working with the designers Michael Arad, Peter Walker, Max Bond, Daniel Libeskind and Craig Dykers of Snohetta, along with the LMDC, WTC Memorial Foundation, Port Authority and a team of established consultants and special advisors, Sciame reviewed the budgets and cost reconciliation reports prepared by the LMDC, WTC Memorial Foundation and Port Authority, along with the Construction Manager Bovis Lend Lease and consultants Faithful and Gould and URS; worked to reduce costs through traditional value engineering methods; and explored further cost effective design refinements and options with the memorial and master plan designers that are in keeping with the Reflecting Absence and Master Plan vision.

The Sciame report is available on LMDC website at LMDC will be accepting comments on the draft analysis and recommendations through June 27, 2006 by email on or in writing to:

Lower Manhattan Development Corporation
Attn: Memorial Analysis and Recommendations
One Liberty Plaza, 20th Floor
New York, NY 10006

Sciame Plan Set Free