One of the seven architectural teams vying to redesign the World Trade Center site has been dropped from the competition, a move prompted by the withdrawal of one of the team's key members, industry giant Skidmore Owings & Merrill.
Along with Skidmore, its many teammates on the effort, including Los Angeles architect Michael Maltzan, have been removed from contention -- action that insiders said came as a surprise to some team members.
The flurry of activity began with a Dec. 26 letter to the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., overseer of the competition, from Skidmore partner Roger Duffy. In the brief letter, Duffy said his firm (often known as SOM) was stepping back in order to focus efforts on its work for Silverstein Properties Inc., developer of a neighboring site known as 7 World Trade Center.
Duffy's letter didn't address the fate of Skidmore's teammates on the projects, who in addition to Maltzan include architects Tom Leader of Berkeley, Neutelings Riedijk of Rotterdam, Field Operations of Philadelphia and New York, SANAA of Tokyo and artists Inigo Manglano-Ovalle, Rita McBride, Jessica Stockholder and Elyn Zimmerman.
But in a Jan. 16 response to Skidmore officials, LMDC President Louis R. Tomson said the entire team would be dropped from consideration. Tomson wrote that since the team had been chosen as a finalist (among more than 400 competitors) in part on the basis of its membership, Skidmore's withdrawal "will, therefore, remove the SOM/SANAA team from further consideration in the innovative design study."
Skidmore officials did not return calls Thursday.
Other finalists for the trade center site are Richard Meier & Partners, which designed the Getty Center in Los Angeles; Studio Daniel Libeskind in Germany, known for its design of the Jewish Museum in Berlin; United Architects, a collaborative venture among several firms, including Greg Lynn of Los Angeles; Foster and Partners in England; Think, a team that includes New York architects Rafael Vinoly and Frederic Schwartz; and Peterson Littenberg, another New York firm. Each team submitted one proposal, except Think, which submitted three.