One encouraging outcome of the unveiling of the World Trade Center designs December 18 was the positive public reaction. An informal poll of friends, acquaintances, and office mates revealed a sense of excitement, wonder, and inspiration with regard to the nine schemes.
The seven teams are to be congratulated for the imagination and creativity on display. What a tribute to their intelligence, genius, and persistence! Mothers everywhere were surely inspired to advise their daughters to forget about doctors and lawyers, and to marry an architect instead.
We'll know by the end of this month which concept will form the basis of the master plan for the site. Meanwhile, debate continues over the impact of the proposals on Lower Manhattan.
New York New Visions, a coalition of 21 organizations, framed these concerns well (for their full report, go to www.newyorknewvisions.org ). Hugh Hardy, FAIA, chair of the group's plan review task force, called for "balancing memorialization with commercial development." Among the issues to be resolved:
"Serious" concerns raised by the "large structures" in several proposals, including one for the world's tallest building (not again, please!);
Open space and public space needs;
Relating the superblock to the surrounding urban context;
Transportation connections and people movement around the site;
Overall plan quality: What is the overriding concept? What does it symbolize to the world about America's values? Does it provide a blueprint for future development?
One final question, from this writer: With all the attention given to New York, does anyone recall the bravery of those who steered the Pennsylvania plane away from Washington, the sacrifice of the military and civilian victims at the Pentagon, and the incredible tenacity of the Building Team that reconstructed the Pentagon ahead of schedule? Forgotten heroes already.
Even as the WTC proposals were being unveiled, another competition of possible interest to the profession was being held online.
Visitors to www.barbie.com  have been voting for the next Barbie figure. At one point, "librarian" was ahead of "architect" by a nose, 45% to 44%, with "police officer" at a dismal 9%. (So much for 9/11 heroes.) But after news of the poll was posted on a construction industry Web site, "architect" somehow jumped to 97%.
If "architect" does hold on to win, we'll wonder: How will Barbie look in a bow tie?
"Construction Forecast 2003" is our biggest ever, and still it could not contain all the trends we see for the year. A sampling:
"HIPAA" is an acronym you'll learn to love if you do any healthcare facilities;
Property/casualty premium hikes will not ease for another two years;
Hot markets: casinos, R&D labs, K-12 schools;
Deflation in selected materials costs, starting with flat glass.