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From the Past, a Futuristic Plan for WTC Site

The architectural models of nine prospective designs for the World Trade Center site are on display in lower Manahattan across the street from what's come to be known as Ground Zero.

A tenth may soon join them -- a plan not by one of the world's greatest living architects - - but a New York skyscraper conceived nearly 100 years ago by Antonio Gaudi, the Spanish architect who died in Barcelona in 1926.

A group of artists from Barcelona plans to enter Gaudi's futuristic vision in the formal competition with the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation. Apart from the Barcelona group, Boston artist and architect Paul Laffoley is advocating building a skyscraper in lower Manhattan based on the Gaudi design. Marc Mascort i Boix heads up the Barcelona group.

Mascourt i Boix was in New York this week to present its vision of the building. He is an artist and co-editor of Rojo, a Barcelona magazine of art and culture. NPR's Scott Simon talks with him about Gaudi and their building proposal.

Gaudi's original design, which he called the Hotel Attraction, rivals the Empire State Building in height. Mascourt i Boix says of the design, "It's so before its time," but constructing it in the first decades of the 20th century "was impossible and now it's possible."

Mascourt i Boix says "Gaudi was a religous man." Although only seven sketches survived the Spanish Civil War, what is known from memoirs and Gaudi's notes is that he wanted the building to incorporate rooms and large spaces devoted to the world's cultures and religions.

Mascourt i Boix says Gaudi's design features for the building would have it "full of tile, color and handcraft." He says the design is "not a leftover," rather the design "got lost in time." He wants the design by Spain's celebrated architect to be be seen as a "present from Barcelona, like the Statue of Liberty."

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.