Nine new proposals for the redevelopment of Ground Zero have been unveiled, and unlike the most recent batch of plans — unanimously criticized as lackluster — these have been far better received.

The Lower Manhattan Development Corp., which will oversee the development of the 16-acre site, asked seven architects to use their designs to answer one question: what does Sept. 11 represent? The architects’ answers ranged from interconnected buildings to a futuristic design that incorporates five twisting buildings. One even proposes a building that rises higher than the original World Trade Center towers.

The designs also have a few common themes: a sprawling transportation hub and an altered street grid that incorporates theaters, museums and several parks. Space for a memorial will be designed in a separate international competition.

One thing is certain, however: the developers will not build conventional commercial buildings. If anything, the response from the architects was less about urban planning than cutting-edge architecture. And considering Lower Manhattan’s nearly 17 million sq. ft. of existing vacant space, the notion of building anywhere from 6 million to 10 million sq. ft. of office space. in lower Manhattan right now is far from lucrative.

The final plan for the WTC site, which may include some of the components of these designs, is expected to be chosen at the end January 2003.

For more info, on the proposed designs, please visit http://www.lowermanhattan.info/