H. Belton, 68, architect who proposed new Twin Towers, dies

December 1, 2005

staff writer


Herbert Belton Jr., who worked on the World Trade Center as a young architect and then after the Sept. 11 attacks proposed rebuilding the Twin Towers much as they were, has died of cancer in a New Jersey hospital. He was 68.

Belton, along with structural engineer Kenneth L. Gardner, authored a redevelopment plan for Ground Zero that calls for two buildings that are strikingly similar to the original Twin Towers, though higher.

The plan also includes a transit terminal and conversion of the original towers' footprints to an outdoor shrine featuring portions of the broken buildings' facades. Introduced in 2004, the proposal gained momentum in May when it was endorsed by Donald Trump and some families of 9/11 victims.

Trump has criticized as "skeletal" the Freedom Tower designed by architects Daniel Libeskind and David Childs, and adopted by the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. Despite Belton's death, Gardner vowed to press officials to adopt their plan.

Gardner and Belton had collaborated on many projects in the past seven years, but devising a rebuilding plan for Ground Zero put them in the national spotlight. "Herbert had a very good knowledge of the site," Gardner said. "Where he came into this project is making it work, making it real."

As a junior architect at Emery Roth & Sons in Manhattan, Belton worked on the World Trade Center site plan in the 1960s. His first assignment addressed issues related to the PATH commuter train tracks on the site's north side, Gardner said.

Belton was a project manager at New Jersey Bell, manager of design and construction at AT&T, and worked for Johnson Jones Architects in Princeton, N.J.

Belton was born in Camden, S.C., and received a bachelor's degree in architecture from New York University. He lived in Orange, N.J., and is survived by his wife, Margaret; two sons, Michael and Mark, and a sister, Mary Dunn.