Viñoly opens free talk series

Architect Rafael Viñoly, who co-designed the Towers of Culture that were almost selected for the World Trade Center site, will open the third “Downtown Third Thursdays” free lecture series Jan. 18 at a building overlooking ground zero.

Viñoly, who wrote “Think New York: A Ground Zero Diary” last year about his team’s W.T.C. designs and experiences, will speak on the 52nd floor of 7 W.T.C. next Thursday.

Viñoly and Frederic Schwartz were the lead architects of the Think team, which was one of two finalists for the W.T.C. Think’s latticework design in the shape of the Twin Towers would have been built at the Twin Tower footprints, but no part of the building would have touched them. The lattice structures would have contained museums and cultural buildings and were picked by the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation’s site selection committee. Gov. Pataki, however, rejected the recommendation in 2003 and convinced the mayor and the Port Authority to go with the master plan design by Daniel Libeskind instead.

Viñoly, whose office is in Lower Manhattan, has also designed Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Tokyo International building and the Cleveland Museum of Art.

The lectures, organized by the Downtown Alliance and sponsored by the National Architectural Trust, will be at 7 p.m. on the third Thursday of the month through May at different locations. There are still tickets available for the Viñoly talk. Reservations for a particular lecture can be made after the ninth day of the lecture month and must be made online at www.downtownny.com.

The other speakers and their topics will be: Mark Kurlansky, “The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell” (Feb.); Russell Shorto, “Greetings from New Amsterdam: How Manhattan Became the Island at the Center of the World” (March); Mary Dierickx, “Forgotten Splendor: Restoring Downtown’s Historic Archi­tec­ture” (April); and Barbara Christen, “Cass Gilbert and History: The Past as Present.”