The controversial mosque (left) that’s slated to replace an existing Italianate-style building at 45-51 Park Place (right) just two blocks from Ground Zero could become the first LEED-certified mosque in the country according to Ibrahim Abdul-Matin, an advisor in the city’s office of long-term planning and sustainability and author of “Green Deen: What Islam Teaches about Protecting the Planet.” Originally dubbed the Cordoba House but now rebranded as Park51, the $100 million, 13-story glass and steel tower has found itself in the eye of a hurricane of controversy over the past few weeks, leading Mayor Bloomberg to publicly defend the project as representative of the very ideals which this country has struggled to defend in the aftermath of September 11. Abdul-Matin, writing at The Daily Beast earlier today, explains that
the new name also reflects a desire to emphasize the intricate (though widely unknown) connections between Islamic teachings and environmentalism. For example, Islam calls upon people to be “stewards of the Earth” and to treat all things in nature as sacred. The new name, Park51, invokes images of trees, creeks, and children playing. Parks are for the public. Parks are fun. Parks are green. And parks are not controversial. Proponents say this project is a victory for religious tolerance and a symbol of this country’s unwavering dedication to freedom of religion. Opponents cite the 9/11 tragedy and its connection to Islamic fundamentalism, and say the mosque is salt in America’s open wound. But the organizers of state-of-the-art Park51 believe they are building bridges, with the hope that the center can be a place for Muslims and non-Muslims to interact culturally and socially, and to provide an opportunity for all people to gain a more complete and accurate picture of how Islam sees the world.
It’s unclear what level of LEED certification the project intends to pursue, or what specific green design features are planned at this juncture. In addition to the mosque, Park51 would include a 500-seat auditorium, a swimming pool, a restaurant, and a bookstore, as well as prayer space for up 2000 people. The building that Park51 would replace was damaged on September 11 but dates from the 1850s and was formerly home to the Burlington Coat Factory.