December 22, 2003

The Trade Center Tower Design

The World Trade Center Tower design was in the papers (this picture from the NYTimes, credit Jack Pottle/Esto), and I have a few thoughts I'd like to share with you in this blog... but not much time for a decent exposition. So, here are a few notes:

Firstly, "Freedom Tower"? 1,776 feet? Libeskind is often described as a literary architect, but I guess this label doesn't ensure quality. Sounds too corny to me and worse, a condescension.

Secondly, The presentation model is misleading. "...a glistening, nine-foot acrylic model..." It looks great, but the building probably won't look so glowingly ethereal. It would be nice though, but it's not possible... er probable.

Thirdly, the only way to save the design form becoming cheeze wiz ersatz office towers is to focus on the detailing and perhaps designing a considered procession of circulation overall. Libeskind might do the latter to some degree (but he doesn't have a free hand), but I don't usually think of his work as particularly accomplished when it comes to detailing, such as when a wall that meets the floor, or what happens when a hand touches a surface.

Fourthly, there is a probability that the design will become a sappy thrill ride in emotive-monument terms. I shudder to think of how badly the new Windows to the World might be designed, with the mishmash of a superstructure, the proposed windmills and cheezy knod to the Statue of Liberty in the spike aloft.

Fifthly, I have too much to say about the Muschamp article to note here. Maybe later. I think he's giving the team too much of a break.

Sixthly, A redesign of the WTC is problematic, bewilderingly so. Yes, a reassertion has to be made and the next design has to respond to what happened to be sure. The original towers were the epitome of the late 20th century and the replacement towers will have to belong to the 21st.


I think it might be best to rebuild the orignal design again (same twin tower forms, but a difference in structural and material detailing), a defiance against the nihilism that would seek to kill us all. The WTC will be a target no matter what the redesign is. The current proposal seems to shrink in fear.

As I understand it, the original WTC had troubles achieving a full occupancy, it was overdesigned in terms of leasable space. But now with the added memorial program and the possibility to refine the structural design, the original tower forms might provide lots of elbow room and a great symbol that you can't knock us down. (The original design was so unique in structural terms, Fosters and Associates was the best match, too bad.)

Posted by Dennis at December 22, 2003 1:01 PM

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