May 4, 2013

Rebuild Them

1776 feet?


It takes a Gawker to call out bullshit on a monumental architectural insult to intelligence. Here is their last paragraph:

But when you wed yourself to symbolism so glib and cloying as that--you have to follow through. If you're going to tell everyone that your new office building rises one foot for every year since the birth of Christ to the signing of the Declaration of Independence, so better to really celebrate Freedom, it better do so. The mythic height 1,776 feet isn't just a "close enough" figure. It's a feat of numerology, a totem clung to by the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, the Port Authority, and Larry Silverstein through half a dozen designs, two architects, several public squabbles and countless delays.
Truth to an indifferent power. Read the Wikipedia page, especially the design history section to learn just how thoroughly the design was mauled into disfiguration.

More history and another graf, from Scott Raab in Esquire, The Truth About the World Trade Center:

Forget the details for now and focus on a simple fact: The Port and the politicians who run it are pigs.

The memorial means nothing to them beyond winning a fight for control of the museum's money and operations -- the same fight that every project on the site has inspired.

That has been the underlying and unyielding truth of Ground Zero since September 12, 2001.

This is truly the best reason for dumping the politicians: Ground Zero is not so much a place of remembrance and honor as it is a battlefield. Last year's ceremony featured readings by Obama, Bush, Christie, Cuomo, Rudy Giuliani, and the two sad-sack governors who held office in 2001, New York's George Pataki and Donald DiFrancesco of New Jersey. Pataki is the yutz responsible for nearly all that has gone wrong in rebuilding the site, but they couldn't not invite him. DiFrancesco's connection to Ground Zero was why he fled office: He took a large low-interest loan from a pal he helped put on the Board of Commissioners that presides over the Port Authority. DiFrancesco was not invited to last year's observance until Governor Christie threw one of his many tantrums and Mike Bloomberg agreed to stick DiFrancesco at the bottom of the batting order.

Poor George Pataki: Never the brightest bulb in the chandelier, he once had hoped that the rebuilding might lead him to the White House. So it was understandable that he might be feeling proud -- maybe even a little wistful -- at last year's ceremony. The dignitaries are assembled by the stage, waiting for Obama and Bush, when one of them overhears Pataki say to Cuomo, "Isn't this a great day? Just beautiful -- and look how this has all turned out."

And Andrew Cuomo says to Pataki, "This is the biggest waste of money anybody's ever seen. Who would have ever spent this money? If we'd known what this was going to be like, nobody would have ever done this."

(Emphasis mine.)
Read on and try not to weep as you do so, and you will learn just how thoroughly debased the design of "Freedom Tower" really is.

I would prefer to dismantle it to the ground and rebuild Minoru Yamasaki's design, modified to incorporate a world of lessons learned since it was built fifty years ago... two of which are complimentary: the Port Authority insisted on too much office space (my un-researched impression is that there was a surplus of square footage, much more than the market could ever bear) and of course, the destruction of the towers themselves (the horrific loss of life is first and foremost of course). Put these two items together and you get an interior volume of a suitable size to incorporate into the form of the twin towers as a memorial. After that, channeling Yamasaki through a Norman Foster type filter (an unbelievably crazy, robust integrated systems approach) would probably render a renewed and refreshed design much in the manner of a Marvel Comics franchise reprocessed via Hollywood.

All humor (meant to be simultaneously snide and constructive) aside, think about what we are doing -and not doing- at One World Trade Center. Think about what we are saying to the world.

(Image source.)

Posted by Dennis at May 4, 2013 10:23 AM

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