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December 29, 2003

World Trade Center

WTC - Are Architects The Only Ones Who Understand? Why did we end up with such bad designs for the WTC memorial, wonders Jerry Saltz. "How could something so important and sensitive, something so in need of an inspired touch and more time, go so wrong, so quickly? To answer this we need to look back to a month after September 11, when the air was still acrid with the smell of the smoldering wreckage, and the managerial mindset that brought us to this point surfaced. At a packed assembly of architects in Cooper Union's Great Hall, professionals from all over the globe met and listened to dozens of their own speak about the tragedy in ways I hadn't heard before or, thankfully, since. I love contemporary architecture, but I was appalled by the breathtaking opinion, expressed by many in attendance, that architects were the only ones who understood the site 'in the deepest sense'." Village Voice 12/19/03

The WTC Tower Compromise Later this week, the compromise design of the tower at the World Trade Center by Daniel Libeskind and David Childs is to be released. "As details of that compromise were uncovered, in interviews conducted over the last week, it appeared that except for a few elements, the tower will closely resemble a design forged initially by architects at Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, house architects for Ground Zero leaseholder Larry Silverstein, in the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks. That was long before Ground Zero master planner Daniel Libeskind was involved in the redevelopment process." New York Observer 12/17/03

WTC Tower Design Compromise A compromise on the design for the design of the new tower at the World Trade center site has been reached, reports the New York Daily News. "Top aides to Gov. Pataki helped push Daniel Libeskind, whose master plan for Ground Zero was picked earlier this year, and architect David Childs, who works for developer Larry Silverstein, into an agreement." New York Daily News 12/16/03

Why The WTC Memorial Will Be A Failure In the next few weeks a decision will be made on which memorial at the World Trade Center site will be built. "The decision will be hailed by the powers that be as a victory for the people, for the open process by which it was conducted, for democracy. It will also almost certainly be a failure. The eight designs under consideration are widely considered uninspiring, banal, needlessly complicated, unimaginative and insufficient to evoke the horror of Sept. 11. But if you believe the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., which is overseeing the redevelopment of ground zero, they are the best that democracy can provide, and that ought to be good enough for anyone." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 12/15/03

Kimmelman: Start Over With WTC Memorial Michael Kimmelman believes that all the candidates for the WTC memorial ought to be thrown out. "This is in part a memorial to extreme bravery in the face of overwhelming force. Here's a chance to be brave. We know you still haven't presented your winning choice, which will no doubt be modified from the plans we now see. But don't bother. Nothing short of extreme, last-ditch action has a chance of succeeding, because the process has been crucially flawed from the start. Instead of beginning with a firm idea about the meaning of the memorial, we started with a timetable. Instead of guaranteeing that the best artists and architects participated in the process, we pandered to the crowd." The New York Times 12/07/03

WTC Memorial - The Impossible Dream Everyone want the memorial at the World Trade Center site to be special, writes Martin C. Pedersen. "Unfortunately, the more I studied the designs, the less promising I found them. None are fully realized. They all feel provisional, like ambitious first drafts. Still I am reluctant to condemn them, because the designers were handed a near-impossible brief." Metropolis 12/03

WTC Memorial In New 3D Finalists for the World Trade Center memorial were presented with new technology. "With the chance to view the designs in this dynamic, strikingly 'cinematic' way, the public was given its first glimpse of a revolution that has been under way for the past few years. Indeed, the memorial competition itself accelerated that revolution, harnessing the explosion in broadband Internet access to allow millions of people around the world to view the animated presentations, more or less at once — something that was never before possible." The New York Times 11/30/03

WTC: How About More Time, Less Symbolism? Herbert Muschamp writes that the competition to design a memorial for the World Trade Center site illustrated what's wrong with the WTC design process: "Too much symbolism. Not enough time. A breakdown of cultural authority. Until precise steps are taken to resolve all three issues, the design process will continue to sink deeper and deeper into political quicksand." The New York Times 11/29/03

Friday, November 28

In Memoriam - Getting Past Maya Lin The finalists for the World Trade Center memorial can all trace influences from Maya Lin's Vietnam memorial. "As successful as Ms. Lin’s Vietnam memorial was, the eight finalists prove that it has become a crutch, rather than an inspiration, for American memorial architecture. Indeed, Ms. Lin’s aesthetic presence in the plans speaks volumes about the state of memorial design in America. On one hand, the continued presence of Lin-esque minimalism in American monuments points to the long-awaited emergence of an American memorial style; on the other, the finalists’ failure to move beyond the threshold she set more than two decades ago points to a severe lack of vision in the way Americans build memorials to tragedy." New York Observer 11/26/03

WTC Tower Shaping Up (And Up) In three weeks, designs for the tallest tower at the World Trade Center site must be finished. And there is constant negotiating going on. "Although many aspects of the proposed new tower are still in flux, several features are consistent to every recent draft rendering of the tower. Surviving from Daniel Libeskind’s original proposal is the asymmetrical shape of the tower, along with its narrow spire feature, both of which are meant to simulate the torchbearing arm of the Statue of Liberty seen from the harbor. Also surviving is the slanted roof that gives a spiraling sweep to the shape of the circle of the five skyscrapers, of descending height, called for in his master plan." New York Observer 11/26/03

Young Designs - Youth Reigns For WTC Memorial There were 5000 anonymous entries competing to design the memorial for 911 at the World Trade Center site. Many have been surprised that the five finalists are younger artists instead of older established names... The New York Times 11/25/03

Armchair Quarterbacking the WTC Finalists As the process of selecting the architect who will design and build the memorial to the victims of 9/11 progresses, other architects are weighing in on the finalists. Some say all the designs are too complex, while others complain that minimalism is too dominant across the board. "Many of the architects had practical questions: What happens to all those water features in case of drought? Can such vast spaces underground be free of columns? How many people can cross a narrow bridge at one time?" The New York Times 11/22/03

WTC Memorial Finalists Chosen Eight finalists are announced for a memorial at the World Trade Center. "It's a very moving moment. The memorial is at the heart of the site. It defines everything around it." The New York Times 11/19/03

  • Muschamp: Simplicity Is What's Required For WTC Memorial "For better or worse, we are living in baroque if not byzantine times. Some of our most impressive contemporary architecture reflects this. All eight designs chosen as finalists for a memorial of the World Trade Center disaster bear strong traces of it, to a greater or lesser degree. Each of them suffers as a result. The New York Times 11/20/03

  • Youth Figures In WTC Memorial "As far as visuals go, the coolest design is, without much doubt, the project by Gisela Baurmann, Sawad Brooks, and Jonas Coersmeier, all three of whom live in New York. The center of their design is something called the Memorial Cloud, a field of tubes that is flat and see-through on the top, at street level, and has an undulating ceiling, one whose shapes recall church architecture, when seen from underneath. The tubes are lit dramatically from below: one beam for each victim." Slate 11/19/03

  • WTC Memorial Judges A list of the 13 judges for the World Trade Center memorial. The New York Times 11/19/03

Money vs. Art: Guess Who Wins? There may be two sides to every story, but Lisa Rochon sees the current dust-up over the new World Trade Center design as nothing more than art squaring off against pure American capitalist greed. "Pay attention to the American way. Appreciate it fully. A calamity like 9/11 cannot weaken the aspirations of Larry Silverstein, the private developer who wants to broadside Daniel Libeskind's winning scheme in order to build his own version of unfettered capitalism. At this rate, he will triumph. And when he does, any doubt as to why the WTC was targeted in the first place will be, like the twin towers, obliterated." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 11/19/03

  • Previously: Fighting Over How Things Look (Traditionally Speaking) Disputes between architects Daniel Libeskind and David Childs over the tower above the World Trade Center site are the latest chapter in a long history of architectural disputes. "The absence of knife play over the Freedom Tower does not guarantee that the intended partnership will run smoothly. A meeting between the architects last Monday was described as positive by both sides. History, however, suggests that the turmoil will continue. There is a long tradition, in New York, of architectural bargaining and bickering that has produced gems like Rockefeller Center, duds (let's be honest now) like the World Trade Center and compromises like Lincoln Center and the United Nations. Not only is the record a rancorous one, but Mr. Libeskind and Mr. Childs are navigating challenges unlike any faced by their predecessors." The New York Times 11/16/03

WTC Site: The Stars Come Out With the addition of architects Norman Foster, Jean Nouvel, and Fumihiko Maki designing for the site of the World Trade Center, (joining Daniel Libeskind, David Childs and Santiago Calatrava)the Lower Manhattan site is beginning to look like a playground of archi-stars. The Art Newspaper 11/14/03

Three More Architecture Stars For The WTC Project The World Trade Center site project is becoming some kind of Hall of Fame for architects. Now Norman Foster, Fumihiko Maki, and Jean Nouvel have been recruited to design towers ringing the memorial site planned for the southwest corner of the new World Trade Center. Already working on the project are Daniel Libeskind and Santiago Calatrava, who is working for the Port Authority to develop a transit hub on the site. New York Observer 10/02/03

WTC Sculpture Sold On eBay Arouses Protests An official sculpture made from steel of the fallen World Trade Center has been sold on the internet, infuriating relatives of victims of 9/11. "The 5-inch sculpture - one of nearly 3,000 created from mangled steel beams - sold for $255 in an auction on the eBay Web site last week. It wasn't immediately clear how one of the sculptures - distributed exclusively to victims' families - got into the hands of the company that hawked it on eBay." New York Daily News 09/23/03

A Change In WTC Direction There have been significant changes in architect Daniel Libeskind's plan for rebuilding the World Trade Center site, which includes the world's tallest structure. The new plan now calls for slimmer office buildings and the shifting of office and other development. AJ blogger Jan Herman reviews changes... Straight Up (AJBlogs) 09/18/03

Defending The Vision Daniel Libeskind is fighting for his ideas at the World Trade Center site. "The revisions. The redesigning. The new studies. The jockeying. Not just an architect, Libeskind has emerged as a tough defender of his vision, amid the high stakes tug of war that threatens to pick his design apart. Sometimes he wins. Sometimes he loses. And the battle is far from over." Washington Post 09/10/03

Names And Memorials Names are a powerful memorial in our culture. Michael Kimmelman ponders the likelihood of some sort of list of names at the World Trade Center site as a memorial. "The competition guidelines for the memorial at ground zero require that the design 'recognize each individual who was a victim' on Sept. 11, 2001, and on Feb. 26, 1993, when the World Trade Center was first attacked. It's a safe bet that many of the 5,200 submissions interpret that as some kind of list of names. By aesthetic and social consensus, names are today a kind of reflexive memorial impulse, lists of names having come almost automatically to connote 'memorial,' just as minimalism has come to be the presumptive sculptural style for memorial design, the monumental blank slate onto which the names can be inscribed." The New York Times 08/31/03

  • Politics Of Picking Memorials With more than 5000 entries in the design competition for a World Trade Center memorial, how do jurors go about choosing? "In the first round, a jury typically tries to eliminate 75 percent to 80 percent of the entries. Richard Andrews, the director of the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle, said that sophisticated juries could rule out some entries within 10 seconds. 'But there will also be entries where three or four of the jurors say they didn't see anything and one will say: `Look at it again. Here's what I found.' And it will be held over for a second round.' That's when jurors really start debating and discussing stylistic differences among submissions." The New York Times 08/31/03

  • Architect Behind The Buildings Architect David Childs is having a major impact on the skyline of New York. "At Skidmore Owings & Merrill, you don't know what my next building will look like. You know what a Richard Meier building will look like; there's a style. I'm more like Eero Saarinen, whom I revere. His buildings all look different." Buildings as "egoistic big statements," as Mr. Childs put it, do not interest him. Making the fabric of the city is what excites him most: how streets thread their way through avenues and parks, how they open vistas to rivers or create a neighborhood." The New York Times 08/31/03

  • Back To What Was? The World Trade Center Restoration Movement is a group of people who want to retore the World Trade Center to pre-9/11. "In close solidarity with one another, and in opposition to the city's political establishment, business leaders, academics and civic groups, and just about everyone else whose opinion matters, the W.T.C.R.M. demands that the World Trade Center towers be rebuilt. Not replaced by something new and supposedly better. Rebuilt, hewing as closely as possible to the design of the buildings that were lost on Sept. 11." The New York Times 08/31/03

  • Whose Freedom Gets The Museum? Should there be a "Museum of Freedom" built at the site of the World Trade Center? The idea has been proposed. But Herbert Muschamp writes that trying to wedge the idea of "freedom" into a building is highly problematic... The New York Times 08/31/03

The Multi-Purpose Public Space What's needed for the World Trade Center space, argues Justin Davidson, is something that can serve many functions. A new exhibition gives "a sense of how many simultaneous functions a public space can serve. Italian urbanists long ago understood the beauty of an open square - or ellipse, lopsided trapezoid, or whatever shape streets and houses would permit - on which civic, religious and commercial institutions front and which different generations adapt to their own purposes. These are hybrid areas, where the sacred rubs up against the profane." Newsday 08/29/03

The Risky, Obvious Choice That Is Calatrava Choosing Santiago Calatrava to design the tranport hub under the World Trade Center site is both "obvious and more than a little risky," writes Christopher Hawthorne. "Why obvious? Because no architect in the world can match Calatrava's talent for investing complex transportation projects, which are often pretty bland architecturally, with the kind of eye-catching, high-design appeal the public is expecting at Ground Zero. His buildings are rigorously conceived and meticulously executed but also playful, airy, and imaginative—a perfect combination of right and left brain. Why risky? Because Calatrava's work has a personality—a pristine, sometimes aloof perfectionism—that seems an odd fit for the constricted and politically charged Ground Zero site." Slate 08/25/03

NY City Opera For WTC - It Makes Sense Developers of the proposed World Trade Center project are trying to decide which arts company ought to anchor its performing arts center. "The developers would be wise to court a major institution with a strong identity, one that would bring credibility and potentially a devoted audience base to the new complex. That institution is the New York City Opera, dubbed the 'people's opera' by Fiorello La Guardia, one of its founders." The New York Times 08/19/03

Developer: NY City Opera Still In Running For WTC Site Developers deny a story that ran in the New York Times earlier this week that the new hall to be built as part of the performing arts center at the World Trade Center site would be too small for New York City Opera. Crain's New York Business 07/31/03

Opera House At Ground Zero Looking Unlikely It's looking more and more unlikely that New York City Opera will find a home in the performing arts center planned for the World Trade Center site. Space for the center has been reduced by 20 percent. "Given the reduction in the space available and the footprint that City Opera says it needs, it would seem that a significant change in plans would be needed to accommodate an opera house. The opera has proposed a new house with a 60,000-square-foot footprint, Paul Kellogg, general and artistic director of the opera, said in an interview yesterday — so 40,000 square feet would appear to be severely inadequate." The New York Times 07/31/03

City Opera Cut Out of Ground Zero Plans "The municipal corporation overseeing the redevelopment of ground zero has determined that there is no place at the site for an opera house, a decision that all but dashes the New York City Opera's hopes of moving there from Lincoln Center." However, there appears to be some confusion as to whether City Opera has been officially informed of this development. City officials swear they contacted the company last week, but NYCO's director insists that, as far as he's concerned, a move to the site is still very much on the table. The New York Times 07/26/03

  • Previously: Booking Space At Ground Zero "More than 10 well-known New York arts and cultural institutions are working on plans to be part of the new center that will be built at Ground Zero. The proposals, from institutions ranging from off-Broadway theaters to museums, are in response to the Lower Manhattan Development Corp.'s recent request for formal expressions of interest from cultural groups that wish to be part of the site." Among the groups which have already declared their wishes to relocate to the site are the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, New York City Opera, and the Joyce Theater. Crain's New York Business 07/21/03

Plans For WTC Memorial Pour In Monday was the deadline for plans to be submitted for a memorial at the site of the former World Trade Center. "By the 5 p.m. deadline, thousands of proposals, enough to fill a caravan of delivery trucks, had been received at the nondescript, six-story warehouse at 515 West 36th Street in Manhattan. Entries started being accepted on June 9, and the last ones trickled in for more than an hour after the deadline. The contest is expected to be the largest design competition ever, exceeding even the 1,421 designs submitted for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Little more is likely to be heard about the proposals until September, when about five finalists are to be announced." The New York Times 07/01/03

Battles At Ground Zero Daniel and Nina Libeskind are battling with the various competing interests who want to control what goes up on the site of the World Trade Center. "At issue is their measure of control over what is built at Ground Zero—whether what goes up there reflects Mr. Libeskind’s vision, or the maelstrom of competing interests that has come to define the story of the World Trade Center. If the Libeskinds have one thing going for them, it is themselves. The two—with matching salt-and-pepper hair, glasses, sharp eyes and black clothing—have a way of refracting off each other. They finish each other’s sentences. They interpret each other for their audience. But they are complementary rather than similar." New York Observer 06/25/03

Monumental Decision Proposals are being considered for a memorial on the site of the World Trade Center. Such competitions are necessarily good, writes Christopher Benfey. "In the end, we're likely to get a celebrity sculptor who burnishes his or her reputation with an idiosyncratically designed?and inevitably 'controversial'?monument. Or a sentimental and crowd-pleasing idea like the 'soaring' memorial envisaged by former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. So, I have a simple proposal. My proposal is that we put nothing at all in that space?that it be left as a hollowed-out void." Slate 06/16/03

Libeskind On The WTC - Now The Tough Part In a classic case of aesthetic symbols confronting political and financial reality, [architect Daniel Libeskind] is fighting to preserve the form - and, with it, the meaning - of his proposal for the 16-acre former site of the World Trade Center. Libeskind also has been forced to confront accusations from a New York City architect that he fibbed when he claimed that, every Sept. 11, on the anniversary of the terrorist attacks that brought down the Trade Center's twin towers, the sun would shine without shadow on an outdoor plaza he calls 'the Wedge of Light'. While Libeskind seems to have weathered the plaza controversy, it remains unclear if he will be able to retain control over his design -- or whether developer Larry Silverstein, who holds the lease to the former World Trade Center site, will twist it beyond recognition." Chicago Tribune 05/25/03

Artist's Sign Warns Of Low-Flying Planes In Lower Manhattan An artists has painted a big sign on a building near the site of the former World Trade Center in New York. It says: CAUTION: Low Flying Planes. "The painting, which includes an image of a flickering flame, has angered neighbors and provoked complaints to the city Landmarks Preservation Commission." WNBC 05/13/03

Libeskind's Spiral Now Seems Inspired Choice For V&A When it was first proposed, architect Daniel Libeskind's post-modernist "spiral" addition to the Victoria & Albert Museum was derided as symbolizing all that is wrong with contemporary architecture. But now Libeskind's been embraced in New York for the World Trade Center site, his idea for the V&A is seen as inspired. And now the fundraising gets going in a big way... London Evening Standard 04/24/03

Commercial Interests Picking Apart Libeskind's WTC Plans Stakeholders in the process to build on the site of the World Trade Center are already starting to pick apart the Daniel Libeskind design that had been chosen for the site. The owner of a retail mall that had been in the base of the World Trade Center doesn't like the design: 'We don’t think [the Libeskind plan] works. So why don’t we sit down and fix it? Why not have a meeting? It’s not that difficult. We think we can help and make it better.' Westfield’s unhappiness is significant because the company and the Port Authority will have to renegotiate Westfield’s lease at the site." New York Oberver 04/09/03

In Memoriam: Piecing Together The World Trade Center "Though New Yorkers have publicly, sometimes acrimoniously, debated how to build memorials to 9/11, people in communities from Fawnskin, Calif., to Franklin, N.J., quietly have been getting to work. Across the nation, they have incorporated World Trade Center steel into more than 250 tributes to the dead. Girders carefully stacked like Lincoln Logs have become the centerpieces of municipal gardens. Church bell towers display an incongruous mix of battered metal and smooth stone. Civic reflecting pools shimmer with wavy images of cold, hard steel." Los Angeles Times 04/02/03

Right Project At The Right Time Ada Louise Huxtable is a fan of the winning design for the World Trade Center site. "The design by Daniel Libeskind is not about death and destruction, as some have feared; it is an original and eventful reconstruction of the World Trade Center site that brings the architecture of the 21st century to New York, where it has been sadly and shamefully lacking. Even as we preserve that tragic pit and its sustaining wall, they will become the source of new life. But this will happen only if the spotlight stays relentlessly on the rebuilding process, and if we do not lose the urgent sense of necessity and inevitability that has brought us this far." OpinionJournal.com 03/19/03

Libeskind - Bringing Your Feelings To Work Daniel Libeskind's design for the World Trade Center site, which he calls 'Memory Foundations', "epitomises American society's current morbid preoccupation with death and conflict. Several architecture commentators have pointed out that the subjective nature of Libeskind's work is something new among architects, who rarely express their own feelings and tend to be more comfortable talking about the functional and technical aspects of buildings. The difference between Libeskind and a cool, rational architect such as Norman Foster is something like the difference between Princess Diana and a regal head of state." spiked-culture 03/11/03

WTC: Protecting A Master Plan From The Gnats "Daniel Libeskind's master plan for the former World Trade Center site, selected Wednesday, is a new noble, logical diagram - one that is sure to need a shield if real estate interests try to torture it with death by a thousand 'gnat bites,' as Robert Ivy, the editor of Architectural Record, so trenchantly put it. It inevitably will be changed, as all master plans are, as the economy rises and falls, as interest groups like the victims' families make their voices heard, and as political actors enter and exit from the stage. The questions are: Will the change be for good or ill?" Chicago Tribune 03/02/03

  • Starting Over With A Develpment Plan Now that a plan for the WTC site has been chosen, the real heavy lifting begins. One good first step, writes David Dillon, would be abandoning the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. and Port Authority's development plans and starting over. "The Port Authority's program belongs to the 1960s, not the 21st century, and repeats many of the mistakes that made the World Trade Center a bad neighbor." Dallas Morning News 03/02/03

Practically Speaking - How Libeskind Was Chosen for the WTC How was Daniel Libeskind's plan for the World Trade Center site chosen? The decision rested as much on politics, economics and engineering as on aethetics. "Almost immediately after the decision was announced, civic groups, downtown business leaders and others began debating the details that will be needed to put the plan into effect." The New York Times 02/28/03

  • Learning Salesmanship In Denver Even before he submitted his design for Ground Zero, Daniel Libeskind was uniquely prepared for the necessity of selling oneself and one's art to American politicians and finicky citizens. It was less than three years ago that Libeskind beat out four other architects to become the winning designer of a $62.5 million addition to the Denver Art Museum. And while the media scrutiny and public interest in Denver was a fraction of that with which Libeskind would contend in New York, the architect's skill at presenting his work as a public boon was evident in the Denver competition. Denver Post 02/28/03

Libeskind Chosen For WTC The proposed design by Daniel Libeskind for the World Trade Center site has been chosen. "The new building is planned to be taller than the trade center towers, which briefly stood as the world's tallest at 1,350 feet. Libeskind's tower also would surpass Malaysia's 1,483-foot Petronas Twin Towers, the tallest buildings in the world." CNN (AP) 02/26/03

  • WTC: Focus On The Memorial "The Libeskind design was considered the front-runner for weeks, although a rival plan by an architecture team called Think, which featured two soaring latticework towers called the World Cultural Center, collected strong support as the decision neared. Ultimately, however, rebuilding officials voted in favor of Mr. Libeskind's somber treatment of the memorial and the incorporation of an active street life in the commercial portions of the site." The New York Times 02/27/03

Marketing A Memorial Let it never be said that the two finalists in the Ground Zero sweepstakes were content to sit back and let others decide the fate of their designs. Both Daniel Libeskind and Rafael Vińoly have been working overtime in an effort to make their respective proposals attractive to New York's political and artistic bigwigs. "With talk of truth and beauty, memory and monument, these architects have been selling themselves like movie stars... Not since Gary Cooper appeared in The Fountainhead has the public been so riveted by architecture and architects." The New York Times 02/26/03

  • Freezing Time In A Memorial - Is It Such A Good Idea? Like many critics, Christopher Hawthorne was impressed with the emotional punch of Daniel Libeskind's plans for the World Trade Center site. But like some others, he's cooled to the idea with time. "What's really happened is that the passing of time has offered the chance to imagine how the various schemes first unveiled months ago might strike us in 2013 or 2053, rather than 2003. And in that test, Libeskind's doesn't fare so well. The ruling above-ground gesture of Libeskind's plan, seen especially in the towers that would ring the site, is that of the shard, the sharp fragment unleashed by shattering or explosion. Combined with the idea of keeping the pit as open as a fresh wound, the shards seem to aestheticize the violence of Sept. 11. And the further we get from that day, the more misguided it seems to fix the site's violent history in glass and steel." Slate 02/25/03

Battle Of WTC Design Criticism A few weeks ago New York Times architecture critic Herbert Muschamp attacked Daniel Libeskind's design for the World Trade Center site. A number of observers were amazed at the attack and protested. The Times' response? "This past Sunday the Times published an attack on the THINK design [the other design finalist] by New York University Art History Professor Marvin Trachtenberg - and in the space usually reserved for Muschamp, no less. Trachtenberg, in a thinly concealed response to the besieged Times critic, dismissed the THINK design as 'an architectural Frankenstein monster' and went on to praise Libeskind's in glowing terms. '[I]t is in a class by itself in its deeply creative, organic relationship to the specificity of ground zero and its environment and meaning'." The New Republic 02/24/03

Libeskind To Win Out At Ground Zero Sources indicate that Daniel Libeskind will shortly be named the winner of the competition to design a replacement for the World Trade Center towers in New York, but some elements of his design will be scrapped in the building process. Governor George Pataki and Mayor Michael Bloomberg both favor the Libeskind design, and his "plans have also gained favour with the New York port authority, which owns the World Trade Centre site, and the Lower Manhattan development corporation (LMDC), which is overseeing the rebuilding." The announcement could come as early as this week. The Guardian (UK) 02/22/03

Decision Time At Ground Zero "The time has come to make a fateful choice about the future of the devastated place in Lower Manhattan where the World Trade Center towers used to stand." So says Benjamin Forgey, in making his official endorsement of Daniel Libeskind's haunting yet elegant proposal. The New York authorities won't issue their final decision for a few weeks yet, but Forgey says that while both finalists have created worthy (if flawed) designs, the Libeskind proposal "opens a path. It foresees meaningful public spaces shaped by moving architecture." Washington Post 02/15/03

Model Attraction - This Year's Best NY Art Show This week, the competition for designs for the World Trade Center site is expected to be narrowed to two finalists. Regardless of which plans make the cut, the models of the proposed plans has been the hit art event of the season in New York. "Some days, the place gets so jammed—with people chattering in every language from Japanese to Italian—you have to rubberneck to get a decent glimpse. The models are like magical toys, some with moving parts and lights, others with stunning video displays providing a virtual-reality trip into the future." Newsweek 02/10/03

Compromises On The Way To A Design For Lower Manhattan These are serious architects vying to design a replacement for the World Trade Center. "But the selection also underscores the degree to which commercial considerations and political maneuverings will determine what the final master plan will look like. What the Libeskind and Think designs share, to different degrees, is an ability to bend to the political needs of the various interests that control the site's future, in particular downtown's commercial power brokers. And in that sense, the designs say less about our collective ideals than about the limits of the democratic process when it comes to building in New York." Los Angeles Times 02/10/03

  • WTC - Questions Of Design/Process "In light of the emerging power struggle that will determine how much of the grand designs for ground zero get built, any effort to assess the finalists may come off like an exercise in aesthetic hairsplitting. But as the redevelopment officials who sponsored the competition vie with real estate developers and others who remain intent on overstuffing the 16-acre site with commercial space, such an analysis becomes essential, if only because it reminds us what this exercise is all about." Chicago Tribune 02/09/03

Architects Buzzing Over Muschamp's Flip-Flop On Libeskind Last December New York Times architecture critic Herbert Muschamp wrote ofDaniel Libeskind's plan for the World Trade Center site that "If you are looking for the marvelous, here's where you will find it. Daniel Libeskind's project attains a perfect balance between aggression and desire. It will provoke many viewers to exclaim that yes, this design is actually better than what was there before." Then this past Friday he wrote that "It [Libeskind's idea] is an astonishingly tasteless idea. It has produced a predictably kitsch result." Architectrue watchers are wondering what happened, and some are angry... Archlog 02/07/03

  • A Poll On The Finalists Says... So which of the two competing finalists to design a replacement for the World Trade Center do people like? Hmmmmn...one poll says neither (by a wide margin). NY1 02/09/03

Who Gets To Decide The WTC Job The competition between the two remaining design proposals for the World Trade Center site is also a contest between who gets to decide the shape of the project. "Two views of what comes next are now contending, pitting Roland W. Betts, a director of the development corporation with strong personal ties to the White House, against Charles A. Gargano, the state's top economic development official, some Port Authority of New York and New Jersey executives, developers and others." The New York Times 02/07/03

Evaluating The WTC Finalists Critic Herbert Muschamp writes that the choices are clear. "Daniel Libeskind's project for the World Trade Center site is a startlingly aggressive tour de force, a war memorial to a looming conflict that has scarcely begun. The Think team's proposal, on the other hand, offers an image of peacetime aspirations so idealistic as to seem nearly unrealizable.Compared with Think's proposal, Mr. Libeskind's design looks stunted. Had the competition been intended to capture the fractured state of shock felt soon after 9/11, this plan would probably deserve first place. But why, after all, should a large piece of Manhattan be permanently dedicated to an artistic representation of enemy assault? It is an astonishingly tasteless idea. It has produced a predictably kitsch result." The New York Times 02/06/03

  • WTC Choices On Target There seems to be general satisfaction with the choice of finalists for the World Trade Center site. "The process of deciding what will replace the destroyed World Trade Center has produced a unique cultural moment. In previous years, when there has been a major cultural issue playing itself out in public, people largely rallied to make clear what they didn't want. The debate about the World Trade Center site has turned all that on its head. Not surprisingly, there is an unprecedented level of public engagement with and emotional investment in this project. And that involvement has driven the project forward but led it to embrace the most 'cutting edge' designs - Mr. Libeskind's and THINK's." OpinionJournal.com 02/06/03

  • Made To Order (But Whose Orders?) A good building is the result not just of a good architect, but a good client. The two finalists for the WTC site have interesting proposals, but whether or not either one is able to actually build what they propose over the next decade will be complicated by just exactly who the client is - and there are competing jurisdictions... New York Observer 02/05/03

  • And Then There Were Two Two finalists have been named in the competition to determine what will be done with the space known as Ground Zero. Architect Daniel Libeskind, whose proposal includes much use of concrete and preservation of the Ground Zero site as a memorial to the victims of the 9/11 attacks, is one finalist. The other final slot goes to the THINK Team, headed by Rafael Vińoly, which proposes to construct an elaborate complex of glass and steel, dominated by two transparent latticework towers where the original Twin Towers once stood. The winning design will be announced by the end of the month. The New York Times 02/05/03

Foster's Plan For WTC Dead? Norman Foster's plans for the World Trade Center site have been all but rejected. "A team of architects rejected his proposal of two crystalline towers because they felt it would not be practical to construct or find tenants to fill. The architects' recommendation will go to the panel which will make the final decision next week." The Guardian (UK) 01/31/03

Why Choose Just One Plan? As New York City prepares to choose one of the many plans submitted by some of the world's top architects to replace the World Trade Centers, Lisa Rochon says there's no reason not to combine two of the plans, each of which stands out for a different, and important, reason. Daniel Libeskind's design for the huge plaza would bring to the Ground Zero space "a carcass of stone that could become the most meditative public space in the world." And the Think team's design for two huge latticework towers could reach "beyond the security of a nation to a new security in our minds -- to an architecture that invites intellectual curiosity and the possibilities for cultural humility." The Globe & Mail (Toronto) 01/30/03

Choosing A Plan For Ground Zero A decision could come this week. Herbert Muschamp casts his vote: "Public officials will be criticized no matter what they decide. People protested the Eiffel Tower, too. If it were up to me, I would pick the pair of latticework towers proposed by the Think group. It is a work of genius, a towering affirmation of humanism in modern times. This is a work of abstraction. It does not impose literal meanings on the viewer. Yet implicitly it embodies the theme of metamorphosis." The New York Times 01/28/03

Model Behavior - Building Imagination Architects spend much time and money on models of projects they propose to build. Richard Meier says his firm spent more than $100,000 on its model for the World Trade Center site. "Drawings are abstract and precise - the medium of proportion and detail - and computer modeling engages the cinematic dimension of time, of fluidity, of movement through space. Only models, however, provide the "God's eye view," the luxurious sensation that a complex object like a building, or an entire development like the World Trade Center site, can be comprehended as a whole."

City In The Sky (And Under) The World Trade Center project is about more than big buildings. "The process of thinking about this unique site expanded into an exercise in imagining a new future for the skyscraper in an increasingly dense and urbanized world. In a number of proposals, the towers are interconnected rather than autonomous, so that they work horizontally as well as vertically. In effect, they create another ground plane to accommodate the kinds of public spaces historically limited to the street: parks, gardens and cultural facilities. The nine diverse schemes all conceive of urban life as a vertical proposition - cities in the sky." Atlanta Journal-Constitution 01/26/03

They're Big - Are They Practical? There are similarities between all the proposals for replacing the World Trade Center. "Surprisingly, the appetite for gigantism that inspired the original WTC - impractical, inefficient, and ultimately hubristic - still runs strong. Of course this partly reflects a popular sentiment that yearns for restoration. 'Rebuild the towers exactly as they were to show the terrorists they haven't won,' was a frequent person-on-the-street response in the months after the attack." San Jose Mercury-News 01/19/03

Liking What's Being Proposed For The WTC Architects proposing ideas for the World Trade Center site meet in a public forum to talk about their plans. How do you reconcile the ideas? Maybe collage the best of each and come up with something collaborative? "I came expecting a fight. Instead, everyone is so warm and fuzzy and self-congratulatory it distresses me." The New York Times 01/09/03

Great Ideas Chasing A Flawed Concept Ada Louise Huxtable has studied plans proposed for the World Trade Center site. "The conceptual daring and advanced technology of these schemes - the sheer drama of their bold images - brings cutting-edge creativity to New York, where it is long overdue. Buildings like these have already changed skylines from London to Hong Kong. This is the architecture of the 21st century, and about as good as it gets. That's the good news. The bad news is that these provocative and beautiful presentations have also given us a stunning demonstration of how to do the wrong thing right." Wall Street Journal 01/07/03

Gehry Weighs In On The WTC Why wasn't Frank Gehry among the architects submitting plans for the World Trade Center site? He tells Deborah Solomon: "I was invited to be on one of the teams, but I found it demeaning that the agency paid only $40,000 for all that work. I can understand why the kids did it, but why would people my age do it?" The New York Times 01/05/03

WTC Glare - Too Much Publicity? The glare of publicity focused on choosing a building plan for the World Trade Center site is probably greater than on any other project in recent memory. But not all the architects involved are happy about it. "Many have privately expressed reservations about the designs' details, the handling of the competition and even the spotlight in which the contestants now stand." The New York Times 01/01/03

WTC - An Argument With Reality So what if ideas for structures on the World Trade Center site seem impractical. "It's only because members of the public have taken the trouble to argue with reality that the official process of reimagining ground zero has taken a turn for the better. What we're learning, at this stage, is how to put the shoe on the other foot." The New York Times 12/23/02

  • Imagining The Manhattan Skyline Some of the ideas for rebuilding on the World Trade Center site come straight from fantasy. "At least four of them propose to build the tallest building in the world. And the designs are not only tall. Towers tilt and dance at weird angles as they rise. Often they're linked by bridges in the sky, in the best tradition of your favorite Flash Gordon comic book. This isn't exactly avant-garde architecture." So what's real? Boston Globe 12/22/02

  • Ground Zero Solution Blair Kamin believes that one of the seven proposals for the World Trade Center site stands above the others. "Libeskind's plan for the former World Trade Center site at once offers a deeply moving memorial to those who died in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and a joyous but dignified celebration of New York's street life and skyline." Chicago Tribune 12/22/02

  • WTC - Why Not Dream? "If the architects have exceeded the design study's requirements, we should be grateful. They've helped to expose a major defect of the entire design process thus far: the attempt to contain architecture within such restrictive boundaries that it cannot perform its legitimate poetic function." The New York Times 12/22/02

Tower Dreams The WTC proposals unveiled this week by prominent architects follow some common themes. "In purely architectural terms, the big news was the triumph of the mega-skyscraper. Four of the seven design teams want to put the tallest building in the world at the site. In the end, it's hard to imagine any scenario in which a truly successful master plan—one that's at once architecturally inventive and a good use of urban space—is produced within the allotted time." Slate 12/19/02

WTC Plans - Going Up... Ideas for rebuilding on the World Trade Center site were unveiled in New York Wednesday. In general, Herbert Muschamp was impressed. "In our hype-drenched era, a critic will have to risk raising cynical eyebrows with superlatives adequate to the occasion. Let them rise. Let them arch into furious knots. The architects have risen to the occasion." The New York Times 12/19/02

  • What Happens When Reality Sets In? The designs are most impressive, says Benjamin Forgey, and the rollout was "rousing good theater." But at some point, one of these designs is going to have to actually be built, and it doesn't seem like anyone is thinking a great deal about such annoying details as funding, phasing of the project, and what purpose the building(s) will serve upon completion. "For the next month or so, however, attention will be focused on the plans revealed today, and deservedly so." Washington Post 12/19/02

  • It All Comes Down To Height The new set of designs presented as possible replacements for the Twin Towers are certainly impressive, says Lisa Rochon, and they're also awfully... um... tall. "There are towers that kiss in mid-air, while others stand up like soldiers aligned in a military grid. Some are beautiful. Most of them carry a tremendous wallop of architectural ego." The Globe & Mail (Toronto) 12/19/02

WTC Site - Tower of Greatness? Proposals for rebuilding on the World Trade Center site are to be presented today. "Thanks entirely to public pressure, our great city has taken a giant step toward reclaiming a place of world leadership in the civil art of building. The participants include some of the most influential figures in contemporary architecture. Not since 1947, when an international design team met to plan the United Nations headquarters, has a comparable list of architectural talent set to work on a New York project." The New York Times 12/18/02

  • NY State Agency Warns Architects Not To Cooperate With NYT A New York state agency warned architects not to cooperate with a plan by the New York Times to publish in advance plans for rebuilding on the site of the World Trade Center. "Sources tell Newsday that Times' chief architecture critic, Herbert Muschamp, asked the teams working on plans for the trade center site to show him their work in advance of tomorrow's public unveiling by the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., the state agency charged with rebuilding the site. He had planned to have a story in the Times prior to public disclosure of the designs." None of the architects agreed, according to Newsday sources. Newsday 12/16/02

  • Towering Idea(l)s Wednesday, a group of some of the world's most well-known architects will gather in a room across from the World Trade Center to show some ideas for building on the WTC site. "Perhaps not since the United Nations competition has there been such attention placed on internationally prominent architects. This is our chance for transformational thinking, not architecture as commodity." San Francisco Chronicle 12/17/02

MORE WTC FALLOUT: New York continues to struggle with the question of what should eventually rise where the World Trade Center once stood. When the official proposals were unveiled a few months back, the New York Times and its lead critics wasted no time in decrying them as unimaginative and antithetical to any truly human response to the attacks which felled the towers. But a series of proposals by those same critics is now appearing at the Venice Biennale, and isn't garnering a much better response: "The proposals... commissioned failed to address all the complexities of the site, it was argued. Since it is a place of global significance, it was added, why was its future being treated as a parochial New York affair?" Is this project simply a no-win situation for any who undertake it, or is there a hidden solution still eluding the experts? London Evening Standard 09/13/02

TOO MUCH BUILDING FOR THE SPACE: Why have proposals for replacement of the World Trade Center (by some of the world's best architects) been so uninspiring? Martin Filler writes that the reasons are obvious: "Given that the bulk of the space had been contained in the megalithic superstructures, it does not take an architecture expert to understand that if you redistribute the same quantity of volume in considerably shorter, safer buildings - deemed prudent by all concerned - then more ground will have to be covered. And because of the considerable - and to my mind justifiable - public pressure to leave the footprints of the towers vacant (a central demand of the missing victims' families and a feature of four of the six LMDC schemes), the gross overcrowding of the site is inevitable." The New Republic 09/08/02

  • IMAGINATION RATHER THAN REBUILDING: The New York Times gathers a team of prominent architects and asks them to imagine a redeveloped WTC area. "Some of the West Street projects will appear bizarre or perhaps self-indulgent to those unfamiliar with contemporary architecture. But this is not a lineup of architectural beauty contestants. All are conceptually rooted, in step with the level of architectural ambition in Vienna, Tokyo, Rotterdam and many other cities overseas." New York Times Magazine 09/08/02

SURVIVOR: It's estimated that $200 million worth of art was lost in the Twin Towers tragedy. Miraculously, one piece survived almost intact: Fritz Koenig's 27ft, 45,000lb bronze Sphere, commissioned in 1969 for the Trade Center Plaza. For more than three decades it stood as a symbol of world peace, 'the bellybutton of the complex,' according to its architect, Yamasaki. Now it's relocated at the tip of Manhattan in Battery Park as a temporary memorial." Financial Times 09/11/02

A TIME OF VISION: If we learned anything from the official proposals to replace the World Trade Center earlier this summer, it was that New Yorkers expect something grand, something extraordinary. New York Magazine asked six prominent architectural firms to deliver. "New Yorkers need buildings at the World Trade Center site that will make us stop, look, and feel. Buildings that will make us turn our gaze up and understand a larger order of aspiration. This is not the time to settle for real-estate deals dressed up with expensive curtain walls but the moment to prescribe curative doses of the beautiful, the poetic, the sublime." New York Magazine 09/09/02

MEMORIALIZING AS A CONCEPT: Arthur Danto tries to make sense of the flood of post-9/11 art raining down on us from everywhere as the anniversary approaches. "I somewhat resist the idea of the anniversary, but at the same time acknowledge a deep wisdom in the way an anniversary marks a symbolic ending. The art that belonged to the experience of September 11 now constitutes a body of work that differs from the art that will undertake to memorialize it. The difference in part is this: One need not have shared the experience to memorialize it." The Nation 09/02/02

GIANT COMMEMORATION: In one of the larger scale commemorations of 9/11, "thousands of volunteers will unfurl a 5-mile-long silk banner with 3,000 American flags under the Golden Gate Bridge and wrap it along San Francisco's coastline on Sept. 8 in a massive red-white-and-blue commemoration of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The memorial artwork is the product of Chinese American artist Pop Zhao, who stretched the world's longest artwork on the Great Wall of China last year." San Francisco Chronicle 08/27/02

LOWER, SAFER: 9/11 has had an immediate impact on the kinds of buildings being added to cities. "In both Chicago and New York, there is talk in real estate circles that prospective tenants now favor lower office floors instead of high ones. If that turns out to be true, it will mark a sea change in skyscraper psychology: The high floors used to be the ones that commanded the highest prices because of their best views and prestige. Now, it seems, there's a premium being put on survival." Chicago Tribune 08/25/02

WHAT COMPETITION? After last month's failed proposals, those planning the design for the World Trade Center site have decided to choose five firms to compete for the job. It sends "an important signal about how much our democratic values matter. By limiting the number of participants in the competition to five, the agency is ensuring that the debate about ground zero's future will remain relatively narrow. And in that sense, the competition falls far short of the kind of open discourse that is the public's right. To call the development corporation's process a competition is somewhat misleading. Real competitions are open to anyone - that is, to any designer willing to sacrifice the time, energy and money it takes to produce a viable proposal." Los Angeles Times 08/21/02

SIMPLE IS BETTER: What kind of memorial ought to be created for 9/11? A look at the attempts of artists to memorialize previous tragedies is instructive. "If a monument strains for an excess of spurious grandeur, it soon becomes remote. Far better, surely, for visitors to realise that they can respond to the memorial on an intimate level, and truly make it their own." The Times (UK) 08/20/02

MEMORABLE MEMORIAL: With all the talk of official memorials to 9/11, one homemade shrine - a piece of a storefront near the World Trade Center preserved as it looked the day the towers fell - gets it right. "The homemade shrine, random and homely, brings the event to a human scale, the ugliness of the debris in particular belying the picturesque metaphor of blanketing snow that everyone liked to use last September." The New York Times 08/18/02

DESIGN THIS: Since the six proposed designs for the World Trade Center site have been pretty much unanimously discarded, officials overseeing the process have decided to solicit designers who may have been excluded before. "Many such groups were excluded from consideration for the first design contract because of their relative lack of experience working on big projects in New York. For instance, the firms were required to have 10 years of urban planning experience and to have worked on at least three $100 million projects." The New York Times 07/30/02

LOOKING TO DIVERSIFY? Planners are trying to jam so much into whatever will replace the World Trade Center that the design proposals so far are a hodgepodge acceptable to no one. "Perhaps the real lesson for the planners of the World Trade Center site is the same lesson as that of the stock market, just a couple of blocks from the WTC site. Instead of putting all their eggs in one basket - instead of betting on all that office space - maybe the developers should look into diversification." Boston Globe 07/28/02

IN SEARCH OF A CLIENT: Why do the plans for replacing the World Trade Center seem so flat and uninspired? "New York's finest skyscrapers have virtually all been the product of this synergy between an architect hitting his stride and a strong-willed client with a clear program and the ambition to make a mark. It's hard to imagine how such a relationship can arise in downtown New York today. Even as the six draft plans for the trade center site were unveiled last week, it remains difficult to pinpoint who the client is amid the byzantine lines of command. It is not just a question of how the architects were selected, it is the lack of clarity in the program. These are not conditions for creating lasting architecture." The New York Times 07/21/02

ALL POLITICS IS LOCAL: The fault for the decidedly substandard proposals for New York's memorial to the victims of 9/11/01 does not lie with the city's developers alone, says Joel Budd. "Because of many conflicting pressures, the Development Corporation has not been allowed to make its decisions in peace. The families of those killed on September 11 have formed two pressure groups - September's Mission, and the Coalition of 9/11 Families - to try to prevent development on the site. They are opposed by three local organisations" which want mixed-use development on the site. In other words, politics has once again overshadowed real progress, but that doesn't change the basic reality that the six design proposals are just not good enough. The Telegraph (UK) 07/20/02

CRITIQUING THE WTC MEMORIAL: The reviews are trickling in for the six proposals unveiled in New York this week for how to use the space formerly occupied by the World Trade Center towers. The biggest complaint seems to be the seemingly nonsensical decision to rebuild all the office space the towers contained, despite high existing vacancy rates and the city's stated desire to turn the area into a thriving residential neighborhood. "As the designs make clear, the money men... holders of the office and retail leases to the 16-acre site -- really are in charge. The plot's owner, the Port Authority, is only too happy to go along with their plans to rebuild all the commercial space contained in the old World Trade Center. Why? Because it would get $120 million a year." Chicago Tribune 07/19/02

TALLER, BIGGER: With towers, some of the proposals envision structures taller than the old Twin Towers. Each would replace the commercial space of the former buildings. "The plans call for as much as 10 acres to be set aside for a memorial, although only four proposals preserve the tower footprints. Those plans envision taller office buildings and a denser development scheme than the two designs that build over the footprints." New York Daily News 07/17/02

REPLACING THE WTC: Six proposals were unveiled Tuesday for projects on the site of the World Trade Center. Each proposes multiple towers. None imagines any of them taller than 85 stories. Here's a look at the plans. New York Magazine 07/16/02

LIBESKIND SPEAKS: The architect of the new Jewish Museum in Berlin explains his vision of what makes for good architecture in the modern world. "Buildings provide spaces for living, but are also de facto instruments, giving shape to the sound of the world. Music and architecture are related not only by metaphor, but also through concrete space." The Guardian (UK) 07/13/02

LIBESKIND'S LEGACY: "Daniel Libeskind has been a leading light in architecture for 30 years, yet he didn't build a thing until 1999. But the Jewish Museum in Berlin was both a professional challenge and a personal test: his parents had fled the Nazis. As his Imperial War Musuem North opens in Manchester, he tells [The Guardian] how buildings help us make sense of history." The Guardian (UK) 06/29/02

  • BUDGET CUTS FOR THE BETTER: Libeskind's new Imperial War Museum almost never made it off the drawing board after the Heritage Fund ordered its budget slashed by an unheard-of 40%. But instead of abandoning the project, Libeskind resdesigned the entire building, and claims that the cheaper version wound up being considerably better than the original. The Telegraph (UK) 06/29/02
  • DIVERSIFYING THE PORTFOLIO: Daniel Libeskind's stature as an architect often overshadows his earlier career - as a young man, he was a widely hailed concert pianist. This summer, Libeskind is returning to his musical roots, conducting a new production of a Messiaen opera in Berlin. The Guardian (UK) 06/28/02

HOW NOT TO OBSERVE: In trying to decide what kind of memorial should be chosen for the World Trade Center, it's a good idea to look at the Oklahoma bombing memorial (for an example of what not to do). "There are so many symbols here as to obliterate the poetry of any one of them. There are so many faces on televisions inside the museum describing their pain to you that you feel wrung out like a rag. Worst of all, the memorial has nothing to say about the important historical issues that triggered Timothy McVeigh’s madness. The problem is obvious." New York Observer 06/26/02

 LOST IN THE WTC: "Among the major losses of a historic and archaeological nature was the Five Points archaeological collection, which, excavated in the early 1990s had been stored in the basement of Six World Trade Center, the building that was destroyed when the facade of Tower One fell into it. Only 18 of about one million unique artifacts documenting the lives of nineteenth-century New Yorkers survive." Archaeology 06/19/02 

THE NEW WTC - A TOWERING CONCEPT? Word is that the architects working on plans for a replacement for the World Trade Center are contemplating a building of about the same height as the Twin Towers. "The tower also could be shorter, perhaps 1,300 feet or 1,350 feet, but it clearly would be no ordinary office building. It would contain about 65 to 70 stories of office floors, with the highest of those floors reaching 900 feet or more. Above them would be an empty vertical space, enclosed in a skeletal extension of the building's superstructure, making it visible to passersby. This chamber of air, which would be 300 to 400 feet tall, would soar ethereally toward the clouds." Chicago Tribune 06/06/02

SMITHSONIAN TO MEMORIALIZE 9/11: A new exhibit set to open at the Smithsonian on the one-year anniversary of the attacks on New York and Washington "will include photographs, video footage, personal accounts and at least 50 objects selected to tell the story of that day. Visitors also will be allowed to share their own Sept. 11 stories through written responses or audio recording." Minneapolis Star Tribune (Newhouse) 05/30/02

THE 9-11 SHOW: The Smithsonian is planning an exhibition commemorating the attacks of last September 11 on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center. Actually, the museum's been planning it for awhile now - the first planning meeting was held last September 13. "The horrific events of Sept. 11 was probably the most widely watched tragedy in history, presenting special challenges for curators more comfortable dealing with events much further in the past." Washington Post 05/17/02

DIFFICULT TO REBUILD: Despite some claims, there is little consensus on how Lower Manhattan ought to be rebuilt. "We are, after all, dealing with a heavily contested site. History has different claims upon it, as well as organized special-interest groups, and little effort has been made thus far to sort out those claims, or even identify them. Until such an effort is made, I see scant reason to hope that a modern equivalent of Brunelleschi's dome will arise in Lower Manhattan." The New York Times 04/18/02

MEMORIAL AT THE SPEED OF LIGHT: The twin beams of light evoking the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan are due to be shut off soon. But some are wondering if a way to keep them lit might be possible. "The lights were always intended to be temporary, and no one expected that they would become an instant landmark, the best abstract monument in this country since Maya Lin's Vietnam Veterans Memorial, in Washington D.C." The New Yorker 04/15/02

TRAGEDY & ARCHITECTURE: "Provoked by the Sept. 11 attack, the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal has postponed its regular schedule of exhibitions to sponsor an architecture lab for much of 2002 inviting research ateliers to respond to the event... Maybe because they live many miles away from New York, in another country, in another language, most of the participating firms have responded to Sept. 11 with architectural metaphor and cool irony." The Globe & Mail (Toronto) 02/27/02

THE MEANING OF TALL: "Though the music, poetry, painting, discourse, and dance in which cultured New Yorkers take justified pride are rarely born in skyscrapers, we're forced to ask again what these steel, glass, and stone behemoths contribute to the life of this city. The atrocities committed by Al Qaeda magnified our awareness of the precious contents of what might appear at first as mere mountains starkly rising from the landscape." Village Voice 02/20/02

A MODEST PROPOSAL: There have been many ideas about what kind of memorial for the World Trade Center ought to be erected. One artist is floating an idea that is "simple, straightforward, meaningful, and accessible" writes Timothy Noah. In fact, you have to go to the designer's own website even to see a picture of it. Slate 02/13/02

THE ARCHITECT WITHIN: Architect Daniel Libeskind's "early drawings are clues to his highly personal approach to architecture. Difficult to interpret at first, second and third attempts, they represent a search for that which ultimately cannot be spoken about, cannot be described. This is neither as odd nor as negative as it might sound; rather it relates to the prophetic strain of Jewish mysticism that informs Libeskind's work." The Guardian (London) 01/22/01

CONCEPTUAL ARTIST: Architect Daniel Libeskind has a number of projects in the proposal or construction stages. "for Libeskind, the point of architecture is not how it looks, but how it feels. He always saw his drawings as a necessary preparation for building, rather than theoretical speculation. The fact that they are not immediately comprehensible as architecture is no drawback for him." The Observer (London) 01/07/01

MONUMENTAL MEMORIES: How do we as a society remember important events such as the WTC attacks? "In the last few decades, the reliability of memory, particularly traumatic memory, has been questioned. But while individual memory is under fire, collective memory is being hotly pursued. A public memorial or a ruin is a scaffold, something on which collective memory can hang. But that does not mean that it helps people remember things. With his concept of sites of memory, the French editor Pierre Nora has argued that monuments are built in place of memory." New York Times 10/27/01 (one-time registration required for access)

BUILDING TOGETHER: They don't have any official power or a mandate from any governmental agency. But a Who's Who coalition of real estate executive and architectural firms have banded together since the September 11 attack on New York with the aim of coming up with a plan for rebuilding Lower Manhattan. It's a remarkable and improbable response that speaks volumes about building in the Big City. New York Times 10/27/01 (one-time registration required for access)

REMEMBERING THE WTC: The owner of the lease on the World Trade Center site has already begun plans for new buildings there. Meanwhile others are concerned with coming up with a memorial that "not be a footnote to a large development project." The New York Times 10/25/01 (one-time registration required for access)

MORE CALDER UNCOVERED: Nearly half of Alexander Calder's WTC stabile has been found, which was "easier than it sounds. The metal is about a half-inch thick, and no other major structural element of the World Trade Center has the same dimensions. Also, the bolt-holes that run in a zigzag pattern along the edges of the sculpture make the pieces relatively easy to pick out." NPR 10/22/01

  • Previously: CALDER UNBURIED: Pieces of Alexander Calder's giant stabile at the World Trade Center (worth $2.5 million) have been discovered under the buildings' wreckage. The first piece of Bent Propeller a bright red, 25-foot-high, 15-ton sculpture by Philadelphia-born artist Alexander Calder, was removed from the wreckage last Thursday." New York Post 10/17/01

ON THE QUESTION OF REBUILDING: What, ultimately, should go where the World Trade Center once stood? Consider the decision at the other major US terrorism site. "In Oklahoma City, the former Murrah Building site became a memorial and the new building went up on an adjoining site. Clients and tenants all said they didn't want to work in a bunker. They did not want the building to be a memorial. They said the new building was about the future." Chicago Tribune 10/09/01

REBUILDING THE TOWERS - A COMPLEX ISSUE: The towers of the World Trade Center now are such a powerful image that there's already much discussion about re-building them. But is that a good idea? The record shows that, from the time they were proposed, many critics thought they were ugly, and worse. Another factor is our fascination with ruins. "Can a way of life that has been so fractured ever truly be put back together?" Boston Globe & The New Republic 09/20/01

NEW YORK'S OUTSIDE(R) ART: Last week's World Trade Center tragedy "has already created, virtually overnight, a new category of outsider art: the astounding impromptu shrines and individual artworks that have proliferated along New York's streets and in its parks and squares. Alternating missing-person posters with candles, flowers, flags, drawings and messages of all kinds, these accumulations bring home the enormity of the tragedy in tangles of personal detail." The New York Times 09/19/01 (one-time registration required for access)

THAT BURNING IMAGE: What images will come to symbolize last week's World Trade Center disaster? There were too many pictures all at once. "Typically, words precede the creation of iconic images. A story is told, then a picture forms. What is an icon, after all, but art's equivalent of the word made flesh. But the word comes first. Icons illustrate existing faith and doctrine, which is often inchoate until the picture comes along and suddenly sorts out the disarray. Then, a gathering critical mass of people sees the image and collectively knows, 'That's it!'" Los Angeles Times 09/17/01

38 MUSEUMS AFFECTED IN LOWER MANHATTAN: The American Association of Museums sets up a website to provide information on museums and staff in the affected area of lower Manhattan. There are 38 museums within the zone. American Association of Museums

$10 MILLION IN PUBLIC ART LOST IN ATTACK: "Experts familiar with the public art displayed in and around the World Trade Center estimated its value alone at more than $10 million. Among the prized works were a bright-red 25-foot Alexander Calder sculpture on the Vesey Street overpass at Seven World Trade Center, a painted wood relief by Louise Nevelson that hung in the mezzanine of One World Trade Center, a painting by Roy Lichtenstein from his famous "Entablature" series from the 1970s in the lobby of Seven World Trade Center, and Joan Miro's "World Trade Center" tapestry from 1974." San Francisco Chronicle 09/18/01

THE BIGGEST BUILDING JOB EVER: When it was planned, and for many years after it was built, the World Trade Center was the biggest architectural project on earth. A New Yorker archive profile details what went into the construction of that symbol whose destruction is now a major image in American history and culture. The New Yorker 09/13/01

WHY ARCHITECTURE MATTERS: "[D]estroying architecture for political reasons is nothing new. The more important and powerful its symbolism, the higher a building is likely to rank on the target list of a bitter foe. The reasons are always the same. Architecture is evidence - often extraordinarily moving evidence - of the past. Buildings - their shapes, materials, textures and spaces - represent culture in its most persuasive physical form. Destroy the buildings, and you rob a culture of its memory, of its legitimacy, of its right to exist." Washington Post 09/13/01

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