Paranoid Giant: Ground Zero’s Cathedral of Commerce Is The Ultimate Failure of Courage
Evolution of the design for WTC 1... then and now.
11 years on and after many fractious debates and redesigns, Skidmore Owings and Merrill – led by David Childs – have well and truly stamped their authority on the final incarnation. The spire is centered, the form filled out (incidentally creating thousands more square feet of lucrative commercial office space), and the base is encased with concrete and steel in an effort to deter would-be terrorists from attacking at ground level.
This last feature tells its own story: One World Trade Center has been the subject of exponential pragmatism, as the metaphor-ridden glass sabre of Libeskind was diluted to incorporate more leasable space – money talks – and security measures to calm the shredded nerves of the populous. The original American symbol of strength – the skyscraper – has become a paranoid giant, wearing a steel crown and the heaviest pair of lead boots imaginable.
Perhaps the greatest irony of all is that, with all these practicalities dissolving Libeskind’s original vision, the most irrational of design features – the 1776-foot height – remains. SOM stole the freedom away from the Freedom Tower, but left the public with one small reminder of why the USA is still a country of liberty and independence... just.
The Angry Architect
Images: © 2011 Studio Daniel Libeskind and Skidmore, Owings and Merrill LLP