1776 the statue of liberty and its
the year of signing the declaration of independence, 1,368 feet the height of the original twin towers.
tallest tower in the western hemisphere and worlds most expensive, with a price
tag of 3.9 billion dollars. Those are figures of the new building that’s trying
to establish a “civic icon for the country”, and symbol or power and remembrance
for the city that once was covered in ashes.
designed by Polish-American architect Daniel Libeskind, as a masterplan and
tower competition in 2002, with an off centered spire, inspired by the statue
of liberty and its symbolical significance to New York City and its past. Later
on discarded from the project where only the original master plan for the site
was implemented and realized, to the legacy of the architect.
Extending the long tradition of American ingenuity in
high rise buildings was taken by Skidmore, Owning & Merrill LLP, childs
firm (SOM) to take original designs from D. Libeskind, and taken over the
design process of the new tower. The design was completely change over to a
much more simple “Meh” of the original proposal, said to be more in keep with
the central spired buildings in the city such as Empire State Building or Chrysler
Building, which at the time worked with the respond and volume of the political
opportunism that New York Governor, using his political voice to get the
winning architects design. Outmoded thinking of an individual as a favor that
enabled others for innovation and created a simply boring architecture that isn’t
any different from what had been already done.
World Trade Centre isn’t a symbol to what the America believes in, it is a
ground on which it stands that defines the economic purposes for the building. It’s
more of a response to the neighborhood, financial district and cities changing
ambitions that define the use that created simplicity. Soon after the finishing
of the tower as expected tenants filled the office spaces and tourists started
to flock the site in remembrance, making it a business but skyscraper doesn’t just
occupy its own plot of land it becomes part of a skyline that New York is innovator
of, but with an outsized acclaim to be a new civic icon on a site of endowed memory and hope, a tower to
meet that acclamation maybe should be
more than tall and shiny?
The mirrored glass office tower has
a crystalline form that rises from a square, 20-story, concrete bunker,
designed to withstand from truck bombs and other ground level attacks, partially
disguised by butterfly like louvered glass panels that give pragmatism and
approachability to the street level and how it connects to its surroundings of
new glass neighborhood.
Above the tower rises to what feels
like a oblong box rising 104 stories with its corners sliced away, transforming
it to a octagonal in floorplan crowning
at a square. Creating a sharp steep interlocking triangles as façade, that make
this a multi-faced structure from north, south, east and west looking generic. The
structure topes by glass parapet for two story observatory deck ending on a skinny
124 meter antenna , give the tower its symbolic to America height number. But what is the height of the antenna contributing
to the usability, design or impact for the building. Unless it’s a very tall
expensive ego boost with a reason to name it the tallest.
Replacing the original twin towers with another office
building was meant to show the world the New York’s formidable spirit: revolutionized
and transformed from the ashes to the future and what’s coming. One World Trade
Centre doesn’t give that, unfortunately it implies that the city is still a
dominance in its power in the world as well as fresh avant-garde ideas and
World Trade Centre was meant to show that. Its widely respected architect,
David Childs, from the famous architects firm SOM, have also design 7 World
Trade Centre, an elegant tower glazed with low iron glass promoting openness and translucency the surroundings
with attention to what’s happening at the street level where Lower Manhattan
has been becoming back to life. To even before twin
towers. Where large plaza swept with wind, lifeless after office hours, changed
over trends in upcoming years where area developed to work and live, more truer
neighborhood at a human scale of the younger generations.
The original masterplan envisioned multi
purposed neighborhood with cultural institutions, housing, as well as street
life, which developers lost on the way. Where plans turned into rentable office
space for business and culture got forgotten, place destined to die at night –
last thing a young generation of New Yorkers wanted. In all fairness, had One
World Trade Centre been built last, after the regeneration of the whole WTC
site, maybe we would have been looking at a different project, something that
gives New York City its avant-garde and statement.
Mr. Childs have had a nearly
impossible task that had so many limitations of daring to be the tallest, being
a fortification in its own rights as well as the difficulty of the site. What
he has achieved is dignified but not a dull tower, and maybe even if it’s not
what he envisioned himself, elaborating on the tapered base and the sculpted
antenna he had in mind the building is still state of the art technologically
and safety. Filled with sun, even to much of it. The lobby with its white wash
walls and abstract art, hides behind blast walls that open up through small
slits letting natural light in, filling the space in pastel colors.
Many New Yorkers hated the previous
twin towers initially criticizing them as “arrogant” or “Alienating”
only to be later widely admired or at least accepted as part of the city
skyline. However the way the buildings
behaved and captured sunlight at different times of day as well as where you
stood made the spaces between them open and close in a poetic way which had its
charm, changing the local plazas as the days go. Which I think its where the
current design and its symmetry is at fault. The building is repetitive and
heavy , sharp corners give no mystery to the building , no metamorphosis over
the course of time when building would
change and react. Giving nothing to contemplate, which to comparison Europe’s
tallest skyscraper the 95-story Shard, by Renzo Piano shimmers and disperses as
day passes into night. At night it’s roof glass panels making a sharp point
complete its glacial spire that illuminated pierces the sky of London. With its mixed use
of development shard is not a revelation to new skyscrapers being built around
the world, with hotels, offices, restaurants, apartments and observation deck
sitting on a transit hub. It is a quite similar in its importance. Pointing out
to the New York that there was a missed opportunity for something more.
But maybe how we try to create a building, such as One
World Trade Centre a vision of a symbol of people, economy, political power and
ideologies with the respect to the original, creates a generic building.
Inspired to what once stood there isn’t enough,
to make it unique enough for its location.
After all the new symbol to Americas past isn’t really any different to
what once stood there , or to what’s being build right now in China or Dubai. For
New York, its an end of the chapter of the site in Lower Manhattan and there
are other newer and bigger projects coming like Hudson Yard, Penn Station and
Roosevelt Island that will keep shaping ever changing skyline of NEW YORK.