Thursday, May 05, 2005

A "Freedom Tower" Worthy of the Name?

The awful design for the "Freedom Tower" at the World Trade Center site has been scrapped because of "security concerns"—and if you believe that, you also believed that Dan Rather retired because he wanted to work on his golf swing. The column below speculates on the real reason for the change, but doesn't quite get to what I think is most important: everyone wanted to jettison postmodern architect Daniel Libeskind.

Libeskind's design—a tower whose top was hollow and filled with windmills (!) as an "ecological" symbol—was an obvious esthetic disaster, a statement of defeat, not defiance. Note also that, according to another New York Post report, the project's real architect, David Childs, just happens to have a new design waiting in the wings that will be just as tall but will "look a lot different."

"Who Killed 'Freedom'?" Steve Cuozzo, New York Post, 5/5/05

"The original Freedom Tower was what Philip Nobel's book 'Sixteen Acres' called a 'mongrel' project—principally designed by Childs and structural engineer Guy Nordenson, but forced to include Libeskind's off-center antenna spire. The decisive 'architect' was Pataki, who had the final cut. Childs wanted a 2,000-foot structure; the governor chopped that to 1,500 feet, and then stuck Libeskind's spire atop it to reach 1,776 feet. That created consequences only recently understood. The flimsy birdcage structure couldn't support the weight of the off-center spire. And, we're told, the birdcage, significantly shortened by Pataki, no longer provided sufficient space between the windmills to ensure their structural integrity. The NYPD, in other words, saved all hands from having to acknowledge what no one dared say: that George E. Pataki's grand skyline-reclamation was always an impossible dream."