World Trade Center

I was meant to put up a quick post on the World Trade Center after I went to the small but informative Skyscraper Museum a few weeks ago. A Banksy editorial – rejected by the NYT and instead posted on the artist’s website – served as a timely reminder to get it done.


Banksy is super critical of the flagship 1 World Trade Center, also known as “Freedom Tower”. He calls it a “non-event” that lacks a spine. I can’t help but agree with him. Yet contrary to Banksy, who would locate the building in Canada instead of “the city that made its name giving space to the mercurial and the brave”, I would see it fit in the Gulf or a generic Asian metropolis.


The design was famously altered from the original Libeskind layout, the only surviving feature is the tower’s symbolic height of 1,776 feet. A ferocious public relations battle ensued, yet time has healed some wounds and the starchitect appears to have made peace with the project.

Of course 1 World Trade Center is only one of the many constituents of the former site’s regeneration, with the in my mind overblown 9/11 memorial at its centre. Then again the memorial may not have worked in a more subtle way given that its surroundings feature the works of almost the entire international starchitect guild.

Sir Norman Foster designed 2 World Trade Center, a skyscraper that through a slanted roof “subtly” directs the viewer’s attention to the memorial at the base of the tower. 3 World Trade Center will be built by Richard Rogers and looks like a mesh-up of his recent signature works, almost like a Cheesegrater without the diagonal cut.


4 World Trade Center (pictured above) will be the first to open later this year and was designed by Fuhimiko Maki of Metabolist fame. I find it by far the best design of the “big four” as it appears relatively calm and unpretentious, perhaps reminding me the most of the design icons that stood here until the terrorist attacks in 2001:


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