Wow... I didn't know that there was so much demand for the original Twin Towers to be rebuilt! To be honest, I think that such an idea is a bit scary. How eerie would it feel walking into the WTC site to see new twins alongside artificial remnants (aka fake ruins) of the original towers? That seems a bit offensive, and almost as though the supporters of such a project wish to cover up their wounds and go back to life before all this modern day terrorism crap started happening. The reality of it is, you can't cover up the past, but you can come out stronger from it. Freedom Tower shows the way forward: how a nation can come out of something so devastating and feel united more than ever.
A Tower That Sends a Message of Anxiety, Not Ambition
By NICOLAI OUROUSSOFF
Published: February 19, 2007 nytimes.com
Ground zero has gone through its own kind of war fatigue. With every step forward in the reconstruction process, New Yorkers were asked to buy into the rhetoric of renewal, only to be confronted by images that reflect a city still in a state of turmoil and delusion.
Perhaps if we close our eyes, one might wishfully imagine, it will all just go away.
But the widely anticipated announcement that Gov. Eliot Spitzer will support the construction of the Freedom Tower may signal an end to any hope that a broad vision — or even a level of sanity — can be restored to a project tainted by personal hubris and political expediency.
The most recent debate over the tower has centered narrowly on real estate values. With the developer Larry Silverstein set to build six million square feet of office space in three buildings just alongside the Freedom Tower, some have questioned whether it will be possible to lease enough of the $3 billion project at a high enough rate to make it profitable. The tower’s symbolism alone is likely to scare off tenants who will see it as a potential targets for terrorists. The suggestion that we simply pack the building with government offices is almost perversely Strangelove-ian.
Yet the problem is not simply whether enough bureaucrats can be coerced into working there one day; it’s also what the building expresses as a work of architecture. Governor Spitzer may recall the looming presence of the twin towers on the downtown skyline, at once proud and intimidating; the Freedom Tower will have an equally powerful effect on the daily lives of New Yorkers as well as on the city’s image throughout the world. Yet its message will be very different from the old towers.
Hurriedly redesigned more than a year ago after terrorism experts questioned its vulnerability to a bomb attack, the Freedom Tower, with its tapered bulk and chamfered corners, evokes a gargantuan glass obelisk. Its clumsy bloated form, remade by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, vaguely recalls the worst of postmodernist historicism. (It’s a marvel that its glass skin hasn’t been recast in granite.)
Recently cities like Paris, London and San Francisco have held major architectural competitions for towers that will reshape their skylines. All of them drew on an array of ambitious architectural talents; many of those designs pushed technological and structural limits while reimagining the skyscraper as part of a holistic urban vision.
Even in New York, which has lagged behind much of the world in its architectural ambitions over the last decade or so, projects like Norman Foster’s new Hearst Tower suggest that a higher standard is demanded in the design of our urban structures.
If built, the lamentable Freedom Tower would be a constant reminder of our loss of ambition, and our inability to produce an architecture that shows a genuine faith in America’s collective future rather than a nostalgia for a nonexistent past.
Nowhere is that failure of ambition more evident than in the tower’s base. In a society where the social contract that binds us together is fraying, the most incisive architects have found ways to create a more fluid relationship between private and public realms. The lobby of Thom Mayne’s Phare Tower in Paris, for example, is conceived as an extension of the public realm, drawing in the surrounding streetscape and tunneling deep into the ground to connect to a network of underground trains.
By comparison the Freedom Tower is conceived as a barricaded fortress. Its base, a 20-story-high windowless concrete bunker that houses the lobby as well as many of the structure’s mechanical systems, is clad in laminated glass panels to give it visual allure, but the message is the same. It speaks less of resilience and tolerance than of paranoia. It’s a building armored against an outside world that we no longer trust.
There is no reason to accept this as fate. Although construction has begun on the tower’s foundations, we are still a year or so away from the point that the building will begin to rise. The foundations could even be completed while a process is set in motion to begin rethinking the design. Meanwhile construction could begin on Mr. Silverstein’s towers to the south, which should prove much easier to lease.
Governor Spitzer of course would have to summon the will to venture into one of the most emotionally and politically charged sites in the world less than two months into his tenure. To do so he must first accept that the Freedom Tower’s message is not directed solely at real estate-obsessed New Yorkers but at the world, and that the message it’s sending now is the worst of who we are.
Wow, no doubt that'll be an eyesore after its built.. I wish they would construct something of great detailing, something that showed the strength of the American people. Some oddly shapped glass tube thing doesent show the American spirit. And a large monument, one with every single name of those lost carved into stone slabs. A much large fountian, statues, and something sybolistic.
When the Sam Hill are you guys going to wake up and smell the coffee?
I truly hate that you are complaining about the tower, but you want TWO of them built to evoke the missing Twins!! To me, that's pure blasphamy. Using the tower to satisfy your own selfishness and greed.
You want the Twins back, but even if it takes two Freedom Towers to make you guys even FEEL as though the originals were built, you'll accept two FT's.
That is so wrong. Give it a rest, please. There is no turning back. And last but not least, they're not building twins of ANY KIND for Ground Zero. Like the Dramatics said in their hit song; What you see is what you get.
The pair of major landlords waging a campaign against the Freedom Tower have been arguing publicly against the project without disclosing that they personally could lose millions of dollars a year if it is built.
Last week, developers Douglas Durst and Anthony Malkin put their names at the bottom of full-page advertisements in several New York City newspapers by a group they are co-chairmen of called The Continuing Committee for a Reasonable World Trade Center. The advertisements said the project was ill conceived, too expensive, and poorly planned.
The ads were released just after the Spitzer administration indicated it would move forward with the project, and before the Port Authority approved several key construction contacts. They went into detail about the tower's architecture, its security vulnerabilities, its rent roll, its height, its name — just about everything except for the fact that the project includes plans for television and radio broadcast antennae that would replace those on the old twin towers, and compete with those on buildings owned by Messrs. Malkin and Durst.
Mr. Malkin controls the Empire State Building and Mr. Durst owns the Condé Nast Building at 4 Times Square, both of which are now the most desirable locations in the city for the location of television and radio broadcast facilities and their antennae.
Following the destruction of the World Trade Center, the Empire State Building antenna, at about 1,454 feet tall, became the primary antenna for the area's major television stations. The Conde Nast building antenna, at about 1,141 feet tall, became a favorite backup.
The Port Authority, which owns the Freedom Tower, is currently in negotiations with the Metropolitan TV Alliance, a conglomerate of local television broadcasters. The MTVA has committed to using the proposed 256-foot broadcast antenna on top of the Freedom Tower. Sources close to the negotiations say the contract is nearly complete and would net about $10 million a year in annual rent to the Port Authority. A 20 to 30 year contact worth hundreds of millions of dollars would contribute to the financial viability of the Freedom Tower, they say.
A source close to the negotiations between the Port Authority and the MTVA said the new antenna, reaching higher than all competing antenna facilities, at 1,776 feet tall, would be the highest point in the region, offering broadcasters the clearest level of service. Other antennae, like the facilities on Messrs. Durst or Malkin's buildings, could still be used to create a signal redundancy, but would probably command lower rents.
In a telephone interview, Mr. Malkin said he does not view the Freedom Tower's antenna as a "competitive threat." He said his public involvement is not financially motivated.
"Whatever revenues we have are locked in. They are long-term contracts. I will likely be retired or retiring before it become an issue," Mr. Malkin said. "When the World Trade Center was in place and functioning, our broadcast facility was full. If we are not the number one facility, we are the number two. Broadcasters will have to use our facility."
A former top real estate official at the Port Authority who negotiated the last deal between broadcasters and the former World Trade Center, James Connors, now works for Mr. Malkin.
A spokesman for the Durst Organization, Jordan Barowitz, said that antenna revenue was not behind Mr. Durst's public campaign. He said Mr. Durst would like to see the Freedom Tower rebuilt, but redesigned and delayed. Mr. Barowitz said revenue from antennae accounts for less than .5% of the Durst Organization's total revenue.
Both Messrs. Durst and Malkin have said they were continuing a family tradition. In the 1960s, Mr. Durst's father, Seymour Durst, and Mr. Malkin's grandfather, Lawrence Wien, formed the Committee for a Reasonable World Trade Center to protest the original twin towers.
A spokesman for the Port Authority, John McCarthy, declined to comment because the antenna agreement is being negotiated.
A spokesman for the MTVA, Pat Smith, would not comment on the status of the negotiations, but he said new antenna facilities are necessary. He said the broadcasters are committed to a Freedom Tower facility.
"There are still millions of people in the metropolitan area who do not have cable, or who have additional televisions in the house without cable. They are not getting a fully adequate signal. It would also facilitate the transition to digital television," Mr. Smith said.
Before committing to the Freedom Tower antenna, MTVA had considered other sites in New York and New Jersey, including the possibility of a free-standing antenna not connected to any existing building.
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