Speak UpA Former Division of UnderConsideration
The Archives, August 2002 – April 2009
advertise @ underconsideration
---Click here for full archive list or browse below
No, Those Other Two Towers

Is it a coincidence that the new round of plans for rebuilding the World Trade Towers [NY Times link, requires free registration] were unveiled today—the same day that “The Two Towers” opens in theaters?

More to the point, what do you think of the new entries? The first round was immediately and widely criticized and the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. rushed to say that those designs were only preliminary. Are the new ones any better?

Architectural Record has excellent coverage, and multiple images for each entry.

Public perception and opinion is hugely important in this project—what does that mean for the design of these proposals? Do the drawings give a different effect than the digital renderings? And just how incredibly bad are some of these?

Maintained through our ADV @ UnderConsideration Program
ARCHIVE ID 1323 FILED UNDER Miscellaneous
PUBLISHED ON Dec.18.2002 BY Sam
Jon’s comment is:

As much as I love much of Richard Meier's work, his design is just fugly. That thing looks like a giant picket fence in the middle of Manhattan!

I really like Daniel Libeskind's proposal. What I like best is the buildings visually pull you upward to the tallest spire, instead of just being this huge thing jutting out of the city.

On Dec.18.2002 at 06:15 PM
Steven’s comment is:

I think I like the entry from Skidmore Owings and Merrill is the best use of the space. It is a little too industrial at first glance, but looks to be a nice building.Daniel Libeskind's design is also very nice. The THINK proposal is a lot of wasted space and not very inspiring and the United Architects proposal looks like it is weird just for the sake of being weird.

Dunno. I'm not a New Yorker so I am probably not qualified to comment.

On Dec.18.2002 at 09:19 PM
Kippy’s comment is:

Ooh some of those are pretty bad. They just stand out way too much. I'm not stressing conformity by any means . . . but I wouldn't mind something a bit more classical.

I two Canadian cents goes for the Peterson / Littenberg submission. Okay, I'm not Canadian but I'm in Canada at the moment.

On Dec.19.2002 at 07:57 AM
armin’s comment is:

I find most of the designs quite obnoxious. They are big, they are ugly and they stand for the same values as the original twin towers did and those values are what made them a target. I'm not gonna go into any political ramblings, because this is not a political forum. And because I never discuss politics or religion.

The only one I really liked was by Petterson / Littenberg. It's discrete, it's nice looking and has lots of open space. The other ones are just big for the sake of being big and impressive.

>Richard Meier's work, his design is just fugly. That thing looks like a giant picket fence in the middle of Manhattan!

It is the most hideous thing I've seen in a while, if terrorists wanted to bring that one down, they could actually play tic-tac-toe on it.

>what does that mean for the design of these proposals?

I think you need to give the right impression, perhaps that's why I liked the P/L one, because it's a drawing, it just gives you a nicer, warmer feeling. The computer renderings, as goos as they are in quality, are just too cold and lack emotion.

On Dec.19.2002 at 11:08 AM
Sam’s comment is:

The Peterson/Littenbger plan seems to me like the only one that has any warmth and any consideration for the surrounding buildings. The structures in that area mostly predate the glass-and-steel-skin skyscrapers. Peterson's reminds me of Rockefeller Center, with its stepped-back elevations and harmony of parts. I also think the drawings are beautiful--they look like what the site should feel like (speaking as a resident of the city but someone with no actual say in the matter).

The Meier proposal seems more like prison bars than intertwined fingers. Why most of the architects thought it was a good idea to evoke twisted, mangled, or half-razed aquariums just seems to me like a really bad idea.

Armin just posted as I was writing this and I agree with what he says. Also, the Peterson plan is nice in that it runs down to the southern end of the island.

Are the other proposals (Foster excepted since he's doing what he does) playing catch-up to Frank Gehry somehow?

On Dec.19.2002 at 11:17 AM
arturo’s comment is:

I know the WTC towers are a matter of national pride in the US, but... Has anyone questioned if it’s really necessary to build new ones at all?? Don’t these beautiful projects concentrate and centralize more people and resources again... Don’t you think this is in the opposite direction of how the world of work and offices in the US is moving?, please don�t take me wrong, I�m just wondering �Why?

On Dec.19.2002 at 11:19 AM
jon’s comment is:

really necessary to build new ones at all

That is an interesting question. Beyond pride, I'd say it is important economically to the city of NY. Estimates are that hundreds of thousands of jobs in the city were lost as a result of 9/11. The publicity of such a project should very well lure many companies back into Manhattan from NJ and other surroundings. Security is certainly important though; another reason I like the idea of a tall tower that isn't an intense concentration of workers being part of the final design.

On Dec.19.2002 at 03:52 PM
pnk’s comment is:

>I know the WTC towers are a matter of national pride in the US, but... Has anyone questioned if it?s really necessary to build new ones at all??

I'll bite, Armin's feelings on political discussion notwithstanding.

I am certain that for most Americans national pride is reason enough to rebuild the towers. To accurately reflect the most dominant American attitude the design should be one that resembles a huge upraised middle finger, with the smaller buildings acting as visual knuckles. I don't tend to share this view, but nor do I completely disavow it.

It is certainly part of our character as a nation to view ourselves as holy underdogs, defiant and righteous. What better way to show that we are "bloodied but unbowed" than to put right back up what someone has knocked down. A triumph of symbolism over sense? Probably. That's US.

On Dec.19.2002 at 03:56 PM
Hrant’s comment is:

You know what bugs me? The current issue of Print magazine has *three* articles relating to 9-11, more than 14 months afterwards. Friggin' enough already.


On Dec.19.2002 at 04:49 PM
Sam’s comment is:

Arturo, what Jon says is to the point about the need to make up for lost office space. It was a million square feet of offices. One idea a while back was to scatter buildings around the city--an interesting way to design a set of towers. PNK--the image you describe exists out there on the web, thanks to Photoshop.

I do not mean to sound inflammatory, but the national pride that is behind building a tall building is not exclusive to the US, not at this moment in history or ever, not by a long shot. For example. (The tallest existing structure--built by the Canadians?! Them and their ugly nationalism!)

If it's a matter of symbolism triumphing over an act of mass murder, yeah I'll take the symbolism.

Damn but I love skyscraperpage.com.

On Dec.19.2002 at 04:57 PM
pnk’s comment is:

>--the image you describe exists out there on the web, thanks to Photoshop.

That's bizarre! I mean, OK, it was a pretty obvious metaphor, but still...!

On Dec.19.2002 at 05:09 PM
armin’s comment is:

>Damn but I love skyscraperpage.com

We've discussed that site. It is damn fun.

On Dec.19.2002 at 05:25 PM
Arturo’s comment is:

"A triumph of symbolism over sense?" Symbolism is indeed a part of every culture, I think its as important as the "economic sense"...like here in Mexico why the street markets?? (tianguis), when we try to relocate street markets on mall-style markets, merchants and consumers strongly rejected the idea.

Jon, Sam, you are right there�s a lot of sense in recovering those offices spaces and jobs.

On Dec.19.2002 at 06:46 PM
Kevin’s comment is:

>The only one I really liked was by Petterson / Littenberg. It's discrete, it's nice looking and has lots of open space. The other ones are just big for the sake of being big and impressive.




On Dec.19.2002 at 07:52 PM
Jon’s comment is:

>for the sake of being big and impressive

Ok, yell at me if you like, but is it so wrong to want this?

On Dec.19.2002 at 10:14 PM
armin’s comment is:

>Ok, yell at me if you like, but is it so wrong to want this?

Ha. I don't yell ; )

Inherently I don't think there is anything wrong with that. But it's the mentality that 'we can make it bigger than you, and that's why we are better' It's kind of a greedy stance. But hey, if they can make it bigger, why not do it?

On Dec.20.2002 at 09:50 AM
Darrel’s comment is:

I think the term 'obnoxious' that someone else brought up about sums these up.

I'm in agreement with several of you. The only one that seems to offer ANY warmth is the PLA design. I think they are beautiful, perhaps because they fit in to the 'decor' of Manhattan.

But, then again, people hated the Gugenheim when it went in, so maybe these are all brilliant cutting-edge concepts that we simply can't appreciate until they are 20 years old. (though something like the tic-tac-toe board just isn't comprehensible to me as EVER being a 'liked' building).

Remember that the WTC buildings were never really 'liked'. They were pretty harsh buildings in term of architecture. They were what they were because of their stature, and they really did make the NY skyline, but they weren't really terribly interesting buildings.

Do we need to rebuild these? I don't think we need to rebuild anything on the same scale as the original buildings. If I remember correctly, it took them 15 years to rent them, didn't it? Skyscrapers really aren't profitable investments these days. They're really a signature of a powerful, growing nation. We've kind of already gone through that face of needing to build the big 'ego' buildings. Now it's South East asia's and the Middle East's turn.

All IMHO, of course.

Personally, I think they should just put a nice park there. Maybe a playground.

On Dec.20.2002 at 03:50 PM
Armin’s comment is:

From a NY times article.

After eight teams of architects submitted design proposals in December, two of them, Studio Daniel Libeskind, whose submission is on the left, and the Think team, were chosen today as semifinalists.

On Feb.04.2003 at 06:51 PM
jon’s comment is:

I would generally agree with their decision. Liebeskind's design is just beautiful. I'm not a big fan of the THINK design, basically because it stands out far too much from its surroundings. I'm also well aware that the original twin towers stood out as well, so maybe I will get over this!

On Feb.04.2003 at 09:46 PM
Armin’s comment is:

We got a winner! Of the two that were left it was the right choice.

On Feb.27.2003 at 06:44 PM
damien’s comment is:

Allthough this discussion perhaps is more than over, I missed it when it was originally around.

I enjoyed Libeskind's passionate acceptance of the project and speak about 'civic art'.

I personally was hoping for Foster's work to be considered - as he seemed to be the public's first choice.

What is interesting about this project is that this was a pitch without a specific client and that this was essentially a design study to chose the best architect or architects to rebuild the area for business and use.

The LMDC was the client for this phase, but the previous leaseholder to the WTC, Larry Silverstein is technically a client. Also in the mix is the Port Authority which owns the land and is jointly controlled by two governors.

Each team was given 40k and it is estimated that most spent over 500k individually. Foster and Partners put up an excellent website to show their work.

Anyway - with no clear client and a very broad brief in terms of design and plans, I think the work we see is only a tiny amount of the thought and preparation that went into this by the teams.

Architectural Record has some stuff on the presentations.

On Feb.28.2003 at 03:49 PM