A Flawed Review of a National Symbol

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(One World Trade, 2014. Photo by Todd Heisler from The New York Times)

The Urban Critic: The latest critique of the World Trade Center Tower feels all too much the same; Planning that did not reach full potential, missed opportunities, too much government intervention. Written by Michael Kimmelman in the New York Times, the architecture review instead focuses on the surrounding socio-political context which brought the building into existence, and much less on the building itself. After reading the full article on The World Trade Center Tower, there is something in the tone that seems to ring familiarly hollow.

Perhaps it is the expectation that a national newspaper, none other than The Times, should strive to act responsibly in creating a rallying cry around one of the most symbolic of National Treasures. Perhaps it is in recognizing that the symbolism of this particular place, in whatever form it ultimately takes, will serve to make a permanent impression on the memories of the Greater Public.

The buildings’ vertical punctuation mark in the sky; The reflectance of the glass facade beaming sunlight onto a Frenzied City; The illumination of the Trade Center Spire at night. All of these positive attributes, over time, will serve to outweigh the fleeting opinions on the disaffectations of  symmetry and stuntedness. These attributes, as proclaimed by the author, are detrimental qualities that The Tower possesses.

In the end, The Trade Center Tower occupies The Ultimate Space of a Nation that was attacked. Positioned off to the side of Two immense shimmering voids in the landscape, representative of Loss; The Tower defers to a hallowed ground which strives (and succeeds) in creating a feeling of collective unity. Perhaps the Towers’ only necessity is to stand tall and with a strong silhouette, which it does, and need not say more. A silent gatekeeper on the tip of Manhattan shore.

Links of Relateable Note:

New York Times Critique on The World Trade Center, by Michael Kimmelman.

Scalar Absence, and the World Trade Memorials, from Gordon’s Urban Morphology.

World Trade Rising, from Gordon’s Urban Morphology.

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