WTC Site Redevelopment: The Political Opera

Yow. If Philip Nobel's interview is any indication, his new book, Sixteen Acres: Architecture and the Outrageous Struggle for the Future of Ground Zero, is the most incisive telling to date of the architectural and political developments of the World Trade Center site.

Nobel counters and corrects a lot of PR-driven conventional wisdom about the plans, designs, objectives, and personalities that dominated the redevelopment process. He identifies already-forgotten incidents that politicized the redevelopment process, that canonized certain symbols (e.g., the Tower footprints), and that thwarted the possibility for real planning, rethinking, or architectural renewal:

Around April 2003, Danny was saying, ìThis 1776-foot-tall tower will stand as a symbol of freedom and beauty, reinforcing the worldís understanding that weíre rising from the ashes, and moving boldly into a glorious, optimistic future.î In a subsequent speech, Pataki condensed that and simply referred to the building as ìFreedom Tower.î When that happened, it became clear that what Libeskind had done was shrewdly, brilliantly, and cravenly produce this symbol that could be used as a cudgel by right-leaning politicians, during the war and during the build-up to the war in Iraq. That seemed inexcusable and ironic, given Libeskind's political leanings.
Book Casts WTC Redevelopment as Modern Epic [Metropolis Mag, via Curbed]
Buy Sixteen Acres:... at Amazon or read a tiny excerpt at Metropolis.

Since 2001 here at, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting that time.

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first published: January 6, 2005.

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