Category:world trade center memorial

crownroast.jpgMiss Representation dumps a scalding hot cup of realism in the Port Authority's lap by asking if their crown jewel--and the only thing the PA's obduracy hasn't botched so far--the Calatrava "transit hub", isn't just a crown roast instead.

The official line, of course, is that everything's going smoothly, no hitches, what? but as MR points out, that's demonstrably not possible, given the degree of flux and uncertainty surrounding all the other elements of the site redevelopment.

And then, on its face, he says, the design seems guaranteed to fail as anything other than a pompous, largely superfluous "glass hat." And we know Calatrava's not above building one of those, given budget enough and a seducibly ignoramic client.

I don't see how 'roof of bones' won't be the inevitable epithet. [miss representation]
previously: How is this Calatrava Moment different from all other Calatrava Moments?

According to Alex Frangos' report in the Wall Street Journal, roughly $1.8 billion of the $4.6 billion insurance proceeds for the WTC have been spent so far on things like buyouts (is that Westfield, the Autralian mall company that used to have the retail rights?) and $15 million/year in management fees for Larry Silverstein. [Not mentioned: the eight figure monthly lease payments Silverstein pays to the Port Authority to stay in the game.]

What IS mentioned, though, is Silverstein's heartfelt but hmm, never-mentioned-until-now love of Tribeca:

To woo tenants, Silverstein Properties is trying to distance the building from the image of the Trade Center, though it literally sits on the site's edge. Instead of 7 World Trade Center, the building will be marketed under a newly created street address, 250 Greenwich St. The idea, according to someone familiar with the matter is to emphasize the building's proximity to TriBeCa, the trendy neighborhood to the north. It's also a tacit admission, according to real-estate executives, that the World Trade Center name scares prospective tenants.
Showdown at Ground Zero [wsj, sub. req.]

While Kevin Rampe jumps from the LMDC, Larry Silverstein may be getting the push. NY1 hears creaking and shouts of eminent domain from Pataki's office, as if he wasn't the visionless machinator behind the whole fiasco. Now opportunists like Sheldon Silver and Chuck Schumer, and the previously stiff-armed Mike Bloomberg smell political smoke wafting from the pile that is the WTC site redevelopment process.

Once everything's cleared away, Liebeskind's Bathtub Wall may be the only thing left, by default. Except that, as Miss Representation points out, confusion and indecision and compartmentalized "fixes" only further the interests of the Port Authority, whose unaccountable activities--if not their plan--are already in slow, bureaucratic motion.

The leadership and vision void MR sees at the center deserves scrutiny and attention, and some day it'll get rigorous analysis, too. But in the mean time, I've got an all-too-familiar fear, a dread of another collapse that could have, should have, might have been avoided.

Now that the Times said it, it must be true [, via curbed]
Officials Consider Eminent Domain At Ground Zero [ny1]

And that stands for Port Authority or Pataki, take your pick.

The Port Authority has apparently threatened some of the architects involved with various aspects of the WTC site redevelopment with breach of their confidentiality agreements if they talk to one other about possible solutions to the growing number of architectural casualties in the master plan. So what's a muzzled starchitect to do? Why, talk to the NY Times architecture critic, of course.

Who then writes a damning criticism on the crumbling folly of the Port Authority's handling of the master plan, the redevelopment, and the memorial. The problem? Imperiousness and "the mix of secrecy, self-interest and paranoia that have enveloped the site from the outset - a climate that favors political expediency and empty symbolic gestures over thoughtful urban planning discussions."

Sounds like New York real estate and politics to me.

At Ground Zero, Disarray Reigns, and an Opportunity Awaits [nyt]

No honest questioning of the Silverstein/Port Authority 10mm sf program. No more Libeskind master plan. No political backbone or redevelopment vision. No appreciation for the arts as anything but a criticism-placating bullet point on a mission statement. No program apparently required for this amorphous-at-best Freedom Center museum thing, which is going ahead full force anyway. And now no fundraising for no performing arts center, which was originally pitched as a central requirement for the site's viable rebirth.

Ada Louise Huxtable's pissed, and--if she thought it'd help--she wouldn't take it anymore.

Death of a Dream: There won't be a creative rebirth at Ground Zero after all. [wsj, via curbed]

April 8, 2005

Bond?, Max Bond?

Since when did architecture Max Bond, of Davis Brody Bond get above-the-line billing on the design of the World Trade Center Memorial?

From the earliest beginnings of the WTC redevelopment and memorial design process, there's been a dissonant gap between the public theater and the actual, invisible strategizing and decisionmaking. Like Japanese bunraku, where the puppeteers are in full view, but the audience is transfixed by the controlled movements of the marionettes.

Some day--but not yet, because it's still going on--there'll be an eye-opening saga on the scale of Robert Caro's The Power Broker to come out of the WTC.

And Bond Makes Three at the WTC [curbed, and miss representation]

March 30, 2005

The Pop Culture of 9/11

The Daily Show; Wag The Dog; Antonia Bird's film, The Hamburg Cell; William Basinski's albums, The Disintegration Loops I-IV; Iyer and Ladd's In What Language?, and more, all mapped against the relevant chapters of The 9/11 Commission Report.

At Pitchfork, Chris Dahlen has assembled a thoughtful, sometimes laughable, sometimes cringe-inducing list of pop cultural works where September 11th has figured prominently.

The Pop Culture of 9/11 [, via fimoculous]
previously: the 2004 launch of Iyer and Ladd's song cycle, In What Language?

Whoa. I had a looong post about the designs for the Flight 93 memorial competition for the site in Shanksville, PA, but I think I'll spare you. For a few reasons:

  • Lowered expectations. Since the WTC site debacles (or, if you're a Port Authority politico or a hack developer, roaring successes), any idealism or greater hopes that I held out for memorials have dissipated.
  • The designs themselves. Again, the WTC memorial competition shows that 1) 90+% of the entries are artifacts of their designers' own remembering and reworking process, little mini-memorials-of-one; 2) Land Art, refracted through the emotional/experiential prism of Maya Lin, remains the de facto official language of memorials, and this is even more apparent in the rural setting of the Flight 93 memorial; 3) individualism-uber-alles, as the 40 passengers and crew are remembered with 40 identical somethings [although one design, which recreates the plane's rows of seats, does divide them into coach and first class]; and 4) in a fit of information design-as-architecture, many designers simply reacted to the competition brief, accepting its arbitrary data as Important--the plane's angle of impact, the map's circular boundary around the debris/remains field--and translating them directly into the program.
  • Problematics of the Flight 93 story itself. In a Bizarro universe somewhere, the rapidly canonized "Let's roll" narrative of American heroes sacrificing themselves and successfully thwarting the terrorists' plans has already unraveled as a series of investigations and revelations showed that the plane was shot down on Dick Cheney's chain-of-command-ignoring orders. Of course, that'd never happen in this universe... [Yet there IS one design that unintentionally (?) hints at this of-course-there's-no-conspiracy. It's title: "40 Grassy Knolls."]

  • My own unacceptable idea is better. Sort of. I would build a runway for Flight 93. It would be an authentic and realistic landing strip, not metaphorical, as some competition entrants labeled their memorial paths. Mine would follow the rolling topography, though, so in addition to coming several years too late, it'd be unusable. Still, it'd evoke the thoughts that dance briefly across everyone's minds, "Could this have been averted? What if we could turn back time?"

    But then I realized that all three of my Sept. 11th memorial ideas--the one I submitted for the WTC site and the ersatz ideas I conjured for the Pentagon and Shanksville--arise from the same sentiment, a self-consciously futile nostalgia. And I don't know quite what that means.

    See the five finalists and all 1,059 entries at the Flight 93 Memorial Project site.

  • Just because it was wrested from his control and altered beyond all recognition by the real powers-that-be in the redevelopment of the WTC site doesn't mean it's not a good idea.

    Daniel Libeskind has repurposed his ascending-spiral-in-the-skyline and atriums-in-the-sky motifs from his never-to-be-realized WTC master plan and adapted it for a 21-story condo development overlooking the Ohio River in Cincinnati.

    In addition to my overuse of hyphenated phrases, this reminds me of the Empire State Building's own mini-me, aka the RJ Reynolds headquarters in Winston-Salem, NC. Of course, that one was built first. [And by the same architects, btw, Shreve, Lamb & Harmon.]

    Riverside tower could make splash [, via archinect]

    [update: an eagle-eyed reader points out that Cincinnati has it's own ESB mini-me, the SL&H-designed Carey Tower. Word on the architectural history street is SL&H repurposed its Carey Tower drawings for the ESB. Cincinnati is a great world capital, just shrunk down to 1/3-scale.

    After all, there's that 300-foot Eiffel Tower at King's Island, too. Which, frankly, has always been enough for me; I've never felt the need to visit the real Eiffel Tower because I went to King's Island as a kid. When I was roughly 1/3 my present height.]

    For some reason, I can't get my idea for the memorial at the World Trade Center out of my head. I'll read about the intensifying folly that's engulfing redevelopment plans for the site; the dilution of the "winning" memorial design; the inexorable contortions the site plans undergo to meet the Port Authority's political and commercial objectives--those invisibly sacrosanct elements of the rebuilding process which were never open to question, as if what the terrorists really hated was our 10 million square foot program--and I see the people who were killed going missing all over again. And I feel a quixotic [or is it sisyphean?] obligation to do something about it.

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    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.

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