Category:world trade center memorial

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.

December 18, 2004

More On WTC Memorial Design

Very little pun intended.

The LMDC and its architects released details of the latest incarnation of the World Trade Center Memorial. Salient changes/evolutions: the giant waterfall voids seem reduced in size and scale. The space for the names of those killed, which is where visitors encounter the waterfalls, is rather low, almost intimate-looking. Conversely, the lower chamber, where footings of the (North) tower columns, at least, will be visible, seems much loftier. The skylit bathtub wall--resurfaced several times since it was exposed in the debris removal process--will loom over the space.

It's an interesting (and a major) shift for Arad, who acknowledged as recently as September that "Bedrock is something that wasn't too important to me at the beginning of design."

What else: there's a wall along West Street where the road slopes down and the plaza/park elevation stays level. Remember how the West St entrances of the North Tower and the hotel were a big story below the plaza level? Same thing.

Also, with the interpretive center/artifact space on the south side, it's not clear where "memorial" begins and "center" ends. A mixed program reminds me of the Kennedy Center lobby, which happens to house a JFK Memorial, but who knew? I think/fear "memorial" in this case will be a highly programmed experience.

Renderings of the park/plaza level read as very unassuming, even conventional, while those of the memorial spaces--or the approaches to the memorial, actually, are almost exaggeratedly austere. The slate is still blank.

Memorial will preserve Twin Towers' remnants [NYT, David Dunlap]
LMDC Press Release []
Curbed totally rocks on the WTC site posts, btw []
No Lack of Rhetoric at WTC Designers' Panel [metropolismag]

September 17, 2004

Libeskind Documentary on VPRO

[via archinect] Two extensive interviews with Daniel Libeskind--one contemporary, one from 1997, when he was working on the Berlin Jewish Museum--form the core of Rob Schr–der's documentary for VPRO, the cool Dutch TV network.

1997 Libeskind's almost unrecognizable, the earnest academic geek you suspected was lurking behind those trying-a-bit-too-hard black frames. Except for a segment on the V&A extension (which was just cancelled, it turns out), the rest of the film tries directly or indirectly to understand Libeskind's relationship to the World Trade Center redevelopment.

It does this in an extremely roundabout, understated way; there's no narration, no interviewer, only the words of DL and a couple of critics. But when interwoven with the well-known conflicts over the WTC and Freedom Tower, discussions of the sentimentalist kitsch Jewish Museum and the concurrent, massive redevelopment of Potzdammerplatz, which was studding Berlin with failed skyscrapers by trophy architects, have a disappointing resonance. We should've known.

As it turns out, of course, Libeskind's own footprints downtown are so faint, all New York will be left with is its own crappy version of Potzdammerplatz.

Daniel Libeskind: A True Believer directed by Rob Schroder [Stream the whole thing at VPRO, in English]

Has he shrunk out of sight? Daniel Libeskind was notably absent from David Dunlap's NYT report of architects vying for the commission to design the cultural buildings at the World Trade Center Site. Maybe he's automatically in the running. After all, the museum images we all refer to right now are the cantilevered crystalline forms in Libeskind's original proposal.

But, in what is by now standard operating procedure for the Port Authority- and LMDC-run rebuilding effort, flaws and shortcomings are being found in yet another element of the master plan. Dunlap's article looks at options and challenges for moving the museums, now that obstructing a promenade between Calatrava's train hub and the Winter Garden, and looming 15 stories over the Memorial entrance doesn't seem like that great an idea.

Plan May Be Too Much of A Good Thing [NYT]

Took a 3-hour tour, a 3-hour tour to Hiroshima yesterday for the anniversary of the US dropping The Bomb on them. While I'm sure it was much hotter in 1945, the wide-open, stone-paved memorial park seems designed to recreate the inferno-like aftermath of that oh-so terrible morning; there's not a shade tree in sight, and the most-sought-after Anniversary souvenir is a fan.

A memorial to a violent incident apparently needs a focal point, something concrete enough for visitors to connect with, latch onto. With the World Trade Center, it is (wrongly, I believe) the footprints of the buildings; with Hiroshima--and Oklahoma City in its wake--it is the moment of impact. A wristwatch, stopped at 8:15AM, holds pride of place in the Memorial Museum, and I overheard several people throughout our visit asking directions to "the watch."

As I was leaving the first floor of the exhibition area, I saw a distinguished man with a posse of expensively-but-poorly suited minions, talking through a translator with a Japanese guy. A couple of reporters hovered around, not asking questions, just taking notes. Turned out to be the Pakistani Ambassador to Japan.

Pakistan? Seeing as how they're next, he's got a lot of nerve coming to Hiroshima on the anniversary of the bomb, I said to one reporter, who nodded grimly. I stood and eavesdropped for a while, as the Ambassador ran through platitudes of defensive deterrents (nationalist pride-infused inferiority complex), developing country unable to afford a war (yet able to divert money from education and economic development to the bomb; offsetting costs with wholesale exports of nuclear technology), &c. Finally, when he talked about praying for the souls of those killed, I couldn't take it anymore.

As the group turned, I said, "Excuse me, but how can you talk about sorrow when, if the world sees another bomb used--whether by your military, Islamic terrorists, or North Korea--it'll have 'made in Pakistan' on it?" He didn't register at first, but a couple in the posse were surprised, and the Japanese guy froze. The ambassador stumbled for a bit, muttered no, no, and, looking toward a minion who was gesturing toward the elevator, gave me an ignoring nod and moved away quickly. A reporter trailing asked me my name and where I was from, and then I went to give the kid her bottle.

Just like when you think of the funniest comeback later that night, I spent the rest of the afternoon and my hydrofoil back to Shikoku thinking of what I should have said. And wishing I'd shaved, so I didn't look so much like a peacenik bum, peddling my way across southeast Asia.

Sure, you can speak truth to power, but more than likely, power will ignore your over-emotional, impulsive, sorry-looking ass.

Louis Malle's 1987 film about a pair of boarding school students during WWII, Au revoir, les enfants, was based in large part on his own childhood growing up in Occupied France.

In a scene when his mother comes from Paris to the school town to visit, Julien (the Louis Malle character), his friend Bonnett, and his older brother, FranÁois, are walking back from lunch. FranÁois is visible in the background, being very genial and helpful, explaining directions to a pair of German soldiers, which perplexes and upsets his mother.

Don't worry, Julien assures her, "He always gives them the wrong directions." With some maternal pride, she had to agree it was a nice idea.

Whether Malle would repeat this in New York during the Repblican Convention, we will never know. He died of lymphoma in 1995. His former wife, Candice Bergen, has made an appearance of sorts in GOP conventions before. It was Dan Quayle's memtion of "Murphy Brown" in May 1992 that opened the Family Values campaign that overtook the 1992 GOP gig in Houston.

united_arch_moma.jpg, image: MoMA via
A correction: Reading Herbert Muschamp's review of MoMA's "Tall Buildings" show, which includes the United Architects proposal for the WTC site. [The 'Dream Team' proposal is in there, too, but I've said all I'll say about that.]

Coming after the pissed-to-be-publicly-accountable Meier, United Architecture's proposal was surprisingly moving that morning in Dec.2002. They had made a video (it's still on their site) with cuts of all kinds of happy shiny people looking up from the street, pointing at the new buildings, "like," I said, "they used to do." But it's not really true.

Unless you were a tourist wanting to get fleeced, or you needed to get your bearings, you didn't come out of the subway and look up at the World Trade Center, and you sure didn't point.

Except on that morning. It just occurred to me that Farenheit 9/11 opened with shots of people staring, looking up, pointing. Like an uninsidious version of the Dream Team, United Architects unconsciously incorporated the attacks themselves into its presentation.

Conceived after September 11th, in case the world needed a reminder, "Tall Buildings" makes the complicated psychic and emotional power of skyscrapers as its jumping off point. Which is about as complicated a phrase as I can come up with.

Due to a work-related trip out of the country, I will miss the Republican Convention when it comes to town. If I were here, I would protest. I would not use signs, or puppets, or chants; I would protest by reenacting the shocked, dusty exodus from lower Manhattan on the morning of September 11th.

Here's how I would do it:
- start downtown, maybe even below Canal street
- wear expendable business attire.
- set up a step ladder on the street and,
- using a mesh tray like they use for goldpanning or a handsifter, even, I would have a friend cover me with dust.
- It would be chalk dust, or line chalk from a football field, rosin, baby powder, or some other fine, whitish, grayish non-toxic dust.
- I would cover my mouth with a handkerchief while doing this, snd keep it with me to wipe my sweaty, dusty face.
- I would offer to cover as many thousands of my fellow protestors in the same manner.
- Then, I would start walking north.
- Or I would start walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, en masse.
- I would let verisimilitude and photogenics dictate my route more than proximity to Madison Square Garden.
- I would be eerily, even unsettlingly, quiet and orderly.

I would take seriously my responsibility as a New Yorker who lived through that horrible day, and take its symbolism back from the politicians who ignored the warnings, did nothing to prepare, sat or flailed wildly when it happened, sowed fear with it ever since, used it to falsely justify a war of misplaced vengeance, put us all in even greater danger than we were before, and who are now coming to town to usurp the most widely shared monument to their failure.

But maybe that's just me.

David Dunlap has a nice story about the typeface used for the inscription on the Freedom Tower cornerstone. Inspired by the sign on the Port Authority bus terminal, the typeface was designed by Brooklyn native Tobias Frere-Jones, whose name for the font, Gotham, was not just serendipity. [Read an interview with TF-J where he cites the WTC destruction as an inspirational facet of the design.]

It's part of a larger Frere-Jones family conspiracy--watch out Jake and Jen!!-- to totally own any creative endeavor with a city-related name.

Meanwhile, Curbed (safe. for now.) reports on the best/only way to actually catch a glimpse of the cornerstone.

July 5, 2004


They'd cover it up for now so it doesn't distract from the event, then they'd rip it out once everyone's gone. They'd also make a few arbitrary, unreviewed, undiscussed decisions about other stuff they'd keep.

Most guests arriving at the ceremony were probably unaware that they were crossing the line of the north facade of the north tower, since the column bases had been covered in gravel. Officials of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the site, said the gravel was spread to create a smoother grade and to protect the remnants.

During the impending dismantling of the parking garage that was under 6 World Trade Center, some architectural elements will be preserved, including a smoke-scarred column, a column on which the paint was blistered by heat into a marbleized pattern and a section of smoke-stained wall with the words, "Yellow Parking B2."

- "Rebirth Marked by Cornerstone at Ground Zero," by David Dunlap, NYT

Previous 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 ... 14 Next

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.

comments? questions? tips? pitches? email
greg [at] greg [dot ] org

find me on twitter: @gregorg

about this archive

Category: world trade center memorial

recent projects, &c.

Our Guernica Cycle, 2017 –
about/kickstarter | exhibit, 2017

Social Medium:
artists writing, 2000-2015
Paper Monument, Oct. 2016
ed. by Jennifer Liese
buy, $28

Madoff Provenance Project in
'Tell Me What I Mean' at
To__Bridges__, The Bronx
11 Sept - Oct 23 2016
show | beginnings

Chop Shop
curated by Magda Sawon
1-7 March 2016

eBay Test Listings
Armory – ABMB 2015
about | proposte monocrome, rose

It Narratives, incl.
Shanzhai Gursky & Destroyed Richter
Franklin Street Works, Stamford
Sept 5 - Nov 9, 2014
about | link

TheRealHennessy Tweets Paintings, 2014 -

Standard Operating Procedure
about | buy now, 284pp, $15.99

CZRPYR2: The Illustrated Appendix
Canal Zone Richard Prince
YES RASTA 2:The Appeals Court
Decision, plus the Court's
Complete Illustrated Appendix (2013)
about | buy now, 142pp, $12.99

"Exhibition Space" @ apexart, NYC
Mar 20 - May 8, 2013
about, brochure | installation shots

HELP/LESS Curated by Chris Habib
Printed Matter, NYC
Summer 2012
panel &c.

Destroyed Richter Paintings, 2012-
background | making of
"Richteriana," Postmasters Gallery, NYC

Canal Zone Richard
Selected Court Documents
from Cariou v. Prince (2011)
about | buy now, 376pp, $17.99