I’m beat, but I have to mention one experience from the premiere that caught me totally offguard. My film, Souvenir was shown with three other short films, including Etienne Sauret and David Carrara’s haunting WTC: The First 24 Hours. Sauret captured the empty shock and silence of Ground Zero, images of a time and place otherwise closed to the media, like these fragments of the Towers’ trademark steel columns.
Still, WTC: The First 24 Hours, dir. by Etienne Sauret. Image: thefirst24hours.com
Then in Souvenir, this MIT webpage briefly flashed across the screen during the Google search. Professor Helene Lipstadt had helped students build the Reflecting Wall, a painted wooden replica of these columns, which went up within three days of the attacks.
MIT’s Reflecting Wall, Sept. 14, 2001 Image: Donna Coveney, MIT
My mind went immediately to the the WTC proposal put forward yesterday by Richard Meier, Charles Gwathmey, Steven Holl, and Peter Eisenman.
Meier, Gwathmey, Holl and Eisenman WTC Proposal image: LMDC
There’s no mention of such a reference at all in either their presentation or their written proposal. Instead, they refer to “a new typology in the tradition of innovative skyscraper design…quiet abstraction…screens of presence and absence…[and] interlaced fingers of protective hands.” So this “Dream Team” never imagined their proposal for rebuilding closely references the wreckage of the Twin Towers? You must be dreaming.
“Partly collapsed” office towers, by Peter Eisenman. NYT caption: “…the buildings would echo the devastation wrought on 9/11 and offer a striking memorial to the fallen towers.”
In September, Eisenman contributed a design for office buildings on West Street (facing Ground Zero) to NY Times critic Herbert Muschamp’ ambitious exercise, “Don’t Rebuild. Reimagine.”. In the Magazine’s Flash presentation, Eisenman describes the buildings:
You get the effect of …a moment of frozen time, where the buildings are collapsing, and what we tried to do was record in the buildings that moment, a moment of impact on the surrounding buildings that would be recorded as part of the memorial.
Even though they avoid mentioning it, the “Dream Team” has proposed to freeze a different moment in time, the first 24 hours.
Post Script: A reader (from Eisenman’s Yale, by the way) pointed out another connection, one that I didn’t make yesterday: the formal similarities to Steven Holl’s just-finished building, a dorm at MIT.