Libeskind’s Uncomfortable Wedgie of Light

A controversy is brewing over Daniel Libeskind’s design for the WTC site, which is moving, rapidly and significantly, from what he’d originally proposed–and won with. The NYTimes‘ Edward Wyatt is on top of things. Yesterday, he reported on a study which showed one of the Libeskind design’s core elements, the Wedge of Light–a zone where unobstructed sunlight shone in between his buildings every Sept. 11th morning–was a physical impossibility. Busted, Libeskind tried to pretend that, all along, the Wedge wasn’t literal but metaphorical. From someone whose design is based on making symbolism and metaphor into the literal and physical, it’s an unconvincing crock.

Today, Wyatt collects some other opinions, including one from “Dream Team” member, Richard Meier (himself no slouch in the not-coming-clean-about-your-WTC-design department), who asks, “How could you not take it literally?” (Remember, a Liberty Wall, symbolizing the Constitution and a 1,776-foot tower are the other major elements of the design.) In addition to the collapsed tower fragment-shaped, tic-tac-toe buildings, the Dream Team proposal included a garden of trees and lights,in the shape of the Twin Towers’ shadows, which would have extended across the World Financial Center and into the Hudson. It was a moving design; I hope they’ll pony up $25 and enter it in the memorial competition.

Other changes Libeskind’s made so far: making room for the MTA’s bus station by shortening his foundation wall from 7 stories to 3 (roughly the depth of the Rockefeller Center skating rink), placing said bus station under the designated Memorial site, encasing said wall in a “glazed screen,” and cantilevering his museum over the footprint of the North Tower. Maybe these were all part of his winning proposal. Why not ask Libeskind about that?