The new Freedom Tower Matt 30 Jun 2005

19 comments Latest by hawaiian cruises

The new design for the 77-story Freedom Tower features a pinstripe facade, centered antenna, and a huge, largely windowless pedestal which was added after the New York Police Department insisted the building be more resistant to car and truck bombs. What’s left from Daniel Libeskind’s original design? Well, the building’s total height is still 1,776 feet.

A Tower of Impregnability, the Sort Politicians Love is NY Times architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff’s scathing review of the new design.

The darkness at ground zero just got a little darker. If there are people still clinging to the expectation that the Freedom Tower will become a monument to the highest American ideals, the current design should finally shake them out of that delusion. Somber, oppressive and clumsily conceived, the project suggests a monument to a society that has turned its back on any notion of cultural openness. It is exactly the kind of nightmare that government officials repeatedly asserted would never happen here: an impregnable tower braced against the outside world…The temptation is to dismiss it as a joke…All of this could be more easily forgiven if it were simply due to bad design. But ground zero is not really being shaped by architects; it is being shaped by politicians.

19 comments so far (Jump to latest)

Scott Stowell 30 Jun 05

The evolution of the Freedom Tower’s design is a shockingly accurate representation of what’s happened since September 11th in this country. What was briefly a surprising and optimistic vision of the future—hopeful and transparent and embracing of its neighbors—is now oversized and monolithic, with no apparent entrances.

Dave Simon 30 Jun 05

Too many cooks in the kitchen, looks like to me.

Art Wells 30 Jun 05

A plan only a committee could approve.

Darrel 30 Jun 05

I actually don’t mind the form, though I concur with the ‘design by committee’ issue.

I do puke a little in my mouth every time I hear the name ‘freedom tower’ though.

Art Wells 30 Jun 05

Good thoughts, Mr. Dimon. I’m afraid, when I approach problems with a perspective similar to yours, that to try to please everyone is to please no one. My cowardice in this case drives me too far in the opposite direction and to miss a lot of the values of collaboration.

That being said, I do believe that “none of us are dumb as all of us”, and that most committees (most I’ve dealt with in the business world) will create a mediocrity, or negativity, of any value, and this is most often worse than not weighing all needs proportionally. Though I haven’t researched this case enough to judge it confidently, it certainly seems like the “Freedom Tower” is a committee victim.

Don Wilson 30 Jun 05

“What�s left from Daniel Libeskind�s original design? Well, the building�s total height is still 1,776 feet.” Very cool, indeed.

Garrett Dimon 30 Jun 05

Art - I agree that design by committee can and does generally dilute things. However, the opposite, a design by a single-minded “dictator” could be equally disastrous for other reasons.

I generally do believe that the final decisions should always be left to a small group of people objective overall views, but that those people should pay serious consideration to the ideas of everyone and understand the impacts of those decisions as they relate to the other disciplines.

In the end, I don’t necessarily think that balance is a horrible thing. It might not lead to the most amazing new creation, but it will lead to the approximately right creation.

All that being said, “You can please some of the people all of the time, and you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.”

Bob 30 Jun 05

I still think it’s better than the original design selected…

Darren James Harkness 30 Jun 05

What irks me about this whole thing is that they’re dumping billions of dollars and attention into a building location that is likely to never be attacked again.

Art Wells 30 Jun 05

Garrett, I agree with you as you phrase it. A single-minded dictator who happens to also be an idiot (as most of them are) will err hugely.

I’m sorry if I didn’t express myself well: I believe that balance is critical (particularly in architecture, and in more ways than one). I believe though that a committee is more likely to create balance by trying to quiet the loudest members’ complaints, subtracting from the goal, while an individual is more likely to find balance by addressing the needs s/he is aware of. (Though I also believe the “balance” an individual finds is more likely to be an actual imbalance. I just feel it’s more often than not worth the risk.)

Garrett Dimon 30 Jun 05

Art - I agree that it’s worth the risk when the right people are in charge.

The man who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd. - James Crook

--Josh 30 Jun 05

While I think that this design, save the base, is better than the first iteration, I much prefer the WTC II concept as explained at I really wish that they would go with that plan, but I’m happy to see that the design isn’t fixed yet.

ek 01 Jul 05

Josh, as someone who grew up in NY and has fond memories of the twin towers (I’ll never forget my grade school trip to the outdoor observation platform, which, I believe, was subsequently closed), I really don’t think that rebuilding an approximation of the towers is the way to go.

Maybe it was my NY gumption, but my first response after 9/11 was that the towers should be rebuilt, but looking at it now, I really don’t think that that would be the best solution.

I think anyone who’s lived in NY and spent any amount of time downtown will admit that the towers and the whole WTC complex weren’t all that great. That area is the one part of town that never, to me at least, took on the feel of a neighborhood — perhaps because so few people actually live down there.

And while the new tower probably won’t do much to change that, less building volume at ground level won’t hurt, nor will the new cultural centers that are supposed to go up as part of the site.

I just hope that the real deal goes with an off-center spire as envisioned in Libeskind’s original design. It had a certain dynamism while Childs’ centered spire seems so, well, dull.

In case anyone wants to see more, there are ENORMOUS renderings of the re-designed tower available for download at the Lower Manhatten Development Corporation’s Web site.

Bob Aman 02 Jul 05

It’s interesting… I’ve found that the best collaboration I’ve been a part of was the result of having most of the participants either being at least partially unaware of what exactly they were collaborating on, or else being powerless to actually insist on their suggestions being implemented.

Arthur 11 Jul 05

Although the new design is a step in the right direction (compared to the horrible Libeskind tower of terror that was forced upon us under the guise of a ‘public’ process), I would much rather prefer the WTC II design. The Twin Towers were a NY (and thus an American icon), and the power of their image on our skyline cannot be denied.

Dhaakira 11 Oct 05

this building is absolutely horrible. No matter how many modifications it receives, the freedom tower will NEVER get what the twin towers had-pride in nyc. Just looking at it makes me think…”what on earth is this pile of crap they call a freedom tower? If I worked there, I would always long to see something more fabulous, and nothing gets more fabulous than the twin towers.” Everyone loved them. It’s so sad to see movies filmed in New York City prior to September 11th because you see the towers in almost each film being shown and it’s heart-wrenching. If the freedom tower had as much support as rebuilding the towers did, most likely I would still have written this to voice my opinion. However, I wouldn’t have at least 50 websites and thousands of supporters to bond with on this situation. It’s just that no one is speaking out, and I feel so helpless since I am not even yet 18. Some may say that I should not even getting into this politic mess, which is exactly what this is. POLITICS! But I am; one can never be too old to understand that Ground Zero’s current plans have nothing to do with what the people want, but rather only the amount of money in the wallets of those in charge of rebulding. Yes, I said it, and since I am an American citizen I have the freedom of speech, and who ever said the truth never hurt? It is time that us Americans BOND together, and rebuild what was so insolentlessly taken away from us. Dont build a tower called “freedom” when we all know good and well that tower does not represent freedom at all. If we wanted to proudly display it, then build another statue of freedom in the water. Dont, however, build a tower on sacred grounds not worthy of even getting close to measuring up to what the towers meant and were to people- strong, bold, powerful, and absolutely superb buildings in new york city. Thank you, and for whoever reading this, many people feel the same. Either they dont have the time to get involved and voice their opinions and will always look up in to NYC’s skyline and frown, or they do and are represent through an immense amount of websites. LISTEN TO ME! REBUILD THE TOWERS ALREADY FOR CRYING OUT CORNFLAKES.