Take 3

As you probably know already, the latest revision to Freedom Tower was released today by Governor Pataki, Mayor Bloomberg, Larry Silverstein, and David Childs, basically everybody but the original designer. And even though Libeskind is now almost completely out of the picture (the only remnant of his winning masterplan for Freedom Tower is its 1,776' height), they did let Danny pose next to the slightly-reworked, highly-derivative design.

Photos from Yahoo! News

This latest design is in response to NYPD/FD's safety concerns, particularly in regard to car and truck bombs. Given that, and that nobody's going to want to move their office into Freedom Tower if and when it's done, the architects placed the tapered glass tower on an impenetrable, windowless base 200' tall. Yep, two hundred feet tall.

According to the LMDC's unintentionally-humorous web page, the 1,776-foot tall tower
:: Will Emit Light from Spire as a New Beacon of Freedom

:: Will Evoke Classic New York Skyscrapers in Elegance and Symmetry

:: Speaks to [the] Future While Solving Challenges of [the] Modern Urban Environment
According to Governor Pataki, this symmetrical tower design by David Childs "remains true to Daniel Libeskind'’s visionary master plan for the World Trade Center site...[and] will be a proud new icon that references great American symbols of strength and freedom such as the Statue of Liberty..." How's that? By abandoning the asymmetry that was part of a cohesive master plan of towers surrounding the site and referenced (to an arguable degree of success) the Statue of Liberty? By ousting Libeskind from the whole process entirely?

Mayor Bloomberg continued the empty political praise-fest, saying "This spectacular addition to our skyline will be a commanding architectural symbol...It is also an important part of our vision to transform Lower Manhattan into a vibrant 24-hour residential and commercial neighborhood." And how's that? By including in the program 0 s.f. of residential space and 2.6 million s.f. of office space? By not including residential space in any part of the masterplan?

Ignoring the fluffy praise and talk of a "new beacon of freedom", this latest design is definitely an improvement over the last design by Childs and Libeskind, and in some ways - as a stand-alone building - it's better than Libeskind's winning "place holder". But as an element in a larger masterplan, is it any good? What does it set up for the remaining towers and other structures to be built around it and the memorial? By being so purely symmetrical and bunker-like, it's basically ignoring its neighbors, saying it's more important than the larger urban fabric - present and future - of lower Manhattan. I hate to say it, but in some ways that fits in well with this country's behavior and stance toward the rest of the world since that tragic day almost four years ago.

Day after update: Curbed posts some views of the massive base from a fly-through movie at SOM's site.


  1. That is one ugly building.

  2. Hi john, its a great conincidence that i found you and your blog. To make sure i visit this space regularly i am adding you to my blogger's list.

    I'm reading the "The Next House" and "Feng Shui" by Lillan Too...

    Nice knowing you!

  3. "By being so purely symmetrical and bunker-like, it's basically ignoring its neighbors, saying it's more important than the larger urban fabric - present and future - of lower Manhattan. I hate to say it, but in some ways that fits in well with this country's behavior and stance toward the rest of the world since that tragic day almost four years ago."
    Isnt it a reflection of the whole tragedy, and of the present goverment of the USA somehow?

    And i would agree with the anonymous visitor, its ugly... both...the building and the attitude! In that sense...its so perfect for the place and the time...isnt it?

  4. It looks like a 1776' shaved carrot! And a very safe and obvious building.

    First Childs rips off his students on multiple occasions and now is ripping off the people of NY and pulling the wool over every Americans eyes. What a joke. What a looser and an egomaniac. Imagine what could be done if for one day the daily military expenditures was given to this 'democratic' process. $2.97 billion dollars. Just one days worth to attempt to create something truly worthy of remembrance and projection. But instead we have a cry baby, copy cat egomaniac jumping up and down for attention. And this is all he is able to come up with. Hopefully there will be a "Take 4". All I can remember so far is the worst display of architectural politics and an even bleaker future for lower Manhattan

  5. It's the dumbest building I've ever seen. And it's also a copy of another 200 skycraps of SOM.

    The funny thing is Mr. Childs said of the new one, "It is a rare moment when new is better." He added: "I feel better about this than the original. The building is simpler, architecturally. It is unique, yet it subtly recalls, in the sky, the tragedy that has happened here."

    Excuse me?? This a piece of crap!

    A bunker with a twisted glass box on top.

    You can what a couple of animations in the SOM site and it shows the lack of interest for the building surroundings, it's awful.

    The developer must be thrilled becuase it will get his cheap building as he wanted form the start.

    Politics kill the architecture in this country. Instead of using architecture as a tool to enrich the living of their citizens their just run after the money. It's a shame.

  6. Seems to be a regression to 1980's pomo dreck.

  7. it's a complete monstrosity, a plurality of New Yorkers won't even work there

  8. Heavens to Betsy, please no. Hopefully this is another nessesary "place holder." Whack it with the Zaha stick.

  9. Though I have circled the bases of the Former World Trade Center Towers, I never did go in. Didn't have to. Their greatness could be experienced by standing at their base and looking straight up. From that point of view, you can't tell where they end.

    But we all know where they ended.

    I don't know anyone who died in the attacks. I don't know people who know people who died in the attacks. I am an American nonetheless, and just as attacked as all other Americans that day.

    Now, the politicians, firemen, police, architects, future building occupants, designers, and bloggers are wrassling like there was no tomorrow.

    What's the wrassling for? Respect for the lost. Identitification of our "resolve". Healing. Prestige. A project for our subsequent generations to prove we did not fail to stand back up after a mighty fall. All of the above in a sometimes nauseating combination.

    And that's where the whole thing went wrong. The seemingly worst thing we can with those 16 acres is perhaps the best thing: sell cheap to a developer and let him do his own thing. That's the American way. Make him abide by the laws of safety and economics, but not by the laws of politics and criticism. Whatever design gets built there will be symbolic in its own right wether or not it's a pretty building.

  10. ok, I agree wholeheartedly with your last sentence.

    This building in its original design by libeskind was almost a vertical garden.

    Something seen in scifi cityscapes, where citizens walk through a glass building filled with trees and plant-life.

    Then a developer got a hold of it.

    What do developers want? Money. Does a park make money? No. So obviously the park goes, and with it the slender spire that really evoked a feeling of the ideal the tower is supposed to represent.


    What is more free than nature?

    So they keep some hint of that spire, while relating to many other New York icons, but pack the building with too many references. Although the green building aspect was still present through the wind turbines in the structures upper trellis.

    Now. Security concerns push Libeskind completely out of the picture. The building gains 12 stories. Loses the sloping top. Steals the structural innovation used in a new asian tower designed by the original towers leading engineer, only doesn't have any of the sophistication, lightness, or awe inspiring beauty that such a symbol of freedom should evoke.

    How does a vertical bunker evoke freedom. Don't people hide in bunkers when they are scared? Wasn't the rebuilding supposed to show we aren't scared.

    Developers should never be part of a memorial process, they don't take risks, think only about themselves, and while you are chiding childs for his ego lets remember Silversteins ego, large enough to have it's own ego.

    Also, look at how the supporting towers have slowly lost all resemblence to the original plan.

  11. Another SOM shitbox - this time cloaked in a pre-digested cliché.

    Previous statement from perspective, "...but in some ways that fits in well with this country's behavior and stance toward the rest of the world since that tragic day almost four years ago."


  12. George Orwell's 1984:

    "The Ministry of Truth -- Minitrue, in Newspeak -- was startlingly different from any other object in sight. It was an enormous pyramidal structure of glittering white concrete, soaring up, terrace after terrace, 300 metres into the air. From where Winston stood it was just possible to read, picked out on its white face in elegant lettering, the three slogans of the Party:


    The Ministry of Truth contained, it was said, three thousand rooms above ground level, and corresponding ramifications below. Scattered about London there were just three other buildings of similar appearance and size. So completely did they dwarf the surrounding architecture that from the roof of Victory Mansions you could see all four of them simultaneously. They were the homes of the four Ministries between which the entire apparatus of government was divided. The Ministry of Truth, which concerned itself with news, entertainment, education, and the fine arts. The Ministry of Peace, which concerned itself with war. The Ministry of Love, which maintained law and order. And the Ministry of Plenty, which was responsible for economic affairs. Their names, in Newspeak: Minitrue, Minipax, Miniluv, and Miniplenty."

    The name of this new tower: Freedom Tower. The shape: elongated pyramid.

  13. THAT is incredibly depressing. It looks like any other tower you could find in Columbus, OH, Indianapolis, Atlanta, etc. They had the chance for something special and they are just throwing it away.


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