Wednesday, June 29, 2005
All New Freedom Tower
UPDATE:* Former DPZ honcho Jeff Speck, appointed by the Bush White House to be Director of Design at the NEA, e-mailed a letter today criticizing the Freedom Tower: ""We must ask ourselves what it says about our nation to produce a 'Freedom Tower' hiding behind twenty-stories of solid concrete. Better to build nothing than such an alienating monument to surrender." More here (I'll put their recent comments down to a bad day -- must be a Sox fan).
Here's the all-new Freedom Tower. It has all the charm and humanity of an 85-story piece of folded graph paper and looks a lot like the old Freedom Tower to me. Over at the Wired New York Forum, someone points out it also looks like a previous design for a different client by the same architect (who's in court, accused of stealing the design for the previous Freedom Tower from one of his former students).
Have you noticed that computer renderings for the hundreds of new mirror glass towers proposed around the world always show their buildings as though they'll look like sparkling diamonds? Have you noticed that none of the many actual mirror glass buildings in the photo rendering above actually look like sparking diamonds? At least this rendering shows the way the Freedom Tower will fry Governor's Island around the same time every day. Shades, or reflections, of Frank Gehry's Solar Death Ray.
Below, the Grand Mason gives thanks to the Monument to the Phallus of the Sun God.
More phallus worship, here.
* The letter from Jeff Speck:
To whom it may concern: As a registered city planner and current Design Director at the National Endowment for the Arts, I would like to publicly address the latest design for Freedom Tower. I am writing this as a private citizen, however, and not in my official capacity.
Never in my most pessimistic imaginings could I have anticipated what we are now being shown: a beautiful tower rising above a solid concrete base with no windows. We are told that this 20-story bunker will be clad in a "shimmering metal curtain that will give the impression of movement and light." The operative word in that phrase is "impression." The first rule of planning for pedestrians is "eyes on the street:" windows and doors connecting inside and out. No one will happily walk past a blank wall, no matter how much it shimmers.
This is one of the main tenets of urban design taught to all of the mayors who attend the NEA's Mayor's Institute on City Design. It is undisputed. That a proven design failure is being proposed for such a prominent site only confirms how far from reason the security mandate has taken us.
There are many more subtle and sophisticated ways to provide bomb-blast security. The Freedom Tower's talented architects know them. One solution would be to line the blast walls with external lobbies or shops facing the sidewalk. Such alternatives must be discussed publicly, and quickly, so that we can turn away from this dead-end path.
We must ask ourselves what it says about our nation to produce a "Freedom Tower" hiding behind twenty-stories of solid concrete. Better to build nothing than such an alienating monument to surrender. Winston Churchill said that "the American people can be counted on to do the right thing, after they have exhausted all the alternatives." It is time to eliminate this exhausted alternative from the discussion.
Sincerely, Jeff B. Speck
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Tracked on Jul 15, 2005 4:05:16 PM
I love the concept of a 200-foot tall armored blank box. A perfect metaphor for the National Security State.
Posted by: Brian Miller at Jun 30, 2005 6:42:28 PM
John, why don't you design your own classical version of a Freedom Tower? I'm sure anything you draw on a dirty napkin in five minutes will be better than this thing.
Posted by: Urbaniste at Jul 1, 2005 4:40:54 PM
Since I have no idea who "urbanists" is, I don't know if this is sarcasm or fan mail from a flounder. In any case, I haven't designed a tower since my first year in graduate school. I love New York, but I'm more interested in building the mid-rise and low-rise city: 4 to 12 stories (as many of the best parts of Manhattan are).
I did teach a short studio in which we looked at solution for the site following the principles of traditional urbanism. Most students ended up with one tower on the site. In downtown New York, that's not surprising.
Posted by: john massengale at Jul 3, 2005 11:03:30 AM
i thank the builders should put stained
glass windows on the top few floors on all
sides of the new freedom tower that looks
like the american flag. come on america reps.
have some pride in the biggest american
syombal in america and maby the world.
so please consiter my comment thanks.
Posted by: public commenter at Jun 28, 2006 9:55:48 PM
If you want to say that the new freedom tower looks like a syringe then tak a good look at the sears tower which looks like a pack of cigarettes that spilled part way out. now if you live in nyc the tower looks like a modern day empire state building. esspecially since the top part lights up in different colors.
My only qualm is that there needs to be 2 of them. on with an antena and one without. placed east/west next to the north/south foot prints of the original towers. that would be the perfect statement. that and it would make the lower manhattan sky line look like nyc again. pre 9/11 if you showed anyone a pic of the nyc skyline with the towers it was unmistakenly nyc. build it back.
Posted by: Roman at Aug 2, 2006 3:37:24 PM