Is the planned WTC memorial in the wrong place?
August 7, 2002 4:01 AM   Subscribe

Is the planned WTC memorial in the wrong place? "There is a desperate futility in the project as presently conceived, because even if the whole site were turned into a memorial garden it would be in the wrong place. For most of the dead did not die there at all, but a thousand feet away, a sixth of a mile, directly above. "

Finally IMHO the perfect solution! The city gets its office space back, the country gets its memorial, the world gets a shockingly wonderful new piece of architecture.
posted by revbrian (59 comments total)

 
There may be a slight problem with that link. Be that as it may, you might be grasping at futile straws with the "wrong place" idea. And as far as I am concerned, I have seen only one WTC proposal that is worth its salt and it's this.
posted by hama7 at 4:18 AM on August 7, 2002


Mmmm... I hate to be nit-picky here and this might come across os calous, but they dying may have started a thousand feet up, but it quickly ended a tad closer to the ground as a few thousand tons of rubble rained down on them.
posted by KnitWit at 4:34 AM on August 7, 2002


"The high garden; could incorporate anti-aircraft battery, small lake, memorial museum in top three floors with views of city below though multi-story overhung windows, grand stairwells up to garden, sacred groves, cool-climate plantings"

Naturally there would also be heat-seeking missiles concealed within in the sacred groves? And perhaps some kind of Star Wars laser defence system submerged in the lake; you can't be too careful. Although I quite like the idea of a rooftop garden, the design is ugly and perhaps more worryingly looks very unstable, which can hardly be suitable for a lasting monument.
posted by zygoticmynci at 4:58 AM on August 7, 2002


hama7, IMHO that proposal you linked to is the worst I've seen yet. Oh well, guess it just goes to show how hard it is going to be to agree on anything.
posted by cx at 4:59 AM on August 7, 2002


When I first saw the page, I was instantly reminded of the hippos move to New York in Animaniacs.

Not to say it couldn't be a great memorial as well. The chances of hippos wandering up there are remote.
posted by witchycal at 5:04 AM on August 7, 2002


Has anyone been practical yet?

Nobody is going to want to be above the 50th floor in a building in Lower Manhattan for a long time, at least until our attention span is disinherited by our next generation.
posted by PrinceValium at 5:06 AM on August 7, 2002


Memorial is in the wrong place? Since when do we put the memorial where the person actually dies at? (well, I mean in normal situations, yes I know they do that for car accidents and the like sometimes) Anyway, that's the stupidest thing I've ever heard.
posted by banished at 5:34 AM on August 7, 2002


Ohh and my WTC idea....... rebuild the towers... exactly as they were before. Add some modern escape facilities and make the structure stronger if you need to.
posted by banished at 5:41 AM on August 7, 2002


I agree with banished. None of the proposed replacements have been as striking or elegant as the original WTC and in my view, to replace those twin towers, symbols of America's might and power, would be the ultimate tribute.

Apologies to the architect but this idea looks just plain ugly and a tad ambitious in a Buck Rogers/Blade Runner style - the 'force field' that will "repel flying objects up to a five mile circumference" sounds a bit sci-fi. Surely it'll cause some sort of interferance to radios etc or at least cause every dog in Manhattan to go crazy....
posted by andyHollister at 5:56 AM on August 7, 2002


Just to give some concept of the ideological background behind this proposal - "Probably the best thing I could do in practical charity for my fellow humans across the globe would be to buy a brand new Lexus....More real human benefit would likely accrue per dollar from my purchase than any contribution of an equal amount of money to hunger relief, humanitarian aid, or third world national development efforts." I'm generally pro-capitalism, but this guy's downright delusional.
posted by tdismukes at 5:57 AM on August 7, 2002


I think the Memorial Arch is rather beautiful, actually -- even if impractical, it at least helps "make the skyline whole" again, and I particularly like how it echoes the Brooklyn Bridge.
posted by Tin Man at 6:13 AM on August 7, 2002


"The stimulus to the world economy would be efficient, and would lead to... the demand for a better natural environment"

And to think those hippies keep claiming that more cars harm the natural environment.
posted by zygoticmynci at 6:19 AM on August 7, 2002


Right. My reason for posting this is that, to me, it's the most dignified and respectful replacement. There are other rather depressing, dreary ideas, and good reasons for not rebuilding another structual and economic failure .
posted by hama7 at 6:38 AM on August 7, 2002


Dignified? Ewww. I'd hate to have to look at that giant space shuttle every morning as I walk to my PATH station. Also, if you're interested, the idea was discussed here...
posted by Tin Man at 7:04 AM on August 7, 2002


The free market democratic republic that resulted has spent two hundred years of fine-tuning the market so that it has become almost impossible to get rich without in the process enriching everyone else.

This guy made me sick. He's more than delusional, he's had his head in the sand for the last few years.
posted by Cerebus at 7:13 AM on August 7, 2002


tdismukes et al: Haha! I was just about to post the same quote. I want what he's taking ;-)

Oh, and another vote here for re-building the towers as before with proper fire-proofing &c.
posted by i_cola at 7:15 AM on August 7, 2002


This guy made me sick. He's more than delusional, he's had his head in the sand for the last few years.

Right, because obviously, the only way to get rich is by doing something bad.
posted by insomnyuk at 7:17 AM on August 7, 2002


Insomnyuk, I think they were disagreeing with the author's belief that it is "almost impossible to get rich without in the process enriching everyone else," not arguing that the only way to get rich is by doing something bad. I don't think the latter has anything to do with the former -- except maybe rhetorically.

Or maybe they just want to turn the means of production over to the proletariat. That's how the kids are these days....
posted by subgenius at 7:31 AM on August 7, 2002


PrinceValium,

I disagree. I think a lot of corporations will surely not put their workers above the 50th floor. I think many people would choose to live above the 50th, though. There's something of a housing crisis in NY, after all. If it was at all affordable, I'd consider it.

Nice views, near the trains -- heck with it. Why not?

'Course I live nearby already, so maybe I'm not an ideal potential tenant.
posted by hackly_fracture at 7:39 AM on August 7, 2002


The problem with this, and any proposal that involves large amounts of office space, is twofold:

1) Downtown doesn't need any more office space. somewhere between one of four and one of five office floors in the financial district are unoccupied. Better to use that space for a real memorial, on the ground, and cultural, housing, and retail spaces. That way the neighborhood can be truly mixed instead of being a wasteland after 7:00 pm.

2) Doubtful that a lot of WTC families share the author's religious devotion to offices. You can see that in the reaction to the six designs that have been officially presented. People have been pretty clear that they want no non-memorial building in the footprint of the towers.

Hopefully the proposed land swap between the city and the Port Authority will take all of these office-centered proposals off the table and give something needed to the residents down there.
posted by lackutrol at 7:50 AM on August 7, 2002


They should build a theme park there. I love roller coasters. The rollercoasters could zoom in and out of the skyscrapers! How cool would that be?
posted by corpse at 7:59 AM on August 7, 2002


hama7, thanks for the link to the Locke column. As Joe American, it's easy to sit back and say "rebuild 'em just like they were!" -- just as we knew them from postcards and films and TV. Learning about the actual impact of the former WTC complex on the people who live and work in lower Manhattan inclines me more to shut up about my personal aesthetic and emotional desires and let the professionals handle the civil engineering.
posted by Tubes at 7:59 AM on August 7, 2002


insomnyuk - I've got nothing against anybody getting rich. I've got a problem with the belief that buying a new Lexus will actually help the poor more than spending that same money on humanitarian/hunger relief efforts.
posted by tdismukes at 8:16 AM on August 7, 2002


Can someone explain to me the "proper fireproofing" necessary to withstand thousands of gallons of burning jet fuel?
posted by agregoli at 8:18 AM on August 7, 2002


The high garden; could incorporate anti-aircraft battery, small lake, memorial museum in top three floors with views of city below though multi-story overhung windows, grand stairwells up to garden, sacred groves, cool-climate plantings...

Errr... so we'll shoot down incoming bogeys while having a calming garden in which to reflect on our recent victory --- while 75 tons of flaming airliner death spirals into downtown Manhattan. At least it didn't hit our precious memorial office arch.

And isn't it a tisch screwed up to list an anti-aircraft battery first and then the actual memorializing bits of the memorial?
posted by nathan_teske at 8:33 AM on August 7, 2002


Hama7--- your link is outrageous. It's so garish, so beyond impractical that the site comes off more as parody than anything else.

Back to reality here.
posted by xmutex at 8:43 AM on August 7, 2002


agregoli:
Ooh, can I be 'someone' today? [click me]

Extract:
'NARRATOR: It is a sad irony that it was the weakness of the drywall which gave the six in the lift their chance to escape because for those higher up that weakness may have proved fatal. It seems the drywall around the emergency staircases where the plane had hit were simply blown away, allowing the fire and smoke to flood in. That was almost certainly why nearly 1,000 people were trapped above the area of impact. Some building safety experts think that drywall, which is used in many modern buildings, is just too lightweight. A stronger fireproofing might have allowed many more to escape.

---
Re: the Locke column.

'DEAR ANN COULTER:
I love your books, and I am delighted each Thursday when I read your columns on FrontPage.'


He's being sarcastic isn't he?
posted by i_cola at 8:57 AM on August 7, 2002


doesn't the shape of the arch strike anyone as rather...um...islamic? someone has a very well developed sense of irony methinks
posted by gravelshoes at 9:03 AM on August 7, 2002


Might, might, might.

It's all speculation at this point, isn't it?

Why so hostile? I was honestly asking. Doesn't seem like there is much an engineer could do to ENSURE more people would be saved in such an unpredictable event. If the planes hit in a different angle, there would probably be other structural complaints now instead of drywall. Impossible to know.
posted by agregoli at 9:05 AM on August 7, 2002


They should build a theme park there. I love roller coasters. The rollercoasters could zoom in and out of the skyscrapers! How cool would that be?

Very, very cool. Probably shouldn't be passenger jet-themed, though.
posted by cx at 9:15 AM on August 7, 2002


The high garden; could incorporate anti-aircraft battery, small lake, memorial museum in top three floors with views of city below though multi-story overhung windows...

the first thing that came to my mind when i read this was images of little kids straddling the barrels of the guns and posing for pictures, much like in any battle-related historic park around the country (charleston, for example).
posted by sixtwenty3dc at 9:20 AM on August 7, 2002


gravelshoes: so was the original, in its own way.

Though there was widespread dissatisfaction with the six designs proposed under the aegis of Lower Manhattan Development Council, and they may be tweaked, it's pretty clear -- as I've said repeatedly -- that there are certain limitations on the replacement. First, no Towers in a Plaza, because that design is a relic of the 1960s, and not only unattractive by contemporary standards but more expensive. Second, clustered, smaller buildings with mixed-use development, like the World Financial Center, a concept which has withstood the test of time much better. Third, nothing on the footprint of the towers, unless it's a memorial building. Fourth, replacement of almost all the commercial office space. Maybe lower Manhattan doesn't need it now, but we're talking completion dates up to a decade in the future; and as the new WTC takes shape, with major tenants perhaps returning, demand will swing up as ancillary businesses relocate to take advantage of proximity once more. Ultimately, public opinion will have only a marginal effect on these points.
posted by dhartung at 9:21 AM on August 7, 2002


agregoli: Sorry if you thought I was being hostile. Altho' people who say 'Ooh' don't tend to be ;-)

Read the transcript if you have the time tho'. If you want to skip-read, search for:

NARRATOR: What seems to have happened is that the fire had flooded into the core and cut off all the stairways, something that should not have been possible'

and read down from there.

Anyhow, as dhartung says, there won't be a re-build...
posted by i_cola at 9:33 AM on August 7, 2002


Ok. I'd just like to say that in all of our knowledge, September 11th "should not have been possible." Much less imaginable.
posted by agregoli at 9:37 AM on August 7, 2002


Dhartung, while I agree with several of your points, I fail to see why 11 million square feet of office space are necessary within the area of the former WTC complex. For much of its life the WTC itself was on the order of one-third empty, and the PA used a good deal of space itself. And why won't these businesses relocate to midtown or Jersey, as many already have? I think downtown would be much better served with cultural and retail spaces, to help it become the mixed-use area it has been trying to become for some years.

And even if that much space is needed in the area, in a decade, it can be found elsewhere--developers would be happy to rip down many downtown buildings to build more offices, if the demand is there.
posted by lackutrol at 9:44 AM on August 7, 2002


Nobody is going to want to be above the 50th floor in a building in Lower Manhattan for a long time, at least until our attention span is disinherited by our next generation.

Oh, you mean like all those people who still work in such buildings in lower Manhattan? Or anywhere in the city, for that matter?

Regarding the original link: such an idea is not new. I, among others, proposed it as a way of mocking all those who felt that the entire site should be consecrated. The absolute nut-ball ridiculousness of turning that entire space into a memorial means buying the easements to control the vertical space in which once existed the towers, memorializing the below-ground space, and bronzing the now void horizontal plane that represented the man-made ground-level that existed before. In effect, they're memorializing down to the atom things which no longer exist. Are they going to pull out the PATH train tracks, too, and put those in a museum? Put the air in a box and put a plaque on it? Maybe empty out the vacuum bags of the cleaning crews and sanctify the dirt?
posted by Mo Nickels at 9:58 AM on August 7, 2002


There wasn't a need for that much office space when the towers were built, but people would still move to them BECAUSE they were a symbol. It's the lack of the new buildings being anything symbolic, or even anything unified (they were two towers, but really one beast aesthetically (try to picture 1 tower)) that makes me really not like them.

As for the memorial, i've always been a big fan of reflecting pools (i'm picturing something where there's an image of the tower in the pool so that you look into the bottom of the pool and you can see yourself and the tower above you).
posted by NGnerd at 10:02 AM on August 7, 2002


corpse: here ya go.

In my opinion, all of the WTC building proposals are ugly and seem uninspired. It seems that many of the architects are reacting defensively -- to the point of actually constructing weapons systems.
posted by TskTsk at 10:03 AM on August 7, 2002


No matter what, huge swaths of people will be pissed off at the design that is eventually adopted. So it goes.

And what's so awful about having a design that has at least one element shared by some Islamic architecture?

Islamic architecture is beautiful, as is much of Islamic thought and the actions and goodwill of many Islamic people. (and pretty much the same could be said for many other great traditions of the world, religious and non-religious alike).

What's ugly is that Osama and his ilk have managed so successfully to pretend that their tactics are supported by Islam (they aren't) that otherwise rational people think that Islam itself is our enemy (it isn't).

Have the jerks succeeded so well at their twisting of the truth that people are put off by a freakin arch?

Murderers and tyrants of the world don't have a monopoly on the arch or on other beautiful and graceful architectural elements.

I mean, really.
posted by beth at 10:23 AM on August 7, 2002


beth: I don't think anyone is having a go at islamic architecture.

why not rebuild as the Twin Minarets? that would really show them jerks that the US can turn the other cheek.
posted by gravelshoes at 10:49 AM on August 7, 2002


Well, most of the unrecoverable remains are now at the Fresh Kills Landfill on Staten Island. The rest have been absorbed by the earth, wind and sea. If any place is their 'final resting place' I guess it's the landfill. But that's nasty to think about so let's all ignore that.
posted by HTuttle at 11:08 AM on August 7, 2002


Have the jerks succeeded so well at their twisting of the truth that people are put off by a freakin arch?

Only if they call them the McTowers
posted by Ufez Jones at 11:10 AM on August 7, 2002


Ooo, good point.

I can hardly wait to comprehend the "Sponsored by:" corporate logos that are likely to grace whatever memorial gets created.

I truly hope someone in charge has the ability to make any mention of sponsors / donors tasteful and simple and subtle, but I do not have very high hopes, alas.
posted by beth at 11:25 AM on August 7, 2002


And another thing--a thousand feet isn't a sixth of a mile. It's really more like a fifth. Damn journalists.
posted by vraxoin at 11:29 AM on August 7, 2002


hama7:

The author of that design claims he thought it up at 4:20am. But it sure wasn't pot he was smoking. That thing is butt ugly
posted by delmoi at 12:02 PM on August 7, 2002


I think this is a bad design, in particular, it's totally insensitive. I would expect that many of the victim's families are (understandably) afraid of heights after what happened. An exposed, outdoor garden at the top of the building would exclude many of those people from visiting the space.

I'm certainly not an architect, but two buildings that mimic the shape of the original structure exactly, but are empty from the height of the lowest floor of impact to the top is more of what I have in mind. Simply build a frame where those floors existed. That is, rebuild the footprint of the original structure, in a way that acknowledges its historical architecture, and incorporates the area above the point of impact as empty space, in memoriam.

I want to remember what we lost. Seems to me that all of the other memorials attempt to abolish our structural memory of the original space, which is what I object to the most.
posted by lilboo at 12:28 PM on August 7, 2002


can we just do what everyone really wants and build a giant penis?
posted by trioperative at 1:26 PM on August 7, 2002


As an example of how to reclaim a site of ruins, Coventry Cathedral is a good place to start. Bombed in the Second World War, the location was rebuilt in the sixties. Rather than ignore the great destruction, it is embraced and incorporated into the new construction. A good idea, well executed.
posted by baltimore at 1:28 PM on August 7, 2002


Whatever they decide to do at the site, I hope they put an amazing kick-ass pedestrian bridge from Liberty State Park in NJ to the new building. It could be the ultimate urban planning move (after all, the Brooklyn Bridge is on the East River), and the still, cinematic walk over the harbor could be really cool and contemplative. Santiago Calatrava comes to mind.
posted by DenOfSizer at 1:30 PM on August 7, 2002


Oh my god, do you know how long that bridge would be? The Brooklyn Bridge is long enough, and the Hudson is about twice as wide as the East River. What if you have to go to the bathroom?
posted by Tin Man at 1:33 PM on August 7, 2002


My vote for a memorial (or at least part of it) would be for a public restroom built over Bin Laden's grave.
posted by joaquim at 1:41 PM on August 7, 2002


the original wtc design incorporated islamic architectural motifs.
posted by xian at 2:15 PM on August 7, 2002


The terrorists have already won. No "memorial" will ever bring that back.
posted by {savg*pncl} at 7:22 PM on August 7, 2002


doesn't the shape of the arch strike anyone as rather...um...islamic? someone has a very well developed sense of irony methinks

Its architect, Minoru Yamasaki, had just designed the Dhahran Airport in Saudi Arabia. Several elements of the WTC had Islamic elements invoking Mecca, the Qa'ba, pointed arches and a "shimmering" filigree.

Ah, xian mentioned it first (on preview). Here's another article exploring, among other things, the Islamic elements in the World Trade Center's design.
posted by pzarquon at 8:15 PM on August 7, 2002


They might have been built in the 70's, but the original towers symbolized everything that was 80's. Dull, the same, symbols of power and wealth and nothing else.. and this image was demonstrated well in a particular scene in 'American Psycho'. A symbol of everything dull and emotionally blank.

On September 11th, we finally got to see that there were real people in that building, and we also got to see millions of people finally show their emotions.. a somewhat rare feat on a mass scale these days.

I'm a capitalist as much as the next guy, but if they're going to put something there.. at least make it a touch more involving and friendly than two pillars representing conformity and money.

--

Second topic.. when WERE the towers built? I did a Google search for "world trade center was built in" and got the following answers:

World Trade Center was built in 1977 but then..

The World Trade Center was built in 1973 and then..

When the World Trade Center was built in the 1960s... and then...

The World Trade Center was built in 1985..

So, was it built in the late 60's or 1985? The Web does not seem to agree.
posted by wackybrit at 8:28 PM on August 7, 2002


I've said it before and I'll say it again; Space Elevator.

I don't think they should be built as before because the world has moved on. The goal shouldn't be to recreate what could be done in 1973. It should be to demonstrate what we can do in 2002 (and it rhymes, too!).
posted by Poagao at 8:50 PM on August 7, 2002


wackybrit -- Skyscrapers.com has One WTC at 1972 and Two WTC at 1973
posted by nathan_teske at 7:24 AM on August 8, 2002


wacky--the construction at the site started in the late 60s and finished when nathan said
posted by amberglow at 8:21 AM on August 8, 2002


Thanks. I wonder why so many pages have it so wrong!
posted by wackybrit at 9:40 AM on August 8, 2002


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