The New WTC?
January 20, 2002 4:45 AM   Subscribe

The New WTC? The Max Protech Gallery in Manhattan has an exhibit of sketches and designs from artists, architects, and others with their ideas on how the World Trade Center could be rebuilt
posted by owillis (48 comments total)
Hrm, intresting. Although I think most people would want to stay away from anything to 'weird' like the first one or the twisting "Oblique WTC". And I don't think making the whole thing into a memorial is a good idea either. I mean, it would make NYC into a grave with a headstone.

Personaly, I really like the 'world brige' concept with the smaller plaza type building, although I would personaly like to see something as tall or taller then the origional.
posted by delmoi at 4:54 AM on January 20, 2002

For fellow New Yorkers (or visitors to Our Fair City) who'd like to check out the exhibit in person (now through Saturday, February 16th), the Max Protetch Gallery is located at 511 W. 22nd Street (near 10th Avenue) and is open Tuesday-Saturday, 10am to 6pm.
posted by verdezza at 5:30 AM on January 20, 2002

I find the one with the 911 foot pit to be very intruiging.
posted by rift2001 at 5:41 AM on January 20, 2002

The last is my favorite, too.
posted by noisemartyr at 5:54 AM on January 20, 2002

More on Sam Mockbee (via george)
posted by owillis at 6:00 AM on January 20, 2002

first one looks like a big ol helter skelter
second looks like a lump of melted metal
thirds a nice bridge
fourths a big lego/lump a cheese
fith - he he yeah right!
seventh well its colourfull
eighth is the most down to earth and the best of the bunch
posted by monkeyJuice at 6:53 AM on January 20, 2002

Oblique WTC gets my vote.
posted by y2karl at 7:39 AM on January 20, 2002

the description for number 2 is so meely-mouthed, it dropped by opinion of the building a couple notches
posted by Mick at 7:59 AM on January 20, 2002

There was a great article on this subject in The New York Times Magazine a month or so back. I had the dead-tree version, and I don't have the patience to search for a link on my in-laws' 28k modem. It was with four architects, and the discussion was great. I mean, every aspect was approached: the social, economic, aesthetic, spiritual, etc. I will try to find that later when I am on my blessed cable modem.
posted by adampsyche at 8:22 AM on January 20, 2002

Number Three is the only one I could look at without wincing: This proposal has two complimentary parts, "The World Forum" and "The World Bridge."
posted by Carol Anne at 8:31 AM on January 20, 2002

I thought we had decided we weren't going to rebuild the WTC? Something about insuring it and renting space in it...
Pretty pictures though.
posted by TiggleTaggleTiger at 8:36 AM on January 20, 2002

Tiggle? Who's this "we" you're speaking about? Personally I think the only way to answer what was done is to rebuild the WTC exactly as it was. Perhaps incorporate any new technologies that have developed in the past forty years, but the new WTC should look mostly the same as the original.

I've listened to many other proposals. Even Bryant Gumbel once weighed in. He suggested a structure that looked like the original WTC on the outside, but it would just be a facade with no actual floors or elevators. Below it would be a cement garden of sorts, and you could look up to see the sunlight shining in through all the windows. It sounded like a good idea at first, but then I thought what a waste of space.

If New York City is gonna rebuild WTC, they should use the original plans. It was a sound structure. My concern though is whether or not the land is now buildable at all. There's concerns that the waters surrounding lower Manhattan are leaking into the sublevels. Not until after all the wreckage is removed (which I understand still hasn't been accomplished though they're ahead of schedule) and some serious surveys are done can any architect do proper design specifications on the area.
posted by ZachsMind at 9:16 AM on January 20, 2002

I saw a great sketch--I forget where, on TV I think. It was just two great big spotlights, pointing straight up from the ground. "Towers of Light"
posted by jpoulos at 9:20 AM on January 20, 2002

I like exciting new architecture as much as the next person, but some of those are just plain weird/crazy.

Number three gets my vote, though - simple and majestic. Some of the most exciting new buildings in the UK recently have been bridges. Apart from anything else, they're a nice bit of symbolism and their function tends to impose a form upon them that has a very natural grace. I like they idea of them not having traffic on, too.
posted by malross at 9:24 AM on January 20, 2002

I never liked those damn buildings. The WTC always seemed to me an attempt to move the focal point of the city from its center of cultural and social mass in midtown and rededicate the city to the financial industry.

Bloomberg should dedicate the site as a new park, connected by ferry to another new park on Governor's Island. (And that same ferry should stop in Red Hook, Brooklyn Heights, Dumbo, Williamsburg, &c.)
posted by nicwolff at 9:46 AM on January 20, 2002

Number 5 looks like a Talon outpost from Earth: Final Conflict. Cool, but imminently impractical to build. I vote for World Forum/Bridge.
posted by MrBaliHai at 9:50 AM on January 20, 2002

I'm just glad there is talk of rebuilding. It's the first sign I've seen of moving on from 2001 instead of rolling in the shit that some backwater religious freaks dumped on america's doorstep.
posted by holycola at 10:12 AM on January 20, 2002

Every single one of those sucks.
posted by kindall at 10:21 AM on January 20, 2002

Tiggle, the people who leased the buildings for the next 99 years with a lease obligation in the $billions practically HAVE to rebuild. And really, they and the site owners, the Port Authority, are the only "we" who matter. Certainly there may be some nervousness about how leasable a prominent replica would be, but it seems more likely that Silverstein et al. will be doing just what they said last October, probably 3 or 4 smaller towers on the same property rather than 2 massive towers and 4 surrounding low-rises. (For starters, urban design has changed a lot since the 1960s, and ye olde windswept plaza is no longer favored, while "human scale" and "multifunctional" design are; and there were numerous engineering and design "failures" with the WTC towers that made it less commercially desirable in the long run, and these would be avoided.)

Of course none of these designs is more than fractionally serious -- Silverstein has an architect, anyway. Things like a 911-foot pit present ridiculously expensive engineering challenges (that would be, oh, 905 feet below sea level) with dubious alleged benefits (a dank pool at the bottom of a dark hole? he's got a weird sense of humor).
posted by dhartung at 10:32 AM on January 20, 2002 attempt to move the focal point of the city from its center of cultural and social mass in midtown ...

who says the cultural center's in midtown? I grew up in Soho, in a loft with southern exposure, and the towers were finished the year I was born, so they always seemed integral to NY to me. Immediately after the attack, I felt it was obvious they should be rebuilt exactly as they were. A few weeks later I was thinking it would be impossible to get anyone to work there, it would be inviting further attacks, and it would also just be weird, symbolizing a combination of denial, disconnectedness and arrogance. The skyline will never be the same - even if they built the same structures, it would have an entirely different feeling.

I did read something a couple months ago about a temporary replica made of light that was going to be ...choreographed and performed? (I don't know what the proper term regarding light design would be...) for a few weeks on the site, as a memorial. I thought it sounded great but haven't heard of anything since.

The owner of the site has said more than once that he's doing 4 shorter buildings. Sounds dull, but maybe that's the best way to go.
posted by mdn at 11:30 AM on January 20, 2002

these are all terrible. first impulse was to pick the world bridge, but that's pretty much acting like they're our only choices. i think everyone's still too close to this to have good judgement, or taste. ugh.
posted by moth at 11:41 AM on January 20, 2002

jpoulos and mdn, you must be referring to this (click through it and you'll find a linked list of many articles on the proposal, including the New York Times Magazine cover story).
posted by verdezza at 11:47 AM on January 20, 2002

Everything not taller than the original towers is unacceptable. Especially those turd-shaped hippie things.
posted by frednorman at 11:58 AM on January 20, 2002

I think most of them are ghastly.

I did like the memorial of light that was possibly going to be an interim structure until they approved a new building to go there.

However, if any of these were to be the final building(s), I would opt out of my lease. The bridge is a nice concept (although "the bridge to Jersey" doesn't sound very romantic), but all the other building designs for the site itself were sort of mental masturbation in my opinion. Only a couple were composed for both form and function, and mostly were lame wanna-be-Gaudi-esque, isn't-it-unusual, doesn't-look-anything-like-the-old-WTC, does-it? designs.

We can't rebuild the WTC, but I think whatever goes in it's place can be both different and tasteful, unlike most of these.
posted by readymade at 12:00 PM on January 20, 2002

I wish that it was still available, but the article I was talking about can only be read with a payment for the archives. The gist: rebuild, but not the way it was. It would be too costly for the space. Rebuild a smaller structure that would form an "L" shape, but have the same office space, and make the other half a park/memorial. The key idea was to include SPACE and OPENNESS, as a move to inlcude the surrounding area and neighborhood into the structure, as oppossed to the closed-off thing structure that it was. Another idea was to put a wind fan at the middle of a tower, to use the great wind-power available at those altitudes: would be better adapted to wind shifts, while using the power as a sign of solidarity. Take it for what it is.

Remember, this is private property, and the owners can do with it what they want, with the approval of the development commissions in NYC. I think that rebuilding is a must, and it should incorporate some sort of memorial, but to build them exactly as they were would ignore change. A great idea for the memorial would be for part of it to be at the top floor, which would be entirely made of windows. The portraits of those killed would be etched into the glass, as a sort of window to the heavens, to incorporate transparent space and the sky and the memory of those killed into the structure of the building. I liked that idea. The designs I saw on this slideshow were really just absurd, though.
posted by adampsyche at 12:52 PM on January 20, 2002

Things like a 911-foot pit present ridiculously expensive engineering challenges (that would be, oh, 905 feet below sea level) with dubious alleged benefits (a dank pool at the bottom of a dark hole? he's got a weird sense of humor).

Or, he might have, but I don't think so. Sam Mockbee is dead, actually. And how do you know what might have and might not worked without seeing the details, or knowing what was in Mockbee's head? Do you have a structural engineering or architectural degree? I'd like to hear why you think it couldn't work, under any circumstances, though. I mean that sincerely.
posted by raysmj at 1:19 PM on January 20, 2002

I wish that it was still available, but the article I was talking about can only be read with a payment for the archives.

adampsyche: I found a bootlegged transcript of that article via Google.
posted by verdezza at 1:36 PM on January 20, 2002


It's almost a thousand feet below sea level. The water preassure on the sides will be enormous. Rainwater will flood the thing, and the only way to get it out will be to pump it 900 feet up to streetlevel. Airborne debris, carbon monoxide, etc. will collect at the bottom, and everything will have to be actively removed, as no passive system can work 900 feet uphill.

How far down do you have to go to hit bedrock, anyway?
posted by Ptrin at 1:53 PM on January 20, 2002

Ptrin: Unless anesthetics at the hospital were affecting Mockbee's brain, though, don't you imagine he took all you wrote into mind? Is there a way around that? Or could it be used as the spark for a more easily do-able project? Isn't that the idea behind every single one of these sketches and models in the first place? Whatever happened to dreaming?
posted by raysmj at 3:17 PM on January 20, 2002

I thought the bridge concept was beautiful. Something about the connecting of people seems fitting - especially were the bridge designed only for pedestrian traffic.

The 900 foot pit seems a bit unpleasant. Aside from engineering concerns, I imagine it would become the new hotspot for New York suicides.
posted by aladfar at 3:38 PM on January 20, 2002

If those over-the-top designs are seriously being considered, then maybe they could take a new look at Frank Lloyd Wright's mile-high skyscraper.
posted by nikzhowz at 3:46 PM on January 20, 2002

Join me, holloway, as we dig deeper and deeper and leave the world behind.

We will dig for the sake of digging.
posted by holloway at 4:01 PM on January 20, 2002

nikzhowz, I love Wright's skyscraper design.

I'd never go in it, but I love it. And there's the problem, methinks.

It's easy for me to say "Hell yeah, build that thing five times higher than the towers were, that'll show the world we're not afraid" when I don't have to work on the 518th floor.

I'd be interested to hear what the people who worked in the towers think.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 4:12 PM on January 20, 2002

I once took a tour to the top of one of the WTC towers -- it was beautiful, bracing, wondrous. I'd take a pay cut for a top-floor office in a mile-high building.
posted by nikzhowz at 4:25 PM on January 20, 2002

verdezza: thanks.
posted by adampsyche at 4:48 PM on January 20, 2002

raysmj: I didn't know Mockbee; you sound like you did. I don't know why I should need a degree to have an opinion on this, especially when it's based on relatively obvious considerations. A 900-foot-deep hole isn't a basement, it's a goldurn MINE. It would be deeper than City Water Tunnel No. 3, considered one of the more impressive engineering projects of the day. I can't take this as a serious proposal.

The trouble with Wright's tower is the same limitation that exists for all very tall skyscrapers: the elevators. It's pretty unlikely that we'll ever go much above 1200 feet.
posted by dhartung at 5:18 PM on January 20, 2002

dhartung: I didn't know Mockbee, but know people who did, one of whom is an architect working within the same region (which is not as obscure architecturally as you might guess - Fay Jones works there, after all). Some of the details provided in response my question are what I wanted to see in the first place. So thanks. I still think, however, that you and others have been in too much of attack mode here. It would be deeper than City Water Tunnel No. 3? Well, the tunnel isn't the center of world finance and a monument to several thousand dead simultaneously. I know you think the benefits would be dubious, fine, although I still don't quite know from the sketches if the hole would be dark. What's the ultimate purpose of these sketches and models, regardless? To spark ideas, or to be looked at a completed ideas ready to be praised or trounced upon, as if they're the long-awaited and overhyped IT/Ginger project?
posted by raysmj at 6:51 PM on January 20, 2002

Otis have pretty much figured out the elevator problem (or so they say)
posted by zeoslap at 7:05 PM on January 20, 2002

Would it be pretentious to call for a MeFi WTC design contest? Sure, MWDC doesn't quite have the NaNoWriMo ring to it, but jeez, I certainly think some of us could do better than the stuff that's being presented at MSNBC. If these designs are supposed to spark ideas, then why not let them spark away?
posted by Ptrin at 7:51 PM on January 20, 2002

Prtin: No, sounds like a great idea, mega-democratic, sorta like Dwell magazine's asking its readers to redesign the White House a year or so ago. You'd just have to run it past the chieftan, and maybe set up a metatalk thread about it, or both.
posted by raysmj at 8:37 PM on January 20, 2002

The only one of those ideas worth a matchbook cover is the 911 foot deep memorial in the last, and I don't know how technically feasible that would be. I personally think the place should be made over as a park or something... but most of these design are downright horrible and amateurish.
posted by fncll at 11:07 PM on January 20, 2002

They're not "amateurish", they're "post-modern"!
posted by Potsy at 11:28 PM on January 20, 2002

I like the idea behind Oblique WTC if not the actual shape. Building bigger rectangles just does nothing for me.

The bridge is nice too, but I still prefer Towers of Light.

Too bad we don't have the nanotechnology to grow buildings like the ones in Idoru. :)
posted by Foosnark at 10:12 AM on January 21, 2002

I think they should re-build the old Penn Station at Ground Zero.
posted by lockecito at 10:24 AM on January 21, 2002

MeTa: Let the Madness Begin
posted by Ptrin at 1:11 PM on January 21, 2002

I love the bridge idea, even if it's a non-sequitur. As for the others, they're pretty awful. But it is good to see architecture in the news: Americans are damn architecture illiterate.

My own tangent: Lower Manhattan doesn't need a new WTC. It needs a memorial. Plus it needs a "Manhattan Project" to weed out about 20-30% of the buildings in lower Manhattan. The area, especially east of Broadway, is a gloomy, ominous world of darkness created by narrow streets and tall, mediocre buildings. The idea of making it a residential area, as has been attempted in the last few years is a joke; a PR sham.
posted by ParisParamus at 1:28 PM on January 21, 2002

Also, if the phalic in us insists on building tall, then do a combination of the WTC and CN Tower in Toronto: put antennas, and tourist stuff at the top. Of course, this is incompatible with a dignified memorial, but...
posted by ParisParamus at 1:31 PM on January 21, 2002

Number four appears to require some minor alterations to the solar system, or else a building that can rotate with the seasons:

Four times a day--timed to the exact minute that the two airplanes hit the towers and that the two towers collapsed--sunlight comes through slats in the buildings as a memorial.

Or are they talking about some sort of cuckoo-clock windows that open and close for a few seconds every morning?

And number 6 isn't even a building, it's a piece of wall art.

None of these look like the designers had even the vaguest hope that they'd actually be built -- they're more like concept cars or couture fashion: dramatic, impractical, over-the-top statements designed to draw attention so maybe you'll keep them in mind for a more mundane project someday.
posted by ook at 2:26 PM on January 21, 2002

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