Libeskind plan chosen for WTC site
February 27, 2003 1:51 AM   Subscribe

A complex of angular buildings and a 1,776-foot spire designed by architect Daniel Libeskind was chosen as the plan for the World Trade Center site on Wednesday, The Associated Press has learned. (via Salon)
posted by black8 (45 comments total)
I guess that's a tall and complex building, but at this hour all I can think about is the small and simple Neighborhood of Make-Believe. R.I.P. Mr. Rogers.
posted by gluechunk at 1:58 AM on February 27, 2003

someone help me here... pictures/plans?
posted by twine42 at 2:01 AM on February 27, 2003

Here is an interesting video summary of a recent conference on Monument, Memory and the WTC, featuring Libeskind, Leon Wieseltier and Sherwin Nuland. Libeskind's address and his later rebuttal (though both add up to over 50 minutes) are well worth watching.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 2:02 AM on February 27, 2003

So, does this mean that Canada won't have the world's tallest freestanding building anymore?

I guess they'll have to burn all the Canadian Bacon, then.
posted by shepd at 2:06 AM on February 27, 2003

Here is a picture, and there is a bit more info at Daniel Libeskind's website.
posted by chrid at 2:07 AM on February 27, 2003

cheers chrid. looks interesting. Certainly better than your average skyscraper.
posted by twine42 at 2:10 AM on February 27, 2003

O.K. I just want the twin towers again or nothing.

Not a spotlighted shopping cart or a warthog's tusk, or a spire.
posted by hama7 at 3:02 AM on February 27, 2003

This is a terrible decision. The tower alone isn't so bad, but the hideous "angular buildings" (aren't most buildings angular?) remove any definition from the skyline. I really hope this doesn't get built. The THINK design was superb (QuickTime, 20MB Windows Media).

Also, the architect is a pretentious wanker.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 3:05 AM on February 27, 2003

I'm sure I read that the 'concept' is what they're chosing, not what the buildings will actually be - this will all be scaled back and watered down over time and through committees. I'd bet you'll never see what you see in the plans....
posted by brettski at 4:01 AM on February 27, 2003

I think it's fantastic that they've chosen him. For me the worst thing they could have done would have been to play safe. Sadly it doesn't look like we'll ever raise the money to build his spiral for the V and A here in London, but by all accounts his Jewish museum is truely wonderful.

The WTC wasn't popular at first, and I'm sure the Liebskind will take some getting used to for a lot of people, but for me I'd rather have something radical as a memorial design than just another office block.
posted by ciderwoman at 4:11 AM on February 27, 2003

Pretty Generic,

yeah, the THINK project kicked ass. Libeskind's, right now, is... well, confusing.

but I still can't believe people will be eager to work and live every day over that huge cemetery, surrounded by all those ghosts

but maybe it's just me -- one year and a half after 9-11, I still can't take a look at that huge hole in the sky where the two big guys used to be without feeling a deep sadness.
posted by matteo at 4:12 AM on February 27, 2003

Ugh . . . the THINK scaffoldings were terrible. Would have been a blight we'd have regretted.

Of the proposals, I think they've chosen the best. That, however, is a relative statement.
posted by aladfar at 4:31 AM on February 27, 2003

The Jewish Museum in Berlin IS truly wonderful. Libeskind is brilliant. As for this design, the exteriors look properly distinct from 20th century style, as a group of 21st century skyscrapers should, and the interiors and ground-level spaces will, if the Jewish Museum is anything to judge by, be amazing.

"Pretentious"? What, you expected some modest and self-effacing type to humbly offer his tentative suggestions for perhaps building (if you all feel like it and, you know, the design's okay and all) a few inoffensive trifles in one of the most prominent and much-discussed urban spaces on the face of the earth? Without pretension nothing great would ever be built. It's only a negative trait if its possessor never delivers, and Libeskind has already shown magnificently that he does.
posted by rory at 5:02 AM on February 27, 2003

Actually, the skyline is one of the best elements of Libeskind's plan. I believe it's the THINK plan that would have run the risk of seeming too jokey and precious (eventually). The news photos don't do justice to Libeskind's ideas. Anyone who didn't catch his extended pretentious wankings on Charlie Rose missed out on an opportunity to really see this plan inside-out. It's not just a superficial notion; in fact, the experience from ground to top and close to far has been thought through, and the architecture is superb. We just have to hope we can still recognize that planning in the end; but to his credit, Libeskind seems to understand the way the real world works, & I think we have a sound basis for the future here.
posted by Zurishaddai at 5:29 AM on February 27, 2003

From the cnn account: "The architect says that having calculated the arc of the sun, a wedge of natural light would funnel visitors to the memorial site, and that every September 11 between 8:46 a.m., when the first tower was struck by a plane, and 10:28 a.m., when the second tower collapsed, no shadows will be cast by his buildings."

No shadows? Is that possible? Is the sun in NY directly overhead during that time in NYC? Are the buildings at some angle or have I completely forgotten my basic geometry?
posted by ?! at 5:41 AM on February 27, 2003

hama7 I too would prefer the Twin Towers (original WTC) again, But for some reason the phrase "You only lose your virginity once" comes to mind.
Not sure how that phrase fits in here, maybe I'll figure it out when I'm more thoroughly caffinated.
posted by DBAPaul at 5:46 AM on February 27, 2003

fountainhead, anyone?
posted by dytiq at 6:11 AM on February 27, 2003

The THINK design was superb (...)

Yeah, but with Pataki and Bloomberg supporting Libeskind plan (apparently Giuliani didn't like any of them) it would be really hard to be chosen. I've read somewhere that Libeskind project would cost less too (anyone has this information?), so I THINK that that may have been decisive. Anyway, the decision is taken, I only wish good luck to the builders and congrats to Daniel!
posted by nandop at 6:23 AM on February 27, 2003

A funny thing about the original twin towers. I think it's been long enough that this can be said.

When they went up, general consensus was that they were an eyesore. They were tall, and impressive, but really not very attractive.

I see nothing wrong with a new architectural style.
posted by Karmakaze at 7:27 AM on February 27, 2003

anyone else struck by the similarities between Libeskind's tower and Frank Lloyd Wright's 1956 proposal for the Mile-High Illinois?

plus, every time I saw the THINK plan, with its auditorium surrounded by glass at the top of the towers, I kept thinking "that's a lot of steps" (no elevator tubes visible -- just rows and rows of stairs a la Eiffel Tower) and "an auditorium with glass walls? Seems like an acoustical/lighting-design nightmare." (off topic, yes.)

and on preview: yes, Karmakaze, the original WTC towers were butt-ugly. We can do better this time around.
posted by Vidiot at 7:29 AM on February 27, 2003

good catch, vidiot.
posted by goethean at 7:46 AM on February 27, 2003

posted by PinkStainlessTail at 7:48 AM on February 27, 2003

really tepid design. i wish this man had entered a design. i saw him here in minneapolis last week .... unbelievably talented fellow.
posted by specialk420 at 8:07 AM on February 27, 2003

The Times' Herbert Muschamp absolutely savaged the Libeskind design a few weeks ago, calling it an "astonishingly tasteless idea."
posted by PrinceValium at 8:09 AM on February 27, 2003

...But Herbert Muschamp was "in league" with the THINK group, causing much outcry within the architectural community, and the (arts) community at large. Many of my colleagues and I think that this also possibly lead to the choice of Libeskind plan. (Didn't that come up here once?)

Jean Nouvel?? I dunno...

And Pretty_Generic, it takes a lot to be an architect like Libeskind and convince people to build your outrageous buildings. And that sometimes makes one come off as being "a pretentious wanker." Otherwise, you're just "pretty generic."
posted by danbeckmann at 8:18 AM on February 27, 2003

Interesting, PrinceValium. I seem to recall him loving Libeskind's design in December.
posted by Vidiot at 8:18 AM on February 27, 2003

rory said:
Without pretension nothing great would ever be built.

The unwarranted pretentiousness I'm talking about is visible on his interestingly-designed homepage.

My work address [sic] a mutlidimensional [sic] problematic which - at least in retrospect - seems to have the logic of a certain path.

I don't believe that sentence means anything. I also don't think that sentences like that are essential for great art. He's a wanker.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 8:33 AM on February 27, 2003

I don't believe that sentence means anything.

Maybe it sounds more impressive in German? (Don't mention the war!)
posted by Vidiot at 8:49 AM on February 27, 2003

Frank Lloyd Wright was a wanker. Pablo Picasso was a wanker. Ludwig van Beethoven was a wanker.
Nobody disputes that they were wankers.
Nobody disputes that they were great artists, either.

Jacques Derrida has had an impressive influence on architectural thought during the last 30 years. Lots of what Jacques Derrida writes doesn't seem to mean anything.
Everybody disputes that Jacques Derrida may or may not be a wanker.
Everybody disputes that Jacques Derrida may or may not be a great philosopher. (Or literary critic, if you ask a philosopher.)
posted by danbeckmann at 9:02 AM on February 27, 2003

I don't believe that sentence means anything. I also don't think that sentences like that are essential for great art. He's a wanker.

So is this where we talk about how many artists and scientists are dyslexic? If you're a visual thinker (or a musical thinker - Libeskind was an accomplished musician before he became an architect) you're not necessarily going to be able to express yourself best through the written word. In a long interview on Radio 4 a couple of months ago he was perfectly lucid and non-wankerrific.

Besides, apart from a couple of typos, of course that sentence means something; it's just not very well expressed. It might be better as: "My work has addressed a range of architectural problems that, at least in hindsight, seem to be interrelated and follow a certain path."
posted by rory at 9:21 AM on February 27, 2003

This is a terrible decision. The tower alone isn't so bad, but the hideous "angular buildings" (aren't most buildings angular?) remove any definition from the skyline.

Most buildings are not angular in this way... I think they look really interesting, actually. I dearly miss our old skyline, but I don't see us getting it back (though my initial reaction when they started talking about "what to build" was "don't you mean when to start building? because 'what' was decided 25 years ago...")

I really hope this doesn't get built. The THINK design was superb (QuickTime, 20MB Windows Media).

wow, i really have to disagree - they look like scaffold replicas of the original - and in that quicktime animation, they looked like they were meant to be white! The thing that made the twin towers beautiful was the way they reflected light (I always thought their boxiness was cute somehow, but maybe it was the idea of buildings being twins that always made them seem friendly to me). So this design isn't original, but takes most of the good elements of the original out... (the office lights on at night made the skyline happen)
posted by mdn at 9:22 AM on February 27, 2003

It may not be politically correct to say this, but the new design perfectly captures the feel of the previous Twin Towers in that, like the previous design, it is a ghastly monstrosity. In fact, the angled tops improve upon the vapid postmodern glass look by transforming the site into a slick crystalline nightmare reminiscent of those silly and expensive Krypton sets from the first Superman movie.

It is not Libeskend's pretentious attitude I have a problem with. One should always be careful to separate the artist from his art. It is simply that, like Yamasaki before him, the man has produced a passionless design that is fundamentally at odds with the glorious skyline of Manhattan.
posted by ed at 9:56 AM on February 27, 2003

Interesting, PrinceValium. I seem to recall him loving Libeskind's design in December.

That is true. More on Muschamp's turnabout here, via Slate.
posted by PrinceValium at 10:02 AM on February 27, 2003

thanks for that link princevalium

this quote
But what's really happened is that the passing of time has offered the chance to imagine how the various schemes first unveiled months ago might strike us in 2013 or 2053, rather than 2003. And in that test, Libeskind's doesn't fare so well, as Muschamp suggested when he wrote, "Had the competition been intended to capture the fractured state of shock felt soon after 9/11, this plan would probably deserve first place. But why, after all, should a large piece of Manhattan be permanently dedicated to an artistic representation of enemy assault?"
interests me. Of the two finalists, it seems to me that the other one is more commemorative and less useful / forward moving than this one. If these suggestions were not for the WTC site but somewhere else without a history, which would have the better chance?
posted by mdn at 10:22 AM on February 27, 2003

The design by Libeskind is craptacular. What particularly irks me is that when I read a NYT Magazine article about the new designs, I thought to myself, "I'd take any of them except Libeskind's", but then in the article it mentioned that he was a darling of not only the administration, but also the Port Authority. I wish I had the article with me right now, because it was essentially saying that they were entertaining all these new ideas, but that Libeskind had a serious advantage. I feel insulted that they bothered to hold this "competition" at all. They clearly had no intention of selecting the best, nor the most popular, nor the most sympathetic to the memories of the victims, nor the most spectacular. New York, architectural capital of mediocrity.

The two main reasons this design will be chosen is: 1) They like him better (the article suggested it they liked him because they felt they could boss him around more); 2) The design can be built in several stages, so if funding suddenly needs to go someplace else, they can always settle for an incomplete version of shite.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:41 AM on February 27, 2003

There was also Justin Berzon's proposal to rebuild the towers as they originally were, but just across from the original site. (More about it here.)
posted by mattpfeff at 12:48 PM on February 27, 2003

"They clearly had no intention of selecting... the most popular, nor the most sympathetic to the memories of the victims..."

Thank Jebus for that!

Libeskind is a spectacular architect. His might be the first 21st century skyscraper. Can't wait to go visit.
posted by signal at 1:57 PM on February 27, 2003

The THINK design struck me as too intellectual. Yeah, skeletons of the WTC- because they were destroyed, get it? And I'm still trying to figure out if part of the reason for the scaffolding look is a defense against the dangers of another plane smashing into it.

Libeskind's design just feels more optimistic to me. Although I'm neutral about his idea of leaving behind the famous "slurry walls" in the memorial site. But the buildings look spectacular... they don't fit into the Manhattan skyline to me, at least not today, while the look still seems new, but neither do the THINK structures.
posted by gsteff at 2:48 PM on February 27, 2003

It is not Libeskend's pretentiousness and wankerosity I have a problem with. It's all of the pretentious wankers here at MetaFilter I have a problem with.
posted by SpecialK at 3:01 PM on February 27, 2003

The only thing the passage of time indicates to me is that every person inclined towards any sort of opinion on architecture in general is going to hate this proposal vehemently for the entire period of construction, no doubt because it fails to match their own grand artistic visions. In 30 years when any other alteration to the Manhattan skyline is proposed, I imagine they'll defend the Libeskind buildings just as vehemently. The skyline isn't particularly "glorious" because those big, blocky buildings give voice to our collective hopes and aspirations, it's glorious because it's ours, because it's unique and irreplaceable and recognizable and iconic. I'm not saying that it doesn't matter what they put there because we'll all grow to love it anyway (well, I might be, but ...). I hated the THINK proposal, and I would have being gnashing my teeth too if they had really given those two monstrous double helixes (helices?) a place in the middle of that city. But it seems disingenous to pretend that we loved those big, oafy rectangles for any other reason but that they were our big, oafy rectangles.
posted by grrarrgh00 at 3:13 PM on February 27, 2003

Or, what SpecialK said, with the disclaimer that I like you guys a lot.
posted by grrarrgh00 at 3:13 PM on February 27, 2003

I live in the city, so to share: I like it. I think new is good. I think different is good. I think he seems to have put a lot of thought into the meaning and use of the space. I really look forward to something that will liven up the city, without being a giant Toys R Us on Times Square.

Which, apparently, is a really cool giant Toys R Us.
posted by o2b at 3:52 PM on February 27, 2003

Great, a bunch of what look like pre-bombed buildings, crater included (some assembly required). I suppose this is meant to fool the terrorists?

Terrorist #1: "Hey, those buildings looked bombed already!"
Terrorist #2 "That's not right." (checks list) "No, it definitely says Thursday. Damn."
Terrorist #1: "Well, what do we do, bomb them again?"
Terrorist #2: "Nah, let's go get ice cream."
posted by Poagao at 5:05 PM on February 27, 2003

The Skypark was the best design idea. Closest to the original WTC, and also the least gaudy and self-important.

I still think that rebuilding the towers, perhaps with a memorial on the top floor) would be the best monument.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 6:23 PM on February 27, 2003

I think I know what's throwing you all off: it's that picture of the buildings photoshopped into the existing skyline.

Don't worry, they won't actually glow like that.
posted by chrisege at 9:41 PM on February 28, 2003

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